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Title: Phineas Redux
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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PHINEAS REDUX

by

Anthony Trollope

First published in serial form in the _Graphic: An Illustrated Weekly
Newspaper_ beginning in 1873 and in book form in 1873



CONTENTS

   VOLUME I

            I. Temptation
           II. Harrington Hall
          III. Gerard Maule
           IV. Tankerville
            V. Mr. Daubeny's Great Move
           VI. Phineas and His Old Friends
          VII. Coming Home from Hunting
         VIII. The Address
           IX. The Debate
            X. The Deserted Husband
           XI. The Truant Wife
          XII. Königstein
         XIII. "I have got the seat"
          XIV. Trumpeton Wood
           XV. "How well you knew!"
          XVI. Copperhouse Cross and Broughton Spinnies
         XVII. Madame Goesler's Story
        XVIII. Spooner of Spoon Hall
          XIX. Something Out of the Way
           XX. Phineas Again in London
          XXI. Mr. Maule, Senior
         XXII. "Purity of morals, Finn"
        XXIII. Macpherson's Hotel
         XXIV. Madame Goesler Is Sent For
          XXV. "I would do it now"
         XXVI. The Duke's Will
        XXVII. An Editor's Wrath
       XXVIII. The First Thunderbolt
         XXIX. The Spooner Correspondence
          XXX. Regrets
         XXXI. The Duke and Duchess in Town
        XXXII. The World Becomes Cold
       XXXIII. The Two Gladiators
        XXXIV. The Universe
         XXXV. Political Venom
        XXXVI. Seventy-Two
       XXXVII. The Conspiracy
      XXXVIII. Once Again in Portman Square
        XXXIX. Cagliostro
           XL. The Prime Minister is Hard Pressed

   VOLUME II

          XLI. "I hope I'm not distrusted"
         XLII. Boulogne
        XLIII. The Second Thunderbolt
         XLIV. The Browborough Trial
          XLV. Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Emilius
         XLVI. The Quarrel
        XLVII. What Came of the Quarrel
       XLVIII. Mr. Maule's Attempt
         XLIX. Showing What Mrs. Bunce Said to the Policeman
            L. What the Lords and Commons Said about the Murder
           LI. "You think it shameful"
          LII. Mr. Kennedy's Will
         LIII. None But the Brave Deserve the Fair
          LIV. The Duchess Takes Counsel
           LV. Phineas in Prison
          LVI. The Meager Family
         LVII. The Beginning of the Search for the Key and the Coat
        LVIII. The Two Dukes
          LIX. Mrs. Bonteen
           LX. Two Days Before the Trial
          LXI. The Beginning of the Trial
         LXII. Lord Fawn's Evidence
        LXIII. Mr. Chaffanbrass for the Defence
         LXIV. Confusion in the Court
          LXV. "I hate her!"
         LXVI. The Foreign Bludgeon
        LXVII. The Verdict
       LXVIII. Phineas after the Trial
         LXIX. The Duke's First Cousin
          LXX. "I will not go to Loughlinter"
         LXXI. Phineas Finn is Re-elected
        LXXII. The End of the Story of Mr. Emilius and Lady Eustace
       LXXIII. Phineas Finn Returns to His Duties
        LXXIV. At Matching
         LXXV. The Trumpeton Feud Is Settled
        LXXVI. Madame Goesler's Legacy
       LXXVII. Phineas Finn's Success
      LXXVIII. The Last Visit to Saulsby
        LXXIX. At Last--At Last
         LXXX. Conclusion



VOLUME I

CHAPTER I

Temptation


The circumstances of the general election of 18-- will be well
remembered by all those who take an interest in the political matters
of the country. There had been a coming in and a going out of
Ministers previous to that,--somewhat rapid, very exciting, and,
upon the whole, useful as showing the real feeling of the country
upon sundry questions of public interest. Mr. Gresham had been Prime
Minister of England, as representative of the Liberal party in
politics. There had come to be a split among those who should have
been his followers on the terribly vexed question of the Ballot. Then
Mr. Daubeny for twelve months had sat upon the throne distributing
the good things of the Crown amidst Conservative birdlings, with
beaks wide open and craving maws, who certainly for some years
previous had not received their share of State honours or State
emoluments. And Mr. Daubeny was still so sitting, to the infinite
dismay of the Liberals, every man of whom felt that his party
was entitled by numerical strength to keep the management of the
Government within its own hands.

Let a man be of what side he may in politics,--unless he be much
more of a partisan than a patriot,--he will think it well that there
should be some equity of division in the bestowal of crumbs of
comfort. Can even any old Whig wish that every Lord Lieutenant of a
county should be an old Whig? Can it be good for the administration
of the law that none but Liberal lawyers should become
Attorney-Generals, and from thence Chief Justices or Lords of Appeal?
Should no Conservative Peer ever represent the majesty of England
in India, in Canada, or at St. Petersburgh? So arguing, moderate
Liberals had been glad to give Mr. Daubeny and his merry men a
chance. Mr. Daubeny and his merry men had not neglected the chance
given them. Fortune favoured them, and they made their hay while the
sun shone with an energy that had never been surpassed, improving
upon Fortune, till their natural enemies waxed impatient. There had
been as yet but one year of it, and the natural enemies, who had at
first expressed themselves as glad that the turn had come, might
have endured the period of spoliation with more equanimity. For to
them, the Liberals, this cutting up of the Whitehall cake by the
Conservatives was spoliation when the privilege of cutting was found
to have so much exceeded what had been expected. Were not they, the
Liberals, the real representatives of the people, and, therefore, did
not the cake in truth appertain to them? Had not they given up the
cake for a while, partly, indeed, through idleness and mismanagement,
and quarrelling among themselves; but mainly with a feeling that
a moderate slicing on the other side would, upon the whole, be
advantageous? But when the cake came to be mauled like that--oh,
heavens! So the men who had quarrelled agreed to quarrel no more,
and it was decided that there should be an end of mismanagement and
idleness, and that this horrid sight of the weak pretending to be
strong, or the weak receiving the reward of strength, should be
brought to an end. Then came a great fight, in the last agonies of
which the cake was sliced manfully. All the world knew how the fight
would go; but in the meantime lord-lieutenancies were arranged; very
ancient judges retired upon pensions; vice-royal Governors were sent
out in the last gasp of the failing battle; great places were filled
by tens, and little places by twenties; private secretaries were
established here and there; and the hay was still made even after the
sun had gone down.

In consequence of all this the circumstances of the election of 18--
were peculiar. Mr. Daubeny had dissolved the House, not probably
with any idea that he could thus retrieve his fortunes, but feeling
that in doing so he was occupying the last normal position of a
properly-fought Constitutional battle. His enemies were resolved,
more firmly than they were resolved before, to knock him altogether
on the head at the general election which he had himself called
into existence. He had been disgracefully out-voted in the House of
Commons on various subjects. On the last occasion he had gone into
his lobby with a minority of 37, upon a motion brought forward by Mr.
Palliser, the late Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer, respecting
decimal coinage. No politician, not even Mr. Palliser himself, had
expected that he would carry his Bill in the present session. It
was brought forward as a trial of strength; and for such a purpose
decimal coinage was as good a subject as any other. It was Mr.
Palliser's hobby, and he was gratified at having this further
opportunity of ventilating it. When in power, he had not succeeded
in carrying his measure, awed, and at last absolutely beaten, by the
infinite difficulty encountered in arranging its details. But his
mind was still set upon it, and it was allowed by the whole party
to be as good as anything else for the purpose then required. The
Conservative Government was beaten for the third or fourth time, and
Mr. Daubeny dissolved the House.

The whole world said that he might as well have resigned at once. It
was already the end of July, and there must be an autumn Session with
the new members. It was known to be impossible that he should find
himself supported by a majority after a fresh election. He had been
treated with manifest forbearance; the cake had been left in his
hands for twelve months; the House was barely two years old; he
had no "cry" with which to meet the country; the dissolution was
factious, dishonest, and unconstitutional. So said all the Liberals,
and it was deduced also that the Conservatives were in their hearts
as angry as were their opponents. What was to be gained but the poor
interval of three months? There were clever men who suggested that
Mr. Daubeny had a scheme in his head--some sharp trick of political
conjuring, some "hocus-pocus presto" sleight of hand, by which he
might be able to retain power, let the elections go as they would.
But, if so, he certainly did not make his scheme known to his own
party.

He had no cry with which to meet the country, nor, indeed, had
the leaders of the Opposition. Retrenchment, army reform, navy
excellence, Mr. Palliser's decimal coinage, and general good
government gave to all the old-Whig moderate Liberals plenty of
matter for speeches to their future constituents. Those who were more
advanced could promise the Ballot, and suggest the disestablishment
of the Church. But the Government of the day was to be turned out
on the score of general incompetence. They were to be made to go,
because they could not command majorities. But there ought to have
been no dissolution, and Mr. Daubeny was regarded by his opponents,
and indeed by very many of his followers also, with an enmity that
was almost ferocious. A seat in Parliament, if it be for five or six
years, is a blessing; but the blessing becomes very questionable if
it have to be sought afresh every other Session.

One thing was manifest to thoughtful, working, eager political
Liberals. They must have not only a majority in the next Parliament,
but a majority of good men--of men good and true. There must be no
more mismanagement; no more quarrelling; no more idleness. Was it to
be borne that an unprincipled so-called Conservative Prime Minister
should go on slicing the cake after such a fashion as that lately
adopted? Old bishops had even talked of resigning, and Knights of the
Garter had seemed to die on purpose. So there was a great stir at the
Liberal political clubs, and every good and true man was summoned to
the battle.

Now no Liberal soldier, as a young soldier, had been known to be more
good and true than Mr. Finn, the Irishman, who had held office two
years ago to the satisfaction of all his friends, and who had retired
from office because he had found himself compelled to support a
measure which had since been carried by those very men from whom he
had been obliged on this account to divide himself. It had always
been felt by his old friends that he had been, if not ill-used, at
least very unfortunate. He had been twelve months in advance of his
party, and had consequently been driven out into the cold. So when
the names of good men and true were mustered, and weighed, and
discussed, and scrutinised by some active members of the Liberal
party in a certain very private room not far removed from our great
seat of parliamentary warfare; and when the capabilities, and
expediencies, and possibilities were tossed to and fro among these
active members, it came to pass that the name of Mr. Finn was
mentioned more than once. Mr. Phineas Finn was the gentleman's
name--which statement may be necessary to explain the term of
endearment which was occasionally used in speaking of him.

"He has got some permanent place," said Mr. Ratler, who was living
on the well-founded hope of being a Treasury Secretary under the new
dispensation; "and of course he won't leave it."

It must be acknowledged that Mr. Ratler, than whom no judge in such
matters possessed more experience, had always been afraid of Phineas
Finn.

"He'll lave it fast enough, if you'll make it worth his while," said
the Honourable Laurence Fitzgibbon, who also had his expectations.

"But he married when he went away, and he can't afford it," said Mr.
Bonteen, another keen expectant.

"Devil a bit," said the Honourable Laurence; "or, anyways, the poor
thing died of her first baby before it was born. Phinny hasn't an
impidiment, no more than I have."

"He's the best Irishman we ever got hold of," said Barrington
Erle--"present company always excepted, Laurence."

"Bedad, you needn't except me, Barrington. I know what a man's made
of, and what a man can do. And I know what he can't do. I'm not bad
at the outside skirmishing. I'm worth me salt. I say that with a just
reliance on me own powers. But Phinny is a different sort of man.
Phinny can stick to a desk from twelve to seven, and wish to come
back again after dinner. He's had money left him, too, and 'd like to
spend some of it on an English borough."

"You never can quite trust him," said Bonteen. Now Mr. Bonteen had
never loved Mr. Finn.

"At any rate we'll try him again," said Barrington Erle, making a
little note to that effect. And they did try him again.

Phineas Finn, when last seen by the public, was departing from
parliamentary life in London to the enjoyment of a modest place
under Government in his own country, with something of a shattered
ambition. After various turmoils he had achieved a competency, and
had married the girl of his heart. But now his wife was dead, and he
was again alone in the world. One of his friends had declared that
money had been left to him. That was true, but the money had not been
much. Phineas Finn had lost his father as well as his wife, and had
inherited about four thousand pounds. He was not at this time much
over thirty; and it must be acknowledged in regard to him that, since
the day on which he had accepted place and retired from London, his
very soul had sighed for the lost glories of Westminster and Downing
Street.

There are certain modes of life which, if once adopted, make
contentment in any other circumstances almost an impossibility. In
old age a man may retire without repining, though it is often beyond
the power even of the old man to do so; but in youth, with all the
faculties still perfect, with the body still strong, with the hopes
still buoyant, such a change as that which had been made by Phineas
Finn was more than he, or than most men, could bear with equanimity.
He had revelled in the gas-light, and could not lie quiet on a sunny
bank. To the palate accustomed to high cookery, bread and milk is
almost painfully insipid. When Phineas Finn found himself discharging
in Dublin the routine duties of his office,--as to which there was
no public comment, no feeling that such duties were done in the face
of the country,--he became sick at heart and discontented. Like
the warhorse out at grass he remembered the sound of the battle
and the noise of trumpets. After five years spent in the heat and
full excitement of London society, life in Ireland was tame to
him, and cold, and dull. He did not analyse the difference between
metropolitan and quasi-metropolitan manners; but he found that men
and women in Dublin were different from those to whom he had been
accustomed in London. He had lived among lords, and the sons and
daughters of lords; and though the official secretaries and assistant
commissioners among whom his lot now threw him were for the most part
clever fellows, fond of society, and perhaps more than his equals in
the kind of conversation which he found to be prevalent, still they
were not the same as the men he had left behind him,--men alive with
the excitement of parliamentary life in London. When in London he had
often told himself that he was sick of it, and that he would better
love some country quiet life. Now Dublin was his Tibur, and the
fickle one found that he could not be happy unless he were back again
at Rome. When, therefore, he received the following letter from
his friend, Barrington Erle, he neighed like the old warhorse, and
already found himself shouting "Ha, ha," among the trumpets.


   ---- Street, 9th July, 18--.

   MY DEAR FINN,

   Although you are not now immediately concerned in such
   trifling matters you have no doubt heard that we are all
   to be sent back at once to our constituents, and that
   there will be a general election about the end of
   September. We are sure that we shall have such a majority
   as we never had before; but we are determined to make it
   as strong as possible, and to get in all the good men that
   are to be had. Have you a mind to try again? After all,
   there is nothing like it.

   Perhaps you may have some Irish seat in your eye for which
   you would be safe. To tell the truth we know very little
   of the Irish seats--not so much as, I think, we ought
   to do. But if you are not so lucky I would suggest
   Tankerville in Durham. Of course there would be
   a contest, and a little money will be wanted; but the
   money would not be much. Browborough has sat for the place
   now for three Parliaments, and seems to think it all his
   own. I am told that nothing could be easier than to turn
   him out. You will remember the man--a great, hulking,
   heavy, speechless fellow, who always used to sit just over
   Lord Macaw's shoulder. I have made inquiry, and I am told
   that he must walk if anybody would go down who could talk
   to the colliers every night for a week or so. It would
   just be the work for you. Of course, you should have all
   the assistance we could give you, and Molescroft would put
   you into the hands of an agent who wouldn't spend money
   for you. £500 would do it all.

   I am very sorry to hear of your great loss, as also was
   Lady Laura, who, as you are aware, is still abroad with
   her father. We have all thought that the loneliness of
   your present life might perhaps make you willing to come
   back among us. I write instead of Ratler, because I
   am helping him in the Northern counties. But you will
   understand all about that.

   Yours, ever faithfully,

   BARRINGTON ERLE.

   Of course Tankerville has been dirty. Browborough has
   spent a fortune there. But I do not think that that need
   dishearten you. You will go there with clean hands. It
   must be understood that there shall not be as much as a
   glass of beer. I am told that the fellows won't vote for
   Browborough unless he spends money, and I fancy he will be
   afraid to do it heavily after all that has come and gone.
   If he does you'll have him out on a petition. Let us have
   an answer as soon as possible.


He at once resolved that he would go over and see; but, before he
replied to Erle's letter, he walked half-a-dozen times the length
of the pier at Kingston meditating on his answer. He had no one
belonging to him. He had been deprived of his young bride, and left
desolate. He could ruin no one but himself. Where could there be a
man in all the world who had a more perfect right to play a trick
with his own prospects? If he threw up his place and spent all his
money, who could blame him? Nevertheless, he did tell himself that,
when he should have thrown up his place and spent all his money,
there would remain to him his own self to be disposed of in a manner
that might be very awkward to him. A man owes it to his country, to
his friends, even to his acquaintance, that he shall not be known to
be going about wanting a dinner, with never a coin in his pocket. It
is very well for a man to boast that he is lord of himself, and that
having no ties he may do as he pleases with that possession. But it
is a possession of which, unfortunately, he cannot rid himself when
he finds that there is nothing advantageous to be done with it.
Doubtless there is a way of riddance. There is the bare bodkin. Or a
man may fall overboard between Holyhead and Kingston in the dark, and
may do it in such a cunning fashion that his friends shall think that
it was an accident. But against these modes of riddance there is a
canon set, which some men still fear to disobey.

The thing that he was asked to do was perilous. Standing in his
present niche of vantage he was at least safe. And added to his
safety there were material comforts. He had more than enough for his
wants. His work was light: he lived among men and women with whom he
was popular. The very fact of his past parliamentary life had caused
him to be regarded as a man of some note among the notables of the
Irish capital. Lord Lieutenants were gracious to him, and the wives
of judges smiled upon him at their tables. He was encouraged to talk
of those wars of the gods at which he had been present, and was so
treated as to make him feel that he was somebody in the world of
Dublin. Now he was invited to give all this up; and for what?

He answered that question to himself with enthusiastic eloquence. The
reward offered to him was the thing which in all the world he liked
best. It was suggested to him that he should again have within his
reach that parliamentary renown which had once been the very breath
of his nostrils. We all know those arguments and quotations,
antagonistic to prudence, with which a man fortifies himself in
rashness. "None but the brave deserve the fair." "Where there's a
will there's a way." "Nothing venture nothing have." "The sword is
to him who can use it." "Fortune favours the bold!" But on the other
side there is just as much to be said. "A bird in the hand is worth
two in the bush." "Look before you leap." "Thrust not out your hand
further than you can draw it back again." All which maxims of life
Phineas Finn revolved within his own heart, if not carefully, at
least frequently, as he walked up and down the long pier of Kingston
Harbour.

But what matter such revolvings? A man placed as was our Phineas
always does that which most pleases him at the moment, being but poor
at argument if he cannot carry the weight to that side which best
satisfies his own feelings. Had not his success been very great when
he before made the attempt? Was he not well aware at every moment
of his life that, after having so thoroughly learned his lesson in
London, he was throwing away his hours amidst his present pursuits
in Dublin? Did he not owe himself to his country? And then, again,
what might not London do for him? Men who had begun as he begun had
lived to rule over Cabinets, and to sway the Empire. He had been
happy for a short twelvemonth with his young bride,--for a short
twelvemonth,--and then she had been taken from him. Had she been
spared to him he would never have longed for more than Fate had given
him. He would never have sighed again for the glories of Westminster
had his Mary not gone from him. Now he was alone in the world; and,
though he could look forward to possible and not improbable events
which would make that future disposition of himself a most difficult
question for him, still he would dare to try.

As the first result of Erle's letter Phineas was over in London early
in August. If he went on with this matter, he must, of course, resign
the office for holding which he was now paid a thousand a year. He
could retain that as long as he chose to earn the money, but the
earning of it would not be compatible with a seat in Parliament. He
had a few thousand pounds with which he could pay for the contest at
Tankerville, for the consequent petition which had been so generously
suggested to him, and maintain himself in London for a session or two
should he be so fortunate as to carry his election. Then he would be
penniless, with the world before him as a closed oyster to be again
opened, and he knew,--no one better,--that this oyster becomes harder
and harder in the opening as the man who has to open it becomes
older. It is an oyster that will close to again with a snap, after
you have got your knife well into it, if you withdraw your point but
for a moment. He had had a rough tussle with the oyster already, and
had reached the fish within the shell. Nevertheless, the oyster which
he had got was not the oyster which he wanted. So he told himself
now, and here had come to him the chance of trying again.

Early in August he went over to England, saw Mr. Molescroft, and
made his first visit to Tankerville. He did not like the look of
Tankerville; but nevertheless he resigned his place before the month
was over. That was the one great step, or rather the leap in the
dark,--and that he took. Things had been so arranged that the
election at Tankerville was to take place on the 20th of October.
When the dissolution had been notified to all the world by Mr.
Daubeny an earlier day was suggested; but Mr. Daubeny saw reasons for
postponing it for a fortnight. Mr. Daubeny's enemies were again very
ferocious. It was all a trick. Mr. Daubeny had no right to continue
Prime Minister a day after the decided expression of opinion as to
unfitness which had been pronounced by the House of Commons. Men
were waxing very wrath. Nevertheless, so much power remained in Mr.
Daubeny's hand, and the election was delayed. That for Tankerville
would not be held till the 20th of October. The whole House could not
be chosen till the end of the month,--hardly by that time--and yet
there was to be an autumn Session. The Ratlers and Bonteens were at
any rate clear about the autumn Session. It was absolutely impossible
that Mr. Daubeny should be allowed to remain in power over Christmas,
and up to February.

Mr. Molescroft, whom Phineas saw in London, was not a comfortable
counsellor. "So you are going down to Tankerville?" he said.

"They seem to think I might as well try."

"Quite right;--quite right. Somebody ought to try it, no doubt. It
would be a disgrace to the whole party if Browborough were allowed
to walk over. There isn't a borough in England more sure to return a
Liberal than Tankerville if left to itself. And yet that lump of a
legislator has sat there as a Tory for the last dozen years by dint
of money and brass."

"You think we can unseat him?"

"I don't say that. He hasn't come to the end of his money, and as to
his brass that is positively without end."

"But surely he'll have some fear of consequences after what has been
done?"

"None in the least. What has been done? Can you name a single
Parliamentary aspirant who has been made to suffer?"

"They have suffered in character," said Phineas. "I should not like
to have the things said of me that have been said of them."

"I don't know a man of them who stands in a worse position among his
own friends than he occupied before. And men of that sort don't want
a good position among their enemies. They know they're safe. When the
seat is in dispute everybody is savage enough; but when it is merely
a question of punishing a man, what is the use of being savage? Who
knows whose turn it may be next?"

"He'll play the old game, then?"

"Of course he'll play the old game," said Mr. Molescroft. "He doesn't
know any other game. All the purists in England wouldn't teach him to
think that a poor man ought not to sell his vote, and that a rich man
oughtn't to buy it. You mean to go in for purity?"

"Certainly I do."

"Browborough will think just as badly of you as you will of him.
He'll hate you because he'll think you are trying to rob him of what
he has honestly bought; but he'll hate you quite as much because
you try to rob the borough. He'd tell you if you asked him that he
doesn't want his seat for nothing, any more than he wants his house
or his carriage-horses for nothing. To him you'll be a mean, low
interloper. But you won't care about that."

"Not in the least, if I can get the seat."

"But I'm afraid you won't. He will be elected. You'll petition. He'll
lose his seat. There will be a commission. And then the borough will
be disfranchised. It's a fine career, but expensive; and then there
is no reward beyond the self-satisfaction arising from a good action.
However, Ruddles will do the best he can for you, and it certainly is
possible that you may creep through." This was very disheartening,
but Barrington Erle assured our hero that such was Mr. Molescroft's
usual way with candidates, and that it really meant little or
nothing. At any rate, Phineas Finn was pledged to stand.



CHAPTER II

Harrington Hall


Phineas, on his first arrival in London, found a few of his old
friends, men who were still delayed by business though the Session
was over. He arrived on the 10th of August, which may be considered
as the great day of the annual exodus, and he remembered how he,
too, in former times had gone to Scotland to shoot grouse, and what
he had done there besides shooting. He had been a welcome guest at
Loughlinter, the magnificent seat of Mr. Kennedy, and indeed there
had been that between him and Mr. Kennedy which ought to make him a
welcome guest there still. But of Mr. Kennedy he had heard nothing
directly since he had left London. From Mr. Kennedy's wife, Lady
Laura, who had been his great friend, he had heard occasionally; but
she was separated from her husband, and was living abroad with her
father, the Earl of Brentford. Has it not been written in a former
book how this Lady Laura had been unhappy in her marriage, having
wedded herself to a man whom she had never loved, because he was rich
and powerful, and how this very Phineas had asked her to be his bride
after she had accepted the rich man's hand? Thence had come great
trouble, but nevertheless there had been that between Mr. Kennedy and
our hero which made Phineas feel that he ought still to be welcomed
as a guest should he show himself at the door of Loughlinter Castle.
The idea came upon him simply because he found that almost every man
for whom he inquired had just started, or was just starting, for the
North; and he would have liked to go where others went. He asked a
few questions as to Mr. Kennedy from Barrington Erle and others, who
had known him, and was told that the man now lived quite alone. He
still kept his seat in Parliament, but had hardly appeared during
the last Session, and it was thought that he would not come forward
again. Of his life in the country nothing was known. "No one fishes
his rivers, or shoots his moors, as far as I can learn," said
Barrington Erle. "I suppose he looks after the sheep and says his
prayers, and keeps his money together."

"And there has been no attempt at a reconciliation?" Phineas asked.

"She went abroad to escape his attempts, and remains there in order
that she may be safe. Of all hatreds that the world produces, a
wife's hatred for her husband, when she does hate him, is the
strongest."

In September Finn was back in Ireland, and about the end of that
month he made his first visit to Tankerville. He remained there for
three or four days, and was terribly disgusted while staying at the
"Yellow" inn, to find that the people of the town would treat him as
though he were rolling in wealth. He was soon tired of Tankerville,
and as he could do nothing further, on the spot, till the time for
canvassing should come on, about ten days previous to the election,
he returned to London, somewhat at a loss to know how to bestir
himself. But in London he received a letter from another old friend,
which decided him:--


   My dear Mr. Finn, [said the letter] of course you know
   that Oswald is now master of the Brake hounds. Upon my
   word, I think it is the place in the world for which he is
   most fit. He is a great martinet in the field, and works
   at it as though it were for his bread. We have been here
   looking after the kennels and getting up the horses since
   the beginning of August, and have been cub-hunting ever so
   long. Oswald wants to know whether you won't come down to
   him till the election begins in earnest.

   We were so glad to hear that you were going to appear
   again. I have always known that it would be so. I have
   told Oswald scores of times that I was sure you would
   never be happy out of Parliament, and that your real
   home must be somewhere near the Treasury Chambers. You
   can't alter a man's nature. Oswald was born to be a master
   of hounds, and you were born to be a Secretary of State.
   He works the hardest and gets the least pay for it; but
   then, as he says, he does not run so great a risk of being
   turned out.

   We haven't much of a house, but we have plenty of room for
   you. As for the house, it was a matter of course, whether
   good or bad. It goes with the kennels, and I should as
   little think of having a choice as though I were one of
   the horses. We have very good stables, and such a stud! I
   can't tell you how many there are. In October it seems as
   though their name were legion. In March there is never
   anything for any body to ride on. I generally find then
   that mine are taken for the whips. Do come and take
   advantage of the flush. I can't tell you how glad we shall
   be to see you. Oswald ought to have written himself, but
   he says--; I won't tell you what he says. We shall take no
   refusal. You can have nothing to do before you are wanted
   at Tankerville.

   I was so sorry to hear of your great loss. I hardly know
   whether to mention it or to be silent in writing. If you
   were here of course I should speak of her. And I would
   rather renew your grief for a time than allow you to think
   that I am indifferent. Pray come to us.

   Yours ever most sincerely,

   VIOLET CHILTERN.

   Harrington Hall, Wednesday.


Phineas Finn at once made up his mind that he would go to Harrington
Hall. There was the prospect in this of an immediate return to some
of the most charming pleasures of the old life, which was very
grateful to him. It pleased him much that he should have been so
thought of by this lady,--that she should have sought him out
at once, at the moment of his reappearance. That she would have
remembered him, he was quite sure, and that her husband, Lord
Chiltern, should remember him also, was beyond a doubt. There had
been passages in their joint lives which people cannot forget. But
it might so well have been the case that they should not have cared
to renew their acquaintance with him. As it was, they must have
made close inquiry, and had sought him at the first day of his
reappearance. The letter had reached him through the hands of
Barrington Erle, who was a cousin of Lord Chiltern, and was at once
answered as follows:--


   Fowler's Hotel, Jermyn Street,
   October 1st.

   MY DEAR LADY CHILTERN,

   I cannot tell you how much pleasure the very sight of
   your handwriting gave me. Yes, here I am again, trying my
   hand at the old game. They say that you can never cure a
   gambler or a politician; and, though I had very much to
   make me happy till that great blow came upon me, I believe
   that it is so. I am uneasy till I can see once more the
   Speaker's wig, and hear bitter things said of this "right
   honourable gentleman," and of that noble friend. I want to
   be once more in the midst of it; and as I have been left
   singularly desolate in the world, without a tie by which
   I am bound to aught but an honourable mode of living, I
   have determined to run the risk, and have thrown up the
   place which I held under Government. I am to stand for
   Tankerville, as you have heard, and I am told by those to
   whose tender mercies I have been confided by B. E. that I
   have not a chance of success.

   Your invitation is so tempting that I cannot refuse it. As
   you say, I have nothing to do till the play begins. I have
   issued my address, and must leave my name and my fame
   to be discussed by the Tankervillians till I make my
   appearance among them on the 10th of this month. Of
   course, I had heard that Chiltern has the Brake, and I
   have heard also that he is doing it uncommonly well. Tell
   him that I have hardly seen a hound since the memorable
   day on which I pulled him out from under his horse in the
   brook at Wissindine. I don't know whether I can ride a
   yard now. I will get to you on the 4th, and will remain if
   you will keep me till the 9th. If Chiltern can put me up
   on anything a little quieter than Bonebreaker, I'll go out
   steadily, and see how he does his cubbing. I may, perhaps,
   be justified in opining that Bonebreaker has before this
   left the establishment. If so I may, perhaps, find myself
   up to a little very light work.

   Remember me very kindly to him. Does he make a good nurse
   with the baby?

   Yours, always faithfully,

   PHINEAS FINN.

   I cannot tell you with what pleasure I look forward to
   seeing you both again.


The next few days went very heavily with him. There had, indeed,
been no real reason why he should not have gone to Harrington Hall
at once, except that he did not wish to seem to be utterly homeless.
And yet were he there, with his old friends, he would not scruple
for a moment in owning that such was the case. He had fixed his day,
however, and did remain in London till the 4th. Barrington Erle and
Mr. Ratler he saw occasionally, for they were kept in town on the
affairs of the election. The one was generally full of hope; but the
other was no better than a Job's comforter. "I wouldn't advise you to
expect too much at Tankerville, you know," said Mr. Ratler.

"By no means," said Phineas, who had always disliked Ratler, and had
known himself to be disliked in return. "I expect nothing."

"Browborough understands such a place as Tankerville so well! He has
been at it all his life. Money is no object to him, and he doesn't
care a straw what anybody says of him. I don't think it's possible to
unseat him."

"We'll try at least," said Phineas, upon whom, however, such remarks
as these cast a gloom which he could not succeed in shaking off,
though he could summon vigour sufficient to save him from showing
the gloom. He knew very well that comfortable words would be spoken
to him at Harrington Hall, and that then the gloom would go. The
comforting words of his friends would mean quite as little as the
discourtesies of Mr. Ratler. He understood that thoroughly, and felt
that he ought to hold a stronger control over his own impulses. He
must take the thing as it would come, and neither the flatterings of
friends nor the threatenings of enemies could alter it; but he knew
his own weakness, and confessed to himself that another week of life
by himself at Fowler's Hotel, refreshed by occasional interviews with
Mr. Ratler, would make him altogether unfit for the coming contest at
Tankerville.

He reached Harrington Hall in the afternoon about four, and found
Lady Chiltern alone. As soon as he saw her he told himself that she
was not in the least altered since he had last been with her, and yet
during the period she had undergone that great change which turns a
girl into a mother. She had the baby with her when he came into the
room, and at once greeted him as an old friend,--as a loved and
loving friend who was to be made free at once to all the inmost
privileges of real friendship, which are given to and are desired by
so few. "Yes, here we are again," said Lady Chiltern, "settled, as
far as I suppose we ever shall be settled, for ever so many years to
come. The place belongs to old Lord Gunthorpe, I fancy, but really I
hardly know. I do know that we should give it up at once if we gave
up the hounds, and that we can't be turned out as long as we have
them. Doesn't it seem odd to have to depend on a lot of yelping
dogs?"

"Only that the yelping dogs depend on you."

"It's a kind of give and take, I suppose, like other things in the
world. Of course, he's a beautiful baby. I had him in just that
you might see him. I show Baby, and Oswald shows the hounds. We've
nothing else to interest anybody. But nurse shall take him now.
Come out and have a turn in the shrubbery before Oswald comes back.
They're gone to-day as far as Trumpeton Wood, out of which no fox was
ever known to break, and they won't be home till six."

"Who are 'they'?" asked Phineas, as he took his hat.

"The 'they' is only Adelaide Palliser. I don't think you ever knew
her?"

"Never. Is she anything to the other Pallisers?"

"She is everything to them all; niece and grand-niece, and first
cousin and grand-daughter. Her father was the fourth brother, and as
she was one of six her share of the family wealth is small. Those
Pallisers are very peculiar, and I doubt whether she ever saw the
old duke. She has no father or mother, and lives when she is at home
with a married sister, about seventy years older than herself, Mrs.
Attenbury."

"I remember Mrs. Attenbury."

"Of course you do. Who does not? Adelaide was a child then, I
suppose. Though I don't know why she should have been, as she calls
herself one-and-twenty now. You'll think her pretty. I don't. But
she is my great new friend, and I like her immensely. She rides to
hounds, and talks Italian, and writes for the _Times_."

"Writes for the _Times_!"

"I won't swear that she does, but she could. There's only one other
thing about her. She's engaged to be married."

"To whom?"

"I don't know that I shall answer that question, and indeed I'm not
sure that she is engaged. But there's a man dying for her."

"You must know, if she's your friend."

"Of course I know; but there are ever so many ins and outs, and I
ought not to have said a word about it. I shouldn't have done so to
any one but you. And now we'll go in and have some tea, and go to
bed."

"Go to bed!"

"We always go to bed here before dinner on hunting days. When the
cubbing began Oswald used to be up at three."

"He doesn't get up at three now."

"Nevertheless we go to bed. You needn't if you don't like, and I'll
stay with you if you choose till you dress for dinner. I did know
so well that you'd come back to London, Mr. Finn. You are not a bit
altered."

"I feel to be changed in everything."

"Why should you be altered? It's only two years. I am altered because
of Baby. That does change a woman. Of course I'm thinking always of
what he will do in the world; whether he'll be a master of hounds
or a Cabinet Minister or a great farmer;--or perhaps a miserable
spendthrift, who will let everything that his grandfathers and
grandmothers have done for him go to the dogs."

"Why do you think of anything so wretched, Lady Chiltern?"

"Who can help thinking? Men do do so. It seems to me that that is the
line of most young men who come to their property early. Why should I
dare to think that my boy should be better than others? But I do; and
I fancy that he will be a great statesman. After all, Mr. Finn, that
is the best thing that a man can be, unless it is given him to be a
saint and a martyr and all that kind of thing,--which is not just
what a mother looks for."

"That would only be better than the spendthrift and gambler."

"Hardly better you'll say, perhaps. How odd that is! We all profess
to believe when we're told that this world should be used merely as
a preparation for the next; and yet there is something so cold and
comfortless in the theory that we do not relish the prospect even for
our children. I fancy your people have more real belief in it than
ours."

Now Phineas Finn was a Roman Catholic. But the discussion was stopped
by the noise of an arrival in the hall.

"There they are," said Lady Chiltern; "Oswald never comes in without
a sound of trumpets to make him audible throughout the house." Then
she went to meet her husband, and Phineas followed her out of the
drawing-room.

Lord Chiltern was as glad to see him as she had been, and in a very
few minutes he found himself quite at home. In the hall he was
introduced to Miss Palliser, but he was hardly able to see her as she
stood there a moment in her hat and habit. There was ever so much
said about the day's work. The earths had not been properly stopped,
and Lord Chiltern had been very angry, and the owner of Trumpeton
Wood, who was a great duke, had been much abused, and things had not
gone altogether straight.

"Lord Chiltern was furious," said Miss Palliser, laughing, "and
therefore, of course, I became furious too, and swore that it was
an awful shame. Then they all swore that it was an awful shame, and
everybody was furious. And you might hear one man saying to another
all day long, 'By George, this is too bad.' But I never could quite
make out what was amiss, and I'm sure the men didn't know."

"What was it, Oswald?"

"Never mind now. One doesn't go to Trumpeton Wood expecting to be
happy there. I've half a mind to swear I'll never draw it again."

"I've been asking him what was the matter all the way home," said
Miss Palliser, "but I don't think he knows himself."

"Come upstairs, Phineas, and I'll show you your room," said Lord
Chiltern. "It's not quite as comfortable as the old 'Bull', but we
make it do."

Phineas, when he was alone, could not help standing for awhile with
his back to the fire thinking of it all. He did already feel himself
to be at home in that house, and his doing so was a contradiction to
all the wisdom which he had been endeavouring to teach himself for
the last two years. He had told himself over and over again that that
life which he had lived in London had been, if not a dream, at any
rate not more significant than a parenthesis in his days, which,
as of course it had no bearing on those which had gone before, so
neither would it influence those which were to follow. The dear
friends of that period of feverish success would for the future
be to him as--nothing. That was the lesson of wisdom which he had
endeavoured to teach himself, and the facts of the last two years had
seemed to show that the lesson was a true lesson. He had disappeared
from among his former companions, and had heard almost nothing from
them. From neither Lord Chiltern or his wife had he received any
tidings. He had expected to receive none,--had known that in the
common course of things none was to be expected. There were many
others with whom he had been intimate--Barrington Erle, Laurence
Fitzgibbon, Mr. Monk, a politician who had been in the Cabinet, and
in consequence of whose political teaching he, Phineas Finn, had
banished himself from the political world;--from none of these had he
received a line till there came that letter summoning him back to the
battle. There had never been a time during his late life in Dublin at
which he had complained to himself that on this account his former
friends had forgotten him. If they had not written to him, neither
had he written to them. But on his first arrival in England he had,
in the sadness of his solitude, told himself that he was forgotten.
There would be no return, so he feared, of those pleasant intimacies
which he now remembered so well, and which, as he remembered them,
were so much more replete with unalloyed delights than they had ever
been in their existing realities. And yet here he was, a welcome
guest in Lord Chiltern's house, a welcome guest in Lady Chiltern's
drawing-room, and quite as much at home with them as ever he had been
in the old days.

Who is there that can write letters to all his friends, or would not
find it dreary work to do so even in regard to those whom he really
loves? When there is something palpable to be said, what a blessing
is the penny post! To one's wife, to one's child, one's mistress,
one's steward if there be a steward; one's gamekeeper, if there be
shooting forward; one's groom, if there be hunting; one's publisher,
if there be a volume ready or money needed; or one's tailor
occasionally, if a coat be required, a man is able to write. But
what has a man to say to his friend,--or, for that matter, what has
a woman? A Horace Walpole may write to a Mr. Mann about all things
under the sun, London gossip or transcendental philosophy, and if
the Horace Walpole of the occasion can write well and will labour
diligently at that vocation, his letters may be worth reading by
his Mr. Mann, and by others; but, for the maintenance of love and
friendship, continued correspondence between distant friends is
naught. Distance in time and place, but especially in time, will
diminish friendship. It is a rule of nature that it should be so,
and thus the friendships which a man most fosters are those which he
can best enjoy. If your friend leave you, and seek a residence in
Patagonia, make a niche for him in your memory, and keep him there
as warm as you may. Perchance he may return from Patagonia and the
old joys may be repeated. But never think that those joys can be
maintained by the assistance of ocean postage, let it be at never
so cheap a rate. Phineas Finn had not thought this matter out very
carefully, and now, after two years of absence, he was surprised to
find that he was still had in remembrance by those who had never
troubled themselves to write to him a line during his absence.

When he went down into the drawing-room he was surprised to find
another old friend sitting there alone. "Mr. Finn," said the old
lady, "I hope I see you quite well. I am glad to meet you again. You
find my niece much changed, I dare say?"

"Not in the least, Lady Baldock," said Phineas, seizing the proffered
hand of the dowager. In that hour of conversation, which they had had
together, Lady Chiltern had said not a word to Phineas of her aunt,
and now he felt himself to be almost discomposed by the meeting. "Is
your daughter here, Lady Baldock?"

Lady Baldock shook her head solemnly and sadly. "Do not speak of her,
Mr. Finn. It is too sad! We never mention her name now." Phineas
looked as sad as he knew how to look, but he said nothing. The
lamentation of the mother did not seem to imply that the daughter was
dead; and, from his remembrance of Augusta Boreham, he would have
thought her to be the last woman in the world to run away with the
coachman. At the moment there did not seem to be any other sufficient
cause for so melancholy a wagging of that venerable head. He had been
told to say nothing, and he could ask no questions; but Lady Baldock
did not choose that he should be left to imagine things more terrible
than the truth. "She is lost to us for ever, Mr. Finn."

"How very sad."

"Sad, indeed! We don't know how she took it."

"Took what, Lady Baldock?"

"I am sure it was nothing that she ever saw at home. If there is a
thing I'm true to, it is the Protestant Established Church of
England. Some nasty, low, lying, wheedling priest got hold of her,
and now she's a nun, and calls herself--Sister Veronica John!" Lady
Baldock threw great strength and unction into her description of the
priest; but as soon as she had told her story a sudden thought struck
her. "Oh, laws! I quite forgot. I beg your pardon, Mr. Finn; but
you're one of them!"

"Not a nun, Lady Baldock." At that moment the door was opened, and
Lord Chiltern came in, to the great relief of his wife's aunt.



CHAPTER III

Gerard Maule


"Why didn't you tell me?" said Phineas that night after Lady Baldock
was gone to bed. The two men had taken off their dress coats, and had
put on smoking caps,--Lord Chiltern, indeed, having clothed himself
in a wonderful Chinese dressing-gown, and they were sitting round the
fire in the smoking-room; but though they were thus employed and thus
dressed the two younger ladies were still with them.

"How could I tell you everything in two minutes?" said Lady Chiltern.

"I'd have given a guinea to have heard her," said Lord Chiltern,
getting up and rubbing his hands as he walked about the room. "Can't
you fancy all that she'd say, and then her horror when she'd remember
that Phineas was a Papist himself?"

"But what made Miss Boreham turn nun?"

"I fancy she found the penances lighter than they were at home," said
the lord. "They couldn't well be heavier."

"Dear old aunt!"

"Does she never go to see Sister Veronica?" asked Miss Palliser.

"She has been once," said Lady Chiltern.

"And fumigated herself first so as to escape infection," said the
husband. "You should hear Gerard Maule imitate her when she talks
about the filthy priest."

"And who is Gerard Maule?" Then Lady Chiltern looked at her friend,
and Phineas was almost sure that Gerard Maule was the man who was
dying for Adelaide Palliser.

"He's a great ally of mine," said Lady Chiltern,

"He's a young fellow who thinks he can ride to hounds," said Lord
Chiltern, "and who very often does succeed in riding over them."

"That's not fair, Lord Chiltern," said Miss Palliser.

"Just my idea of it," replied the Master. "I don't think it's at all
fair. Because a man has plenty of horses, and nothing else to do, and
rides twelve stone, and doesn't care how he's sworn at, he's always
to be over the scent, and spoil every one's sport. I don't call it at
all fair."

"He's a very nice fellow, and a great friend of Oswald's. He is to be
here to-morrow, and you'll like him very much. Won't he, Adelaide?"

"I don't know Mr. Finn's tastes quite so well as you do, Violet. But
Mr. Maule is so harmless that no one can dislike him very much."

"As for being harmless, I'm not so sure," said Lady Chiltern. After
that they all went to bed.

Phineas remained at Harrington Hall till the ninth, on which day he
went to London so that he might be at Tankerville on the tenth. He
rode Lord Chiltern's horses, and took an interest in the hounds, and
nursed the baby. "Now tell me what you think of Gerard Maule," Lady
Chiltern asked him, the day before he started.

"I presume that he is the young man that is dying for Miss Palliser."

"You may answer my question, Mr. Finn, without making any such
suggestion."

"Not discreetly. Of course if he is to be made happy, I am bound at
the present moment to say all good things of him. At such a crisis it
would be wicked to tinge Miss Palliser's hopes with any hue less warm
than rose colour."

"Do you suppose that I tell everything that is said to me?"

"Not at all; but opinions do ooze out. I take him to be a good sort
of a fellow; but why doesn't he talk a bit more?"

"That's just it."

"And why does he pretend to do nothing? When he's out he rides
hard; but at other times there's a ha-ha, lack a-daisical air about
him which I hate. Why men assume it I never could understand. It
can recommend them to nobody. A man can't suppose that he'll gain
anything by pretending that he never reads, and never thinks, and
never does anything, and never speaks, and doesn't care what he has
for dinner, and, upon the whole, would just as soon lie in bed all
day as get up. It isn't that he is really idle. He rides and eats,
and does get up, and I daresay talks and thinks. It's simply a poor
affectation."

"That's your rose colour, is it?"

"You've promised secrecy, Lady Chiltern. I suppose he's well off?"

"He is an eldest son. The property is not large, and I'm afraid
there's something wrong about it."

"He has no profession?"

"None at all. He has an allowance of £800 a year, which in some sort
of fashion is independent of his father. He has nothing on earth to
do. Adelaide's whole fortune is four thousand pounds. If they were to
marry what would become of them?"

"That wouldn't be enough to live on?"

"It ought to be enough,--as he must, I suppose, have the property
some day,--if only he had something to do. What sort of a life would
he lead?"

"I suppose he couldn't become a Master of Hounds?"

"That is ill-natured, Mr. Finn."

"I did not mean it so. I did not indeed. You must know that I did
not."

"Of course Oswald had nothing to do, and, of course, there was a time
when I wished that he should take to Parliament. No one knew all that
better than you did. But he was very different from Mr. Maule."

"Very different, indeed."

"Oswald is a man full of energy, and with no touch of that
affectation which you described. As it is, he does work hard. No
man works harder. The learned people say that you should produce
something, and I don't suppose that he produces much. But somebody
must keep hounds, and nobody could do it better than he does."

"You don't think that I mean to blame him?"

"I hope not."

"Are he and his father on good terms now?"

"Oh, yes. His father wishes him to go to Saulsby, but he won't do
that. He hates Saulsby."

Saulsby was the country seat of the Earl of Brentford, the name of
the property which must some day belong to this Lord Chiltern, and
Phineas, as he heard this, remembered former days in which he had
ridden about Saulsby Woods, and had thought them to be anything but
hateful. "Is Saulsby shut up?" he asked.

"Altogether, and so is the house in Portman Square. There never was
anything more sad or desolate. You would find him altered, Mr. Finn.
He is quite an old man now. He was here in the spring, for a week or
two;--in England, that is; but he stayed at an hotel in London. He
and Laura live at Dresden now, and a very sad time they must have."

"Does she write?"

"Yes; and keeps up all her interest about politics. I have already
told her that you are to stand for Tankerville. No one,--no other
human being in the world will be so interested for you as she is.
If any friend ever felt an interest almost selfish for a friend's
welfare, she will feel such an interest for you. If you were to
succeed it would give her a hope in life." Phineas sat silent,
drinking in the words that were said to him. Though they were true,
or at least meant to be true, they were full of flattery. Why should
this woman of whom they were speaking love him so dearly? She was
nothing to him. She was highly born, greatly gifted, wealthy, and a
married woman, whose character, as he well knew, was beyond the taint
of suspicion, though she had been driven by the hard sullenness of
her husband to refuse to live under his roof. Phineas Finn and Lady
Laura Kennedy had not seen each other for two years, and when they
had parted, though they had lived as friends, there had been no signs
of still living friendship. True, indeed, she had written to him,
but her letters had been short and cold, merely detailing certain
circumstances of her outward life. Now he was told by this woman's
dearest friend that his welfare was closer to her heart than any
other interest!

"I daresay you often think of her?" said Lady Chiltern.

"Indeed, I do."

"What virtues she used to ascribe to you! What sins she forgave you!
How hard she fought for you! Now, though she can fight no more, she
does not think of it all the less."

"Poor Lady Laura!"

"Poor Laura, indeed! When one sees such shipwreck it makes a woman
doubt whether she ought to marry at all."

"And yet he was a good man. She always said so."

"Men are so seldom really good. They are so little sympathetic. What
man thinks of changing himself so as to suit his wife? And yet men
expect that women shall put on altogether new characters when they
are married, and girls think that they can do so. Look at this
Mr. Maule, who is really over head and ears in love with Adelaide
Palliser. She is full of hope and energy. He has none. And yet he has
the effrontery to suppose that she will adapt herself to his way of
living if he marries her."

"Then they are to be married?"

"I suppose it will come to that. It always does if the man is
in earnest. Girls will accept men simply because they think it
ill-natured to return the compliment of an offer with a hearty 'No.'"

"I suppose she likes him?"

"Of course she does. A girl almost always likes a man who is in love
with her,--unless indeed she positively dislikes him. But why should
she like him? He is good-looking, is a gentleman, and not a fool.
Is that enough to make such a girl as Adelaide Palliser think a man
divine?"

"Is nobody to be accepted who is not credited with divinity?"

"The man should be a demigod, at least in respect to some part of his
character. I can find nothing even demi-divine about Mr. Maule."

"That's because you are not in love with him, Lady Chiltern."

Six or seven very pleasant days Phineas Finn spent at Harrington
Hall, and then he started alone, and very lonely, for Tankerville.
But he admitted to himself that the pleasure which he had received
during his visit was quite sufficient to qualify him in running
any risk in an attempt to return to the kind of life which he had
formerly led. But if he should fail at Tankerville what would become
of him then?



CHAPTER IV

Tankerville


The great Mr. Molescroft himself came over to Tankerville for the
purpose of introducing our hero to the electors and to Mr. Ruddles,
the local Liberal agent, who was to be employed. They met at the
Lambton Arms, and there Phineas established himself, knowing well
that he had before him ten days of unmitigated vexation and misery.
Tankerville was a dirty, prosperous, ungainly town, which seemed to
exude coal-dust or coal-mud at every pore. It was so well recognised
as being dirty that people did not expect to meet each other with
clean hands and faces. Linen was never white at Tankerville, and even
ladies who sat in drawing-rooms were accustomed to the feel and taste
and appearance of soot in all their daintiest recesses. We hear that
at Oil City the flavour of petroleum is hardly considered to be
disagreeable, and so it was with the flavour of coal at Tankerville.
And we know that at Oil City the flavour of petroleum must not be
openly declared to be objectionable, and so it was with coal at
Tankerville. At Tankerville coal was much loved, and was not thought
to be dirty. Mr. Ruddles was very much begrimed himself, and some
of the leading Liberal electors, upon whom Phineas Finn had already
called, seemed to be saturated with the product of the district. It
would not, however, in any event be his duty to live at Tankerville,
and he had believed from the first moment of his entrance into the
town that he would soon depart from it, and know it no more. He felt
that the chance of his being elected was quite a forlorn hope, and
could hardly understand why he had allowed himself to be embarrassed
by so very unprofitable a speculation.

Phineas Finn had thrice before this been chosen to sit in
Parliament--twice for the Irish borough of Loughshane, and once for
the English borough of Loughton; but he had been so happy as hitherto
to have known nothing of the miseries and occasional hopelessness of
a contested election. At Loughton he had come forward as the nominee
of the Earl of Brentford, and had been returned without any chance of
failure by that nobleman's influence. At Loughshane things had nearly
been as pleasant with him. He had almost been taught to think that
nothing could be easier than getting into Parliament if only a man
could live when he was there. But Loughton and Loughshane were gone,
with so many other comfortable things of old days, and now he found
himself relegated to a borough to which, as it seemed to him, he was
sent to fight, not that he might win, but because it was necessary
to his party that the seat should not be allowed to be lost without
fighting. He had had the pleasant things of parliamentary adventure,
and now must undergo those which were unpleasant. No doubt he could
have refused, but he had listened to the tempter, and could not now
go back, though Mr. Ruddles was hardly more encouraging than Mr.
Molescroft.

"Browborough has been at work for the last three days," said Mr.
Ruddles, in a tone of reproach. Mr. Ruddles had always thought that
no amount of work could be too heavy for his candidates.

"Will that make much difference?" asked Mr. Molescroft.

"Well, it does. Of course, he has been among the colliers,--when we
ought to have been before him."

"I came when I was told," said Phineas.

"I'd have telegraphed to you if I'd known where you were. But there's
no help for spilt milk. We must get to work now,--that's all. I
suppose you're for disestablishing the Church?"

"Not particularly," said Phineas, who felt that with him, as a Roman
Catholic, this was a delicate subject.

"We needn't go into that, need we?" said Mr. Molescroft, who, though
a Liberal, was a good Churchman.

Mr. Ruddles was a Dissenter, but the very strong opinion which Mr.
Ruddles now expressed as to the necessity that the new candidate
should take up the Church question did not spring at all from his own
religious convictions. His present duty called upon him to have a
Liberal candidate if possible returned for the borough with which he
was connected, and not to disseminate the doctrines of his own sect.
Nevertheless, his opinion was very strong. "I think we must, Mr.
Molescroft," said he; "I'm sure we must. Browborough has taken up
the other side. He went to church last Sunday with the Mayor and two
of the Aldermen, and I'm told he said all the responses louder than
anybody else. He dined with the Vicar of Trinity on Monday. He has
been very loud in denouncing Mr. Finn as a Roman Catholic, and has
declared that everything will be up with the State if Tankerville
returns a friend and supporter of the Pope. You'll find that the
Church will be the cry here this election. You can't get anything by
supporting it, but you may make a strong party by pledging yourself
to disendowment."

"Wouldn't local taxation do?" asked Mr. Molescroft, who indeed
preferred almost any other reform to disendowment.

"I have made up my mind that we must have some check on municipal
expenditure," said Phineas.

"It won't do--not alone. If I understand the borough, the feeling at
this election will altogether be about the Church. You see, Mr. Finn,
your being a Roman Catholic gives them a handle, and they're already
beginning to use it. They don't like Roman Catholics here; but if
you can manage to give it a sort of Liberal turn,--as many of your
constituents used to do, you know,--as though you disliked Church and
State rather than cared for the Pope, may be it might act on our side
rather than on theirs. Mr. Molescroft understands it all."

"Oh, yes; I understand."

Mr. Ruddles said a great deal more to the same effect, and though Mr.
Molescroft did not express any acquiescence in these views, neither
did he dissent. The candidate said but little at this interview, but
turned the matter over in his mind. A seat in Parliament would be
but a barren honour, and he could not afford to offer his services
for barren honour. Honest political work he was anxious to do, but
for what work he did he desired to be paid. The party to which he
belonged had, as he knew, endeavoured to avoid the subject of the
disendowment of the Church of England. It is the necessary nature
of a political party in this country to avoid, as long as it can be
avoided, the consideration of any question which involves a great
change. There is a consciousness on the minds of leading politicians
that the pressure from behind, forcing upon them great measures,
drives them almost quicker than they can go, so that it becomes a
necessity with them to resist rather than to aid the pressure which
will certainly be at last effective by its own strength. The best
carriage horses are those which can most steadily hold back against
the coach as it trundles down the hill. All this Phineas knew, and
was of opinion that the Barrington Erles and Ratlers of his party
would not thank him for ventilating a measure which, however certain
might be its coming, might well be postponed for a few years. Once
already in his career he had chosen to be in advance of his party,
and the consequences had been disastrous to him. On that occasion his
feelings had been strong in regard to the measure upon which he broke
away from his party; but, when he first thought of it, he did not
care much about Church disendowment.

But he found that he must needs go as he was driven or else depart
out of the place. He wrote a line to his friend Erle, not to ask
advice, but to explain the circumstances. "My only possible chance
of success will lie in attacking the Church endowments. Of course I
think they are bad, and of course I think that they must go. But I
have never cared for the matter, and would have been very willing to
leave it among those things which will arrange themselves. But I have
no choice here." And so he prepared himself to run his race on the
course arranged for him by Mr. Ruddles. Mr. Molescroft, whose hours
were precious, soon took his leave, and Phineas Finn was placarded
about the town as the sworn foe to all Church endowments.

In the course of his canvass, and the commotions consequent upon
it, he found that Mr. Ruddles was right. No other subject seemed at
the moment to have any attraction in Tankerville. Mr. Browborough,
whose life had not been passed in any strict obedience to the Ten
Commandments, and whose religious observances had not hitherto
interfered with either the pleasures or the duties of his life,
repeated at every meeting which he attended, and almost to every
elector whom he canvassed, the great Shibboleth which he had now
adopted--"The prosperity of England depends on the Church of her
people." He was not an orator. Indeed, it might be hard to find a
man, who had for years been conversant with public life, less able
to string a few words together for immediate use. Nor could he learn
half-a-dozen sentences by rote. But he could stand up with unabashed
brow and repeat with enduring audacity the same words a dozen times
over--"The prosperity of England depends on the Church of her
people." Had he been asked whether the prosperity which he promised
was temporal or spiritual in its nature, not only could he not have
answered, but he would not in the least have understood the question.
But the words as they came from his mouth had a weight which seemed
to ensure their truth, and many men in Tankerville thought that Mr.
Browborough was eloquent.

Phineas, on the other hand, made two or three great speeches every
evening, and astonished even Mr. Ruddles by his oratory. He had
accepted Mr. Ruddles's proposition with but lukewarm acquiescence,
but in the handling of the matter he became zealous, fiery,
and enthusiastic. He explained to his hearers with gracious
acknowledgment that Church endowments had undoubtedly been most
beneficent in past times. He spoke in the interests of no special
creed. Whether in the so-called Popish days of Henry VIII and his
ancestors, or in the so-called Protestant days that had followed,
the state of society had required that spiritual teaching should be
supplied from funds fixed and devoted to the purpose. The increasing
intelligence and population of the country made this no longer
desirable,--or, if desirable, no longer possible. Could these
endowments be increased to meet the needs of the increasing millions?
Was it not the fact that even among members of the Church of England
they were altogether inefficient to supply the wants of our great
towns? Did the people of Tankerville believe that the clergymen of
London, of Liverpool, and of Manchester were paid by endowments? The
arguments which had been efficacious in Ireland must be efficacious
in England. He said this without reference to one creed or to
another. He did believe in religious teaching. He had not a word to
say against a Protestant Episcopal Church. But he thought, nay he
was sure, that Church and State, as combined institutions, could no
longer prevail in this country. If the people of Tankerville would
return him to Parliament it should be his first object to put an end
to this anomaly.

The Browboroughites were considerably astonished by his success. The
colliers on this occasion did not seem to regard the clamour that
was raised against Irish Papists. Much dirt was thrown and some
heads were broken; but Phineas persevered. Mr. Ruddles was lost in
admiration. They had never before had at Tankerville a man who could
talk so well. Mr. Browborough without ceasing repeated his well-worn
assurance, and it was received with the loudest exclamations of
delight by his own party. The clergymen of the town and neighbourhood
crowded round him and pursued him, and almost seemed to believe in
him. They were at any rate fighting their battle as best they knew
how to fight it. But the great body of the colliers listened to
Phineas, and every collier was now a voter. Then Mr. Ruddles, who
had many eyes, began to perceive that the old game was to be played.
"There'll be money going to-morrow after all," he whispered to Finn
the evening before the election.

"I suppose you expected that."

"I wasn't sure. They began by thinking they could do without it. They
don't want to sacrifice the borough."

"Nor do I, Mr. Ruddles."

"But they'll sooner do that than lose the seat. A couple of dozen of
men out of the Fallgate would make us safe." Mr. Ruddles smiled as he
said this.

And Phineas smiled as he answered, "If any good can be done by
talking to the men at the Fallgate, I'll talk to them by the hour
together."

"We've about done all that," said Mr. Ruddles.

Then came the voting. Up to two o'clock the polling was so equal that
the numbers at Mr. Browborough's committee room were always given in
his favour, and those at the Liberal room in favour of Phineas Finn.
At three o'clock Phineas was acknowledged to be ten ahead. He himself
was surprised at his own success, and declared to himself that his
old luck had not deserted him.

"They're giving £2 10s. a vote at the Fallgate this minute," said
Ruddles to him at a quarter-past three.

"We shall have to prove it."

"We can do that, I think," said Ruddles.

At four o'clock, when the poll was over, Browborough was declared
to have won on the post by seven votes. He was that same evening
declared by the Mayor to have been elected sitting member for the
borough, and he again assured the people in his speech that the
prosperity of England depends on the Church of her people.

"We shall carry the seat on a scrutiny as sure as eggs," said Mr.
Ruddles, who had been quite won by the gallant way in which Phineas
had fought his battle.



CHAPTER V

Mr. Daubeny's Great Move


The whole Liberal party was taken very much by surprise at the course
which the election ran. Or perhaps it might be more proper to say
that the parliamentary leaders of the party were surprised. It had
not been recognised by them as necessary that the great question of
Church and State should be generally discussed on this occasion. It
was a matter of course that it should be discussed at some places,
and by some men. Eager Dissenters would, of course, take advantage
of the opportunity to press their views, and no doubt the entire
abolition of the Irish Church as a State establishment had taught
Liberals to think and Conservatives to fear that the question would
force itself forward at no very distant date. But it had not been
expected to do so now. The general incompetence of a Ministry who
could not command a majority on any measure was intended to be the
strong point of the Liberal party, not only at the election, but at
the meeting of Parliament. The Church question, which was necessarily
felt by all statesmen to be of such magnitude as to dwarf every
other, was not wanted as yet. It might remain in the background as
the future standing-point for some great political struggle, in which
it would be again necessary that every Liberal should fight, as
though for life, with his teeth and nails. Men who ten years since
regarded almost with abhorrence, and certainly with distrust, the
idea of disruption between Church and State in England, were no
doubt learning to perceive that such disruption must come, and were
reconciling themselves to it after that slow, silent, inargumentative
fashion in which convictions force themselves among us. And from
reconciliation to the idea some were advancing to enthusiasm on its
behalf. "It is only a question of time," was now said by many who
hardly remembered how devoted they had been to the Established Church
of England a dozen years ago. But the fruit was not yet ripe, and the
leaders of the Liberal party by no means desired that it should be
plucked. They were, therefore, surprised, and but little pleased,
when they found that the question was more discussed than any other
on the hustings of enthusiastically political boroughs.

Barrington Erle was angry when he received the letter of Phineas
Finn. He was at that moment staying with the Duke of St. Bungay,
who was regarded by many as the only possible leader of the Liberal
party, should Mr. Gresham for any reason fail them. Indeed the old
Whigs, of whom Barrington Erle considered himself to be one, would
have much preferred the Duke to Mr. Gresham, had it been possible
to set Mr. Gresham aside. But Mr. Gresham was too strong to be set
aside; and Erle and the Duke, with all their brethren, were minded to
be thoroughly loyal to their leader. He was their leader, and not to
be loyal was, in their minds, treachery. But occasionally they feared
that the man would carry them whither they did not desire to go. In
the meantime heavy things were spoken of our poor friend, Finn.

"After all, that man is an ass," said Erle.

"If so, I believe you are altogether responsible for him," said the
Duke.

"Well, yes, in a measure; but not altogether. That, however, is a
long story. He has many good gifts. He is clever, good-tempered, and
one of the pleasantest fellows that ever lived. The women all like
him."

"So the Duchess tells me."

"But he is not what I call loyal. He cannot keep himself from running
after strange gods. What need had he to take up the Church question
at Tankerville? The truth is, Duke, the thing is going to pieces.
We get men into the House now who are clever, and all that sort
of thing, and who force their way up, but who can't be made to
understand that everybody should not want to be Prime Minister." The
Duke, who was now a Nestor among politicians, though very green in
his age, smiled as he heard remarks which had been familiar to him
for the last forty years. He, too, liked his party, and was fond of
loyal men; but he had learned at last that all loyalty must be built
on a basis of self-advantage. Patriotism may exist without it, but
that which Erle called loyalty in politics was simply devotion to the
side which a man conceives to be his side, and which he cannot leave
without danger to himself.

But if discontent was felt at the eagerness with which this subject
was taken up at certain boroughs, and was adopted by men whose votes
and general support would be essentially necessary to the would-be
coming Liberal Government, absolute dismay was occasioned by a speech
that was made at a certain county election. Mr. Daubeny had for many
years been member for East Barsetshire, and was as sure of his seat
as the Queen of her throne. No one would think of contesting Mr.
Daubeny's right to sit for East Barsetshire, and no doubt he might
have been returned without showing himself to the electors. But he
did show himself to the electors; and, as a matter of course, made
a speech on the occasion. It so happened that the day fixed for the
election in this division of the county was quite at the close of
this period of political excitement. When Mr. Daubeny addressed his
friends in East Barsetshire the returns throughout the kingdom were
nearly complete. No attention had been paid to this fact during the
elections, but it was afterwards asserted that the arrangement had
been made with a political purpose, and with a purpose which was
politically dishonest. Mr. Daubeny, so said the angry Liberals,
had not chosen to address his constituents till his speech at the
hustings could have no effect on other counties. Otherwise,--so said
the Liberals,--the whole Conservative party would have been called
upon to disavow at the hustings the conclusion to which Mr. Daubeny
hinted in East Barsetshire that he had arrived. The East Barsetshire
men themselves,--so said the Liberals,--had been too crass to catch
the meaning hidden under his ambiguous words; but those words, when
read by the light of astute criticism, were found to contain an
opinion that Church and State should be dissevered. "By G----! he's
going to take the bread out of our mouths again," said Mr. Ratler.

The speech was certainly very ambiguous, and I am not sure that the
East Barsetshire folk were so crass as they were accused of being,
in not understanding it at once. The dreadful hint was wrapped up in
many words, and formed but a small part of a very long oration. The
bucolic mind of East Barsetshire took warm delight in the eloquence
of the eminent personage who represented them, but was wont to
extract more actual enjoyment from the music of his periods than from
the strength of his arguments. When he would explain to them that
he had discovered a new, or rather hitherto unknown, Conservative
element in the character of his countrymen, which he could best
utilise by changing everything in the Constitution, he manipulated
his words with such grace, was so profound, so broad, and so exalted,
was so brilliant in mingling a deep philosophy with the ordinary
politics of the day, that the bucolic mind could only admire. It was
a great honour to the electors of that agricultural county that they
should be made the first recipients of these pearls, which were
not wasted by being thrown before them. They were picked up by
the gentlemen of the Press, and became the pearls, not of East
Barsetshire, but of all England. On this occasion it was found that
one pearl was very big, very rare, and worthy of great attention;
but it was a black pearl, and was regarded by many as an abominable
prodigy. "The period of our history is one in which it becomes
essential for us to renew those inquiries which have prevailed since
man first woke to his destiny, as to the amount of connection which
exists and which must exist between spiritual and simply human forms
of government,--between our daily religion and our daily politics,
between the Crown and the Mitre." The East Barsetshire clergymen and
the East Barsetshire farmers like to hear something of the mitre in
political speeches at the hustings. The word sounds pleasantly in
their ears, as appertaining to good old gracious times and good old
gracious things. As honey falls fast from the mouth of the practised
speaker, the less practised hearer is apt to catch more of the words
than of the sense. The speech of Mr. Daubeny was taken all in good
part by his assembled friends. But when it was read by the quidnuncs
on the following day it was found to contain so deep a meaning that
it produced from Mr. Ratler's mouth those words of fear which have
been already quoted.

Could it really be the case that the man intended to perform so
audacious a trick of legerdemain as this for the preservation of his
power, and that if he intended it he should have the power to carry
it through? The renewal of inquiry as to the connection which exists
between the Crown and the Mitre, when the bran was bolted could only
mean the disestablishment of the Church. Mr. Ratler and his friends
were not long in bolting the bran. Regarding the matter simply in its
own light, without bringing to bear upon it the experience of the
last half-century, Mr. Ratler would have thought his party strong
enough to defy Mr. Daubeny utterly in such an attempt. The ordinary
politician, looking at Mr. Daubeny's position as leader of the
Conservative party, as a statesman depending on the support of the
Church, as a Minister appointed to his present place for the express
object of defending all that was left of old, and dear, and venerable
in the Constitution, would have declared that Mr. Daubeny was
committing political suicide, as to which future history would record
a verdict of probably not temporary insanity. And when the speech was
a week old this was said in many a respectable household through the
country. Many a squire, many a parson, many a farmer was grieved for
Mr. Daubeny when the words had been explained to him, who did not for
a moment think that the words could be portentous as to the great
Conservative party. But Mr. Ratler remembered Catholic emancipation,
had himself been in the House when the Corn Laws were repealed, and
had been nearly broken-hearted when household suffrage had become
the law of the land while a Conservative Cabinet and a Conservative
Government were in possession of dominion in Israel.

Mr. Bonteen was disposed to think that the trick was beyond the
conjuring power even of Mr. Daubeny. "After all, you know, there is
the party," he said to Mr. Ratler. Mr. Ratler's face was as good
as a play, and if seen by that party would have struck that party
with dismay and shame. The meaning of Mr. Ratler's face was plain
enough. He thought so little of that party, on the score either of
intelligence, honesty, or fidelity, as to imagine that it would
consent to be led whithersoever Mr. Daubeny might choose to lead
it. "If they care about anything, it's about the Church," said Mr.
Bonteen.

"There's something they like a great deal better than the Church,"
said Mr. Ratler. "Indeed, there's only one thing they care about at
all now. They've given up all the old things. It's very likely that
if Daubeny were to ask them to vote for pulling down the Throne and
establishing a Republic they'd all follow him into the lobby like
sheep. They've been so knocked about by one treachery after another
that they don't care now for anything beyond their places."

"It's only a few of them get anything, after all."

"Yes, they do. It isn't just so much a year they want, though those
who have that won't like to part with it. But they like getting the
counties, and the Garters, and the promotion in the army. They
like their brothers to be made bishops, and their sisters like the
Wardrobe and the Bedchamber. There isn't one of them that doesn't
hang on somewhere,--or at least not many. Do you remember Peel's bill
for the Corn Laws?"

"There were fifty went against him then," said Bonteen.

"And what are fifty? A man doesn't like to be one of fifty. It's
too many for glory, and not enough for strength. There has come up
among them a general feeling that it's just as well to let things
slide,--as the Yankees say. They're down-hearted about it enough
within their own houses, no doubt. But what can they do, if they hold
back? Some stout old cavalier here and there may shut himself up in
his own castle, and tell himself that the world around him may go to
wrack and ruin, but that he will not help the evil work. Some are
shutting themselves up. Look at old Quin, when they carried their
Reform Bill. But men, as a rule, don't like to be shut up. How they
reconcile it to their conscience,--that's what I can't understand."
Such was the wisdom, and such were the fears of Mr. Ratler. Mr.
Bonteen, however, could not bring himself to believe that the
Arch-enemy would on this occasion be successful. "It mayn't be too
hot for him," said Mr. Bonteen, when he reviewed the whole matter,
"but I think it'll be too heavy."

They who had mounted higher than Mr. Ratler and Mr. Bonteen on the
political ladder, but who had mounted on the same side, were no
less astonished than their inferiors; and, perhaps, were equally
disgusted, though they did not allow themselves to express their
disgust as plainly. Mr. Gresham was staying in the country with his
friend, Lord Cantrip, when the tidings reached them of Mr. Daubeny's
speech to the electors of East Barsetshire. Mr. Gresham and Lord
Cantrip had long sat in the same Cabinet, and were fast friends,
understanding each other's views, and thoroughly trusting each
other's loyalty. "He means it," said Lord Cantrip.

"He means to see if it be possible," said the other. "It is thrown
out as a feeler to his own party."

"I'll do him the justice of saying that he's not afraid of his party.
If he means it, he means it altogether, and will not retract it, even
though the party should refuse as a body to support him. I give him
no other credit, but I give him that."

Mr. Gresham paused for a few moments before he answered. "I do not
know," said he, "whether we are justified in thinking that one man
will always be the same. Daubeny has once been very audacious, and he
succeeded. But he had two things to help him,--a leader, who, though
thoroughly trusted, was very idle, and an ill-defined question. When
he had won his leader he had won his party. He has no such tower of
strength now. And in the doing of this thing, if he means to do it,
he must encounter the assured conviction of every man on his own
side, both in the upper and lower House. When he told them that he
would tap a Conservative element by reducing the suffrage they did
not know whether to believe him or not. There might be something
in it. It might be that they would thus resume a class of suffrage
existing in former days, but which had fallen into abeyance, because
not properly protected. They could teach themselves to believe that
it might be so, and those among them who found it necessary to free
their souls did so teach themselves. I don't see how they are to free
their souls when they are invited to put down the State establishment
of the Church."

"He'll find a way for them."

"It's possible. I'm the last man in the world to contest the
possibility, or even the expediency, of changes in political opinion.
But I do not know whether it follows that because he was brave and
successful once he must necessarily be brave and successful again. A
man rides at some outrageous fence, and by the wonderful activity and
obedient zeal of his horse is carried over it in safety. It does not
follow that his horse will carry him over a house, or that he should
be fool enough to ask the beast to do so."

"He intends to ride at the house," said Lord Cantrip; "and he means
it because others have talked of it. You saw the line which my rash
young friend Finn took at Tankerville."

"And all for nothing."

"I am not so sure of that. They say he is like the rest. If Daubeny
does carry the party with him, I suppose the days of the Church are
numbered."

"And what if they be?" Mr. Gresham almost sighed as he said this,
although he intended to express a certain amount of satisfaction.
"What if they be? You know, and I know, that the thing has to be
done. Whatever may be our own individual feelings, or even our
present judgment on the subject,--as to which neither of us can
perhaps say that his mind is not so made up that it may not soon
be altered,--we know that the present union cannot remain. It is
unfitted for that condition of humanity to which we are coming, and
if so, the change must be for good. Why should not he do it as well
as another? Or rather would not he do it better than another, if he
can do it with less of animosity than we should rouse against us? If
the blow would come softer from his hands than from ours, with less
of a feeling of injury to those who dearly love the Church, should we
not be glad that he should undertake the task?"

"Then you will not oppose him?"

"Ah;--there is much to be considered before we can say that. Though
he may not be bound by his friends, we may be bound by ours. And
then, though I can hint to you at a certain condition of mind, and
can sympathise with you, feeling that such may become the condition
of your mind, I cannot say that I should act upon it as an
established conviction, or that I can expect that you will do so. If
such be the political programme submitted to us when the House meets,
then we must be prepared."

Lord Cantrip also paused a moment before he answered, but he had his
answer ready. "I can frankly say that I should follow your leading,
but that I should give my voice for opposition."

"Your voice is always persuasive," said Mr. Gresham.

But the consternation felt among Mr. Daubeny's friends was infinitely
greater than that which fell among his enemies, when those wonderful
words were read, discussed, criticised, and explained. It seemed to
every clergyman in England that nothing short of disestablishment
could be intended by them. And this was the man to whom they had all
looked for protection! This was the bulwark of the Church, to whom
they had trusted! This was the hero who had been so sound and so
firm respecting the Irish Establishment, when evil counsels had
been allowed to prevail in regard to that ill-used but still
sacred vineyard! All friends of the Church had then whispered
among themselves fearfully, and had, with sad looks and grievous
forebodings, acknowledged that the thin edge of the wedge had been
driven into the very rock of the Establishment. The enemies of
the Church were known to be powerful, numerous, and of course
unscrupulous. But surely this Brutus would not raise a dagger against
this Caesar! And yet, if not, what was the meaning of those words?
And then men and women began to tell each other,--the men and women
who are the very salt of the earth in this England of ours,--that
their Brutus, in spite of his great qualities, had ever been
mysterious, unintelligible, dangerous, and given to feats of
conjuring. They had only been too submissive to their Brutus.
Wonderful feats of conjuring they had endured, understanding nothing
of the manner in which they were performed,--nothing of their
probable results; but this feat of conjuring they would not endure.
And so there were many meetings held about the country, though the
time for combined action was very short.

Nothing more audacious than the speaking of those few words to the
bucolic electors of East Barsetshire had ever been done in the
political history of England. Cromwell was bold when he closed the
Long Parliament. Shaftesbury was bold when he formed the plot for
which Lord Russell and others suffered. Walpole was bold when, in his
lust for power, he discarded one political friend after another. And
Peel was bold when he resolved to repeal the Corn Laws. But in none
of these instances was the audacity displayed more wonderful than
when Mr. Daubeny took upon himself to make known throughout the
country his intention of abolishing the Church of England. For
to such a declaration did those few words amount. He was now the
recognised parliamentary leader of that party to which the Church of
England was essentially dear. He had achieved his place by skill,
rather than principle,--by the conviction on men's minds that he was
necessary rather than that he was fit. But still, there he was; and,
though he had alarmed many,--had, probably, alarmed all those who
followed him by his eccentric and dangerous mode of carrying on the
battle; though no Conservative regarded him as safe; yet on this
question of the Church it had been believed that he was sound. What
might be the special ideas of his own mind regarding ecclesiastical
policy in general, it had not been thought necessary to consider.
His utterances had been confusing, mysterious, and perhaps purposely
unintelligible; but that was matter of little moment so long as he
was prepared to defend the establishment of the Church of England
as an institution adapted for English purposes. On that point it
was believed that he was sound. To that mast it was supposed he had
nailed his own colours and those of his party. In defending that
fortress it was thought that he would be ready to fall, should the
defence of it require a fall. It was because he was so far safe that
he was there. And yet he spoke these words without consulting a
single friend, or suggesting the propriety of his new scheme to a
single supporter. And he knew what he was doing. This was the way in
which he had thought it best to make known to his own followers, not
only that he was about to abandon the old Institution, but that they
must do so too!

As regarded East Barsetshire itself, he was returned, and fêted, and
sent home with his ears stuffed with eulogy, before the bucolic mind
had discovered his purpose. On so much he had probably calculated.
But he had calculated also that after an interval of three or four
days his secret would be known to all friends and enemies. On the day
after his speech came the report of it in the newspapers; on the next
day the leading articles, in which the world was told what it was
that the Prime Minister had really said. Then, on the following day,
the startled parsons, and the startled squires and farmers, and,
above all, the startled peers and members of the Lower House, whose
duty it was to vote as he should lead them, were all agog. Could it
be that the newspapers were right in this meaning which they had
attached to these words? On the day week after the election in East
Barsetshire, a Cabinet Council was called in London, at which it
would, of course, be Mr. Daubeny's duty to explain to his colleagues
what it was that he did purpose to do.

In the meantime he saw a colleague or two.

"Let us look it straight in the face," he said to a noble colleague;
"we must look it in the face before long."

"But we need not hurry it forward."

"There is a storm coming. We knew that before, and we heard the sound
of it from every husting in the country. How shall we rule the storm
so that it may pass over the land without devastating it? If we bring
in a bill--"

"A bill for disestablishing the Church!" said the horror-stricken
lord.

"If we bring in a bill, the purport of which shall be to moderate the
ascendancy of the Church in accordance with the existing religious
feelings of the population, we shall save much that otherwise must
fall. If there must be a bill, would you rather that it should be
modelled by us who love the Church, or by those who hate it?"

That lord was very wrath, and told the right honourable gentleman
to his face that his duty to his party should have constrained him
to silence on that subject till he had consulted his colleagues. In
answer to this Mr. Daubeny said with much dignity that, should such
be the opinion of his colleagues in general, he would at once abandon
the high place which he held in their councils. But he trusted that
it might be otherwise. He had felt himself bound to communicate his
ideas to his constituents, and had known that in doing so some minds
must be shocked. He trusted that he might be able to allay this
feeling of dismay. As regarded this noble lord, he did succeed in
lessening the dismay before the meeting was over, though he did not
altogether allay it.

Another gentleman who was in the habit of sitting at Mr. Daubeny's
elbow daily in the House of Commons was much gentler with him, both
as to words and manner. "It's a bold throw, but I'm afraid it won't
come up sixes," said the right honourable gentleman.

"Let it come up fives, then. It's the only chance we have; and if you
think, as I do, that it is essentially necessary for the welfare of
the country that we should remain where we are, we must run the
risk."

With another colleague, whose mind was really set on that which
the Church is presumed to represent, he used another argument.
"I am convinced at any rate of this," said Mr. Daubeny; "that by
sacrificing something of that ascendancy which the Establishment is
supposed to give us, we can bring the Church, which we love, nearer
to the wants of the people." And so it came about that before the
Cabinet met, every member of it knew what it was that was expected
of him.



CHAPTER VI

Phineas and His Old Friends


Phineas Finn returned from Tankerville to London in much better
spirits than those which had accompanied him on his journey thither.
He was not elected; but then, before the election, he had come to
believe that it was quite out of the question that he should be
elected. And now he did think it probable that he should get the seat
on a petition. A scrutiny used to be a very expensive business, but
under the existing law, made as the scrutiny would be in the borough
itself, it would cost but little; and that little, should he be
successful, would fall on the shoulders of Mr. Browborough. Should he
knock off eight votes and lose none himself, he would be member for
Tankerville. He knew that many votes had been given for Browborough
which, if the truth were known of them, would be knocked off; and he
did not know that the same could be said of any one of those by which
he had been supported. But, unfortunately, the judge by whom all this
would be decided might not reach Tankerville in his travels till
after Christmas, perhaps not till after Easter; and in the meantime,
what should he do with himself?

As for going back to Dublin, that was now out of the question. He had
entered upon a feverish state of existence in which it was impossible
that he should live in Ireland. Should he ultimately fail in regard
to his seat he must-vanish out of the world. While he remained in his
present condition he would not even endeavour to think how he might
in such case best bestow himself. For the present he would remain
within the region of politics, and live as near as he could to the
whirl of the wheel of which the sound was so dear to him. Of one club
he had always remained a member, and he had already been re-elected
a member of the Reform. So he took up his residence once more at the
house of a certain Mr. and Mrs. Bunce, in Great Marlborough Street,
with whom he had lodged when he first became a member of Parliament.

"So you're at the old game, Mr. Finn?" said his landlord.

"Yes; at the old game. I suppose it's the same with you?" Now Mr.
Bunce had been a very violent politician, and used to rejoice in
calling himself a Democrat.

"Pretty much the same, Mr. Finn. I don't see that things are much
better than they used to be. They tell me at the _People's Banner_
office that the lords have had as much to do with this election as
with any that ever went before it."

"Perhaps they don't know much about it at the _People's Banner_
office. I thought Mr. Slide and the _People's Banner_ had gone over
to the other side, Bunce?"

"Mr. Slide is pretty wide-awake whatever side he's on. Not but what
he's disgraced himself by what he's been and done now." Mr. Slide
in former days had been the editor of the _People's Banner_, and
circumstances had arisen in consequence of which there had been some
acquaintance between him and our hero. "I see you was hammering away
at the Church down at Tankerville."

"I just said a word or two."

"You was all right, there, Mr. Finn. I can't say as I ever saw very
much in your religion; but what a man keeps in the way of religion
for his own use is never nothing to me;--as what I keeps is nothing
to him."

"I'm afraid you don't keep much, Mr. Bunce."

"And that's nothing to you, neither, is it, sir?"

"No, indeed."

"But when we read of Churches as is called State Churches,--Churches
as have bishops you and I have to pay for, as never goes into them--"

"But we don't pay the bishops, Mr. Bunce."

"Oh yes, we do; because, if they wasn't paid, the money would come to
us to do as we pleased with it. We proved all that when we pared them
down a bit. What's an Ecclesiastical Commission? Only another name
for a box to put the money into till you want to take it out again.
When we hear of Churches such as these, as is not kept up by the
people who uses them,--just as the theatres are, Mr. Finn, or the gin
shops,--then I know there's a deal more to be done before honest men
can come by their own. You're right enough, Mr. Finn, you are, as far
as churches go, and you was right, too, when you cut and run off the
Treasury Bench. I hope you ain't going to sit on that stool again."

Mr. Bunce was a privileged person, and Mrs. Bunce made up for his
apparent rudeness by her own affectionate cordiality. "Deary me,
and isn't it a thing for sore eyes to have you back again! I never
expected this. But I'll do for you, Mr. Finn, just as I ever did in
the old days; and it was I that was sorry when I heard of the poor
young lady's death; so I was, Mr. Finn; well, then, I won't mention
her name never again. But after all there's been betwixt you and us
it wouldn't be natural to pass it by without one word; would it, Mr.
Finn? Well, yes; he's just the same man as ever, without a ha'porth
of difference. He's gone on paying that shilling to the Union every
week of his life, just as he used to do; and never got so much out of
it, not as a junketing into the country. That he didn't. It makes me
that sick sometimes when I think of where it's gone to, that I don't
know how to bear it. Well, yes; that is true, Mr. Finn. There never
was a man better at bringing home his money to his wife than Bunce,
barring that shilling. If he'd drink it, which he never does, I
think I'd bear it better than give it to that nasty Union. And
young Jack writes as well as his father, pretty nigh, Mr. Finn,
which is a comfort,"--Mr. Bunce was a journeyman scrivener at a law
stationer's,--"and keeps his self; but he don't bring home his money,
nor yet it can't be expected, Mr. Finn. I know what the young 'uns
will do, and what they won't. And Mary Jane is quite handy about the
house now,--only she do break things, which is an aggravation; and
the hot water shall be always up at eight o'clock to a minute, if I
bring it with my own hand, Mr. Finn."

And so he was established once more in his old rooms in Great
Marlborough Street; and as he sat back in the arm-chair, which he
used to know so well, a hundred memories of former days crowded back
upon him. Lord Chiltern for a few months had lived with him; and then
there had arisen a quarrel, which he had for a time thought would
dissolve his old life into ruin. Now Lord Chiltern was again his very
intimate friend. And there had used to sit a needy money-lender whom
he had been unable to banish. Alas! alas! how soon might he now
require that money-lender's services! And then he recollected how he
had left these rooms to go into others, grander and more appropriate
to his life when he had filled high office under the State. Would
there ever again come to him such cause for migration? And would he
again be able to load the frame of the looking-glass over the fire
with countless cards from Countesses and Ministers' wives? He had
opened the oyster for himself once, though it had closed again with
so sharp a snap when the point of his knife had been withdrawn. Would
he be able to insert the point again between those two difficult
shells? Would the Countesses once more be kind to him? Would
drawing-rooms be opened to him, and sometimes opened to him and to
no other? Then he thought of certain special drawing-rooms in which
wonderful things had been said to him. Since that he had been a
married man, and those special drawing-rooms and those wonderful
words had in no degree actuated him in his choice of a wife. He had
left all those things of his own free will, as though telling himself
that there was a better life than they offered to him. But was he
sure that he had found it to be better? He had certainly sighed for
the gauds which he had left. While his young wife was living he had
kept his sighs down, so that she should not hear them; but he had
been forced to acknowledge that his new life had been vapid and
flavourless. Now he had been tempted back again to the old haunts.
Would the Countesses' cards be showered upon him again?

One card, or rather note, had reached him while he was yet at
Tankerville, reminding him of old days. It was from Mrs. Low, the
wife of the barrister with whom he had worked when he had been a
law student in London. She had asked him to come and dine with them
after the old fashion in Baker Street, naming a day as to which she
presumed that he would by that time have finished his affairs at
Tankerville, intimating also that Mr. Low would then have finished
his at North Broughton. Now Mr. Low had sat for North Broughton
before Phineas left London, and his wife spoke of the seat as a
certainty. Phineas could not keep himself from feeling that Mrs. Low
intended to triumph over him; but, nevertheless, he accepted the
invitation. They were very glad to see him, explaining that, as
nobody was supposed to be in town, nobody had been asked to meet
him. In former days he had been very intimate in that house, having
received from both of them much kindness, mingled, perhaps, with some
touch of severity on the part of the lady. But the ground for that
was gone, and Mrs. Low was no longer painfully severe. A few words
were said as to his great loss. Mrs. Low once raised her eyebrows in
pretended surprise when Phineas explained that he had thrown up his
place, and then they settled down on the question of the day. "And
so," said Mrs. Low, "you've begun to attack the Church?" It must be
remembered that at this moment Mr. Daubeny had not as yet electrified
the minds of East Barsetshire, and that, therefore, Mrs. Low was not
disturbed. To Mrs. Low, Church and State was the very breath of her
nostrils; and if her husband could not be said to live by means of
the same atmosphere it was because the breath of his nostrils had
been drawn chiefly in the Vice-Chancellor's Court in Lincoln's Inn.
But he, no doubt, would be very much disturbed indeed should he ever
be told that he was required, as an expectant member of Mr. Daubeny's
party, to vote for the Disestablishment of the Church of England.

"You don't mean that I am guilty of throwing the first stone?" said
Phineas.

"They have been throwing stones at the Temple since first it was
built," said Mrs. Low, with energy; "but they have fallen off its
polished shafts in dust and fragments." I am afraid that Mrs. Low,
when she allowed herself to speak thus energetically, entertained
some confused idea that the Church of England and the Christian
religion were one and the same thing, or, at least, that they had
been brought into the world together.

"You haven't thrown the first stone," said Mr. Low; "but you have
taken up the throwing at the first moment in which stones may be
dangerous."

"No stones can be dangerous," said Mrs. Low.

"The idea of a State Church," said Phineas, "is opposed to my theory
of political progress. What I hope is that my friends will not
suppose that I attack the Protestant Church because I am a Roman
Catholic. If I were a priest it would be my business to do so; but I
am not a priest."

Mr. Low gave his old friend a bottle of his best wine, and in all
friendly observances treated him with due affection. But neither did
he nor did his wife for a moment abstain from attacking their guest
in respect to his speeches at Tankerville. It seemed, indeed, to
Phineas that as Mrs. Low was buckled up in such triple armour that
she feared nothing, she might have been less loud in expressing her
abhorrence of the enemies of the Church. If she feared nothing, why
should she scream so loudly? Between the two he was a good deal
crushed and confounded, and Mrs. Low was very triumphant when she
allowed him to escape from her hands at ten o'clock. But, at that
moment, nothing had as yet been heard in Baker Street of Mr.
Daubeny's proposition to the electors of East Barsetshire! Poor Mrs.
Low! We can foresee that there is much grief in store for her, and
some rocks ahead, too, in the political career of her husband.

Phineas was still in London, hanging about the clubs, doing nothing,
discussing Mr. Daubeny's wonderful treachery with such men as came up
to town, and waiting for the meeting of Parliament, when he received
the following letter from Lady Laura Kennedy:--


   Dresden, November 18, ----

   MY DEAR MR. FINN,

   I have heard with great pleasure from my sister-in-law
   that you have been staying with them at Harrington Hall.
   It seems so like old days that you and Oswald and Violet
   should be together,--so much more natural than that you
   should be living in Dublin. I cannot conceive of you as
   living any other life than that of the House of Commons,
   Downing Street, and the clubs. Nor do I wish to do so. And
   when I hear of you at Harrington Hall I know that you are
   on your way to the other things.

   Do tell me what life is like with Oswald and Violet. Of
   course he never writes. He is one of those men who, on
   marrying, assume that they have at last got a person to do
   a duty which has always hitherto been neglected. Violet
   does write, but tells me little or nothing of themselves.
   Her letters are very nice, full of anecdote, well written,
   --letters that are fit to be kept and printed; but they
   are never family letters. She is inimitable in discussing
   the miseries of her own position as the wife of a Master
   of Hounds; but the miseries are as evidently fictitious as
   the art is real. She told me how poor dear Lady Baldock
   communicated to you her unhappiness about her daughter in
   a manner that made even me laugh; and would make thousands
   laugh in days to come were it ever to be published. But
   of her inside life, of her baby, or of her husband as a
   husband, she never says a word. You will have seen it all,
   and have enough of the feminine side of a man's character
   to be able to tell me how they are living. I am sure they
   are happy together, because Violet has more common sense
   than any woman I ever knew.

   And pray tell me about the affair at Tankerville. My
   cousin Barrington writes me word that you will certainly
   get the seat. He declares that Mr. Browborough is almost
   disposed not to fight the battle, though a man more
   disposed to fight never bribed an elector. But Barrington
   seems to think that you managed as well as you did by
   getting outside the traces, as he calls it. We certainly
   did not think that you would come out strong against the
   Church. Don't suppose that I complain. For myself I hate
   to think of the coming severance; but if it must come, why
   not by your hands as well as by any other? It is hardly
   possible that you in your heart should love a Protestant
   ascendant Church. But, as Barrington says, a horse won't
   get oats unless he works steady between the traces.

   As to myself, what am I to say to you? I and my father
   live here a sad, sombre, solitary life, together. We have
   a large furnished house outside the town, with a pleasant
   view and a pretty garden. He does--nothing. He reads the
   English papers, and talks of English parties, is driven
   out, and eats his dinner, and sleeps. At home, as you
   know, not only did he take an active part in politics, but
   he was active also in the management of his own property.
   Now it seems to him to be almost too great a trouble to
   write a letter to his steward; and all this has come upon
   him because of me. He is here because he cannot bear that
   I should live alone. I have offered to return with him to
   Saulsby, thinking that Mr. Kennedy would trouble me no
   further,--or to remain here by myself; but he will consent
   to neither. In truth the burden of idleness has now fallen
   upon him so heavily that he cannot shake it off. He dreads
   that he may be called upon to do anything.

   To me it is all one tragedy. I cannot but think of things
   as they were two or three years since. My father and my
   husband were both in the Cabinet, and you, young as you
   were, stood but one step below it. Oswald was out in the
   cold. He was very poor. Papa thought all evil of him.
   Violet had refused him over and over again. He quarrelled
   with you, and all the world seemed against him. Then of a
   sudden you vanished, and we vanished. An ineffable misery
   fell upon me and upon my wretched husband. All our good
   things went from us at a blow. I and my poor father became
   as it were outcasts. But Oswald suddenly retricked his
   beams, and is flaming in the forehead of the morning sky.
   He, I believe, has no more than he had deserved. He won
   his wife honestly;--did he not? And he has ever been
   honest. It is my pride to think I never gave him up. But
   the bitter part of my cup consists in this,--that as he
   has won what he has deserved, so have we. I complain of no
   injustice. Our castle was built upon the sand. Why should
   Mr. Kennedy have been a Cabinet Minister;--and why should
   I have been his wife? There is no one else of whom I can
   ask that question as I can of you, and no one else who can
   answer it as you can do.

   Of Mr. Kennedy it is singular how little I know, and how
   little I ever hear. There is no one whom I can ask to tell
   me of him. That he did not attend during the last Session
   I do know, and we presume that he has now abandoned his
   seat. I fear that his health is bad,--or perhaps, worse
   still, that his mind is affected by the gloom of his life.
   I suppose that he lives exclusively at Loughlinter. From
   time to time I am implored by him to return to my duty
   beneath his roof. He grounds his demand on no affection of
   his own, on no presumption that any affection can remain
   with me. He says no word of happiness. He offers no
   comfort. He does not attempt to persuade with promises of
   future care. He makes his claim simply on Holy Writ, and
   on the feeling of duty which thence ought to weigh upon
   me. He has never even told me that he loves me; but he is
   persistent in declaring that those whom God has joined
   together nothing human should separate. Since I have been
   here I have written to him once,--one sad, long, weary
   letter. Since that I am constrained to leave his letters
   unanswered.

   And now, my friend, could you not do for me a great
   kindness? For a while, till the inquiry be made at
   Tankerville, your time must be vacant. Cannot you come and
   see us? I have told Papa that I should ask you, and he
   would be delighted. I cannot explain to you what it would
   be to me to be able to talk again to one who knows all the
   errors and all the efforts of my past life as you do.
   Dresden is very cold in the winter. I do not know whether
   you would mind that. We are very particular about the
   rooms, but my father bears the temperature wonderfully
   well, though he complains. In March we move down south
   for a couple of months. Do come if you can.

   Most sincerely yours,

   LAURA KENNEDY.

   If you come, of course you will have yourself brought
   direct to us. If you can learn anything of Mr. Kennedy's
   life, and of his real condition, pray do. The faint
   rumours which reach me are painfully distressing.



CHAPTER VII

Coming Home from Hunting


Lady Chiltern was probably right when she declared that her husband
must have been made to be a Master of Hounds,--presuming it to be
granted that somebody must be Master of Hounds. Such necessity
certainly does exist in this, the present condition of England.
Hunting prevails; hunting men increase in numbers; foxes are
preserved; farmers do not rebel; owners of coverts, even when they
are not hunting men themselves, acknowledge the fact, and do not dare
to maintain their pheasants at the expense of the much better-loved
four-footed animal. Hounds are bred, and horses are trained specially
to the work. A master of fox hounds is a necessity of the period.
Allowing so much, we cannot but allow also that Lord Chiltern must
have been made to fill the situation. He understood hunting, and,
perhaps, there was nothing else requiring acute intelligence that he
did understand. And he understood hunting, not only as a huntsman
understands it,--in that branch of the science which refers simply to
the judicious pursuit of the fox, being probably inferior to his own
huntsman in that respect,--but he knew exactly what men should do,
and what they should not. In regard to all those various interests
with which he was brought in contact, he knew when to hold fast to
his own claims, and when to make no claims at all. He was afraid of
no one, but he was possessed of a sense of justice which induced him
to acknowledge the rights of those around him. When he found that the
earths were not stopped in Trumpeton Wood,--from which he judged that
the keeper would complain that the hounds would not or could not kill
any of the cubs found there,--he wrote in very round terms to the
Duke who owned it. If His Grace did not want to have the wood drawn,
let him say so. If he did, let him have the earths stopped. But when
that great question came up as to the Gartlow coverts--when that
uncommonly disagreeable gentleman, Mr. Smith, of Gartlow, gave notice
that the hounds should not be admitted into his place at all,--Lord
Chiltern soon put the whole matter straight by taking part with the
disagreeable gentleman. The disagreeable gentleman had been ill
used. Men had ridden among his young laurels. If gentlemen who did
hunt,--so said Lord Chiltern to his own supporters,--did not know
how to conduct themselves in a matter of hunting, how was it to be
expected that a gentleman who did not hunt should do so? On this
occasion Lord Chiltern rated his own hunt so roundly that Mr. Smith
and he were quite in a bond together, and the Gartlow coverts were
re-opened. Now all the world knows that the Gartlow coverts, though
small, are material as being in the very centre of the Brake country.

It is essential that a Master of Hounds should be somewhat feared by
the men who ride with him. There should be much awe mixed with the
love felt for him. He should be a man with whom other men will not
care to argue; an irrational, cut and thrust, unscrupulous, but yet
distinctly honest man; one who can be tyrannical, but will tyrannise
only over the evil spirits; a man capable of intense cruelty to those
alongside of him, but who will know whether his victim does in truth
deserve scalping before he draws his knife. He should be savage and
yet good-humoured; severe and yet forbearing; truculent and pleasant
in the same moment. He should exercise unflinching authority, but
should do so with the consciousness that he can support it only by
his own popularity. His speech should be short, incisive, always to
the point, but never founded on argument. His rules are based on no
reason, and will never bear discussion. He must be the most candid
of men, also the most close;--and yet never a hypocrite. He must
condescend to no explanation, and yet must impress men with an
assurance that his decisions will certainly be right. He must rule
all as though no man's special welfare were of any account, and yet
must administer all so as to offend none. Friends he must have, but
not favourites. He must be self-sacrificing, diligent, eager, and
watchful. He must be strong in health, strong in heart, strong in
purpose, and strong in purse. He must be economical and yet lavish;
generous as the wind and yet obdurate as the frost. He should be
assured that of all human pursuits hunting is the best, and that of
all living things a fox is the most valuable. He must so train his
heart as to feel for the fox a mingled tenderness and cruelty which
is inexplicable to ordinary men and women. His desire to preserve the
brute and then to kill him should be equally intense and passionate.
And he should do it all in accordance with a code of unwritten laws,
which cannot be learnt without profound study. It may not perhaps be
truly asserted that Lord Chiltern answered this description in every
detail; but he combined so many of the qualities required that his
wife showed her discernment when she declared that he seemed to have
been made to be a Master of Hounds.

Early in that November he was riding home with Miss Palliser by his
side, while the huntsmen and whips were trotting on with the hounds
before him. "You call that a good run, don't you?"

"No; I don't."

"What was the matter with it? I declare it seems to me that something
is always wrong. Men like hunting better than anything else, and yet
I never find any man contented."

"In the first place we didn't kill."

"You know you're short of foxes at Gartlow," said Miss Palliser, who,
as is the manner with all hunting ladies, liked to show that she
understood the affairs of the hunt.

"If I knew there were but one fox in a county, and I got upon that
one fox, I would like to kill that one fox,--barring a vixen in
March."

"I thought it very nice. It was fast enough for anybody."

"You might go as fast with a drag, if that's all. I'll tell you
something else. We should have killed him if Maule hadn't once ridden
over the hounds when we came out of the little wood. I spoke very
sharply to him."

"I heard you, Lord Chiltern."

"And I suppose you thought I was a brute."

"Who? I? No, I didn't;--not particularly, you know. Men do say such
things to each other!"

"He doesn't mind it, I fancy."

"I suppose a man does not like to be told that directly he shows
himself in a run the sport is all over and the hounds ought to be
taken home."

"Did I say that? I don't remember now what I said, but I know he made
me angry. Come, let us trot on. They can take the hounds home without
us."

"Good night, Cox," said Miss Palliser, as they passed by the pack.
"Poor Mr. Maule! I did pity him, and I do think he does care for
it, though he is so impassive. He would be with us now, only he is
chewing the cud of his unhappiness in solitude half a mile behind
us."

"That is hard upon you."

"Hard upon me, Lord Chiltern! It is hard upon him, and, perhaps, upon
you. Why should it be hard upon me?"

"Hard upon him, I should have said. Though why it shouldn't be the
other way I don't know. He's a friend of yours."

"Certainly."

"And an especial friend, I suppose. As a matter of course Violet
talks to me about you both."

"No doubt she does. When once a woman is married she should be
regarded as having thrown off her allegiance to her own sex. She is
sure to be treacherous at any rate in one direction. Not that Lady
Chiltern can tell anything of me that might not be told to all the
world as far as I am concerned."

"There is nothing in it, then?"

"Nothing at all."

"Honour bright?"

"Oh,--honour as bright as it ever is in such matters as these."

"I am sorry for that,--very sorry."

"Why so, Lord Chiltern?"

"Because if you were engaged to him I thought that perhaps you might
have induced him to ride a little less forward."

"Lord Chiltern," said Miss Palliser, seriously; "I will never again
speak to you a word on any subject except hunting."

At this moment Gerard Maule came up behind them, with a cigar in his
mouth, apparently quite unconscious of any of that displeasure as
to which Miss Palliser had supposed that he was chewing the cud in
solitude. "That was a goodish thing, Chiltern," he said.

"Very good."

"And the hounds hunted him well to the end."

"Very well."

"It's odd how the scent will die away at a moment. You see they
couldn't carry on a field after we got out of the copse."

"Not a field."

"Considering all things I am glad we didn't kill him."

"Uncommon glad," said Lord Chiltern. Then they trotted on in silence
a little way, and Maule again dropped behind. "I'm blessed if he
knows that I spoke to him, roughly," said Chiltern. "He's deaf, I
think, when he chooses to be."

"You're not sorry, Lord Chiltern."

"Not in the least. Nothing will ever do any good. As for offending
him, you might as well swear at a tree, and think to offend it.
There's comfort in that, anyway. I wonder whether he'd talk to you if
I went away?"

"I hope that you won't try the experiment."

"I don't believe he would, or I'd go at once. I wonder whether you
really do care for him?"

"Not in the least."

"Or he for you."

"Quite indifferent, I should say; but I can't answer for him, Lord
Chiltern, quite as positively as I can for myself. You know, as
things go, people have to play at caring for each other."

"That's what we call flirting."

"Just the reverse. Flirting I take to be the excitement of love,
without its reality, and without its ordinary result in marriage.
This playing at caring has none of the excitement, but it often
leads to the result, and sometimes ends in downright affection."

"If Maule perseveres then you'll take him, and by-and-bye you'll come
to like him."

"In twenty years it might come to that, if we were always to live in
the same house; but as he leaves Harrington to-morrow, and we may
probably not meet each other for the next four years, I think the
chance is small."

Then Maule trotted up again, and after riding in silence with the
other two for half an hour, he pulled out his case and lit a fresh
cigar from the end of the old one, which he threw away. "Have a
baccy, Chiltern?" he said.

"No, thank you, I never smoke going home; my mind is too full. I've
all that family behind to think of, and I'm generally out of sorts
with the miseries of the day. I must say another word to Cox, or I
should have to go to the kennels on my way home." And so he dropped
behind.

Gerard Maule smoked half his cigar before he spoke a word, and Miss
Palliser was quite resolved that she would not open her mouth till he
had spoken. "I suppose he likes it?" he said at last.

"Who likes what, Mr. Maule?"

"Chiltern likes blowing fellows up."

"It's a part of his business."

"That's the way I look at it. But I should think it must be
disagreeable. He takes such a deal of trouble about it. I heard him
going on to-day to some one as though his whole soul depended on it."

"He is very energetic."

"Just so. I'm quite sure it's a mistake. What does a man ever get by
it? Folks around you soon discount it till it goes for nothing."

"I don't think energy goes for nothing, Mr. Maule."

"A bull in a china shop is not a useful animal, nor is he ornamental,
but there can be no doubt of his energy. The hare was full of energy,
but he didn't win the race. The man who stands still is the man who
keeps his ground."

"You don't stand still when you're out hunting."

"No;--I ride about, and Chiltern swears at me. Every man is a fool
sometimes."

"And your wisdom, perfect at all other times, breaks down in the
hunting-field?"

"I don't in the least mind your chaffing. I know what you think of me
just as well as though you told me."

"What do I think of you?"

"That I'm a poor creature, generally half asleep, shallow-pated,
slow-blooded, ignorant, useless, and unambitious."

"Certainly unambitious, Mr. Maule."

"And that word carries all the others. What's the good of ambition?
There's the man they were talking about last night,--that Irishman."

"Mr. Finn?"

"Yes; Phineas Finn. He is an ambitious fellow. He'll have to starve,
according to what Chiltern was saying. I've sense enough to know I
can't do any good."

"You are sensible, I admit."

"Very well, Miss Palliser. You can say just what you like, of course.
You have that privilege."

"I did not mean to say anything severe. I do admit that you are
master of a certain philosophy, for which much may be said. But you
are not to expect that I shall express an approval which I do not
feel."

"But I want you to approve it."

"Ah!--there, I fear, I cannot oblige you."

"I want you to approve it, though no one else may."

"Though all else should do so, I cannot."

"Then take the task of curing the sick one, and of strengthening
the weak one, into your own hands. If you will teach, perhaps I may
learn."

"I have no mission for teaching, Mr. Maule."

"You once said that,--that--"

"Do not be so ungenerous as to throw in my teeth what I once
said,--if I ever said a word that I would not now repeat."

"I do not think that I am ungenerous, Miss Palliser."

"I am sure you are not."

"Nor am I self-confident. I am obliged to seek comfort from such
scraps of encouragement as may have fallen in my way here and there.
I once did think that you intended to love me."

"Does love go by intentions?"

"I think so,--frequently with men, and much more so with girls."

"It will never go so with me. I shall never intend to love any one.
If I ever love any man it will be because I am made to do so, despite
my intentions."

"As a fortress is taken?"

"Well,--if you like to put it so. Only I claim this advantage,--that
I can always get rid of my enemy when he bores me."

"Am I boring you now?"

"I didn't say so. Here is Lord Chiltern again, and I know by the
rattle of his horse's feet that something is the matter."

Lord Chiltern came up full of wrath. One of the men's horses was
thoroughly broken down, and, as the Master said, wasn't worth the
saddle he carried. He didn't care a ---- for the horse, but the man
hadn't told him. "At this rate there won't be anything to carry
anybody by Christmas."

"You'll have to buy some more," said Gerard Maule.

"Buy some more!" said Lord Chiltern, turning round, and looking at
the man. "He talks of buying horses as he would sugar plums!" Then
they trotted in at the gate, and in two minutes were at the hall
door.



CHAPTER VIII

The Address


Before the 11th of November, the day on which Parliament was to meet,
the whole country was in a hubbub. Consternation and triumph were
perhaps equally predominant, and equally strong. There were those who
declared that now at length was Great Britain to be ruined in actual
present truth; and those who asserted that, of a sudden, after a
fashion so wholly unexpected as to be divine,--as great fires, great
famines, and great wars are called divine,--a mighty hand had been
stretched out to take away the remaining incubus of superstition,
priestcraft, and bigotry under which England had hitherto been
labouring. The proposed disestablishment of the State Church of
England was, of course, the subject of this diversity of opinion.

And there was not only diversity, but with it great confusion. The
political feelings of the country are, as a rule, so well marked that
it is easy, as to almost every question, to separate the sheep from
the goats. With but few exceptions one can tell where to look for the
supporters and where for the opponents of one measure or of another.
Meetings are called in this or in that public hall to assist or to
combat the Minister of the day, and men know what they are about. But
now it was not so. It was understood that Mr. Daubeny, the accredited
leader of the Conservatives, was about to bring in the bill, but
no one as yet knew who would support the bill. His own party, to a
man,--without a single exception,--were certainly opposed to the
measure in their minds. It must be so. It could not but be certain
that they should hate it. Each individual sitting on the Conservative
side in either House did most certainly within his own bosom cry
Ichabod when the fatal news reached his ears. But such private
opinions and inward wailings need not, and probably would not, guide
the body. Ichabod had been cried before, though probably never with
such intensity of feeling. Disestablishment might be worse than Free
Trade or Household Suffrage, but was not more absolutely opposed to
Conservative convictions than had been those great measures. And yet
the party, as a party, had swallowed them both. To the first and
lesser evil, a compact little body of staunch Commoners had stood
forth in opposition,--but nothing had come of it to those true
Britons beyond a feeling of living in the cold shade of exclusion.
When the greater evil arrived, that of Household Suffrage,--a measure
which twenty years since would hardly have been advocated by the
advanced Liberals of the day,--the Conservatives had learned to
acknowledge the folly of clinging to their own convictions, and had
swallowed the dose without serious disruption of their ranks. Every
man,--with but an exception or two,--took the measure up, some with
faces so singularly distorted as to create true pity, some with an
assumption of indifference, some with affected glee. But in the
double process the party had become used to this mode of carrying on
the public service. As poor old England must go to the dogs, as the
doom had been pronounced against the country that it should be ruled
by the folly of the many foolish, and not by the wisdom of the few
wise, why should the few wise remain out in the cold,--seeing, as
they did, that by so doing no good would be done to the country?
Dissensions among their foes did, when properly used, give them
power,--but such power they could only use by carrying measures which
they themselves believed to be ruinous. But the ruin would be as
certain should they abstain. Each individual might have gloried
in standing aloof,--in hiding his face beneath his toga, and in
remembering that Rome did once exist in her splendour. But a party
cannot afford to hide its face in its toga. A party has to be
practical. A party can only live by having its share of Garters,
lord-lieutenants, bishops, and attorney-generals. Though the country
were ruined, the party should be supported. Hitherto the party had
been supported, and had latterly enjoyed almost its share of stars
and Garters,--thanks to the individual skill and strategy of that
great English political Von Moltke Mr. Daubeny.

And now what would the party say about the disestablishment of the
Church? Even a party must draw the line somewhere. It was bad to
sacrifice things mundane; but this thing was the very Holy of Holies!
Was nothing to be conserved by a Conservative party? What if Mr.
Daubeny were to explain some day to the electors of East Barsetshire
that an hereditary peerage was an absurdity? What if in some rural
nook of his Boeotia he should suggest in ambiguous language to the
farmers that a Republic was the only form of Government capable of
a logical defence? Duke had already said to Duke, and Earl to Earl,
and Baronet to Baronet that there must be a line somewhere. Bishops
as a rule say but little to each other, and now were afraid to
say anything. The Church, which had been, which was, so truly
beloved;--surely that must be beyond the line! And yet there crept
through the very marrow of the party an agonising belief that Mr.
Daubeny would carry the bulk of his party with him into the lobby of
the House of Commons.

But if such was the dismay of the Conservatives, how shall any writer
depict the consternation of the Liberals? If there be a feeling
odious to the mind of a sober, hardworking man, it is the feeling
that the bread he has earned is to be taken out of his mouth. The
pay, the patronage, the powers, and the pleasure of Government were
all due to the Liberals. "God bless my soul," said Mr. Ratler, who
always saw things in a practical light, "we have a larger fighting
majority than any party has had since Lord Liverpool's time. They
have no right to attempt it. They are bound to go out." "There's
nothing of honesty left in politics," said Mr. Bonteen, declaring
that he was sick of the life. Barrington Erle thought that the whole
Liberal party should oppose the measure. Though they were Liberals
they were not democrats; nor yet infidels. But when Barrington Erle
said this, the great leaders of the Liberal party had not as yet
decided on their ground of action.

There was much difficulty in reaching any decision. It had been
asserted so often that the disestablishment of the Church was only a
question of time, that the intelligence of the country had gradually
so learned to regard it. Who had said so, men did not know and did
not inquire;--but the words were spoken everywhere. Parsons with
sad hearts,--men who in their own parishes were enthusiastic, pure,
pious, and useful,--whispered them in the dead of the night to the
wives of their bosoms. Bishops, who had become less pure by contact
with the world at clubs, shrugged their shoulders and wagged their
heads, and remembered comfortably the sanctity of vested interests.
Statesmen listened to them with politeness, and did not deny that
they were true. In the free intercourse of closest friendships the
matter was discussed between ex-Secretaries of State. The Press
teemed with the assertion that it was only a question of time. Some
fervent, credulous friends predicted another century of life;--some
hard-hearted logical opponents thought that twenty years would put an
end to the anomaly:--a few stout enemies had sworn on the hustings
with an anathema that the present Session should see the deposition
from her high place of this eldest daughter of the woman of Babylon.
But none had expected the blow so soon as this; and none certainly
had expected it from this hand.

But what should the Liberal party do? Ratler was for opposing Mr.
Daubeny with all their force, without touching the merits of the
case. It was no fitting work for Mr. Daubeny, and the suddenness of
the proposition coming from such a quarter would justify them now and
for ever, even though they themselves should disestablish everything
before the Session were over. Barrington Erle, suffering under a real
political conviction for once in his life, was desirous of a positive
and chivalric defence of the Church. He believed in the twenty years.
Mr. Bonteen shut himself up in disgust. Things were amiss; and, as he
thought, the evil was due to want of party zeal on the part of his
own leader, Mr. Gresham. He did not dare to say this, lest, when the
house door should at last be opened, he might not be invited to enter
with the others; but such was his conviction. "If we were all a
little less in the abstract, and a little more in the concrete, it
would be better for us." Laurence Fitzgibbon, when these words had
been whispered to him by Mr. Bonteen, had hardly understood them;
but it had been explained to him that his friend had meant "men,
not measures." When Parliament met, Mr. Gresham, the leader of the
Liberal party, had not as yet expressed any desire to his general
followers.

The Queen's Speech was read, and the one paragraph which seemed
to possess any great public interest was almost a repetition of
the words which Mr. Daubeny had spoken to the electors of East
Barsetshire. "It will probably be necessary for you to review the
connection which still exists between, and which binds together, the
Church and the State." Mr. Daubeny's words had of course been more
fluent, but the gist of the expression was the same. He had been
quite in earnest when addressing his friends in the country.
And though there had been but an interval of a few weeks, the
Conservative party in the two Houses heard the paragraph read
without surprise and without a murmur. Some said that the gentlemen
on the Treasury Bench in the House of Commons did not look to be
comfortable. Mr. Daubeny sat with his hat over his brow, mute,
apparently impassive and unapproachable, during the reading of
the Speech and the moving and seconding of the Address. The House
was very full, and there was much murmuring on the side of the
Opposition;--but from the Government benches hardly a sound was
heard, as a young gentleman, from one of the Midland counties, in
a deputy-lieutenant's uniform, who had hitherto been known for no
particular ideas of his own, but had been believed to be at any rate
true to the Church, explained, not in very clear language, that the
time had at length come when the interests of religion demanded a
wider support and a fuller sympathy than could be afforded under that
system of Church endowment and State establishment for which the
country had hitherto been so grateful, and for which the country
had such boundless occasion for gratitude. Another gentleman, in
the uniform of the Guards, seconded the Address, and declared that
in nothing was the sagacity of a Legislature so necessary as in
discerning the period in which that which had hitherto been good
ceased to be serviceable. The _status pupillaris_ was mentioned, and
it was understood that he had implied that England was now old enough
to go on in matters of religion without a tutor in the shape of a
State Church.

Who makes the speeches, absolutely puts together the words, which
are uttered when the Address is moved and seconded? It can hardly be
that lessons are prepared and sent to the noble lords and honourable
gentlemen to be learned by heart like a school-boy's task. And
yet, from their construction, style, and general tone,--from the
platitudes which they contain as well as from the general safety
and good sense of the remarks,--from the absence of any attempt to
improve a great occasion by the fire of oratory, one cannot but be
convinced that a very absolute control is exercised. The gorgeously
apparelled speakers, who seem to have great latitude allowed them in
the matter of clothing, have certainly very little in the matter of
language. And then it always seems that either of the four might have
made the speech of any of the others. It could not have been the case
that the Hon. Colonel Mowbray Dick, the Member for West Bustard, had
really elaborated out of his own head that theory of the _status
pupillaris_. A better fellow, or a more popular officer, or a
sweeter-tempered gentleman than Mowbray Dick does not exist; but
he certainly never entertained advanced opinions respecting the
religious education of his country. When he is at home with his
family, he always goes to church, and there has been an end of it.

And then the fight began. The thunderbolts of opposition were
unloosed, and the fires of political rancour blazed high. Mr. Gresham
rose to his legs, and declared to all the world that which he had
hitherto kept secret from his own party. It was known afterwards that
in discussion with his own dearly-beloved political friend, Lord
Cantrip, he had expressed his unbounded anger at the duplicity, greed
for power, and want of patriotism displayed by his opponent; but he
had acknowledged that the blow had come so quick and so unexpectedly
that he thought it better to leave the matter to the House without
instruction from himself. He now revelled in sarcasm, and before
his speech was over raged into wrath. He would move an amendment to
the Address for two reasons,--first because this was no moment for
bringing before Parliament the question of the Church establishment,
when as yet no well-considered opportunity of expressing itself on
the subject had been afforded to the country, and secondly because
any measure of reform on that matter should certainly not come to
them from the right honourable gentleman opposite. As to the first
objection, he should withhold his arguments till the bill suggested
had been presented to them. It was in handling the second that he
displayed his great power of invective. All those men who then sat in
the House, and who on that night crowded the galleries, remember his
tones as, turning to the dissenters who usually supported him, and
pointing over the table to his opponents, he uttered that well-worn
quotation, _Quod minime reris_,--then he paused, and began again;
_Quod minime reris,--Graiâ pandetur ab urbe_. The power and inflexion
of his voice at the word _Graiâ_ were certainly very wonderful. He
ended by moving an amendment to the Address, and asking for support
equally from one side of the House as from the other.

When at length Mr. Daubeny moved his hat from his brow and rose to
his legs he began by expressing his thankfulness that he had not
been made a victim to the personal violence of the right honourable
gentleman. He continued the same strain of badinage throughout,--in
which he was thought to have been wrong, as it was a method of
defence, or attack, for which his peculiar powers hardly suited him.
As to any bill that was to be laid upon the table, he had not as yet
produced it. He did not doubt that the dissenting interests of the
country would welcome relief from an anomaly, let it come whence
it might, even _Graiâ ab urbe_, and he waved his hand back to
the clustering Conservatives who sat behind him. That the right
honourable gentleman should be angry he could understand, as the
return to power of the right honourable gentleman and his party had
been anticipated, and he might almost say discounted as a certainty.

Then, when Mr. Daubeny sat down, the House was adjourned.



CHAPTER IX

The Debate


The beginning of the battle as recorded in the last chapter took
place on a Friday,--Friday, 11th November,--and consequently two
entire days intervened before the debate could be renewed. There
seemed to prevail an opinion during this interval that Mr. Gresham
had been imprudent. It was acknowledged by all men that no finer
speech than that delivered by him had ever been heard within the
walls of that House. It was acknowledged also that as regarded the
question of oratory Mr. Daubeny had failed signally. But the strategy
of the Minister was said to have been excellent, whereas that of
the ex-Minister was very loudly condemned. There is nothing so
prejudicial to a cause as temper. This man is declared to be unfit
for any position of note, because he always shows temper. Anything
can be done with another man,--he can be made to fit almost any
hole,--because he has his temper under command. It may, indeed, be
assumed that a man who loses his temper while he is speaking is
endeavouring to speak the truth such as he believes it to be, and
again it may be assumed that a man who speaks constantly without
losing his temper is not always entitled to the same implicit faith.
Whether or not this be a reason the more for preferring the calm
and tranquil man may be doubted; but the calm and tranquil man is
preferred for public services. We want practical results rather than
truth. A clear head is worth more than an honest heart. In a matter
of horseflesh of what use is it to have all manner of good gifts if
your horse won't go whither you want him, and refuses to stop when
you bid him? Mr. Gresham had been very indiscreet, and had especially
sinned in opposing the Address without arrangements with his party.

And he made the matter worse by retreating within his own shell
during the whole of that Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning.
Lord Cantrip was with him three or four times, and he saw both Mr.
Palliser, who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer under him, and Mr.
Ratler. But he went amidst no congregation of Liberals, and asked
for no support. He told Ratler that he wished gentlemen to vote
altogether in accordance with their opinions; and it came to be
whispered in certain circles that he had resigned, or was resigning,
or would resign, the leadership of his party. Men said that his
passions were too much for him, and that he was destroyed by feelings
of regret, and almost of remorse.

The Ministers held a Cabinet Council on the Monday morning, and it
was supposed afterwards that that also had been stormy. Two gentlemen
had certainly resigned their seats in the Government before the House
met at four o'clock, and there were rumours abroad that others would
do so if the suggested measure should be found really to amount to
disestablishment. The rumours were, of course, worthy of no belief,
as the transactions of the Cabinet are of necessity secret. Lord
Drummond at the War Office, and Mr. Boffin from the Board of Trade,
did, however, actually resign; and Mr. Boffin's explanations in
the House were heard before the debate was resumed. Mr. Boffin had
certainly not joined the present Ministry,--so he said,--with the
view of destroying the Church. He had no other remark to make, and he
was sure that the House would appreciate the course which had induced
him to seat himself below the gangway. The House cheered very loudly,
and Mr. Boffin was the hero of ten minutes. Mr. Daubeny detracted
something from this triumph by the overstrained and perhaps ironic
pathos with which he deplored the loss of his right honourable
friend's services. Now this right honourable gentleman had never been
specially serviceable.

But the wonder of the world arose from the fact that only two
gentlemen out of the twenty or thirty who composed the Government did
give up their places on this occasion. And this was a Conservative
Government! With what a force of agony did all the Ratlers of the
day repeat that inappropriate name! Conservatives! And yet they were
ready to abandon the Church at the bidding of such a man as Mr.
Daubeny! Ratler himself almost felt that he loved the Church. Only
two resignations;--whereas it had been expected that the whole House
would fall to pieces! Was it possible that these earls, that marquis,
and the two dukes, and those staunch old Tory squires, should remain
in a Government pledged to disestablish the Church? Was all the
honesty, all the truth of the great party confined to the bosoms of
Mr. Boffin and Lord Drummond? Doubtless they were all Esaus; but
would they sell their great birthright for so very small a mess of
pottage? The parsons in the country, and the little squires who but
rarely come up to London, spoke of it all exactly as did the Ratlers.
There were parishes in the country in which Mr. Boffin was canonised,
though up to that date no Cabinet Minister could well have been less
known to fame than was Mr. Boffin.

What would those Liberals do who would naturally rejoice in the
disestablishment of the Church,--those members of the Lower House,
who had always spoken of the ascendancy of Protestant episcopacy with
the bitter acrimony of exclusion? After all, the success or failure
of Mr. Daubeny must depend, not on his own party, but on them.
It must always be so when measures of Reform are advocated by a
Conservative Ministry. There will always be a number of untrained men
ready to take the gift without looking at the giver. They have not
expected relief from the hands of Greeks, but will take it when it
comes from Greeks or Trojans. What would Mr. Turnbull say in this
debate,--and what Mr. Monk? Mr. Turnbull was the people's tribune, of
the day; Mr. Monk had also been a tribune, then a Minister, and now
was again--something less than a tribune. But there were a few men in
the House, and some out of it, who regarded Mr. Monk as the honestest
and most patriotic politician of the day.

The debate was long and stormy, but was peculiarly memorable for the
skill with which Mr. Daubeny's higher colleagues defended the steps
they were about to take. The thing was to be done in the cause of
religion. The whole line of defence was indicated by the gentlemen
who moved and seconded the Address. An active, well-supported Church
was the chief need of a prosperous and intelligent people. As to the
endowments, there was some confusion of ideas; but nothing was to be
done with them inappropriate to religion. Education would receive
the bulk of what was left after existing interests had been amply
guaranteed. There would be no doubt,--so said these gentlemen,--that
ample funds for the support of an Episcopal Church would come from
those wealthy members of the body to whom such a Church was dear.
There seemed to be a conviction that clergymen under the new order
of things would be much better off than under the old. As to the
connection with the State, the time for it had clearly gone by. The
Church, as a Church, would own increased power when it could appoint
its own bishops, and be wholly dissevered from State patronage. It
seemed to be almost a matter of surprise that really good Churchmen
should have endured so long to be shackled by subservience to the
State. Some of these gentlemen pleaded their cause so well that they
almost made it appear that episcopal ascendancy would be restored in
England by the disseverance of the Church and State.

Mr. Turnbull, who was himself a dissenter, was at last upon his legs,
and then the Ratlers knew that the game was lost. It would be lost as
far as it could be lost by a majority in that House on that motion;
and it was by that majority or minority that Mr. Daubeny would be
maintained in his high office or ejected from it. Mr. Turnbull began
by declaring that he did not at all like Mr. Daubeny as a Minister
of the Crown. He was not in the habit of attaching himself specially
to any Minister of the Crown. Experience had taught him to doubt
them all. Of all possible Ministers of the Crown at this period, Mr.
Daubeny was he thought perhaps the worst, and the most dangerous. But
the thing now offered was too good to be rejected, let it come from
what quarter it would. Indeed, might it not be said of all the good
things obtained for the people, of all really serviceable reforms,
that they were gathered and garnered home in consequence of the
squabbles of Ministers? When men wanted power, either to grasp at
it or to retain it, then they offered bribes to the people. But in
the taking of such bribes there was no dishonesty, and he should
willingly take this bribe. Mr. Monk spoke also. He would not, he
said, feel himself justified in refusing the Address to the Crown
proposed by Ministers, simply because that Address was founded on the
proposition of a future reform, as to the expediency of which he had
not for many years entertained a doubt. He could not allow it to
be said of him that he had voted for the permanence of the Church
establishment, and he must therefore support the Government. Then
Ratler whispered a few words to his neighbour: "I knew the way he'd
run when Gresham insisted on poor old Mildmay's taking him into the
Cabinet." "The whole thing has gone to the dogs," said Bonteen. On
the fourth night the House was divided, and Mr. Daubeny was the owner
of a majority of fifteen.

Very many of the Liberal party expressed an opinion that the battle
had been lost through the want of judgment evinced by Mr. Gresham.
There was certainly no longer that sturdy adherence to their chief
which is necessary for the solidarity of a party. Perhaps no leader
of the House was ever more devoutly worshipped by a small number of
adherents than was Mr. Gresham now; but such worship will not support
power. Within the three days following the division the Ratlers had
all put their heads together and had resolved that the Duke of St.
Bungay was now the only man who could keep the party together. "But
who should lead our House?" asked Bonteen. Ratler sighed instead of
answering. Things had come to that pass that Mr. Gresham was the only
possible leader. And the leader of the House of Commons, on behalf
of the Government, must be the chief man in the Government, let the
so-called Prime Minister be who he may.



CHAPTER X

The Deserted Husband


Phineas Finn had been in the gallery of the House throughout the
debate, and was greatly grieved at Mr. Daubeny's success, though he
himself had so strongly advocated the disestablishment of the Church
in canvassing the electors of Tankerville. No doubt he had advocated
the cause,--but he had done so as an advanced member of the Liberal
party, and he regarded the proposition when coming from Mr.
Daubeny as a horrible and abnormal birth. He, however, was only a
looker-on,--could be no more than a looker-on for the existing short
session. It had already been decided that the judge who was to try
the case at Tankerville should visit that town early in January; and
should it be decided on a scrutiny that the seat belonged to our
hero, then he would enter upon his privilege in the following Session
without any further trouble to himself at Tankerville. Should this
not be the case,--then the abyss of absolute vacuity would be open
before him. He would have to make some disposition of himself, but he
would be absolutely without an idea as to the how or where. He was in
possession of funds to support himself for a year or two; but after
that, and even during that time, all would be dark. If he should get
his seat, then again the power of making an effort would at last be
within his hands.

He had made up his mind to spend the Christmas with Lord Brentford
and Lady Laura Kennedy at Dresden, and had already fixed the day of
his arrival there. But this had been postponed by another invitation
which had surprised him much, but which it had been impossible for
him not to accept. It had come as follows:--


   November 9th, Loughlinter.

   DEAR SIR,

   I am informed by letter from Dresden that you are in
   London on your way to that city with the view of spending
   some days with the Earl of Brentford. You will, of course,
   be once more thrown into the society of my wife, Lady
   Laura Kennedy.

   I have never understood, and certainly have never
   sanctioned, that breach of my wife's marriage vow which
   has led to her withdrawal from my roof. I never bade her
   go, and I have bidden her return. Whatever may be her
   feelings, or mine, her duty demands her presence here,
   and my duty calls upon me to receive her. This I am and
   always have been ready to do. Were the laws of Europe
   sufficiently explicit and intelligible I should force her
   to return to my house,--because she sins while she remains
   away, and I should sin were I to omit to use any means
   which the law might place in my hands for the due control
   of my own wife. I am very explicit to you although we
   have of late been strangers, because in former days you
   were closely acquainted with the condition of my family
   affairs.

   Since my wife left me I have had no means of communicating
   with her by the assistance of any common friend. Having
   heard that you are about to visit her at Dresden I feel a
   great desire to see you that I may be enabled to send by
   you a personal message. My health, which is now feeble,
   and the altered habits of my life render it almost
   impossible that I should proceed to London with this
   object, and I therefore ask it of your Christian charity
   that you should visit me here at Loughlinter. You, as a
   Roman Catholic, cannot but hold the bond of matrimony
   to be irrefragable. You cannot, at least, think that it
   should be set aside at the caprice of an excitable woman
   who is not able and never has been able to assign any
   reason for leaving the protection of her husband.

   I shall have much to say to you, and I trust you will
   come. I will not ask you to prolong your visit, as I have
   nothing to offer you in the way of amusement. My mother is
   with me; but otherwise I am alone. Since my wife left me I
   have not thought it even decent to entertain guests or to
   enjoy society. I have lived a widowed life. I cannot even
   offer you shooting, as I have no keepers on the mountains.
   There are fish in the river doubtless, for the gifts of
   God are given let men be ever so unworthy; but this, I
   believe, is not the month for fishermen. I ask you to come
   to me, not as a pleasure, but as a Christian duty.

   Yours truly,

   ROBERT KENNEDY.

   Phineas Finn, Esq.


As soon as he had read the letter Phineas felt that he had no
alternative but to go. The visit would be very disagreeable, but it
must be made. So he sent a line to Robert Kennedy naming a day; and
wrote another to Lady Laura postponing his time at Dresden by a week,
and explaining the cause of its postponement. As soon as the debate
on the Address was over he started for Loughlinter.

A thousand memories crowded on his brain as he made the journey.
Various circumstances had in his early life,--in that period of his
life which had lately seemed to be cut off from the remainder of his
days by so clear a line,--thrown him into close connection with this
man, and with the man's wife. He had first gone to Loughlinter, not
as Lady Laura's guest,--for Lady Laura had not then been married, or
even engaged to be married,--but on her persuasion rather than on
that of Mr. Kennedy. When there he had asked Lady Laura to be his own
wife, and she had then told him that she was to become the wife of
the owner of that domain. He remembered the blow as though it had
been struck but yesterday, and yet the pain of the blow had not been
long enduring. But though then rejected he had always been the chosen
friend of the woman,--a friend chosen after an especial fashion. When
he had loved another woman this friend had resented his defection
with all a woman's jealousy. He had saved the husband's life, and had
then become also the husband's friend, after that cold fashion which
an obligation will create. Then the husband had been jealous, and
dissension had come, and the ill-matched pair had been divided, with
absolute ruin to both of them, as far as the material comforts and
well-being of life were concerned. Then he, too, had been ejected, as
it were, out of the world, and it had seemed to him as though Laura
Standish and Robert Kennedy had been the inhabitants of another
hemisphere. Now he was about to see them both again, both separately;
and to become the medium of some communication between them. He knew,
or thought that he knew, that no communication could avail anything.

It was dark night when he was driven up to the door of Loughlinter
House in a fly from the town of Callender. When he first made the
journey, now some six or seven years since, he had done so with Mr.
Ratler, and he remembered well that circumstance. He remembered also
that on his arrival Lady Laura had scolded him for having travelled
in such company. She had desired him to seek other friends,--friends
higher in general estimation, and nobler in purpose. He had done so,
partly at her instance, and with success. But Mr. Ratler was now
somebody in the world, and he was nobody. And he remembered also how
on that occasion he had been troubled in his mind in regard to a
servant, not as yet knowing whether the usages of the world did or
did not require that he should go so accompanied. He had taken the
man, and had been thoroughly ashamed of himself for doing so. He had
no servant now, no grandly developed luggage, no gun, no elaborate
dress for the mountains. On that former occasion his heart had been
very full when he reached Loughlinter, and his heart was full now.
Then he had resolved to say a few words to Lady Laura, and he had
hardly known how best to say them. Now he would be called upon to
say a few to Lady Laura's husband, and the task would be almost as
difficult.

The door was opened for him by an old servant in black, who proposed
at once to show him to his room. He looked round the vast hall,
which, when he had before known it, was ever filled with signs of
life, and felt at once that it was empty and deserted. It struck him
as intolerably cold, and he saw that the huge fireplace was without a
spark of fire. Dinner, the servant said, was prepared for half-past
seven. Would Mr. Finn wish to dress? Of course he wished to dress.
And as it was already past seven he hurried up stairs to his room.
Here again everything was cold and wretched. There was no fire, and
the man had left him with a single candle. There were candlesticks on
the dressing-table, but they were empty. The man had suggested hot
water, but the hot water did not come. In his poorest days he had
never known discomfort such as this, and yet Mr. Kennedy was one of
the richest commoners of Great Britain.

But he dressed, and made his way down stairs, not knowing where
he should find his host or his host's mother. He recognised the
different doors and knew the rooms within them, but they seemed
inhospitably closed against him, and he went and stood in the cold
hall. But the man was watching for him, and led him into a small
parlour. Then it was explained to him that Mr. Kennedy's state of
health did not admit of late dinners. He was to dine alone, and Mr.
Kennedy would receive him after dinner. In a moment his cheeks became
red, and a flash of wrath crossed his heart. Was he to be treated
in this way by a man on whose behalf,--with no thought of his own
comfort or pleasure,--he had made this long and abominable journey?
Might it not be well for him to leave the house without seeing Mr.
Kennedy at all? Then he remembered that he had heard it whispered
that the man had become bewildered in his mind. He relented,
therefore, and condescended to eat his dinner.

A very poor dinner it was. There was a morsel of flabby white fish,
as to the nature of which Phineas was altogether in doubt, a beef
steak as to the nature of which he was not at all in doubt, and a
little crumpled-up tart which he thought the driver of the fly must
have brought with him from the pastry-cook's at Callender. There was
some very hot sherry, but not much of it. And there was a bottle of
claret, as to which Phineas, who was not usually particular in the
matter of wine, persisted in declining to have anything to do with
it after the first attempt. The gloomy old servant, who stuck to him
during the repast, persisted in offering it, as though the credit of
the hospitality of Loughlinter depended on it. There are so many men
by whom the _tenuis ratio saporum_ has not been achieved, that the
Caleb Balderstones of those houses in which plenty does not flow
are almost justified in hoping that goblets of Gladstone may pass
current. Phineas Finn was not a martyr to eating or drinking. He
played with his fish without thinking much about it. He worked
manfully at the steak. He gave another crumple to the tart, and left
it without a pang. But when the old man urged him, for the third
time, to take that pernicious draught with his cheese, he angrily
demanded a glass of beer. The old man toddled out of the room, and on
his return he proffered to him a diminutive glass of white spirit,
which he called usquebaugh. Phineas, happy to get a little whisky,
said nothing more about the beer, and so the dinner was over.

He rose so suddenly from his chair that the man did not dare to ask
him whether he would not sit over his wine. A suggestion that way was
indeed made, would he "visit the laird out o' hand, or would he bide
awee?" Phineas decided on visiting the laird out of hand, and was
at once led across the hall, down a back passage which he had never
before traversed, and introduced to the chamber which had ever been
known as the "laird's ain room." Here Robert Kennedy rose to receive
him.

Phineas knew the man's age well. He was still under fifty, but he
looked as though he were seventy. He had always been thin, but he was
thinner now than ever. He was very grey, and stooped so much, that
though he came forward a step or two to greet his guest, it seemed as
though he had not taken the trouble to raise himself to his proper
height. "You find me a much altered man," he said. The change had
been so great that it was impossible to deny it, and Phineas
muttered something of regret that his host's health should be so
bad. "It is trouble of the mind,--not of the body, Mr. Finn. It is
her doing,--her doing. Life is not to me a light thing, nor are
the obligations of life light. When I married a wife, she became
bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. Can I lose my bones and
my flesh,--knowing that they are not with God but still subject
elsewhere to the snares of the devil, and live as though I were a
sound man? Had she died I could have borne it. I hope they have made
you comfortable, Mr. Finn?"

"Oh, yes," said Phineas.

"Not that Loughlinter can be comfortable now to any one. How can a
man, whose wife has deserted him, entertain his guests? I am ashamed
even to look a friend in the face, Mr. Finn." As he said this he
stretched forth his open hand as though to hide his countenance, and
Phineas hardly knew whether the absurdity of the movement or the
tragedy of the feeling struck him the more forcibly. "What did I do
that she should leave me? Did I strike her? Was I faithless? Had she
not the half of all that was mine? Did I frighten her by hard words,
or exact hard tasks? Did I not commune with her, telling her all my
most inward purposes? In things of this world, and of that better
world that is coming, was she not all in all to me? Did I not make
her my very wife? Mr. Finn, do you know what made her go away?" He
had asked perhaps a dozen questions. As to the eleven which came
first it was evident that no answer was required; and they had been
put with that pathetic dignity with which it is so easy to invest
the interrogatory form of address. But to the last question it was
intended that Phineas should give an answer, as Phineas presumed
at once; and then it was asked with a wink of the eye, a low eager
voice, and a sly twist of the face that were frightfully ludicrous.
"I suppose you do know," said Mr. Kennedy, again working his eye,
and thrusting his chin forward.

"I imagine that she was not happy."

"Happy? What right had she to expect to be happy? Are we to believe
that we should be happy here? Are we not told that we are to look
for happiness there, and to hope for none below?" As he said this he
stretched his left hand to the ceiling. "But why shouldn't she have
been happy? What did she want? Did she ever say anything against me,
Mr. Finn?"

"Nothing but this,--that your temper and hers were incompatible."

"I thought at one time that you advised her to go away?"

"Never!"

"She told you about it?"

"Not, if I remember, till she had made up her mind, and her father
had consented to receive her. I had known, of course, that things
were unpleasant."

"How were they unpleasant? Why were they unpleasant? She wouldn't let
you come and dine with me in London. I never knew why that was. When
she did what was wrong, of course I had to tell her. Who else should
tell her but her husband? If you had been her husband, and I only
an acquaintance, then I might have said what I pleased. They rebel
against the yoke because it is a yoke. And yet they accept the yoke,
knowing it to be a yoke. It comes of the devil. You think a priest
can put everything right."

"No, I don't," said Phineas.

"Nothing can put you right but the fear of God; and when a woman is
too proud to ask for that, evils like these are sure to come. She
would not go to church on Sunday afternoon, but had meetings of
Belial at her father's house instead." Phineas well remembered those
meetings of Belial, in which he with others had been wont to discuss
the political prospects of the day. "When she persisted in breaking
the Lord's commandment, and defiling the Lord's day, I knew well what
would come of it."

"I am not sure, Mr. Kennedy, that a husband is justified in demanding
that a wife shall think just as he thinks on matters of religion. If
he is particular about it, he should find all that out before."

"Particular! God's word is to be obeyed, I suppose?"

"But people doubt about God's word."

"Then people will be damned," said Mr. Kennedy, rising from his
chair. "And they will be damned."

"A woman doesn't like to be told so."

"I never told her so. I never said anything of the kind. I never
spoke a hard word to her in my life. If her head did but ache, I hung
over her with the tenderest solicitude. I refused her nothing. When
I found that she was impatient I chose the shortest sermon for our
Sunday evening's worship, to the great discomfort of my mother."
Phineas wondered whether this assertion as to the discomfort of old
Mrs. Kennedy could possibly be true. Could it be that any human being
really preferred a long sermon to a short one,--except the being who
preached it or read it aloud? "There was nothing that I did not do
for her. I suppose you really do know why she went away, Mr. Finn?"

"I know nothing more than I have said."

"I did think once that she was--"

"There was nothing more than I have said," asserted Phineas sternly,
fearing that the poor insane man was about to make some suggestion
that would be terribly painful. "She felt that she did not make you
happy."

"I did not want her to make me happy. I do not expect to be made
happy. I wanted her to do her duty. You were in love with her once,
Mr. Finn?"

"Yes, I was. I was in love with Lady Laura Standish."

"Ah! Yes. There was no harm in that, of course; only when any thing
of that kind happens, people had better keep out of each other's way
afterwards. Not that I was ever jealous, you know."

"I should hope not."

"But I don't see why you should go all the way to Dresden to pay her
a visit. What good can that do? I think you had much better stay
where you are, Mr. Finn; I do indeed. It isn't a decent thing for a
young unmarried man to go half across Europe to see a lady who is
separated from her husband, and who was once in love with him;--I
mean he was once in love with her. It's a very wicked thing, Mr.
Finn, and I have to beg that you will not do it."

Phineas felt that he had been grossly taken in. He had been asked to
come to Loughlinter in order that he might take a message from the
husband to the wife, and now the husband made use of his compliance
to forbid the visit on some grotesque score of jealousy. He knew that
the man was mad, and that therefore he ought not to be angry; but the
man was not too mad to require a rational answer, and had some method
in his madness. "Lady Laura Kennedy is living with her father," said
Phineas.

"Pshaw;--dotard!"

"Lady Laura Kennedy is living with her father," repeated Phineas;
"and I am going to the house of the Earl of Brentford."

"Who was it wrote and asked you?"

"The letter was from Lady Laura."

"Yes;--from my wife. What right had my wife to write to you when
she will not even answer my appeals? She is my wife;--my wife! In
the presence of God she and I have been made one, and even man's
ordinances have not dared to separate us. Mr. Finn, as the husband
of Lady Laura Kennedy, I desire that you abstain from seeking her
presence." As he said this he rose from his chair, and took the poker
in his hand. The chair in which he was sitting was placed upon the
rug, and it might be that the fire required his attention. As he
stood bending down, with the poker in his right hand, with his eye
still fixed on his guest's face, his purpose was doubtful. The motion
might be a threat, or simply have a useful domestic tendency. But
Phineas, believing that the man was mad, rose from his seat and stood
upon his guard. The point of the poker had undoubtedly been raised;
but as Phineas stretched himself to his height, it fell gradually
towards the fire, and at last was buried very gently among the coals.
But he was never convinced that Mr. Kennedy had carried out the
purpose with which he rose from his chair. "After what has passed,
you will no doubt abandon your purpose," said Mr. Kennedy.

"I shall certainly go to Dresden," said Phineas. "If you have a
message to send, I will take it."

"Then you will be accursed among adulterers," said the laird of
Loughlinter. "By such a one I will send no message. From the first
moment that I saw you I knew you for a child of Apollyon. But the sin
was my own. Why did I ask to my house an idolater, one who pretends
to believe that a crumb of bread is my God, a Papist, untrue alike
to his country and to his Saviour? When she desired it of me I knew
that I was wrong to yield. Yes;--it is you who have done it all, you,
you, you;--and if she be a castaway, the weight of her soul will be
doubly heavy on your own."

To get out of the room, and then at the earliest possible hour of the
morning out of the house, were now the objects to be attained. That
his presence had had a peculiarly evil influence on Mr. Kennedy,
Phineas could not doubt; as assuredly the unfortunate man would
not have been left with mastery over his own actions had his usual
condition been such as that which he now displayed. He had been told
that "poor Kennedy" was mad,--as we are often told of the madness
of our friends when they cease for awhile to run in the common
grooves of life. But the madman had now gone a long way out of
the grooves;--so far, that he seemed to Phineas to be decidedly
dangerous. "I think I had better wish you good night," he said.

"Look here, Mr. Finn."

"Well?"

"I hope you won't go and make more mischief."

"I shall not do that, certainly."

"You won't tell her what I have said?"

"I shall tell her nothing to make her think that your opinion of her
is less high than it ought to be."

"Good night."

"Good night," said Phineas again; and then he left the room. It was
as yet but nine o'clock, and he had no alternative but to go to bed.
He found his way back into the hall, and from thence up to his own
chamber. But there was no fire there, and the night was cold. He went
to the window, and raised it for a moment, that he might hear the
well-remembered sound of the Fall of Linter. Though the night was
dark and wintry, a dismal damp November night, he would have crept
out of the house and made his way up to the top of the brae, for
the sake of auld lang syne, had he not feared that the inhospitable
mansion would be permanently closed against him on his return. He
rang the bell once or twice, and after a while the old serving man
came to him. Could he have a cup of tea? The man shook his head, and
feared that no boiling water could be procured at that late hour of
the night. Could he have his breakfast the next morning at seven, and
a conveyance to Callender at half-past seven? When the old man again
shook his head, seeming to be dazed at the enormity of the demand,
Phineas insisted that his request should be conveyed to the master of
the house. As to the breakfast, he said he did not care about it, but
the conveyance he must have. He did, in fact, obtain both, and left
the house early on the following morning without again seeing Mr.
Kennedy, and without having spoken a single word to Mr. Kennedy's
mother. And so great was his hurry to get away from the place which
had been so disagreeable to him, and which he thought might possibly
become more so, that he did not even run across the sward that
divided the gravel sweep from the foot of the waterfall.



CHAPTER XI

The Truant Wife


Phineas on his return to London wrote a line to Lady Chiltern in
accordance with a promise which had been exacted from him. She was
anxious to learn something as to the real condition of her husband's
brother-in-law, and, when she heard that Phineas was going to
Loughlinter, had begged that he would tell her the truth. "He has
become eccentric, gloomy, and very strange," said Phineas. "I do not
believe that he is really mad, but his condition is such that I think
no friend should recommend Lady Laura to return to him. He seems to
have devoted himself to a gloomy religion,--and to the saving of
money. I had but one interview with him, and that was essentially
disagreeable." Having remained two days in London, and having
participated, as far as those two days would allow him, in the
general horror occasioned by the wickedness and success of Mr.
Daubeny, he started for Dresden.

He found Lord Brentford living in a spacious house, with a huge
garden round it, close upon the northern confines of the town.
Dresden, taken altogether, is a clean cheerful city, and strikes
the stranger on his first entrance as a place in which men are
gregarious, busy, full of merriment, and pre-eminently social. Such
is the happy appearance of but few towns either in the old or the
new world, and is hardly more common in Germany than elsewhere.
Leipsic is decidedly busy, but does not look to be social. Vienna is
sufficiently gregarious, but its streets are melancholy. Munich is
social, but lacks the hum of business. Frankfort is both practical
and picturesque, but it is dirty, and apparently averse to mirth.
Dresden has much to recommend it, and had Lord Brentford with his
daughter come abroad in quest of comfortable easy social life, his
choice would have been well made. But, as it was, any of the towns
above named would have suited him as well as Dresden, for he saw no
society, and cared nothing for the outward things of the world around
him. He found Dresden to be very cold in the winter and very hot in
the summer, and he liked neither heat nor cold; but he had made up
his mind that all places, and indeed all things, are nearly equally
disagreeable, and therefore he remained at Dresden, grumbling almost
daily as to the climate and manners of the people.

Phineas, when he arrived at the hall door, almost doubted whether he
had not been as wrong in visiting Lord Brentford as he had in going
to Loughlinter. His friendship with the old Earl had been very
fitful, and there had been quarrels quite as pronounced as the
friendship. He had often been happy in the Earl's house, but the
happiness had not sprung from any love for the man himself. How would
it be with him if he found the Earl hardly more civil to him than the
Earl's son-in-law had been? In former days the Earl had been a man
quite capable of making himself disagreeable, and probably had not
yet lost the power of doing so. Of all our capabilities this is the
one which clings longest to us. He was thinking of all this when he
found himself at the door of the Earl's house. He had travelled all
night, and was very cold. At Leipsic there had been a nominal twenty
minutes for refreshment, which the circumstances of the station had
reduced to five. This had occurred very early in the morning, and had
sufficed only to give him a bowl of coffee. It was now nearly ten,
and breakfast had become a serious consideration with him. He almost
doubted whether it would not have been better for him to have gone to
an hotel in the first instance.

He soon found himself in the hall amidst a cluster of servants, among
whom he recognised the face of a man from Saulsby. He had, however,
little time allowed him for looking about. He was hardly in the house
before Lady Laura Kennedy was in his arms. She had run forward, and
before he could look into her face, she had put up her cheek to his
lips and had taken both his hands. "Oh, my friend," she said; "oh,
my friend! How good you are to come to me! How good you are to come!"
And then she led him into a large room, in which a table had been
prepared for breakfast, close to an English-looking open fire. "How
cold you must be, and how hungry! Shall I have breakfast for you at
once, or will you dress first? You are to be quite at home, you know;
exactly as though we were brother and sister. You are not to stand on
any ceremonies." And again she took him by the hand. He had hardly
looked her yet in the face, and he could not do so now because he
knew that she was crying. "Then I will show you to your room," she
said, when he had decided for a tub of water before breakfast. "Yes,
I will,--my own self. And I'd fetch the water for you, only I know it
is there already. How long will you be? Half an hour? Very well. And
you would like tea best, wouldn't you?"

"Certainly, I should like tea best."

"I will make it for you. Papa never comes down till near two, and we
shall have all the morning for talking. Oh, Phineas, it is such a
pleasure to hear your voice again. You have been at Loughlinter?"

"Yes, I have been there."

"How very good of you; but I won't ask a question now. You must put
up with a stove here, as we have not open fires in the bed-rooms. I
hope you will be comfortable. Don't be more than half an hour, as I
shall be impatient."

Though he was thus instigated to haste he stood a few minutes with
his back to the warm stove that he might be enabled to think of it
all. It was two years since he had seen this woman, and when they had
parted there had been more between them of the remembrances of old
friendship than of present affection. During the last few weeks of
their intimacy she had made a point of telling him that she intended
to separate herself from her husband; but she had done so as though
it were a duty, and an arranged part of her own defence of her own
conduct. And in the latter incidents of her London life,--that life
with which he had been conversant,--she had generally been opposed
to him, or, at any rate, had chosen to be divided from him. She had
said severe things to him,--telling him that he was cold, heartless,
and uninterested, never trying even to please him with that sort of
praise which had once been so common with her in her intercourse with
him, and which all men love to hear from the mouths of women. She
had then been cold to him, though she would make wretched allusions
to the time when he, at any rate, had not been cold to her. She had
reproached him, and had at the same time turned away from him. She
had repudiated him, first as a lover, then as a friend; and he had
hitherto never been able to gauge the depth of the affection for him
which had underlaid all her conduct. As he stood there thinking of it
all, he began to understand it.

How natural had been her conduct on his arrival, and how like that
of a genuine, true-hearted, honest woman! All her first thoughts had
been for his little personal wants,--that he should be warmed, and
fed, and made outwardly comfortable. Let sorrow be ever so deep,
and love ever so true, a man will be cold who travels by winter,
and hungry who has travelled by night. And a woman, who is a true,
genuine woman, always takes delight in ministering to the natural
wants of her friend. To see a man eat and drink, and wear his
slippers, and sit at ease in his chair, is delightful to the feminine
heart that loves. When I heard the other day that a girl had herself
visited the room prepared for a man in her mother's house, then
I knew that she loved him, though I had never before believed it.
Phineas, as he stood there, was aware that this woman loved him
dearly. She had embraced him, and given her face to him to kiss. She
had clasped his hands, and clung to him, and had shown him plainly
that in the midst of all her sorrow she could be made happy by
his coming. But he was a man far too generous to take all this as
meaning aught that it did not mean,--too generous, and intrinsically
too manly. In his character there was much of weakness, much of
vacillation, perhaps some deficiency of strength and purpose; but
there was no touch of vanity. Women had loved him, and had told him
so; and he had been made happy, and also wretched, by their love. But
he had never taken pride, personally, to himself because they had
loved him. It had been the accident of his life. Now he remembered
chiefly that this woman had called herself his sister, and he was
grateful.

Then he thought of her personal appearance. As yet he had hardly
looked at her, but he felt that she had become old and worn, angular
and hard-visaged. All this had no effect upon his feelings towards
her, but filled him with ineffable regret. When he had first known
her she had been a woman with a noble presence--not soft and feminine
as had been Violet Effingham, but handsome and lustrous, with a
healthy youth. In regard to age he and she were of the same standing.
That he knew well. She had passed her thirty-second birthday, but
that was all. He felt himself to be still a young man, but he could
not think of her as of a young woman.

When he went down she had been listening for his footsteps, and
met him at the door of the room. "Now sit down," she said, "and be
comfortable--if you can, with German surroundings. They are almost
always late, and never give one any time. Everybody says so. The
station at Leipsic is dreadful, I know. Good coffee is very well, but
what is the use of good coffee if you have no time to drink it? You
must eat our omelette. If there is one thing we can do better than
you it is to make an omelette. Yes,--that is genuine German sausage.
There is always some placed upon the table, but the Germans who come
here never touch it themselves. You will have a cutlet, won't you?
I breakfasted an hour ago, and more. I would not wait because then
I thought I could talk to you better, and wait upon you. I did not
think that anything would ever please me so much again as your coming
has done. Oh, how much we shall have to say! Do you remember when we
last parted;--when you were going back to Ireland?"

"I remember it well."

"Ah me; as I look back upon it all, how strange it seems. I dare say
you don't remember the first day I met you, at Mr. Mildmay's,--when I
asked you to come to Portman Square because Barrington had said that
you were clever?"

"I remember well going to Portman Square."

"That was the beginning of it all. Oh dear, oh dear; when I think of
it I find it so hard to see where I have been right, and where I have
been wrong. If I had not been very wrong all this evil could not have
come upon me."

"Misfortune has not always been deserved."

"I am sure it has been so with me. You can smoke here if you like."
This Phineas persistently refused to do. "You may if you please. Papa
never comes in here, and I don't mind it. You'll settle down in a day
or two, and understand the extent of your liberties. Tell me first
about Violet. She is happy?"

"Quite happy, I think."

"I knew he would be good to her. But does she like the kind of life?"

"Oh, yes."

"She has a baby, and therefore of course she is happy. She says he is
the finest fellow in the world."

"I dare say he is. They all seem to be contented with him, but they
don't talk much about him."

"No; they wouldn't. Had you a child you would have talked about him,
Phineas. I should have loved my baby better than all the world, but I
should have been silent about him. With Violet of course her husband
is the first object. It would certainly be so from her nature. And so
Oswald is quite tame?"

"I don't know that he is very tame out hunting."

"But to her?"

"I should think always. She, you know, is very clever."

"So clever!"

"And would be sure to steer clear of all offence," said Phineas,
enthusiastically.

"While I could never for an hour avoid it. Did they say anything
about the journey to Flanders?"

"Chiltern did, frequently. He made me strip my shoulder to show him
the place where he hit me."

"How like Oswald!"

"And he told me that he would have given one of his eyes to kill me,
only Colepepper wouldn't let him go on. He half quarrelled with his
second, but the man told him that I had not fired at him, and the
thing must drop. 'It's better as it is, you know,' he said. And I
agreed with him."

"And how did Violet receive you?"

"Like an angel,--as she is."

"Well, yes. I'll grant she is an angel now. I was angry with her
once, you know. You men find so many angels in your travels. You have
been honester than some. You have generally been off with the old
angel before you were on with the new,--as far at least as I knew."

"Is that meant for rebuke, Lady Laura?"

"No, my friend; no. That is all over. I said to myself when you told
me that you would come, that I would not utter one ill-natured word.
And I told myself more than that!"

"What more?"

"That you had never deserved it,--at least from me. But surely you
were the most simple of men."

"I dare say."

"Men when they are true are simple. They are often false as hell,
and then they are crafty as Lucifer. But the man who is true judges
others by himself,--almost without reflection. A woman can be true as
steel and cunning at the same time. How cunning was Violet, and yet
she never deceived one of her lovers, even by a look. Did she?"

"She never deceived me,--if you mean that. She never cared a straw
about me, and told me so to my face very plainly."

"She did care,--many straws. But I think she always loved Oswald. She
refused him again and again, because she thought it wrong to run a
great risk, but I knew she would never marry any one else. How little
Lady Baldock understood her. Fancy your meeting Lady Baldock at
Oswald's house!"

"Fancy Augusta Boreham turning nun!"

"How exquisitely grotesque it must have been when she made her
complaint to you."

"I pitied her with all my heart."

"Of course you did,--because you are so soft. And now, Phineas, we
will put it off no longer. Tell me all that you have to tell me about
him."



CHAPTER XII

Königstein


Phineas Finn and Lady Laura Kennedy sat together discussing the
affairs of the past till the servant told them that "My Lord" was in
the next room, and ready to receive Mr. Finn. "You will find him much
altered," said Lady Laura, "even more than I am."

"I do not find you altered at all."

"Yes, you do,--in appearance. I am a middle-aged woman, and conscious
that I may use my privileges as such. But he has become quite an old
man,--not in health so much as in manner. But he will be very glad to
see you." So saying she led him into a room, in which he found the
Earl seated near the fireplace, and wrapped in furs. He got up to
receive his guest, and Phineas saw at once that during the two years
of his exile from England Lord Brentford had passed from manhood to
senility. He almost tottered as he came forward, and he wrapped his
coat around him with that air of studious self-preservation which
belongs only to the infirm.

"It is very good of you to come and see me, Mr. Finn," he said.

"Don't call him Mr. Finn, Papa. I call him Phineas."

"Well, yes; that's all right, I dare say. It's a terrible long
journey from London, isn't it, Mr. Finn?"

"Too long to be pleasant, my lord."

"Pleasant! Oh, dear. There's no pleasantness about it. And so they've
got an autumn session, have they? That's always a very stupid thing
to do, unless they want money."

"But there is a money bill which must be passed. That's Mr. Daubeny's
excuse."

"Ah, if they've a money bill of course it's all right. So you're in
Parliament again?"

"I'm sorry to say I'm not." Then Lady Laura explained to her father,
probably for the third or fourth time, exactly what was their guest's
position. "Oh, a scrutiny. We didn't use to have any scrutinies at
Loughton, did we? Ah, me; well, everything seems to be going to
the dogs. I'm told they're attacking the Church now." Lady Laura
glanced at Phineas; but neither of them said a word. "I don't
quite understand it; but they tell me that the Tories are going to
disestablish the Church. I'm very glad I'm out of it all. Things
have come to such a pass that I don't see how a gentleman is to hold
office now-a-days. Have you seen Chiltern lately?"

After a while, when Phineas had told the Earl all that there was
to tell of his son and his grandson, and all of politics and of
Parliament, Lady Laura suddenly interrupted them. "You knew, Papa,
that he was to see Mr. Kennedy. He has been to Loughlinter, and has
seen him."

"Oh, indeed!"

"He is quite assured that I could not with wisdom return to live with
my husband."

"It is a very grave decision to make," said the Earl.

"But he has no doubt about it," continued Lady Laura.

"Not a shadow of doubt," said Phineas. "I will not say that Mr.
Kennedy is mad; but the condition of his mind is such in regard to
Lady Laura that I do not think she could live with him in safety. He
is crazed about religion."

"Dear, dear, dear," exclaimed the Earl.

"The gloom of his house is insupportable. And he does not pretend
that he desires her to return that he and she may be happy together."

"What for then?"

"That we might be unhappy together," said Lady Laura.

"He repudiates all belief in happiness. He wishes her to return to
him chiefly because it is right that a man and wife should live
together."

"So it is," said the Earl.

"But not to the utter wretchedness of both of them," said Lady Laura.
"He says," and she pointed to Phineas, "that were I there he would
renew his accusation against me. He has not told me all. Perhaps he
cannot tell me all. But I certainly will not return to Loughlinter."

"Very well, my dear."

"It is not very well, Papa; but, nevertheless, I will not return to
Loughlinter. What I suffered there neither of you can understand."

That afternoon Phineas went out alone to the galleries, but the next
day she accompanied him, and showed him whatever of glory the town
had to offer in its winter dress. They stood together before great
masters, and together examined small gems. And then from day to day
they were always in each other's company. He had promised to stay
a month, and during that time he was petted and comforted to his
heart's content. Lady Laura would have taken him into the Saxon
Switzerland, in spite of the inclemency of the weather and her
father's rebukes, had he not declared vehemently that he was happier
remaining in the town. But she did succeed in carrying him off to the
fortress of Königstein; and there as they wandered along the fortress
constructed on that wonderful rock there occurred between them a
conversation which he never forgot, and which it would not have been
easy to forget. His own prospects had of course been frequently
discussed. He had told her everything, down to the exact amount of
money which he had to support him till he should again be enabled to
earn an income, and had received assurances from her that everything
would be just as it should be after a lapse of a few months. The
Liberals would, as a matter of course, come in, and equally as a
matter of course, Phineas would be in office. She spoke of this with
such certainty that she almost convinced him. Having tempted him away
from the safety of permanent income, the party could not do less than
provide for him. If he could only secure a seat he would be safe; and
it seemed that Tankerville would be a certain seat. This certainty he
would not admit; but, nevertheless, he was comforted by his friend.
When you have done the rashest thing in the world it is very pleasant
to be told that no man of spirit could have acted otherwise. It was a
matter of course that he should return to public life,--so said Lady
Laura;--and doubly a matter of course when he found himself a widower
without a child. "Whether it be a bad life or a good life," said Lady
Laura, "you and I understand equally well that no other life is worth
having after it. We are like the actors, who cannot bear to be away
from the gaslights when once they have lived amidst their glare." As
she said this they were leaning together over one of the parapets of
the great fortress, and the sadness of the words struck him as they
bore upon herself. She also had lived amidst the gaslights, and now
she was self-banished into absolute obscurity. "You could not have
been content with your life in Dublin," she said.

"Are you content with your life in Dresden?"

"Certainly not. We all like exercise; but the man who has had his
leg cut off can't walk. Some can walk with safety; others only with
a certain peril; and others cannot at all. You are in the second
position, but I am in the last."

"I do not see why you should not return."

"And if I did what would come of it? In place of the seclusion
of Dresden, there would be the seclusion of Portman Square or of
Saulsby. Who would care to have me at their houses, or to come to
mine? You know what a hazardous, chancy, short-lived thing is the
fashion of a woman. With wealth, and wit, and social charm, and
impudence, she may preserve it for some years, but when she has once
lost it she can never recover it. I am as much lost to the people who
did know me in London as though I had been buried for a century. A
man makes himself really useful, but a woman can never do that."

"All those general rules mean nothing," said Phineas. "I should try
it."

"No, Phineas. I know better than that. It would only be
disappointment. I hardly think that after all you ever did understand
when it was that I broke down utterly and marred my fortunes for
ever."

"I know the day that did it."

"When I accepted him?"

"Of course it was. I know that, and so do you. There need be no
secret between us."

"There need be no secret between us certainly,--and on my part there
shall be none. On my part there has been none."

"Nor on mine."

"There has been nothing for you to tell,--since you blurted out your
short story of love that day over the waterfall, when I tried so hard
to stop you."

"How was I to be stopped then?"

"No; you were too simple. You came there with but one idea, and you
could not change it on the spur of the moment. When I told you that
I was engaged you could not swallow back the words that were not yet
spoken. Ah, how well I remember it. But you are wrong, Phineas. It
was not my engagement or my marriage that has made the world a blank
for me." A feeling came upon him which half-choked him, so that he
could ask her no further question. "You know that, Phineas."

"It was your marriage," he said, gruffly.

"It was, and has been, and still will be my strong, unalterable,
unquenchable love for you. How could I behave to that other man with
even seeming tenderness when my mind was always thinking of you, when
my heart was always fixed upon you? But you have been so simple, so
little given to vanity,"--she leaned upon his arm as she spoke,--"so
pure and so manly, that you have not believed this, even when I told
you. Has it not been so?"

"I do not wish to believe it now."

"But you do believe it? You must and shall believe it. I ask for
nothing in return. As my God is my judge, if I thought it possible
that your heart should be to me as mine is to you, I could have
put a pistol to my ear sooner than speak as I have spoken." Though
she paused for some word from him he could not utter a word. He
remembered many things, but even to her in his present mood he could
not allude to them;--how he had kissed her at the Falls, how she had
bade him not come back to the house because his presence to her was
insupportable; how she had again encouraged him to come, and had
then forbidden him to accept even an invitation to dinner from her
husband. And he remembered too the fierceness of her anger to him
when he told her of his love for Violet Effingham. "I must insist
upon it," she continued, "that you shall take me now as I really
am,--as your dearest friend, your sister, your mother, if you will.
I know what I am. Were my husband not still living it would be the
same. I should never under any circumstances marry again. I have
passed the period of a woman's life when as a woman she is loved;
but I have not outlived the power of loving. I shall fret about you,
Phineas, like an old hen after her one chick; and though you turn
out to be a duck, and get away into waters where I cannot follow
you, I shall go cackling round the pond, and always have my eye upon
you." He was holding her now by the hand, but he could not speak
for the tears were trickling down his cheeks. "When I was young,"
she continued, "I did not credit myself with capacity for so much
passion. I told myself that love after all should be a servant and
not a master, and I married my husband fully intending to do my duty
to him. Now we see what has come of it."

"It has been his fault; not yours," said Phineas.

"It was my fault,--mine; for I never loved him. Had you not told me
what manner of man he was before? And I had believed you, though I
denied it. And I knew when I went to Loughlinter that it was you whom
I loved. And I knew too,--I almost knew that you would ask me to be
your wife were not that other thing settled first. And I declared to
myself that, in spite of both our hearts, it should not be so. I had
no money then,--nor had you."

"I would have worked for you."

"Ah, yes; but you must not reproach me now, Phineas. I never deserted
you as regarded your interests, though what little love you had for
me was short-lived indeed. Nay; you are not accused, and shall not
excuse yourself. You were right,--always right. When you had failed
to win one woman your heart with a true natural spring went to
another. And so entire had been the cure, that you went to the first
woman with the tale of your love for the second."

"To whom was I to go but to a friend?"

"You did come to a friend, and though I could not drive out of my
heart the demon of jealousy, though I was cut to the very bone, I
would have helped you had help been possible. Though it had been the
fixed purpose of my life that Violet and Oswald should be man and
wife, I would have helped you because that other purpose of serving
you in all things had become more fixed. But it was to no good end
that I sang your praises. Violet Effingham was not the girl to marry
this man or that at the bidding of any one;--was she?"

"No, indeed."

"It is of no use now talking of it; is it? But I want you to
understand me from the beginning;--to understand all that was evil,
and anything that was good. Since first I found that you were to me
the dearest of human beings I have never once been untrue to your
interests, though I have been unable not to be angry with you. Then
came that wonderful episode in which you saved my husband's life."

"Not his life."

"Was it not singular that it should come from your hand? It seemed
like Fate. I tried to use the accident, to make his friendship for
you as thorough as my own. And then I was obliged to separate you,
because,--because, after all I was so mere a woman that I could not
bear to have you near me. I can bear it now."

"Dear Laura!"

"Yes; as your sister. I think you cannot but love me a little when
you know how entirely I am devoted to you. I can bear to have you
near me now and think of you only as the hen thinks of her duckling.
For a moment you are out of the pond, and I have gathered you under
my wing. You understand?"

"I know that I am unworthy of what you say of me."

"Worth has nothing to do with it,--has no bearing on it. I do not say
that you are more worthy than all whom I have known. But when did
worth create love? What I want is that you should believe me, and
know that there is one bound to you who will never be unbound, one
whom you can trust in all things,--one to whom you can confess that
you have been wrong if you go wrong, and yet be sure that you will
not lessen her regard. And with this feeling you must pretend to
nothing more than friendship. You will love again, of course."

"Oh, no."

"Of course you will. I tried to blaze into power by a marriage, and
I failed,--because I was a woman. A woman should marry only for
love. You will do it yet, and will not fail. You may remember this
too,--that I shall never be jealous again. You may tell me everything
with safety. You will tell me everything?"

"If there be anything to tell, I will."

"I will never stand between you and your wife,--though I would fain
hope that she should know how true a friend I am. Now we have walked
here till it is dark, and the sentry will think we are taking plans
of the place. Are you cold?"

"I have not thought about the cold."

"Nor have I. We will go down to the inn and warm ourselves before the
train comes. I wonder why I should have brought you here to tell you
my story. Oh, Phineas." Then she threw herself into his arms, and he
pressed her to his heart, and kissed first her forehead and then her
lips. "It shall never be so again," she said. "I will kill it out
of my heart even though I should crucify my body. But it is not my
love that I will kill. When you are happy I will be happy. When you
prosper I will prosper. When you fail I will fail. When you rise,--as
you will rise,--I will rise with you. But I will never again feel the
pressure of your arm round my waist. Here is the gate, and the old
guide. So, my friend, you see that we are not lost." Then they walked
down the very steep hill to the little town below the fortress, and
there they remained till the evening train came from Prague, and took
them back to Dresden.

Two days after this was the day fixed for Finn's departure. On
the intermediate day the Earl begged for a few minutes' private
conversation with him, and the two were closeted together for an
hour. The Earl, in truth, had little or nothing to say. Things had
so gone with him that he had hardly a will of his own left, and did
simply that which his daughter directed him to do. He pretended to
consult Phineas as to the expediency of his returning to Saulsby.
Did Phineas think that his return would be of any use to the party?
Phineas knew very well that the party would not recognise the
difference whether the Earl lived at Dresden or in London. When a man
has come to the end of his influence as the Earl had done he is as
much a nothing in politics as though he had never risen above that
quantity. The Earl had never risen very high, and even Phineas, with
all his desire to be civil, could not say that the Earl's presence
would materially serve the interests of the Liberal party. He
made what most civil excuses he could, and suggested that if Lord
Brentford should choose to return, Lady Laura would very willingly
remain at Dresden alone. "But why shouldn't she come too?" asked the
Earl. And then, with the tardiness of old age, he proposed his little
plan. "Why should she not make an attempt to live once more with her
husband?"

"She never will," said Phineas.

"But think how much she loses," said the Earl.

"I am quite sure she never will. And I am quite sure that she ought
not to do so. The marriage was a misfortune. As it is they are better
apart." After that the Earl did not dare to say another word about
his daughter; but discussed his son's affairs. Did not Phineas think
that Chiltern might now be induced to go into Parliament? "Nothing
would make him do so," said Phineas.

"But he might farm?"

"You see he has his hands full."

"But other men keep hounds and farm too," said the Earl.

"But Chiltern is not like other men. He gives his whole mind to it,
and finds full employment. And then he is quite happy, and so is she.
What more can you want for him? Everybody respects him."

"That goes a very great way," said the Earl. Then he thanked Phineas
cordially, and felt that now as ever he had done his duty by his
family.

There was no renewal of the passionate conversation which had taken
place on the ramparts, but much of tenderness and of sympathy arose
from it. Lady Laura took upon herself the tone and manners of an
elder sister,--of a sister very much older than her brother,--and
Phineas submitted to them not only gracefully but with delight to
himself. He had not thanked her for her love when she expressed it,
and he did not do so afterwards. But he accepted it, and bowed to it,
and recognised it as constituting one of the future laws of his life.
He was to do nothing of importance without her knowledge, and he
was to be at her command should she at any time want assistance in
England. "I suppose I shall come back some day," she said, as they
were sitting together late on the evening before his departure.

"I cannot understand why you should not do so now. Your father wishes
it."

"He thinks he does; but were he told that he was to go to-morrow, or
next summer, it would fret him. I am assured that Mr. Kennedy could
demand my return,--by law."

"He could not enforce it."

"He would attempt it. I will not go back until he consents to my
living apart from him. And, to tell the truth, I am better here for
awhile. They say that the sick animals always creep somewhere under
cover. I am a sick animal, and now that I have crept here I will
remain till I am stronger. How terribly anxious you must be about
Tankerville!"

"I am anxious."

"You will telegraph to me at once? You will be sure to do that?"

"Of course I will, the moment I know my fate."

"And if it goes against you?"

"Ah,--what then?"

"I shall at once write to Barrington Erle. I don't suppose he would
do much now for his poor cousin, but he can at any rate say what can
be done. I should bid you come here,--only that stupid people would
say that you were my lover. I should not mind, only that he would
hear it, and I am bound to save him from annoyance. Would you not go
down to Oswald again?"

"With what object?"

"Because anything will be better than returning to Ireland. Why not
go down and look after Saulsby? It would be a home, and you need not
tie yourself to it. I will speak to Papa about that. But you will get
the seat."

"I think I shall," said Phineas.

"Do;--pray do! If I could only get hold of that judge by the ears!
Do you know what time it is? It is twelve, and your train starts at
eight." Then he arose to bid her adieu. "No," she said; "I shall see
you off."

"Indeed you will not. It will be almost night when I leave this, and
the frost is like iron."

"Neither the night nor the frost will kill me. Do you think I will
not give you your last breakfast? God bless you, dear."

And on the following morning she did give him his breakfast by
candle-light, and went down with him to the station. The morning was
black, and the frost was, as he had said, as hard as iron, but she
was thoroughly good-humoured, and apparently happy. "It has been so
much to me to have you here, that I might tell you everything," she
said. "You will understand me now."

"I understand, but I know not how to believe," he said.

"You do believe. You would be worse than a Jew if you did not believe
me. But you understand also. I want you to marry, and you must tell
her all the truth. If I can I will love her almost as much as I do
you. And if I live to see them, I will love your children as dearly
as I do you. Your children shall be my children;--or at least one of
them shall be mine. You will tell me when it is to be."

"If I ever intend such a thing, I will tell you."

"Now, good-bye. I shall stand back there till the train starts, but
do not you notice me. God bless you, Phineas." She held his hand
tight within her own for some seconds, and looked into his face with
an unutterable love. Then she drew down her veil, and went and stood
apart till the train had left the platform.

"He has gone, Papa," Lady Laura said, as she stood afterwards by her
father's bedside.

"Has he? Yes; I know he was to go, of course. I was very glad to see
him, Laura."

"So was I, Papa;--very glad indeed. Whatever happens to him, we must
never lose sight of him again."

"We shall hear of him, of course, if he is in the House."

"Whether he is in the House or out of it we must hear of him. While
we have aught he must never want." The Earl stared at his daughter.
The Earl was a man of large possessions, and did not as yet
understand that he was to be called upon to share them with Phineas
Finn. "I know, Papa, you will never think ill of me."

"Never, my dear."

"I have sworn that I will be a sister to that man, and I will keep my
oath."

"I know you are a very good sister to Chiltern," said the Earl. Lady
Laura had at one time appropriated her whole fortune, which had been
large, to the payment of her brother's debts. The money had been
returned, and had gone to her husband. Lord Brentford now supposed
that she intended at some future time to pay the debts of Phineas
Finn.



CHAPTER XIII

"I have got the seat"


When Phineas returned to London, the autumn Session, though it had
been carried on so near to Christmas as to make many members very
unhappy, had already been over for a fortnight. Mr. Daubeny had
played his game with consummate skill to the last. He had brought
in no bill, but had stated his intention of doing so early in the
following Session. He had, he said, of course been aware from the
first that it would have been quite impossible to carry such a
measure as that proposed during the few weeks in which it had been
possible for them to sit between the convening of Parliament and the
Christmas holidays; but he thought that it was expedient that the
proposition should be named to the House and ventilated as it had
been, so that members on both sides might be induced to give their
most studious attention to the subject before a measure, which
must be so momentous, should be proposed to them. As had happened,
the unforeseen division to which the House had been pressed on the
Address had proved that the majority of the House was in favour of
the great reform which it was the object of his ambition to complete.
They were aware that they had been assembled at a somewhat unusual
and inconvenient period of the year, because the service of the
country had demanded that certain money bills should be passed. He,
however, rejoiced greatly that this earliest opportunity had been
afforded to him of explaining the intentions of the Government with
which he had the honour of being connected. In answer to this there
arose a perfect torrent of almost vituperative antagonism from the
opposite side of the House. Did the Right Honourable gentleman dare
to say that the question had been ventilated in the country, when it
had never been broached by him or any of his followers till after
the general election had been completed? Was it not notorious to
the country that the first hint of it had been given when the Right
Honourable gentleman was elected for East Barsetshire, and was it not
equally notorious that that election had been so arranged that the
marvellous proposition of the Right Honourable gentleman should not
be known even to his own party till there remained no possibility of
the expression of any condemnation from the hustings? It might be
that the Right Honourable could so rule his own followers in that
House as to carry them with him even in a matter so absolutely
opposite to their own most cherished convictions. It certainly seemed
that he had succeeded in doing so for the present. But would any one
believe that he would have carried the country, had he dared to face
the country with such a measure in his hands? Ventilation, indeed! He
had not dared to ventilate his proposition. He had used this short
Session in order that he might keep his clutch fastened on power, and
in doing so was indifferent alike to the Constitution, to his party,
and to the country. Harder words had never been spoken in the House
than were uttered on this occasion. But the Minister was successful.
He had been supported on the Address; and he went home to East
Barsetshire at Christmas, perhaps with some little fear of the
parsons around him; but with a full conviction that he would at least
carry the second reading of his bill.

London was more than usually full and busy this year immediately
after Christmas. It seemed as though it were admitted by all the
Liberal party generally that the sadness of the occasion ought to
rob the season of its usual festivities. Who could eat mince pies
or think of Twelfth Night while so terribly wicked a scheme was in
progress for keeping the real majority out in the cold? It was the
injustice of the thing that rankled so deeply,--that, and a sense
of inferiority to the cleverness displayed by Mr. Daubeny! It was
as when a player is checkmated by some audacious combination of
two pawns and a knight, such being all the remaining forces of the
victorious adversary, when the beaten man has two castles and a queen
upon the board. It was, indeed, worse than this,--for the adversary
had appropriated to his own use the castles and the queen of the
unhappy vanquished one. This Church Reform was the legitimate
property of the Liberals, and had not been as yet used by them only
because they had felt it right to keep in the background for some
future great occasion so great and so valuable a piece of ordnance.
It was theirs so safely that they could afford to bide their time.
And then,--so they all said, and so some of them believed,--the
country was not ready for so great a measure. It must come; but there
must be tenderness in the mode of producing it. The parsons must be
respected, and the great Church-of-England feeling of the people must
be considered with affectionate regard. Even the most rabid Dissenter
would hardly wish to see a structure so nearly divine attacked and
destroyed by rude hands. With grave and slow and sober earnestness,
with loving touches and soft caressing manipulation let the beautiful
old Church be laid to its rest, as something too exquisite, too
lovely, too refined for the present rough manners of the world! Such
were the ideas as to Church Reform of the leading Liberals of the
day; and now this man, without even a majority to back him, this
audacious Cagliostro among statesmen, this destructive leader of all
declared Conservatives, had come forward without a moment's warning,
and pretended that he would do the thing out of hand! Men knew that
it had to be done. The country had begun to perceive that the old
Establishment must fall; and, knowing this, would not the Liberal
backbone of Great Britain perceive the enormity of this Cagliostro's
wickedness,--and rise against him and bury him beneath its scorn
as it ought to do? This was the feeling that made a real Christmas
impossible to Messrs. Ratler and Bonteen.

"The one thing incredible to me," said Mr. Ratler, "is that
Englishmen should be so mean." He was alluding to the Conservatives
who had shown their intention of supporting Mr. Daubeny, and whom
he accused of doing so, simply with a view to power and patronage,
without any regard to their own consistency or to the welfare of
the country. Mr. Ratler probably did not correctly read the minds
of the men whom he was accusing, and did not perceive, as he should
have done with his experience, how little there was among them of
concerted action. To defend the Church was a duty to each of them;
but then, so also was it a duty to support his party. And each one
could see his way to the one duty, whereas the other was vague, and
too probably ultimately impossible. If it were proper to throw off
the incubus of this conjuror's authority, surely some wise, and
great, and bold man would get up and so declare. Some junto of wise
men of the party would settle that he should be deposed. But where
were they to look for the wise and bold men? where even for the
junto? Of whom did the party consist?--Of honest, chivalrous, and
enthusiastic men, but mainly of men who were idle, and unable to
take upon their own shoulders the responsibility of real work. Their
leaders had been selected from the outside,--clever, eager, pushing
men, but of late had been hardly selected from among themselves. As
used to be the case with Italian Powers, they entrusted their cause
to mercenary foreign generals, soldiers of fortune, who carried their
good swords whither they were wanted; and, as of old, the leaders
were ever ready to fight, but would themselves declare what should
be and what should not be the _casus belli_. There was not so much
meanness as Mr. Ratler supposed in the Conservative ranks, but very
much more unhappiness. Would it not be better to go home and live
at the family park all the year round, and hunt, and attend Quarter
Sessions, and be able to declare morning and evening with a clear
conscience that the country was going to the dogs? Such was the
mental working of many a Conservative who supported Mr. Daubeny on
this occasion.

At the instance of Lady Laura, Phineas called upon the Duke of St.
Bungay soon after his return, and was very kindly received by his
Grace. In former days, when there were Whigs instead of Liberals, it
was almost a rule of political life that all leading Whigs should be
uncles, brothers-in-law, or cousins to each other. This was pleasant
and gave great consistency to the party; but the system has now gone
out of vogue. There remain of it, however, some traces, so that among
the nobler born Liberals of the day there is still a good deal of
agreeable family connection. In this way the St. Bungay Fitz-Howards
were related to the Mildmays and Standishes, and such a man as
Barrington Erle was sure to be cousin to all of them. Lady Laura
had thus only sent her friend to a relation of her own, and as the
Duke and Phineas had been in the same Government, his Grace was
glad enough to receive the returning aspirant. Of course there was
something said at first as to the life of the Earl at Dresden. The
Duke recollected the occasion of such banishment, and shook his head;
and attempted to look unhappy when the wretched condition of Mr.
Kennedy was reported to him. But he was essentially a happy man, and
shook off the gloom at once when Phineas spoke of politics. "So you
are coming back to us, Mr. Finn?"

"They tell me I may perhaps get the seat."

"I am heartily glad, for you were very useful. I remember how Cantrip
almost cried when he told me you were going to leave him. He had been
rather put upon, I fancy, before."

"There was perhaps something in that, your Grace."

"There will be nothing to return to now beyond barren honours."

"Not for a while."

"Not for a long while," said the Duke;--"for a long while, that is,
as candidates for office regard time. Mr. Daubeny will be safe for
this Session at least. I doubt whether he will really attempt to
carry his measure this year. He will bring it forward, and after the
late division he must get his second reading. He will then break
down gracefully in Committee, and declare that the importance of the
interests concerned demands further inquiry. It wasn't a thing to be
done in one year."

"Why should he do it at all?" asked Phineas.

"That's what everybody asks, but the answer seems to be so plain!
Because he can do it, and we can't. He will get from our side much
support, and we should get none from his."

"There is something to me sickening in their dishonesty," said
Phineas energetically.

"The country has the advantage; and I don't know that they are
dishonest. Ought we to come to a deadlock in legislation in order
that parties might fight out their battle till one had killed the
other?"

"I don't think a man should support a measure which he believes to be
destructive."

"He doesn't believe it to be destructive. The belief is
theoretic,--or not even quite that. It is hardly more than romantic.
As long as acres are dear, and he can retain those belonging to him,
the country gentleman will never really believe his country to be in
danger. It is the same with commerce. As long as the Three per Cents.
do not really mean Four per Cent.,--I may say as long as they don't
mean Five per Cent.,--the country will be rich, though every one
should swear that it be ruined."

"I'm very glad, at the same time, that I don't call myself a
Conservative," said Phineas.

"That shows how disinterested you are, as you certainly would be
in office. Good-bye. Come and see the Duchess when she comes to
town. And if you've nothing better to do, give us a day or two at
Longroyston at Easter." Now Longroyston was the Duke's well-known
country seat, at which Whig hospitality had been dispensed with a
lavish hand for two centuries.

On the 20th January Phineas travelled down to Tankerville again in
obedience to a summons served upon him at the instance of the judge
who was to try his petition against Browborough. It was the special
and somewhat unusual nature of this petition that the complainants
not only sought to oust the sitting member, but also to give the
seat to the late unsuccessful candidate. There was to be a scrutiny,
by which, if it should be successful, so great a number of votes
would be deducted from those polled on behalf of the unfortunate
Mr. Browborough as to leave a majority for his opponent, with the
additional disagreeable obligation upon him of paying the cost of the
transaction by which he would thus lose his seat. Mr. Browborough,
no doubt, looked upon the whole thing with the greatest disgust. He
thought that a battle when once won should be regarded as over till
the occasion should come for another battle. He had spent his money
like a gentleman, and hated these mean ways. No one could ever say
that he had ever petitioned. That was his way of looking at it. That
Shibboleth of his as to the prospects of England and the Church of
her people had, no doubt, made the House less agreeable to him during
the last Short session than usual; but he had stuck to his party, and
voted with Mr. Daubeny on the Address,--the obligation for such vote
having inconveniently pressed itself upon him before the presentation
of the petition had been formally completed. He had always stuck to
his party. It was the pride of his life that he had been true and
consistent. He also was summoned to Tankerville, and he was forced
to go, although he knew that the Shibboleth would be thrown in his
teeth.

Mr. Browborough spent two or three very uncomfortable days at
Tankerville, whereas Phineas was triumphant. There were worse things
in store for poor Mr. Browborough than his repudiated Shibboleth, or
even than his lost seat. Mr. Ruddles, acting with wondrous energy,
succeeded in knocking off the necessary votes, and succeeded also in
proving that these votes were void by reason of gross bribery. He
astonished Phineas by the cool effrontery with which he took credit
to himself for not having purchased votes in the Fallgate on the
Liberal side, but Phineas was too wise to remind him that he himself
had hinted at one time that it would be well to lay out a little
money in that way. No one at the present moment was more clear than
was Ruddles as to the necessity of purity at elections. Not a penny
had been misspent by the Finnites. A vote or two from their score
was knocked off on grounds which did not touch the candidate or his
agents. One man had personated a vote, but this appeared to have been
done at the instigation of some very cunning Browborough partisan.
Another man had been wrongly described. This, however, amounted to
nothing. Phineas Finn was seated for the borough, and the judge
declared his purpose of recommending the House of Commons to issue
a commission with reference to the expediency of instituting a
prosecution. Mr. Browborough left the town in great disgust, not
without various publicly expressed intimations from his opponents
that the prosperity of England depended on the Church of her people.
Phineas was gloriously entertained by the Liberals of the borough,
and then informed that as so much had been done for him it was hoped
that he would now open his pockets on behalf of the charities of
the town. "Gentlemen," said Phineas, to one or two of the leading
Liberals, "it is as well that you should know at once that I am a
very poor man." The leading Liberals made wry faces, but Phineas was
member for the borough.

The moment that the decision was announced, Phineas, shaking off for
the time his congratulatory friends, hurried to the post-office and
sent his message to Lady Laura Standish at Dresden: "I have got the
seat." He was almost ashamed of himself as the telegraph boy looked
up at him when he gave in the words, but this was a task which he
could not have entrusted to any one else. He almost thought that this
was in truth the proudest and happiest moment of his life. She would
so thoroughly enjoy his triumph, would receive from it such great
and unselfish joy, that he almost wished that he could have taken
the message himself. Surely had he done so there would have been fit
occasion for another embrace.

He was again a member of the British House of Commons,--was again in
possession of that privilege for which he had never ceased to sigh
since the moment in which he lost it. A drunkard or a gambler may be
weaned from his ways, but not a politician. To have been in the House
and not to be there was, to such a one as Phineas Finn, necessarily,
a state of discontent. But now he had worked his way up again, and
he was determined that no fears for the future should harass him. He
would give his heart and soul to the work while his money lasted. It
would surely last him for the Session. He was all alone in the world,
and would trust to the chapter of accidents for the future.

"I never knew a fellow with such luck as yours," said Barrington Erle
to him, on his return to London. "A seat always drops into your mouth
when the circumstances seem to be most forlorn."

"I have been lucky, certainly."

"My cousin, Laura Kennedy, has been writing to me about you."

"I went over to see them, you know."

"So I heard. She talks some nonsense about the Earl being willing to
do anything for you. What could the Earl do? He has no more influence
in the Loughton borough than I have. All that kind of thing is clean
done for,--with one or two exceptions. We got much better men while
it lasted than we do now."

"I should doubt that."

"We did;--much truer men,--men who went straighter. By the bye,
Phineas, we must have no tricks on this Church matter. We mean to do
all we can to throw out the second reading."

"You know what I said at the hustings."

"D---- the hustings. I know what Browborough said, and Browborough
voted like a man with his party. You were against the Church at the
hustings, and he was for it. You will vote just the other way. There
will be a little confusion, but the people of Tankerville will never
remember the particulars."

"I don't know that I can do that."

"By heavens, if you don't, you shall never more be officer of
ours,--though Laura Kennedy should cry her eyes out."



CHAPTER XIV

Trumpeton Wood


In the meantime the hunting season was going on in the Brake country
with chequered success. There had arisen the great Trumpeton Wood
question, about which the sporting world was doomed to hear so much
for the next twelve months,--and Lord Chiltern was in an unhappy
state of mind. Trumpeton Wood belonged to that old friend of ours,
the Duke of Omnium, who had now almost fallen into second childhood.
It was quite out of the question that the Duke should himself
interfere in such a matter, or know anything about it; but Lord
Chiltern, with headstrong resolution, had persisted in writing to the
Duke himself. Foxes had always hitherto been preserved in Trumpeton
Wood, and the earths had always been stopped on receipt of due notice
by the keepers. During the cubbing season there had arisen quarrels.
The keepers complained that no effort was made to kill the foxes.
Lord Chiltern swore that the earths were not stopped. Then there came
tidings of a terrible calamity. A dying fox, with a trap to its pad,
was found in the outskirts of the Wood; and Lord Chiltern wrote to
the Duke. He drew the Wood in regular course before any answer could
be received,--and three of his hounds picked up poison, and died
beneath his eyes. He wrote to the Duke again,--a cutting letter; and
then came from the Duke's man of business, Mr. Fothergill, a very
short reply, which Lord Chiltern regarded as an insult. Hitherto the
affair had not got into the sporting papers, and was simply a matter
of angry discussion at every meet in the neighbouring counties. Lord
Chiltern was very full of wrath, and always looked as though he
desired to avenge those poor hounds on the Duke and all belonging to
him. To a Master of Hounds the poisoning of one of his pack is murder
of the deepest dye. There probably never was a Master who in his
heart of hearts would not think it right that a detected culprit
should be hung for such an offence. And most Masters would go further
than this, and declare that in the absence of such detection the
owner of the covert in which the poison had been picked up should be
held to be responsible. In this instance the condition of ownership
was unfortunate. The Duke himself was old, feeble, and almost
imbecile. He had never been eminent as a sportsman; but, in a not
energetic manner, he had endeavoured to do his duty by the country.
His heir, Plantagenet Palliser, was simply a statesman, who, as
regarded himself, had never a day to spare for amusement; and who, in
reference to sport, had unfortunate fantastic notions that pheasants
and rabbits destroyed crops, and that foxes were injurious to old
women's poultry. He, however, was not the owner, and had refused
to interfere. There had been family quarrels too, adverse to the
sporting interests of the younger Palliser scions, so that the
shooting of this wood had drifted into the hands of Mr. Fothergill
and his friends. Now, Lord Chiltern had settled it in his own mind
that the hounds had been poisoned, if not in compliance with Mr.
Fothergill's orders, at any rate in furtherance of his wishes,
and, could he have had his way, he certainly would have sent Mr.
Fothergill to the gallows. Now, Miss Palliser, who was still staying
at Lord Chiltern's house, was niece to the old Duke, and first cousin
to the heir. "They are nothing to me," she said once, when Lord
Chiltern had attempted to apologise for the abuse he was heaping on
her relatives. "I haven't seen the Duke since I was a little child,
and I shouldn't know my cousin were I to meet him."

"So much the more gracious is your condition," said Lady
Chiltern,--"at any rate in Oswald's estimation."

"I know them, and once spent a couple of days at Matching with them,"
said Lord Chiltern. "The Duke is an old fool, who always gave himself
greater airs than any other man in England,--and as far as I can see,
with less to excuse them. As for Planty Pall, he and I belong so
essentially to different orders of things, that we can hardly be
reckoned as being both men."

"And which is the man, Lord Chiltern?"

"Whichever you please, my dear; only not both. Doggett was over there
yesterday, and found three separate traps."

"What did he do with the traps?" said Lady Chiltern.

"I wasn't fool enough to ask him, but I don't in the least doubt that
he threw them into the water--or that he'd throw Palliser there too
if he could get hold of him. As for taking the hounds to Trumpeton
again, I wouldn't do it if there were not another covert in the
country."

"Then leave it so, and have done with it," said his wife. "I wouldn't
fret as you do for what another man did with his own property, for
all the foxes in England."

"That is because you understand nothing of hunting, my dear. A man's
property is his own in one sense, but isn't his own in another. A man
can't do what he likes with his coverts."

"He can cut them down."

"But he can't let another pack hunt them, and he can't hunt them
himself. If he's in a hunting county he is bound to preserve foxes."

"What binds him, Oswald? A man can't be bound without a penalty."

"I should think it penalty enough for everybody to hate me. What are
you going to do about Phineas Finn?"

"I have asked him to come on the 1st and stay till Parliament meets."

"And is that woman coming?"

"There are two or three women coming."

"She with the German name, whom you made me dine with in Park Lane?"

"Madame Max Goesler is coming. She brings her own horses, and they
will stand at Doggett's."

"They can't stand here, for there is not a stall."

"I am so sorry that my poor little fellow should incommode you," said
Miss Palliser.

"You're a licensed offender,--though, upon my honour, I don't know
whether I ought to give a feed of oats to any one having a connection
with Trumpeton Wood. And what is Phineas to ride?"

"He shall ride my horses," said Lady Chiltern, whose present
condition in life rendered hunting inopportune to her.

"Neither of them would carry him a mile. He wants about as good an
animal as you can put him upon. I don't know what I'm to do. It's all
very well for Laura to say that he must be mounted."

"You wouldn't refuse to give Mr. Finn a mount!" said Lady Chiltern,
almost with dismay.

"I'd give him my right hand to ride, only it wouldn't carry him. I
can't make horses. Harry brought home that brown mare on Tuesday with
an overreach that she won't get over this season. What the deuce they
do with their horses to knock them about so, I can't understand. I've
killed horses in my time, and ridden them to a stand-still, but I
never bruised them and battered them about as these fellows do."

"Then I'd better write to Mr. Finn, and tell him," said Lady
Chiltern, very gravely.

"Oh, Phineas Finn!" said Lord Chiltern; "oh, Phineas Finn! what a
pity it was that you and I didn't see the matter out when we stood
opposite to each other on the sands at Blankenberg!"

"Oswald," said his wife, getting up, and putting her arm over his
shoulder, "you know you would give your best horse to Mr. Finn,
as long as he chose to stay here, though you rode upon a donkey
yourself."

"I know that if I didn't, you would," said Lord Chiltern. And so the
matter was settled.

At night, when they were alone together, there was further discussion
as to the visitors who were coming to Harrington Hall. "Is Gerard
Maule to come back?" asked the husband.

"I have asked him. He left his horses at Doggett's, you know."

"I didn't know."

"I certainly told you, Oswald. Do you object to his coming? You can't
really mean that you care about his riding?"

"It isn't that. You must have some whipping post, and he's as good
as another. But he shilly-shallies about that girl. I hate all that
stuff like poison."

"All men are not so--abrupt shall I say?--as you were."

"I had something to say, and I said it. When I had said it a dozen
times, I got to have it believed. He doesn't say it as though he
meant to have it believed."

"You were always in earnest, Oswald."

"I was."

"To the extent of the three minutes which you allowed yourself. It
sufficed, however;--did it not? You are glad you persevered?"

"What fools women are."

"Never mind that. Say you are glad. I like you to tell me so. Let me
be a fool if I will."

"What made you so obstinate?"

"I don't know. I never could tell. It wasn't that I didn't dote upon
you, and think about you, and feel quite sure that there never could
be any other one than you."

"I've no doubt it was all right;--only you very nearly made me shoot
a fellow, and now I've got to find horses for him. I wonder whether
he could ride Dandolo?"

"Don't put him up on anything very hard."

"Why not? His wife is dead, and he hasn't got a child, nor yet an
acre of property. I don't know who is entitled to break his neck if
he is not. And Dandolo is as good a horse as there is in the stable,
if you can once get him to go. Mind, I have to start to-morrow at
nine, for it's all eighteen miles." And so the Master of the Brake
Hounds took himself to his repose.

Lady Laura Kennedy had written to Barrington Erle respecting her
friend's political interests, and to her sister-in-law, Lady
Chiltern, as to his social comfort. She could not bear to think that
he should be left alone in London till Parliament should meet, and
had therefore appealed to Lady Chiltern as to the memory of many past
events. The appeal had been unnecessary and superfluous. It cannot
be said that Phineas and his affairs were matters of as close an
interest to Lady Chiltern as to Lady Laura. If any woman loved her
husband beyond all things Lord Chiltern's wife did, and ever had done
so. But there had been a tenderness in regard to the young Irish
Member of Parliament, which Violet Effingham had in old days shared
with Lady Laura, and which made her now think that all good things
should be done for him. She believed him to be addicted to hunting,
and therefore horses must be provided for him. He was a widower, and
she remembered of old that he was fond of pretty women, and she knew
that in coming days he might probably want money;--and therefore she
had asked Madame Max Goesler to spend a fortnight at Harrington Hall.
Madame Max Goesler and Phineas Finn had been acquainted before, as
Lady Chiltern was well aware. But perhaps Lady Chiltern, when she
summoned Madame Max into the country, did not know how close the
acquaintance had been.

Madame Max came a couple of days before Phineas, and was taken out
hunting on the morning after her arrival. She was a lady who could
ride to hounds,--and who, indeed, could do nearly anything to which
she set her mind. She was dark, thin, healthy, good-looking, clever,
ambitious, rich, unsatisfied, perhaps unscrupulous,--but not without
a conscience. As has been told in a former portion of this chronicle,
she could always seem to be happy with her companion of the day, and
yet there was ever present a gnawing desire to do something more and
something better than she had as yet achieved. Of course, as he took
her to the meet, Lord Chiltern told her his grievance respecting
Trumpeton Wood. "But, my dear Lord Chiltern, you must not abuse the
Duke of Omnium to me."

"Why not to you?"

"He and I are sworn friends."

"He's a hundred years old."

"And why shouldn't I have a friend a hundred years old? And as
for Mr. Palliser, he knows no more of your foxes than I know of
his taxes. Why don't you write to Lady Glencora? She understands
everything."

"Is she a friend of yours, too?"

"My particular friend. She and I, you know, look after the poor dear
Duke between us."

"I can understand why she should sacrifice herself."

"But not why I do. I can't explain it myself; but so it has come
to pass, and I must not hear the Duke abused. May I write to Lady
Glencora about it?"

"Certainly,--if you please; but not as giving her any message from
me. Her uncle's property is mismanaged most damnably. If you choose
to tell her that I say so you can. I'm not going to ask anything as a
favour. I never do ask favours. But the Duke or Planty Palliser among
them should do one of two things. They should either stand by the
hunting, or they should let it alone;--and they should say what they
mean. I like to know my friends, and I like to know my enemies."

"I am sure the Duke is not your enemy, Lord Chiltern."

"These Pallisers have always been running with the hare and hunting
with the hounds. They are great aristocrats, and yet are always
going in for the people. I'm told that Planty Pall calls fox-hunting
barbarous. Why doesn't he say so out loud, and stub up Trumpeton Wood
and grow corn?"

"Perhaps he will when Trumpeton Wood belongs to him."

"I should like that much better than poisoning hounds and trapping
foxes." When they got to the meet, conclaves of men might be seen
gathered together here and there, and in each conclave they were
telling something new or something old as to the iniquities
perpetrated at Trumpeton Wood.

On that evening before dinner Madame Goesler was told by her
hostess that Phineas Finn was expected on the following day. The
communication was made quite as a matter of course; but Lady Chiltern
had chosen a time in which the lights were shaded, and the room was
dark. Adelaide Palliser was present, as was also a certain Lady
Baldock,--not that Lady Baldock who had abused all Papists to poor
Phineas, but her son's wife. They were drinking tea together over
the fire, and the dim lights were removed from the circle. This, no
doubt, was simply an accident; but the gloom served Madame Goesler
during one moment of embarrassment. "An old friend of yours is coming
here to-morrow," said Lady Chiltern.

"An old friend of mine! Shall I call my friend he or she?"

"You remember Mr. Finn?"

That was the moment in which Madame Goesler rejoiced that no strong
glare of light fell upon her face. But she was a woman who would not
long leave herself subject to any such embarrassment. "Surely," she
said, confining herself at first to the single word.

"He is coming here. He is a great friend of mine."

"He always was a good friend of yours, Lady Chiltern."

"And of yours, too, Madame Max. A sort of general friend, I think,
was Mr. Finn in the old days. I hope you will be glad to see him."

"Oh, dear, yes."

"I thought him very nice," said Adelaide Palliser.

"I remember mamma saying, before she was mamma, you know," said Lady
Baldock, "that Mr. Finn was very nice indeed, only he was a Papist,
and only he had got no money, and only he would fall in love with
everybody. Does he go on falling in love with people, Violet?"

"Never with married women, my dear. He has had a wife himself since
that, Madame Goesler, and the poor thing died."

"And now here he is beginning all over again," said Lady Baldock.

"And as pleasant as ever," said her cousin. "You know he has done all
manner of things for our family. He picked Oswald up once after one
of those terrible hunting accidents; and he saved Mr. Kennedy when
men were murdering him."

"That was questionable kindness," said Lady Baldock.

"And he sat for Lord Brentford's borough."

"How good of him!" said Miss Palliser.

"And he has done all manner of things," said Lady Chiltern.

"Didn't he once fight a duel?" asked Madame Goesler.

"That was the grandest thing of all," said his friend, "for he
didn't shoot somebody whom perhaps he might have shot had he been
as bloodthirsty as somebody else. And now he has come back to
Parliament, and all that kind of thing, and he's coming here to hunt.
I hope you'll be glad to see him, Madame Goesler."

"I shall be very glad to see him," said Madame Goesler, slowly; "I
heard about his success at that town, and I knew that I should meet
him somewhere."



CHAPTER XV

"How well you knew!"


It was necessary also that some communication should be made to
Phineas, so that he might not come across Madame Goesler unawares.
Lady Chiltern was more alive to that necessity than she had been to
the other, and felt that the gentleman, if not warned of what was to
take place, would be much more likely than the lady to be awkward at
the trying moment. Madame Goesler would in any circumstances be sure
to recover her self-possession very quickly, even were she to lose it
for a moment; but so much could hardly be said for the social powers
of Phineas Finn. Lady Chiltern therefore contrived to see him alone
for a moment on his arrival. "Who do you think is here?"

"Lady Laura has not come!"

"Indeed, no; I wish she had. An old friend, but not so old as Laura!"

"I cannot guess;--not Lord Fawn?"

"Lord Fawn! What would Lord Fawn do here? Don't you know that Lord
Fawn goes nowhere since his last matrimonial trouble? It's a friend
of yours, not of mine."

"Madame Goesler?" whispered Phineas.

"How well you knew when I said it was a friend of yours. Madame
Goesler is here,--not altered in the least."

"Madame Goesler!"

"Does it annoy you?"

"Oh, no. Why should it annoy me?"

"You never quarrelled with her?"

"Never!"

"There is no reason why you should not meet her?"

"None at all;--only I was surprised. Did she know that I was coming?"

"I told her yesterday. I hope that I have not done wrong or made
things unpleasant. I knew that you used to be friends."

"And as friends we parted, Lady Chiltern." He had nothing more to
say in the matter; nor had she. He could not tell the story of what
had taken place between himself and the lady, and she could not keep
herself from surmising that something had taken place, which, had she
known it, would have prevented her from bringing the two together at
Harrington.

Madame Goesler, when she was dressing, acknowledged to herself that
she had a task before her which would require all her tact and all
her courage. She certainly would not have accepted Lady Chiltern's
invitation had she known that she would encounter Phineas Finn at the
house. She had twenty-four hours to think of it, and at one time had
almost made up her mind that some sudden business should recall her
to London. Of course, her motive would be suspected. Of course Lady
Chiltern would connect her departure with the man's arrival. But even
that, bad as it would be, might be preferable to the meeting! What a
fool had she been,--so she accused herself,--in not foreseeing that
such an accident might happen, knowing as she did that Phineas Finn
had reappeared in the political world, and that he and the Chiltern
people had ever been fast friends! As she had thought about it, lying
awake at night, she had told herself that she must certainly be
recalled back to London by business. She would telegraph up to town,
raising a question about any trifle, and on receipt of the answer she
could be off with something of an excuse. The shame of running away
from the man seemed to be a worse evil than the shame of meeting him.
She had in truth done nothing to disgrace herself. In her desire
to save a man whom she had loved from the ruin which she thought
had threatened him, she had--offered him her hand. She had made the
offer, and he had refused it! That was all. No; she would not be
driven to confess to herself that she had ever fled from the face of
man or woman. This man would be again in London, and she could not
always fly. It would be only necessary that she should maintain her
own composure, and the misery of the meeting would pass away after
the first few minutes. One consolation was assured to her. She
thoroughly believed in the man,--feeling certain that he had not
betrayed her, and would not betray her. But now, as the time
for the meeting drew near, as she stood for a moment before the
glass,--pretending to look at herself in order that her maid might
not remark her uneasiness, she found that her courage, great as
it was, hardly sufficed her. She almost plotted some scheme of a
headache, by which she might be enabled not to show herself till
after dinner. "I am so blind that I can hardly see out of my eyes,"
she said to the maid, actually beginning the scheme. The woman
assumed a look of painful solicitude, and declared that "Madame did
not look quite her best." "I suppose I shall shake it off," said
Madame Goesler; and then she descended the stairs.

The condition of Phineas Finn was almost as bad, but he had a much
less protracted period of anticipation than that with which the lady
was tormented. He was sent up to dress for dinner with the knowledge
that in half an hour he would find himself in the same room with
Madame Goesler. There could be no question of his running away, no
possibility even of his escaping by a headache. But it may be doubted
whether his dismay was not even more than hers. She knew that she
could teach herself to use no other than fitting words; but he was
almost sure that he would break down if he attempted to speak to her.
She would be safe from blushing, but he would assuredly become as
red as a turkey-cock's comb up to the roots of his hair. Her blood
would be under control, but his would be coursing hither and thither
through his veins, so as to make him utterly unable to rule himself.
Nevertheless, he also plucked up his courage and descended, reaching
the drawing-room before Madame Goesler had entered it. Chiltern was
going on about Trumpeton Wood to Lord Baldock, and was renewing his
fury against all the Pallisers, while Adelaide stood by and laughed.
Gerard Maule was lounging on a chair, wondering that any man could
expend such energy on such a subject. Lady Chiltern was explaining
the merits of the case to Lady Baldock,--who knew nothing about
hunting; and the other guests were listening with eager attention.
A certain Mr. Spooner, who rode hard and did nothing else,
and who acted as an unacknowledged assistant-master under Lord
Chiltern,--there is such a man in every hunt,--acted as chorus, and
indicated, chiefly with dumb show, the strong points of the case.

"Finn, how are you?" said Lord Chiltern, stretching out his left
hand. "Glad to have you back again, and congratulate you about the
seat. It was put down in red herrings, and we found nearly a dozen of
them afterwards,--enough to kill half the pack."

"Picked up nine," said Mr. Spooner.

"Children might have picked them up quite as well,--and eaten them,"
said Lady Chiltern.

"They didn't care about that," continued the Master. "And now
they've wires and traps over the whole place. Palliser's a friend of
yours--isn't he, Finn?"

"Of course I knew him,--when I was in office."

"I don't know what he may be in office, but he's an uncommon bad sort
of fellow to have in a county."

"Shameful!" said Mr. Spooner, lifting up both his hands.

"This is my first cousin, you know," whispered Adelaide, to Lady
Baldock.

"If he were my own brother, or my grandmother, I should say the
same," continued the angry lord. "We must have a meeting about it,
and let the world know it,--that's all." At this moment the door was
again opened, and Madame Goesler entered the room.

When one wants to be natural, of necessity one becomes the reverse of
natural. A clever actor,--or more frequently a clever actress,--will
assume the appearance; but the very fact of the assumption renders
the reality impossible. Lady Chiltern was generally very clever in
the arrangement of all little social difficulties, and, had she
thought less about it, might probably have managed the present affair
in an easy and graceful manner. But the thing had weighed upon her
mind, and she had decided that it would be expedient that she should
say something when those two old friends first met each other again
in her drawing-room. "Madame Max," she said, "you remember Mr. Finn."
Lord Chiltern for a moment stopped the torrent of his abuse. Lord
Baldock made a little effort to look uninterested, but quite in vain.
Mr. Spooner stood on one side. Lady Baldock stared with all her
eyes,--with some feeling of instinct that there would be something to
see; and Gerard Maule, rising from the sofa, joined the circle. It
seemed as though Lady Chiltern's words had caused the formation of a
ring in the midst of which Phineas and Madame Goesler were to renew
their acquaintance.

"Very well indeed," said Madame Max, putting out her hand and looking
full into our hero's face with her sweetest smile. "And I hope Mr.
Finn will not have forgotten me." She did it admirably--so well that
surely she need not have thought of running away.

But poor Phineas was not happy. "I shall never forget you," said he;
and then that unavoidable blush suffused his face, and the blood
began to career through his veins.

"I am so glad you are in Parliament again," said Madame Max.

"Yes;--I've got in again, after a struggle. Are you still living in
Park Lane?"

"Oh, yes;--and shall be most happy to see you." Then she seated
herself,--as did also Lady Chiltern by her side. "I see the poor
Duke's iniquities are still under discussion. I hope Lord Chiltern
recognises the great happiness of having a grievance. It would be a
pity that so great a blessing should be thrown away upon him." For
the moment Madame Max had got through her difficulty, and, indeed,
had done so altogether till the moment should come in which she
should find herself alone with Phineas. But he slunk back from the
gathering before the fire, and stood solitary and silent till dinner
was announced. It became his fate to take an old woman into dinner
who was not very clearsighted. "Did you know that lady before?" she
asked.

"Oh, yes; I knew her two or three years ago in London."

"Do you think she is pretty?"

"Certainly."

"All the men say so, but I never can see it. They have been saying
ever so long that the old Duke of Omnium means to marry her on his
deathbed, but I don't suppose there can be anything in it."

"Why should he put it off for so very inopportune an occasion?" asked
Phineas.



CHAPTER XVI

Copperhouse Cross and Broughton Spinnies


After all, the thing had not been so very bad. With a little courage
and hardihood we can survive very great catastrophes, and go through
them even without broken bones. Phineas, when he got up to his room,
found that he had spent the evening in company with Madame Goesler,
and had not suffered materially, except at the very first moment of
the meeting. He had not said a word to the lady, except such as were
spoken in mixed conversation with her and others; but they had been
together, and no bones had been broken. It could not be that his
old intimacy should be renewed, but he could now encounter her in
society, as the Fates might direct, without a renewal of that feeling
of dismay which had been so heavy on him.

He was about to undress when there came a knock at the door, and his
host entered the room. "What do you mean to do about smoking?" Lord
Chiltern asked.

"Nothing at all."

"There's a fire in the smoking-room, but I'm tired, and I want to
go to bed. Baldock doesn't smoke. Gerard Maule is smoking in his
own room, I take it. You'll probably find Spooner at this moment
established somewhere in the back slums, having a pipe with old
Doggett, and planning retribution. You can join them if you please."

"Not to-night, I think. They wouldn't trust me,--and I should spoil
their plans."

"They certainly wouldn't trust you,--or any other human being. You
don't mind a horse that baulks a little, do you?"

"I'm not going to hunt, Chiltern."

"Yes, you are. I've got it all arranged. Don't you be a fool, and
make us all uncomfortable. Everybody rides here;--every man, woman,
and child about the place. You shall have one of the best horses I've
got;--only you must be particular about your spurs."

"Indeed, I'd rather not. The truth is, I can't afford to ride my own
horses, and therefore I'd rather not ride my friends'."

"That's all gammon. When Violet wrote she told you you'd be expected
to come out. Your old flame, Madame Max, will be there, and I tell
you she has a very pretty idea of keeping to hounds. Only Dandolo has
that little defect."

"Is Dandolo the horse?"

"Yes;--Dandolo is the horse. He's up to a stone over your weight, and
can do any mortal thing within a horse's compass. Cox won't ride him
because he baulks, and so he has come into my stable. If you'll only
let him know that you're on his back, and have got a pair of spurs on
your heels with rowels in them, he'll take you anywhere. Good-night,
old fellow. You can smoke if you choose, you know."

Phineas had resolved that he would not hunt; but, nevertheless, he
had brought boots with him, and breeches, fancying that if he did not
he would be forced out without those comfortable appurtenances. But
there came across his heart a feeling that he had reached a time of
life in which it was no longer comfortable for him to live as a poor
man with men who were rich. It had been his lot to do so when he was
younger, and there had been some pleasure in it; but now he would
rather live alone and dwell upon the memories of the past. He, too,
might have been rich, and have had horses at command, had he chosen
to sacrifice himself for money.

On the next morning they started in a huge waggonette for Copperhouse
Cross,--a meet that was suspiciously near to the Duke's fatal wood.
Spooner had explained to Phineas over night that they never did draw
Trumpeton Wood on Copperhouse Cross days, and that under no possible
circumstances would Chiltern now draw Trumpeton Wood. But there is
no saying where a fox may run. At this time of the year, just the
beginning of February, dog-foxes from the big woods were very apt
to be away from home, and when found would go straight for their
own earths. It was very possible that they might find themselves in
Trumpeton Wood, and then certainly there would be a row. Spooner
shrugged his shoulders, and shook his head, and seemed to insinuate
that Lord Chiltern would certainly do something very dreadful to the
Duke or to the Duke's heir if any law of venery should again be found
to have been broken on this occasion.

The distance to Copperhouse Cross was twelve miles, and Phineas found
himself placed in the carriage next to Madame Goesler. It had not
been done of fixed design; but when a party of six are seated in a
carriage, the chances are that one given person will be next to or
opposite to any other given person. Madame Max had remembered this,
and had prepared herself, but Phineas was taken aback when he found
how close was his neighbourhood to the lady. "Get in, Phineas," said
his lordship. Gerard Maule had already seated himself next to Miss
Palliser, and Phineas had no alternative but to take the place next
to Madame Max.

"I didn't know that you rode to hounds?" said Phineas.

"Oh, yes; I have done so for years. When we met it was always in
London, Mr. Finn; and people there never know what other people do.
Have you heard of this terrible affair about the Duke?"

"Oh, dear, yes."

"Poor Duke! He and I have seen a great deal of each other
since,--since the days when you and I used to meet. He knows nothing
about all this, and the worst of it is, he is not in a condition to
be told."

"Lady Glencora could put it all right."

"I'll tell Lady Glencora, of course," said Madame Max. "It seems so
odd in this country that the owner of a property does not seem at all
to have any exclusive right to it. I suppose the Duke could shut up
the wood if he liked."

"But they poisoned the hounds."

"Nobody supposes the Duke did that,--or even the Duke's servants, I
should think. But Lord Chiltern will hear us if we don't take care."

"I've heard every word you've been saying," exclaimed Lord Chiltern.

"Has it been traced to any one?"

"No,--not traced, I suppose."

"What then, Lord Chiltern? You may speak out to me. When I'm wrong I
like to be told so."

"Then you're wrong now," said Lord Chiltern, "if you take the part of
the Duke or of any of his people. He is bound to find foxes for the
Brake hunt. It is almost a part of his title deeds. Instead of doing
so he has had them destroyed."

"It's as bad as voting against the Church establishment," said Madame
Goesler.

There was a very large meet at Copperhouse Cross, and both Madame
Goesler and Phineas Finn found many old acquaintances there. As
Phineas had formerly sat in the House for five years, and had been
in office, and had never made himself objectionable either to his
friends or adversaries, he had been widely known. He now found half
a dozen men who were always members of Parliament,--men who seem,
though commoners, to have been born legislators,--who all spoke to
him as though his being member for Tankerville and hunting with the
Brake hounds were equally matters of course. They knew him, but they
knew nothing of the break in his life. Or if they remembered that he
had not been seen about the House for the last two or three years
they remembered also that accidents do happen to some men. It will
occur now and again that a regular denizen of Westminster will get
a fall in the political hunting-field, and have to remain about the
world for a year or two without a seat. That Phineas had lately
triumphed over Browborough at Tankerville was known, the event
having been so recent; and men congratulated him, talking of poor
Browborough,--whose heavy figure had been familiar to them for many
a year,--but by no means recognising that the event of which they
spoke had been, as it were, life and death to their friend. Roby was
there, who was at this moment Mr. Daubeny's head whip and patronage
secretary. If any one should have felt acutely the exclusion of Mr.
Browborough from the House,--any one beyond the sufferer himself,--it
should have been Mr. Roby; but he made himself quite pleasant, and
even condescended to be jocose upon the occasion. "So you've beat
poor Browborough in his own borough," said Mr. Roby.

"I've beat him," said Phineas; "but not, I hope, in a borough of his
own."

"He's been there for the last fifteen years. Poor old fellow! He's
awfully cut up about this Church Question. I shouldn't have thought
he'd have taken anything so much to heart. There are worse fellows
than Browborough, let me tell you. What's all this I hear about the
Duke poisoning the foxes?" But the crowd had begun to move, and
Phineas was not called upon to answer the question.

Copperhouse Cross in the Brake Hunt was a very popular meet. It
was easily reached by a train from London, was in the centre of an
essentially hunting country, was near to two or three good coverts,
and was in itself a pretty spot. Two roads intersected each other on
the middle of Copperhouse Common, which, as all the world knows, lies
just on the outskirts of Copperhouse Forest. A steep winding hill
leads down from the Wood to the Cross, and there is no such thing
within sight as an enclosure. At the foot of the hill, running under
the wooden bridge, straggles the Copperhouse Brook,--so called by the
hunting men of the present day, though men who know the country of
old, or rather the county, will tell you that it is properly called
the river Cobber, and that the spacious old farm buildings above
were once known as the Cobber Manor House. He would be a vain man
who would now try to change the name, as Copperhouse Cross has been
printed in all the lists of hunting meets for at least the last
thirty years; and the Ordnance map has utterly rejected the two b's.
Along one of the cross-roads there was a broad extent of common, some
seven or eight hundred yards in length, on which have been erected
the butts used by those well-known defenders of their country, the
Copperhouse Volunteer Rifles; and just below the bridge the sluggish
water becomes a little lake, having probably at some time been
artificially widened, and there is a little island and a decoy for
ducks. On the present occasion carriages were drawn up on all the
roads, and horses were clustered on each side of the brook, and the
hounds sat stately on their haunches where riflemen usually kneel to
fire, and there was a hum of merry voices, and the bright colouring
of pink coats, and the sheen of ladies' hunting toilettes, and that
mingled look of business and amusement which is so peculiar to our
national sports. Two hundred men and women had come there for the
chance of a run after a fox,--for a chance against which the odds are
more than two to one at every hunting day,--for a chance as to which
the odds are twenty to one against the success of the individuals
collected; and yet, for every horseman and every horsewoman there,
not less than £5 a head will have been spent for this one day's
amusement. When we give a guinea for a stall at the opera we think
that we pay a large sum; but we are fairly sure of having our music.
When you go to Copperhouse Cross you are by no means sure of your
opera.

Why is it that when men and women congregate, though the men may beat
the women in numbers by ten to one, and though they certainly speak
the louder, the concrete sound that meets the ears of any outside
listener is always a sound of women's voices? At Copperhouse Cross
almost every one was talking, but the feeling left upon the senses
was that of an amalgam of feminine laughter, feminine affectation,
and feminine eagerness. Perhaps at Copperhouse Cross the determined
perseverance with which Lady Gertrude Fitzaskerley addressed herself
to Lord Chiltern, to Cox the huntsman, to the two whips, and at
last to Mr. Spooner, may have specially led to the remark on this
occasion. Lady Chiltern was very short with her, not loving Lady
Gertrude. Cox bestowed upon her two "my lady's," and then turned from
her to some peccant hound. But Spooner was partly gratified, and
partly incapable, and underwent a long course of questions about the
Duke and the poisoning. Lady Gertrude, whose father seemed to have
owned half the coverts in Ireland, had never before heard of such
enormity. She suggested a round robin and would not be at all ashamed
to put her own name to it. "Oh, for the matter of that," said
Spooner, "Chiltern can be round enough himself without any robin."
"He can't be too round," said Lady Gertrude, with a very serious
aspect.

At last they moved away, and Phineas found himself riding by the side
of Madame Goesler. It was natural that he should do so, as he had
come with her. Maule had, of course, remained with Miss Palliser, and
Chiltern and Spooner had taken themselves to their respective duties.
Phineas might have avoided her, but in doing so he would have seemed
to avoid her. She accepted his presence apparently as a matter of
course, and betrayed by her words and manner no memory of past
scenes. It was not customary with them to draw the forest, which
indeed, as it now stood, was a forest only in name, and they trotted
off to a gorse a mile and a half distant. This they drew blank,--then
another gorse also blank,--and two or three little fringes of wood,
such as there are in every country, and through which huntsmen run
their hounds, conscious that no fox will lie there. At one o'clock
they had not found, and the hilarity of the really hunting men as
they ate their sandwiches and lit their cigars was on the decrease.
The ladies talked more than ever, Lady Gertrude's voice was heard
above them all, and Lord Chiltern trotted on close behind his hounds
in obdurate silence. When things were going bad with him no one in
the field dared to speak to him.

Phineas had never seen his horse till he reached the meet, and there
found a fine-looking, very strong, bay animal, with shoulders like
the top of a hay-stack, short-backed, short-legged, with enormous
quarters, and a wicked-looking eye. "He ought to be strong," said
Phineas to the groom. "Oh, sir; strong ain't no word for him," said
the groom; "'e can carry a 'ouse." "I don't know whether he's fast?"
inquired Phineas. "He's fast enough for any 'ounds, sir," said the
man with that tone of assurance which always carries conviction. "And
he can jump?" "He can jump!" continued the groom; "no 'orse in my
lord's stables can't beat him." "But he won't?" said Phineas. "It's
only sometimes, sir, and then the best thing is to stick him at it
till he do. He'll go, he will, like a shot at last; and then he's
right for the day." Hunting men will know that all this was not quite
comfortable. When you ride your own horse, and know his special
defects, you know also how far that defect extends, and what real
prospect you have of overcoming it. If he be slow through the mud,
you keep a good deal on the road in heavy weather, and resolve that
the present is not an occasion for distinguishing yourself. If he be
bad at timber, you creep through a hedge. If he pulls, you get as far
from the crowd as may be. You gauge your misfortune, and make your
little calculation as to the best mode of remedying the evil. But
when you are told that your friend's horse is perfect,--only that he
does this or that,--there comes a weight on your mind from which you
are unable to release it. You cannot discount your trouble at any
percentage. It may amount to absolute ruin, as far as that day is
concerned; and in such a circumstance you always look forward to the
worst. When the groom had done his description, Phineas Finn would
almost have preferred a day's canvass at Tankerville under Mr.
Ruddles's authority to his present position.

When the hounds entered Broughton Spinnies, Phineas and Madame
Goesler were still together. He had not been riding actually at her
side all the morning. Many men and two or three ladies had been
talking to her. But he had never been far from her in the ruck, and
now he was again close by her horse's head. Broughton Spinnies were
in truth a series of small woods, running one into another almost
without intermission, never thick, and of no breadth. There was
always a litter or two of cubs at the place, and in no part of the
Brake country was greater care taken in the way of preservation and
encouragement to interesting vixens; but the lying was bad; there was
little or no real covert; and foxes were very apt to travel and get
away into those big woods belonging to the Duke,--where, as the Brake
sportsmen now believed, they would almost surely come to an untimely
end. "If we draw this blank I don't know what we are to do," said Mr.
Spooner, addressing himself to Madame Goesler with lachrymose
anxiety.

"Have you nothing else to draw?" asked Phineas.

"In the common course of things we should take Muggery Gorse, and so
on to Trumpeton Wood. But Muggery is on the Duke's land, and Chiltern
is in such a fix! He won't go there unless he can't help it. Muggery
Gorse is only a mile this side of the big wood."

"And foxes of course go to the big wood?" asked Madame Max.

"Not always. They often come here,--and as they can't hang here, we
have the whole country before us. We get as good runs from Muggery as
from any covert in the country. But Chiltern won't go there to-day
unless the hounds show a line. By George, that's a fox! That's Dido.
That's a find!" And Spooner galloped away, as though Dido could do
nothing with the fox she had found unless he was there to help her.

Spooner was quite right, as he generally was on such occasions. He
knew the hounds even by voice, and knew what hound he could believe.
Most hounds will lie occasionally, but Dido never lied. And there
were many besides Spooner who believed in Dido. The whole pack rushed
to her music, though the body of them would have remained utterly
unmoved at the voice of any less reverenced and less trustworthy
colleague. The whole wood was at once in commotion,--men and women
riding hither and thither, not in accordance with any judgment; but
as they saw or thought they saw others riding who were supposed to
have judgment. To get away well is so very much! And to get away well
is often so very difficult! There are so many things of which the
horseman is bound to think in that moment. Which way does the wind
blow? And then, though a fox will not long run up wind, he will break
covert up wind, as often as not. From which of the various rides
can you find a fair exit into the open country, without a chance of
breaking your neck before the run begins? When you hear some wild
halloa, informing you that one fox has gone in the direction exactly
opposite to that in which the hounds are hunting, are you sure that
the noise is not made about a second fox? On all these matters you
are bound to make up your mind without losing a moment; and if you
make up your mind wrongly the five pounds you have invested in that
day's amusement will have been spent for nothing. Phineas and Madame
Goesler were in the very centre of the wood when Spooner rushed away
from them down one of the rides on hearing Dido's voice; and at that
time they were in a crowd. Almost immediately the fox was seen to
cross another ride, and a body of horsemen rushed away in that
direction, knowing that the covert was small, and there the animal
must soon leave the wood. Then there was a shout of "Away!" repeated
over and over again, and Lord Chiltern, running up like a flash of
lightning, and passing our two friends, galloped down a third ride
to the right of the others. Phineas at once followed the master of
the pack, and Madame Goesler followed Phineas. Men were still riding
hither and thither; and a farmer, meeting them, with his horse turned
back towards the centre of the wood which they were leaving, halloaed
out as they passed that there was no way out at the bottom. They met
another man in pink, who screamed out something as to "the devil of a
bank down there." Chiltern, however, was still going on, and our hero
had not the heart to stop his horse in its gallop and turn back from
the direction in which the hounds were running. At that moment he
hardly remembered the presence of Madame Goesler, but he did remember
every word that had been said to him about Dandolo. He did not in the
least doubt but that Chiltern had chosen his direction rightly, and
that if he were once out of the wood he would find himself with the
hounds; but what if this brute should refuse to take him out of the
wood? That Dandolo was very fast he soon became aware, for he gained
upon his friend before him as they neared the fence. And then he saw
what there was before him. A new broad ditch had been cut, with the
express object of preventing egress or ingress at that point; and a
great bank had been constructed with the clay. In all probability
there might be another ditch on the other side. Chiltern, however,
had clearly made up his mind about it. The horse he was riding went
at it gallantly, cleared the first ditch, balanced himself for half a
moment on the bank, and then, with a fresh spring, got into the field
beyond. The tail hounds were running past outside the covert, and the
master had placed himself exactly right for the work in hand. How
excellent would be the condition of Finn if only Dandolo would do
just as Chiltern's horse had done before him!

And Phineas almost began to hope that it might be so. The horse was
going very well, and very willingly. His head was stretched out, he
was pulling, not more, however, than pleasantly, and he seemed to
be as anxious as his rider. But there was a little twitch about his
ears which his rider did not like, and then it was impossible not to
remember that awful warning given by the groom, "It's only sometimes,
sir." And after what fashion should Phineas ride him at the obstacle?
He did not like to strike a horse that seemed to be going well, and
was unwilling, as are all good riders, to use his heels. So he spoke
to him, and proposed to lift him at the ditch. To the very edge the
horse galloped,--too fast, indeed, if he meant to take the bank as
Chiltern's horse had done,--and then stopping himself so suddenly
that he must have shaken every joint in his body, he planted his
fore feet on the very brink, and there he stood, with his head down,
quivering in every muscle. Phineas Finn, following naturally the
momentum which had been given to him, went over the brute's neck
head-foremost into the ditch. Madame Max was immediately off her
horse. "Oh, Mr. Finn, are you hurt?"

But Phineas, happily, was not hurt. He was shaken and dirty, but not
so shaken, and not so dirty, but that he was on his legs in a minute,
imploring his companion not to mind him but go on. "Going on doesn't
seem to be so easy," said Madame Goesler, looking at the ditch as she
held her horse in her hand. But to go back in such circumstances is a
terrible disaster. It amounts to complete defeat; and is tantamount
to a confession that you must go home, because you are unable to ride
to hounds. A man, when he is compelled to do this, is almost driven
to resolve at the spur of the moment that he will give up hunting for
the rest of his life. And if one thing be more essential than any
other to the horseman in general, it is that he, and not the animal
which he rides, shall be the master. "The best thing is to stick him
at it till he do," the groom had said; and Phineas resolved to be
guided by the groom.

But his first duty was to attend on Madame Goesler. With very little
assistance she was again in her saddle, and she at once declared
herself certain that her horse could take the fence. Phineas again
instantly jumped into his saddle, and turning Dandolo again at the
ditch, rammed the rowels into the horse's sides. But Dandolo would
not jump yet. He stood with his fore feet on the brink, and when
Phineas with his whip struck him severely over the shoulders, he went
down into the ditch on all fours, and then scrambled back again to
his former position. "What an infernal brute!" said Phineas, gnashing
his teeth.

"He is a little obstinate, Mr. Finn; I wonder whether he'd jump if I
gave him a lead." But Phineas was again making the attempt, urging
the horse with spurs, whip, and voice. He had brought himself now
to that condition in which a man is utterly reckless as to falling
himself,--or even to the kind of fall he may get,--if he can only
force his animal to make the attempt. But Dandolo would not make
the attempt. With ears down and head outstretched, he either stuck
obstinately on the brink, or allowed himself to be forced again and
again into the ditch. "Let me try it once, Mr. Finn," said Madame
Goesler in her quiet way.

She was riding a small horse, very nearly thoroughbred, and known as
a perfect hunter by those who habitually saw Madame Goesler ride.
No doubt he would have taken the fence readily enough had his rider
followed immediately after Lord Chiltern; but Dandolo had baulked at
the fence nearly a dozen times, and evil communications will corrupt
good manners. Without any show of violence, but still with persistent
determination, Madame Goesler's horse also declined to jump. She put
him at it again and again, and he would make no slightest attempt to
do his business. Phineas raging, fuming, out of breath, miserably
unhappy, shaking his reins, plying his whip, rattling himself about
in the saddle, and banging his legs against the horse's sides, again
and again plunged away at the obstacle. But it was all to no purpose.
Dandolo was constantly in the ditch, sometimes lying with his side
against the bank, and had now been so hustled and driven that, had he
been on the other side, he would have had no breath left to carry his
rider, even in the ruck of the hunt. In the meantime the hounds and
the leading horsemen were far away,--never more to be seen on that
day by either Phineas Finn or Madame Max Goesler. For a while, during
the frantic efforts that were made, an occasional tardy horseman was
viewed galloping along outside the covert, following the tracks of
those who had gone before. But before the frantic efforts had been
abandoned as utterly useless every vestige of the morning's work
had left the neighbourhood of Broughton Spinnies, except these two
unfortunate ones. At last it was necessary that the defeat should be
acknowledged. "We're beaten, Madame Goesler," said Phineas, almost in
tears.

"Altogether beaten, Mr. Finn."

"I've a good mind to swear that I'll never come out hunting again."

"Swear what you like, if it will relieve you, only don't think of
keeping such an oath. I've known you before this to be depressed by
circumstances quite as distressing as these, and to be certain that
all hope was over;--but yet you have recovered." This was the only
allusion she had yet made to their former acquaintance. "And now we
must think of getting out of the wood."

"I haven't the slightest idea of the direction of anything."

"Nor have I; but as we clearly can't get out this way we might as
well try the other. Come along. We shall find somebody to put us in
the right road. For my part I'm glad it is no worse. I thought at one
time that you were going to break your neck." They rode on for a few
minutes in silence, and then she spoke again. "Is it not odd, Mr.
Finn, that after all that has come and gone you and I should find
ourselves riding about Broughton Spinnies together?"



CHAPTER XVII

Madame Goesler's Story


"After all that has come and gone, is it not odd that you and I
should find ourselves riding about Broughton Spinnies together?" That
was the question which Madame Goesler asked Phineas Finn when they
had both agreed that it was impossible to jump over the bank out of
the wood, and it was, of course, necessary that some answer should be
given to it.

"When I saw you last in London," said Phineas, with a voice that was
gruff, and a manner that was abrupt, "I certainly did not think that
we should meet again so soon."

"No;--I left you as though I had grounds for quarrelling; but there
was no quarrel. I wrote to you, and tried to explain that."

"You did;--and though my answer was necessarily short, I was very
grateful."

"And here you are back among us; and it does seem so odd. Lady
Chiltern never told me that I was to meet you."

"Nor did she tell me."

"It is better so, for otherwise I should not have come, and then,
perhaps, you would have been all alone in your discomfiture at the
bank."

"That would have been very bad."

"You see I can be quite frank with you, Mr. Finn. I am heartily glad
to see you, but I should not have come had I been told. And when
I did see you, it was quite improbable that we should be thrown
together as we are now,--was it not? Ah;--here is a man, and he can
tell us the way back to Copperhouse Cross. But I suppose we had
better ask for Harrington Hall at once."

The man knew nothing at all about Harrington Hall, and very little
about Copperhouse; but he did direct them on to the road, and they
found that they were about sixteen miles from Lord Chiltern's house.
The hounds had gone away in the direction of Trumpeton Wood, and it
was agreed that it would be useless to follow them. The waggonette
had been left at an inn about two miles from Copperhouse Cross, but
they resolved to abandon that and to ride direct to Harrington Hall.
It was now nearly three o'clock, and they would not be subjected to
the shame which falls upon sportsmen who are seen riding home very
early in the day. To get oneself lost before twelve, and then to come
home, is a very degrading thing; but at any time after two you may be
supposed to have ridden the run of the season, and to be returning
after an excellent day's work.

Then Madame Goesler began to talk about herself, and to give a short
history of her life during the last two-and-a-half years. She did
this in a frank natural manner, continuing her tale in a low voice,
as though it were almost a matter of course that she should make the
recital to so old a friend. And Phineas soon began to feel that it
was natural that she should do so. "It was just before you left us,"
she said, "that the Duke took to coming to my house." The duke spoken
of was the Duke of Omnium, and Phineas well remembered to have heard
some rumours about the Duke and Madame Max. It had been hinted to him
that the Duke wanted to marry the lady, but that rumour he had never
believed. The reader, if he has duly studied the history of the age,
will know that the Duke did make an offer to Madame Goesler, pressing
it with all his eloquence, but that Madame Goesler, on mature
consideration, thought it best to decline to become a duchess. Of all
this, however, the reader who understands Madame Goesler's character
will be quite sure that she did not say a word to Phineas Finn. Since
the business had been completed she had spoken of it to no one but to
Lady Glencora Palliser, who had forced herself into a knowledge of
all the circumstances while they were being acted.

"I met the Duke once at Matching," said Phineas.

"I remember it well. I was there, and first made the Duke's
acquaintance on that occasion. I don't know how it was that we became
intimate;--but we did, and then I formed a sort of friendship with
Lady Glencora; and somehow it has come about that we have been a
great deal together since."

"I suppose you like Lady Glencora?"

"Very much indeed,--and the Duke, too. The truth is, Mr. Finn, that
let one boast as one may of one's independence,--and I very often do
boast of mine to myself,--one is inclined to do more for a Duke of
Omnium than for a Mr. Jones."

"The Dukes have more to offer than the Joneses;--I don't mean in the
way of wealth only, but of what one enjoys most in society
generally."

"I suppose they have. At any rate, I am glad that you should make
some excuse for me. But I do like the man. He is gracious and noble
in his bearing. He is now very old, and sinking fast into the grave;
but even the wreck is noble."

"I don't know that he ever did much," said Phineas.

"I don't know that he ever did anything according to your idea of
doing. There must be some men who do nothing."

"But a man with his wealth and rank has opportunities so great! Look
at his nephew!"

"No doubt Mr. Palliser is a great man. He never has a moment to speak
to his wife or to anybody else; and is always thinking so much about
the country that I doubt if he knows anything about his own affairs.
Of course he is a man of a different stamp,--and of a higher stamp,
if you will. But I have an idea that such characters as those of the
present Duke are necessary to the maintenance of a great aristocracy.
He has had the power of making the world believe in him simply
because he has been rich and a duke. His nephew, when he comes to the
title, will never receive a tithe of the respect that has been paid
to this old fainéant."

"But he will achieve much more than ten times the reputation," said
Phineas.

"I won't compare them, nor will I argue; but I like the Duke. Nay;--I
love him. During the last two years I have allowed the whole fashion
of my life to be remodelled by this intimacy. You knew what were my
habits. I have only been in Vienna for one week since I last saw you,
and I have spent months and months at Matching."

"What do you do there?"

"Read to him;--talk to him;--give him his food, and do all that in
me lies to make his life bearable. Last year, when it was thought
necessary that very distinguished people should be entertained at the
great family castle,--in Barsetshire, you know--"

"I have heard of the place."

"A regular treaty or agreement was drawn up. Conditions were sealed
and signed. One condition was that both Lady Glencora and I should be
there. We put our heads together to try to avoid this; as, of course,
the Prince would not want to see me particularly,--and it was
altogether so grand an affair that things had to be weighed. But the
Duke was inexorable. Lady Glencora at such a time would have other
things to do, and I must be there, or Gatherum Castle should not be
opened. I suggested whether I could not remain in the background and
look after the Duke as a kind of upper nurse,--but Lady Glencora said
it would not do."

"Why should you subject yourself to such indignity?"

"Simply from love of the man. But you see I was not subjected. For
two days I wore my jewels beneath royal eyes,--eyes that will sooner
or later belong to absolute majesty. It was an awful bore, and I
ought to have been at Vienna. You ask me why I did it. The fact is
that things sometimes become too strong for one, even when there is
no real power of constraint. For years past I have been used to have
my own way, but when there came a question of the entertainment of
royalty I found myself reduced to blind obedience. I had to go to
Gatherum Castle, to the absolute neglect of my business; and I went."

"Do you still keep it up?"

"Oh, dear, yes. He is at Matching now, and I doubt whether he will
ever leave it again. I shall go there from here as a matter of
course, and relieve guard with Lady Glencora."

"I don't see what you get for it all."

"Get;--what should I get? You don't believe in friendship, then?"

"Certainly I do;--but this friendship is so unequal. I can hardly
understand that it should have grown from personal liking on your
side."

"I think it has," said Madame Goesler, slowly. "You see, Mr. Finn,
that you as a young man can hardly understand how natural it is that
a young woman,--if I may call myself young,--should minister to an
old man."

"But there should be some bond to the old man."

"There is a bond."

"You must not be angry with me," said Phineas.

"I am not in the least angry."

"I should not venture to express any opinion, of course,--only that
you ask me."

"I do ask you, and you are quite welcome to express your opinion. And
were it not expressed, I should know what you thought just the same.
I have wondered at it myself sometimes,--that I should have become as
it were engulfed in this new life, almost without will of my own. And
when he dies, how shall I return to the other life? Of course I have
the house in Park Lane still, but my very maid talks of Matching as
my home."

"How will it be when he has gone?"

"Ah,--how indeed? Lady Glencora and I will have to curtsey to each
other, and there will be an end of it. She will be a duchess then,
and I shall no longer be wanted."

"But even if you were wanted--?"

"Oh, of course. It must last the Duke's time, and last no longer. It
would not be a healthy kind of life were it not that I do my very
best to make the evening of his days pleasant for him, and in that
way to be of some service in the world. It has done me good to think
that I have in some small degree sacrificed myself. Let me see;--we
are to turn here to the left. That goes to Copperhouse Cross, no
doubt. Is it not odd that I should have told you all this history?"

"Just because this brute would not jump over the fence."

"I dare say I should have told you, even if he had jumped over; but
certainly this has been a great opportunity. Do you tell your friend
Lord Chiltern not to abuse the poor Duke any more before me. I dare
say our host is all right in what he says; but I don't like it.
You'll come and see me in London, Mr. Finn?"

"But you'll be at Matching?"

"I do get a few days at home sometimes. You see I have escaped for
the present,--or otherwise you and I would not have come to grief
together in Broughton Spinnies."

Soon after this they were overtaken by others who were returning
home, and who had been more fortunate than they in getting away with
the hounds. The fox had gone straight for Trumpeton Wood, not daring
to try the gorse on the way, and then had been run to ground.
Chiltern was again in a towering passion, as the earths, he said,
had been purposely left open. But on this matter the men who had
overtaken our friends were both of opinion that Chiltern was wrong.
He had allowed it to be understood that he would not draw Trumpeton
Wood, and he had therefore no right to expect that the earths should
be stopped. But there were and had been various opinions on this
difficult point, as the laws of hunting are complex, recondite,
numerous, traditional, and not always perfectly understood. Perhaps
the day may arrive in which they shall be codified under the care of
some great and laborious master of hounds.

"And they did nothing more?" asked Phineas.

"Yes;--they chopped another fox before they left the place,--so that
in point of fact they have drawn Trumpeton. But they didn't mean it."

When Madame Max Goesler and Phineas had reached Harrington Hall
they were able to give their own story of the day's sport to Lady
Chiltern, as the remainder of the party had not as yet returned.



CHAPTER XVIII

Spooner of Spoon Hall


Adelaide Palliser was a tall, fair girl, exquisitely made, with
every feminine grace of motion, highly born, and carrying always
the warranty of her birth in her appearance; but with no special
loveliness of face. Let not any reader suppose that therefore she was
plain. She possessed much more than a sufficiency of charm to justify
her friends in claiming her as a beauty, and the demand had been
generally allowed by public opinion. Adelaide Palliser was always
spoken of as a girl to be admired; but she was not one whose
countenance would strike with special admiration any beholder who did
not know her. Her eyes were pleasant and bright, and, being in truth
green, might, perhaps with propriety, be described as grey. Her nose
was well formed. Her mouth was, perhaps, too small. Her teeth were
perfect. Her chin was somewhat too long, and was on this account the
defective feature of her face. Her hair was brown and plentiful;
but in no way peculiar. No doubt she wore a chignon; but if so she
wore it with the special view of being in no degree remarkable
in reference to her head-dress. Such as she was,--beauty or no
beauty--her own mind on the subject was made up, and she had resolved
long since that the gift of personal loveliness had not been
bestowed upon her. And yet after a fashion she was proud of her own
appearance. She knew that she looked like a lady, and she knew also
that she had all that command of herself which health and strength
can give to a woman when she is without feminine affectation.

Lady Chiltern, in describing her to Phineas Finn, had said that she
talked Italian, and wrote for the _Times_. The former assertion
was, no doubt, true, as Miss Palliser had passed some years of her
childhood in Florence; but the latter statement was made probably
with reference to her capability rather than her performance. Lady
Chiltern intended to imply that Miss Palliser was so much better
educated than young ladies in general that she was able to express
herself intelligibly in her own language. She had been well educated,
and would, no doubt, have done the _Times_ credit had the _Times_
chosen to employ her.

She was the youngest daughter of the youngest brother of the existing
Duke of Omnium, and the first cousin, therefore, of Mr. Plantagenet
Palliser, who was the eldest son of the second brother. And as her
mother had been a Bavilard there could be no better blood. But
Adelaide had been brought up so far away from the lofty Pallisers and
lofty Bavilards as almost to have lost the flavour of her birth. Her
father and mother had died when she was an infant, and she had gone
to the custody of a much older half-sister, Mrs. Atterbury, whose
mother had been not a Bavilard, but a Brown. And Mr. Atterbury was a
mere nobody, a rich, erudite, highly-accomplished gentleman, whose
father had made his money at the bar, and whose grandfather had
been a country clergyman. Mrs. Atterbury, with her husband, was
still living at Florence; but Adelaide Palliser had quarrelled with
Florence life, and had gladly consented to make a long visit to her
friend Lady Chiltern.

In Florence she had met Gerard Maule, and the acquaintance had not
been viewed with favour by the Atterburys. Mrs. Atterbury knew the
history of the Maule family, and declared to her sister that no
good could come from any intimacy. Old Mr. Maule, she said, was
disreputable. Mrs. Maule, the mother,--who, according to Mr.
Atterbury, had been the only worthy member of the family,--was long
since dead. Gerard Maule's sister had gone away with an Irish cousin,
and they were now living in India on the professional income of
a captain in a foot regiment. Gerard Maule's younger brother had
gone utterly to the dogs, and nobody knew anything about him.
Maule Abbey, the family seat in Herefordshire, was,--so said Mrs.
Atterbury,--absolutely in ruins. The furniture, as all the world
knew, had been sold by the squire's creditors under the sheriff's
order ten years ago, and not a chair or a table had been put into
the house since that time. The property, which was small,--£2,000 a
year at the outside,--was, no doubt, entailed on the eldest son; and
Gerard, fortunately, had a small fortune of his own, independent
of his father. But then he was also a spendthrift,--so said Mrs.
Atterbury,--keeping a stable full of horses, for which he could not
afford to pay; and he was, moreover, the most insufferably idle man
who ever wandered about the world without any visible occupation
for his hours. "But he hunts," said Adelaide. "Do you call that an
occupation?" asked Mrs. Atterbury with scorn. Now Mrs. Atterbury
painted pictures, copied Madonnas, composed sonatas, corresponded
with learned men in Rome, Berlin, and Boston, had been the intimate
friend of Cavour, had paid a visit to Garibaldi on his island with
the view of explaining to him the real condition of Italy,--and was
supposed to understand Bismarck. Was it possible that a woman who so
filled her own life should accept hunting as a creditable employment
for a young man, when it was admitted to be his sole employment? And,
moreover, she desired that her sister Adelaide should marry a certain
Count Brudi, who, according to her belief, had more advanced ideas
about things in general than any other living human being. Adelaide
Palliser had determined that she would not marry Count Brudi; had,
indeed, almost determined that she would marry Gerard Maule, and
had left her brother-in-law's house in Florence after something
like a quarrel. Mrs. Atterbury had declined to authorise the visit
to Harrington Hall, and then Adelaide had pleaded her age and
independence. She was her own mistress if she so chose to call
herself, and would not, at any rate, remain in Florence at the
present moment to receive the attentions of Signor Brudi. Of the
previous winter she had passed three months with some relatives in
England, and there she had learned to ride to hounds, had first met
Gerard Maule, and had made acquaintance with Lady Chiltern. Gerard
Maule had wandered to Italy after her, appearing at Florence in his
desultory way, having no definite purpose, not even that of asking
Adelaide to be his wife,--but still pursuing her, as though he wanted
her without knowing what he wanted. In the course of the Spring,
however, he had proposed, and had been almost accepted. But Adelaide,
though she would not yield to her sister, had been frightened. She
knew that she loved the man, and she swore to herself a thousand
times that she would not be dictated to by her sister;--but was she
prepared to accept the fate which would at once be hers were she now
to marry Gerard Maule? What could she do with a man who had no ideas
of his own as to what he ought to do with himself?

Lady Chiltern was in favour of the marriage. The fortune, she said,
was as much as Adelaide was entitled to expect, the man was a
gentleman, was tainted by no vices, and was truly in love. "You had
better let them fight it out somewhere else," Lord Chiltern had said
when his wife proposed that the invitation to Gerard Maule should be
renewed; but Lady Chiltern had known that if "fought out" at all, it
must be fought out at Harrington Hall. "We have asked him to come
back," she said to Adelaide, "in order that you may make up your
mind. If he chooses to come, it will show that he is in earnest; and
then you must take him, or make him understand that he is not to be
taken." Gerard Maule had chosen to come; but Adelaide Palliser had
not as yet quite made up her mind.

Perhaps there is nothing so generally remarkable in the conduct of
young ladies in the phase of life of which we are now speaking as the
facility,--it may almost be said audacity,--with which they do make
up their minds. A young man seeks a young woman's hand in marriage,
because she has waltzed stoutly with him, and talked pleasantly
between the dances;--and the young woman gives it, almost with
gratitude. As to the young man, the readiness of his action is less
marvellous than hers. He means to be master, and, by the very nature
of the joint life they propose to lead, must take her to his sphere
of life, not bind himself to hers. If he worked before he will work
still. If he was idle before he will be idle still; and he probably
does in some sort make a calculation and strike a balance between his
means and the proposed additional burden of a wife and children. But
she, knowing nothing, takes a monstrous leap in the dark, in which
everything is to be changed, and in which everything is trusted to
chance. Miss Palliser, however, differing in this from the majority
of her friends and acquaintances, frightened, perhaps by those
representations of her sister to which she would not altogether
yield, had paused, and was still pausing. "Where should we go and
live if I did marry him?" she said to Lady Chiltern.

"I suppose he has an opinion of his own on that subject?"

"Not in the least, I should think."

"Has he never said anything about it?"

"Oh dear no. Matters have not got so far as that at all;--nor would
they ever, out of his own head. If we were married and taken away to
the train he would only ask what place he should take the tickets for
when he got to the station."

"Couldn't you manage to live at Maule Abbey?"

"Perhaps we might; only there is no furniture, and, as I am told,
only half a roof."

"It does seem to be absurd that you two should not make up your mind,
just as other people do," said Lady Chiltern. "Of course he is not a
rich man, but you have known that all along."

"It is not a question of wealth or poverty, but of an utterly
lack-a-daisical indifference to everything in the world."

"He is not indifferent to you."

"That is the marvellous part of it," said Miss Palliser. This was
said on the evening of the famous day at Broughton Spinnies, and
late on that night Lord Chiltern predicted to his wife that another
episode was about to occur in the life of their friend.

"What do you think Spooner has just asked me?"

"Permission to fight the Duke, or Mr. Palliser?"

"No,--it's nothing about the hunting. He wants to know if you'd mind
his staying here three or four days longer."

"What a very odd request!"

"It is odd, because he was to have gone to-morrow. I suppose there's
no objection."

"Of course not if you like to have him."

"I don't like it a bit," said Lord Chiltern; "but I couldn't turn him
out. And I know what it means."

"What does it mean?"

"You haven't observed anything?"

"I have observed nothing in Mr. Spooner, except an awe-struck horror
at the trapping of a fox."

"He's going to propose to Adelaide Palliser."

"Oswald! You are not in earnest."

"I believe he is. He would have told me if he thought I could give
him the slightest encouragement. You can't very well turn him out
now."

"He'll get an answer that he won't like if he does," said Lady
Chiltern.

Miss Palliser had ridden well on that day, and so had Gerard Maule.
That Mr. Spooner should ride well to hounds was quite a matter of
course. It was the business of his life to do so, and he did it with
great judgment. He hated Maule's style of riding, considering it to
be flashy, injurious to hunting, and unsportsmanlike; and now he had
come to hate the man. He had, of course, perceived how close were the
attentions paid by Mr. Maule to Miss Palliser, and he thought that
he perceived that Miss Palliser did not accept them with thorough
satisfaction. On his way back to Harrington Hall he made some
inquiries, and was taught to believe that Mr. Maule was not a man
of very high standing in the world. Mr. Spooner himself had a very
pretty property of his own,--which was all his own. There was no
doubt about his furniture, or about the roof at Spoon Hall. He was
Spooner of Spoon Hall, and had been High Sheriff for his county. He
was not so young as he once had been;--but he was still a young man,
only just turned forty, and was his own master in everything. He
could read, and he always looked at the country newspaper; but a book
was a thing that he couldn't bear to handle. He didn't think he had
ever seen a girl sit a horse better than Adelaide Palliser sat hers,
and a girl who rode as she did would probably like a man addicted to
hunting. Mr. Spooner knew that he understood hunting, whereas that
fellow Maule cared for nothing but jumping over flights of rails. He
asked a few questions that evening of Phineas Finn respecting Gerard
Maule, but did not get much information. "I don't know where he
lives;" said Phineas; "I never saw him till I met him here."

"Don't you think he seems sweet upon that girl?"

"I shouldn't wonder if he is."

"She's an uncommonly clean-built young woman, isn't she?" said Mr.
Spooner; "but it seems to me she don't care much for Master Maule.
Did you see how he was riding to-day?"

"I didn't see anything, Mr. Spooner."

"No, no; you didn't get away. I wish he'd been with you. But she went
uncommon well." After that he made his request to Lord Chiltern, and
Lord Chiltern, with a foresight quite unusual to him, predicted the
coming event to his wife.

There was shooting on the following day, and Gerard Maule and Mr.
Spooner were both out. Lunch was sent down to the covert side, and
the ladies walked down and joined the sportsmen. On this occasion Mr.
Spooner's assiduity was remarkable, and seemed to be accepted with
kindly grace. Adelaide even asked a question about Trumpeton Wood,
and expressed an opinion that her cousin was quite wrong because he
did not take the matter up. "You know it's the keepers do it all,"
said Mr. Spooner, shaking his head with an appearance of great
wisdom. "You never can have foxes unless you keep your keepers well
in hand. If they drew the Spoon Hall coverts blank I'd dismiss my man
the next day."

"It mightn't be his fault."

"He knows my mind, and he'll take care that there are foxes. They've
been at my stick covert three times this year, and put a brace out
each time. A leash went from it last Monday week. When a man really
means a thing, Miss Palliser, he can pretty nearly always do it."
Miss Palliser replied with a smile that she thought that to be true,
and Mr. Spooner was not slow at perceiving that this afforded good
encouragement to him in regard to that matter which was now weighing
most heavily upon his mind.

On the next day there was hunting again, and Phineas was mounted on a
horse more amenable to persuasion than old Dandolo. There was a fair
run in the morning, and both Phineas and Madame Max were carried
well. The remarkable event in the day, however, was the riding of
Dandolo in the afternoon by Lord Chiltern himself. He had determined
that the horse should go out, and had sworn that he would ride him
over a fence if he remained there making the attempt all night. For
two weary hours he did remain, with a groom behind him, spurring the
brute against a thick hedge, with a ditch at the other side of it,
and at the end of the two hours he succeeded. The horse at last made
a buck leap and went over with a loud grunt. On his way home Lord
Chiltern sold the horse to a farmer for fifteen pounds;--and that
was the end of Dandolo as far as the Harrington Hall stables were
concerned. This took place on the Friday, the 8th of February. It was
understood that Mr. Spooner was to return to Spoon Hall on Saturday,
and on Monday, the 11th, Phineas was to go to London. On the 12th
the Session would begin, and he would once more take his seat in
Parliament.

"I give you my word and honour, Lady Chiltern," Gerard Maule said to
his hostess, "I believe that oaf of a man is making up to Adelaide."
Mr. Maule had not been reticent about his love towards Lady Chiltern,
and came to her habitually in all his troubles.

"Chiltern has told me the same thing."

"No!"

"Why shouldn't he see it, as well as you? But I wouldn't believe it."

"Upon my word I believe it's true. But, Lady Chiltern--"

"Well, Mr. Maule."

"You know her so well."

"Adelaide, you mean?"

"You understand her thoroughly. There can't be anything in it; is
there?"

"How anything?"

"She can't really--like him?"

"Mr. Maule, if I were to tell her that you had asked such a question
as that I don't believe that she'd ever speak a word to you again;
and it would serve you right. Didn't you call him an oaf?"

"I did."

"And how long has she known him?

"I don't believe she ever spoke to him before yesterday."

"And yet you think that she will be ready to accept this oaf as her
husband to-morrow! Do you call that respect?"

"Girls do such wonderful strange things. What an impudent ass he must
be!"

"I don't see that at all. He may be an ass and yet not impudent, or
impudent and yet not an ass. Of course he has a right to speak his
mind,--and she will have a right to speak hers."



CHAPTER XIX

Something Out of the Way


The Brake hounds went out four days a week, Monday, Wednesday,
Friday, and Saturday; but the hunting party on this Saturday was very
small. None of the ladies joined in it, and when Lord Chiltern came
down to breakfast at half-past eight he met no one but Gerard Maule.
"Where's Spooner?" he asked. But neither Maule nor the servant could
answer the question. Mr. Spooner was a man who never missed a day
from the beginning of cubbing to the end of the season, and who,
when April came, could give you an account of the death of every fox
killed. Chiltern cracked his eggs, and said nothing more for the
moment, but Gerard Maule had his suspicions. "He must be coming,"
said Maule; "suppose you send up to him." The servant was sent, and
came down with Mr. Spooner's compliments. Mr. Spooner didn't mean
to hunt to-day. He had something of a headache. He would see Lord
Chiltern at the meet on Monday.

Maule immediately declared that neither would he hunt; but Lord
Chiltern looked at him, and he hesitated. "I don't care about your
knowing," said Gerard.

"Oh,--I know. Don't you be an ass."

"I don't see why I should give him an opportunity."

"You're to go and pull your boots and breeches off because he has not
put his on, and everybody is to be told of it! Why shouldn't he have
an opportunity, as you call it? If the opportunity can do him any
good, you may afford to be very indifferent."

"It's a piece of d---- impertinence," said Maule, with most unusual
energy.

"Do you finish your breakfast, and come and get into the trap. We've
twenty miles to go. You can ask Spooner on Monday how he spent his
morning."

At ten o'clock the ladies came down to breakfast, and the whole party
were assembled. "Mr. Spooner!" said Lady Chiltern to that gentleman,
who was the last to enter the room. "This is a marvel!" He was
dressed in a dark-blue frock-coat, with a coloured silk handkerchief
round his neck, and had brushed his hair down close to his head. He
looked quite unlike himself, and would hardly have been known by
those who had never seen him out of the hunting field. In his dress
clothes of an evening, or in his shooting coat, he was still himself.
But in the garb he wore on the present occasion he was quite unlike
Spooner of Spoon Hall, whose only pride in regard to clothes had
hitherto been that he possessed more pairs of breeches than any
other man in the county. It was ascertained afterwards, when
the circumstances came to be investigated, that he had sent
a man all the way across to Spoon Hall for that coat and the
coloured neck-handkerchief on the previous day; and some one, most
maliciously, told the story abroad. Lady Chiltern, however, always
declared that her secrecy on the matter had always been inviolable.

"Yes, Lady Chiltern; yes," said Mr. Spooner, as he took a seat at the
table; "wonders never cease, do they?" He had prepared himself even
for this moment, and had determined to show Miss Palliser that he
could be sprightly and engaging even without his hunting habiliments.

"What will Lord Chiltern do without you?" one of the ladies asked.

"He'll have to do his best."

"He'll never kill a fox," said Miss Palliser.

"Oh, yes; he knows what he's about. I was so fond of my pillow this
morning that I thought I'd let the hunting slide for once. A man
should not make a toil of his pleasure."

Lady Chiltern knew all about it, but Adelaide Palliser knew nothing.
Madame Goesler, when she observed the light-blue necktie, at once
suspected the execution of some great intention. Phineas was absorbed
in his observation of the difference in the man. In his pink coat
he always looked as though he had been born to wear it, but his
appearance was now that of an amateur actor got up in a miscellaneous
middle-age costume. He was sprightly, but the effort was painfully
visible. Lady Baldock said something afterwards, very ill-natured,
about a hog in armour, and old Mrs. Burnaby spoke the truth when she
declared that all the comfort of her tea and toast was sacrificed
to Mr. Spooner's frock coat. But what was to be done with him when
breakfast was over? For a while he was fixed upon poor Phineas, with
whom he walked across to the stables. He seemed to feel that he could
hardly hope to pounce upon his prey at once, and that he must bide
his time.

Out of the full heart the mouth speaks. "Nice girl, Miss Palliser,"
he said to Phineas, forgetting that he had expressed himself nearly
in the same way to the same man on a former occasion.

"Very nice, indeed. It seems to me that you are sweet upon her
yourself."

"Who? I! Oh, no--I don't think of those sort of things. I suppose I
shall marry some day. I've a house fit for a lady to-morrow, from top
to bottom, linen and all. And my property's my own."

"That's a comfort."

"I believe you. There isn't a mortgage on an acre of it, and that's
what very few men can say. As for Miss Palliser, I don't know that
a man could do better; only I don't think much of those things. If
ever I do pop the question, I shall do it on the spur of the moment.
There'll be no preparation with me, nor yet any beating about the
bush. 'Would it suit your views, my dear, to be Mrs. Spooner?' that's
about the long and the short of it. A clean-made little mare, isn't
she?" This last observation did not refer to Adelaide Palliser, but
to an animal standing in Lord Chiltern's stables. "He bought her from
Charlie Dickers for a twenty pound note last April. The mare hadn't
a leg to stand upon. Charlie had been stagging with her for the last
two months, and knocked her all to pieces. She's a screw, of course,
but there isn't anything carries Chiltern so well. There's nothing
like a good screw. A man'll often go with two hundred and fifty
guineas between his legs, supposed to be all there because the
animal's sound, and yet he don't know his work. If you like schooling
a young 'un, that's all very well. I used to be fond of it myself;
but I've come to feel that being carried to hounds without much
thinking about it is the cream of hunting, after all. I wonder what
the ladies are at? Shall we go back and see?" Then they turned to the
house, and Mr. Spooner began to be a little fidgety. "Do they sit
altogether mostly all the morning?"

"I fancy they do."

"I suppose there's some way of dividing them. They tell me you know
all about women. If you want to get one to yourself, how do you
manage it?"

"In perpetuity, do you mean, Mr. Spooner?"

"Any way;--in the morning, you know."

"Just to say a few words to her?"

"Exactly that;--just to say a few words. I don't mind asking you,
because you've done this kind of thing before."

"I should watch my opportunity," said Phineas, remembering a period
of his life in which he had watched much and had found it very
difficult to get an opportunity.

"But I must go after lunch," said Mr. Spooner; "I'm expected home to
dinner, and I don't know much whether they'll like me to stop over
Sunday."

"If you were to tell Lady Chiltern--"

"I was to have gone on Thursday, you know. You won't tell anybody?"

"Oh dear no."

"I think I shall propose to that girl. I've about made up my mind to
do it, only a fellow can't call her out before half a dozen of them.
Couldn't you get Lady C. to trot her out into the garden? You and she
are as thick as thieves."

"I should think Miss Palliser was rather difficult to be managed."

Phineas declined to interfere, taking upon himself to assure Mr.
Spooner that attempts to arrange matters in that way never
succeeded. He went in and settled himself to the work of answering
correspondents at Tankerville, while Mr. Spooner hung about the
drawing-room, hoping that circumstances and time might favour him. It
is to be feared that he made himself extremely disagreeable to poor
Lady Chiltern, to whom he was intending to open his heart could he
only find an opportunity for so much as that. But Lady Chiltern was
determined not to have his confidence, and at last withdrew from the
scene in order that she might not be entrapped. Before lunch had come
all the party knew what was to happen,--except Adelaide herself. She,
too, perceived that something was in the wind, that there was some
stir, some discomfort, some secret affair forward, or some event
expected which made them all uneasy;--and she did connect it with
the presence of Mr. Spooner. But, in pitiable ignorance of the facts
that were clear enough to everybody else, she went on watching and
wondering, with a half-formed idea that the house would be more
pleasant as soon as Mr. Spooner should have taken his departure. He
was to go after lunch. But on such occasions there is, of course, a
latitude, and "after lunch" may be stretched at any rate to the five
o'clock tea. At three o'clock Mr. Spooner was still hanging about.
Madame Goesler and Phineas, with an openly declared intention of
friendly intercourse, had gone out to walk together. Lord and Lady
Baldock were on horseback. Two or three old ladies hung over the
fire and gossiped. Lady Chiltern had retired to her baby;--when on a
sudden Adelaide Palliser declared her intention of walking into the
village. "Might I accompany you, Miss Palliser?" said Mr. Spooner;
"I want a walk above all things." He was very brave, and persevered
though it was manifest that the lady did not desire his company.
Adelaide said something about an old woman whom she intended to
visit; whereupon Mr. Spooner declared that visiting old women was the
delight of his life. He would undertake to give half a sovereign to
the old woman if Miss Palliser would allow him to come. He was very
brave, and persevered in such a fashion that he carried his point.
Lady Chiltern from her nursery window saw them start through the
shrubbery together.

"I have been waiting for this opportunity all the morning," said Mr.
Spooner, gallantly.

But in spite of his gallantry, and although she had known, almost
from breakfast time, that he had been waiting for something, still
she did not suspect his purpose. It has been said that Mr. Spooner
was still young, being barely over forty years of age; but he had
unfortunately appeared to be old to Miss Palliser. To himself it
seemed as though the fountains of youth were still running through
all his veins. Though he had given up schooling young horses, he
could ride as hard as ever. He could shoot all day. He could take
"his whack of wine," as he called it, sit up smoking half the night,
and be on horseback the next morning after an early breakfast without
the slightest feeling of fatigue. He was a red-faced little man, with
broad shoulders, clean shaven, with small eyes, and a nose on which
incipient pimples began to show themselves. To himself and the
comrades of his life he was almost as young as he had ever been; but
the young ladies of the county called him Old Spooner, and regarded
him as a permanent assistant unpaid huntsman to the Brake hounds. It
was not within the compass of Miss Palliser's imagination to conceive
that this man should intend to propose himself to her as her lover.

"I have been waiting for this opportunity all the morning," said Mr.
Spooner. Adelaide Palliser turned round and looked at him, still
understanding nothing. Ride at any fence hard enough, and the chances
are you'll get over. The harder you ride the heavier the fall, if
you get a fall; but the greater the chance of your getting over.
This had been a precept in the life of Mr. Spooner, verified by much
experience, and he had resolved that he would be guided by it on this
occasion. "Ever since I first saw you, Miss Palliser, I have been so
much taken by you that,--that,--in point of fact, I love you better
than all the women in the world I ever saw; and will you,--will you
be Mrs. Spooner?"

He had at any rate ridden hard at his fence. There had been no
craning,--no looking about for an easy place, no hesitation as he
brought his horse up to it. No man ever rode straighter than he did
on this occasion. Adelaide stopped short on the path, and he stood
opposite to her, with his fingers inserted between the closed buttons
of his frock-coat. "Mr. Spooner!" exclaimed Adelaide.

"I am quite in earnest, Miss Palliser; no man ever was more in
earnest. I can offer you a comfortable well-furnished home, an
undivided heart, a good settlement, and no embarrassment on the
property. I'm fond of a country life myself, but I'll adapt myself
to you in everything reasonable."

"You are mistaken, Mr. Spooner; you are indeed."

"How mistaken?"

"I mean that it is altogether out of the question. You have surprised
me so much that I couldn't stop you sooner; but pray do not speak of
it again."

"It is a little sudden, but what is a man to do? If you will only
think of it--"

"I can't think of it at all. There is no need for thinking. Really,
Mr. Spooner, I can't go on with you. If you wouldn't mind turning
back I'll walk into the village by myself." Mr. Spooner, however, did
not seem inclined to obey this injunction, and stood his ground, and,
when she moved on, walked on beside her. "I must insist on being left
alone," she said.

"I haven't done anything out of the way," said the lover.

"I think it's very much out of the way. I have hardly ever spoken to
you before. If you will only leave me now there shall not be a word
more said about it."

But Mr. Spooner was a man of spirit. "I'm not in the least ashamed of
what I've done," he said.

"But you might as well go away, when it can't be of any use."

"I don't know why it shouldn't be of use. Miss Palliser, I'm a man of
good property. My great-great-grandfather lived at Spoon Hall, and
we've been there ever since. My mother was one of the Platters of
Platter House. I don't see that I've done anything out of the way. As
for shilly-shallying, and hanging about, I never knew any good come
from it. Don't let us quarrel, Miss Palliser. Say that you'll take a
week to think of it."

"But I won't think of it at all; and I won't go on walking with you.
If you'll go one way, Mr. Spooner, I'll go the other."

Then Mr. Spooner waxed angry. "Why am I to be treated with disdain?"
he said.

"I don't want to treat you with disdain. I only want you to go away."

"You seem to think that I'm something,--something altogether beneath
you."

And so in truth she did. Miss Palliser had never analysed her own
feelings and emotions about the Spooners whom she met in society; but
she probably conceived that there were people in the world who, from
certain accidents, were accustomed to sit at dinner with her, but
who were no more fitted for her intimacy than were the servants who
waited upon her. Such people were to her little more than the tables
and chairs with which she was brought in contact. They were persons
with whom it seemed to her to be impossible that she should have
anything in common,--who were her inferiors, as completely as were
the menials around her. Why she should thus despise Mr. Spooner,
while in her heart of hearts she loved Gerard Maule, it would be
difficult to explain. It was not simply an affair of age,--nor of
good looks, nor altogether of education. Gerard Maule was by no means
wonderfully erudite. They were both addicted to hunting. Neither
of them did anything useful. In that respect Mr. Spooner stood the
higher, as he managed his own property successfully. But Gerard Maule
so wore his clothes, and so carried his limbs, and so pronounced his
words that he was to be regarded as one entitled to make love to any
lady; whereas poor Mr. Spooner was not justified in proposing to
marry any woman much more gifted than his own housemaid. Such, at
least, were Adelaide Palliser's ideas. "I don't think anything of the
kind," she said, "only I want you to go away. I shall go back to the
house, and I hope you won't accompany me. If you do, I shall turn
the other way." Whereupon she did retire at once, and he was left
standing in the path.

There was a seat there, and he sat down for a moment to think of it
all. Should he persevere in his suit, or should he rejoice that he
had escaped from such an ill-conditioned minx? He remembered that he
had read, in his younger days, that lovers in novels generally do
persevere, and that they are almost always successful at last. In
affairs of the heart, such perseverance was, he thought, the correct
thing. But in this instance the conduct of the lady had not given him
the slightest encouragement. When a horse balked with him at a fence,
it was his habit to force the animal till he jumped it,--as the groom
had recommended Phineas to do. But when he had encountered a decided
fall, it was not sensible practice to ride the horse at the same
place again. There was probably some occult cause for failure.
He could not but own that he had been thrown on the present
occasion,--and upon the whole, he thought that he had better give it
up. He found his way back to the house, put up his things, and got
away to Spoon Hall in time for dinner, without seeing Lady Chiltern
or any of her guests.

"What has become of Mr. Spooner?" Maule asked, as soon as he returned
to Harrington Hall.

"Nobody knows," said Lady Chiltern, "but I believe he has gone."

"Has anything happened?"

"I have heard no tidings; but, if you ask for my opinion, I think
something has happened. A certain lady seems to have been ruffled,
and a certain gentleman has disappeared. I am inclined to think that
a few unsuccessful words have been spoken." Gerard Maule saw that
there was a smile in her eye, and he was satisfied.

"My dear, what did Mr. Spooner say to you during his walk?" This
question was asked by the ill-natured old lady in the presence of
nearly all the party.

"We were talking of hunting," said Adelaide.

"And did the poor old woman get her half-sovereign?"

"No;--he forgot that. We did not go into the village at all. I was
tired and came back."

"Poor old woman;--and poor Mr. Spooner!"

Everybody in the house knew what had occurred, as Mr. Spooner's
discretion in the conduct of this affair had not been equal to his
valour; but Miss Palliser never confessed openly, and almost taught
herself to believe that the man had been mad or dreaming during that
special hour.



CHAPTER XX

Phineas Again in London


Phineas, on his return to London, before he had taken his seat in the
House, received the following letter from Lady Laura Kennedy:--


   Dresden, Feb. 8, 1870.

   DEAR FRIEND,--

   I thought that perhaps you would have written to me from
   Harrington. Violet has told me of the meeting between you
   and Madame Goesler, and says that the old friendship seems
   to have been perfectly re-established. She used to think
   once that there might be more than friendship, but I
   never quite believed that. She tells me that Chiltern is
   quarrelling with the Pallisers. You ought not to let him
   quarrel with people. I know that he would listen to you.
   He always did.

   I write now especially because I have just received so
   dreadful a letter from Mr. Kennedy! I would send it you
   were it not that there are in it a few words which on his
   behalf I shrink from showing even to you. It is full of
   threats. He begins by quotations from the Scriptures, and
   from the Prayer-Book, to show that a wife has no right to
   leave her husband,--and then he goes on to the law. One
   knows all that of course. And then he asks whether he ever
   ill-used me? Was he ever false to me? Do I think, that
   were I to choose to submit the matter to the iniquitous
   practices of the present Divorce Court, I could prove
   anything against him by which even that low earthly
   judge would be justified in taking from him his marital
   authority? And if not,--have I no conscience? Can I
   reconcile it to myself to make his life utterly desolate
   and wretched simply because duties which I took upon
   myself at my marriage have become distasteful to me?

   These questions would be very hard to answer, were there
   not other questions that I could ask. Of course I was
   wrong to marry him. I know that now, and I repent my sin
   in sackcloth and ashes. But I did not leave him after
   I married him till he had brought against me horrid
   accusations,--accusations which a woman could not bear,
   which, if he believed them himself, must have made it
   impossible for him to live with me. Could any wife live
   with a husband who declared to her face that he believed
   that she had a lover? And in this very letter he says that
   which almost repeats the accusation. He has asked me how I
   can have dared to receive you, and desires me never either
   to see you or to wish to see you again. And yet he sent
   for you to Loughlinter before you came, in order that you
   might act as a friend between us. How could I possibly
   return to a man whose power of judgment has so absolutely
   left him?

   I have a conscience in the matter, a conscience that
   is very far from being at ease. I have done wrong, and
   have shipwrecked every hope in this world. No woman was
   ever more severely punished. My life is a burden to me,
   and I may truly say that I look for no peace this side
   the grave. I am conscious, too, of continued sin,--a
   sin unlike other sins,--not to be avoided, of daily
   occurrence, a sin which weighs me to the ground. But I
   should not sin the less were I to return to him. Of course
   he can plead his marriage. The thing is done. But it can't
   be right that a woman should pretend to love a man whom
   she loathes. I couldn't live with him. If it were simply
   to go and die, so that his pride would be gratified by my
   return, I would do it; but I should not die. There would
   come some horrid scene, and I should be no more a wife to
   him than I am while living here.

   He now threatens me with publicity. He declares that
   unless I return to him he will put into some of the papers
   a statement of the whole case. Of course this would be
   very bad. To be obscure and untalked of is all the comfort
   that now remains to me. And he might say things that would
   be prejudicial to others,--especially to you. Could this
   in any way be prevented? I suppose the papers would
   publish anything; and you know how greedily people will
   read slander about those whose names are in any way
   remarkable. In my heart I believe he is insane; but it is
   very hard that one's privacy should be at the mercy of a
   madman. He says that he can get an order from the Court of
   Queen's Bench which will oblige the judges in Saxony to
   send me back to England in the custody of the police, but
   that I do not believe. I had the opinion of Sir Gregory
   Grogram before I came away, and he told me that it was not
   so. I do not fear his power over my person, while I remain
   here, but that the matter should be dragged forward before
   the public.

   I have not answered him yet, nor have I shown his letter
   to Papa. I hardly liked to tell you when you were here,
   but I almost fear to talk to Papa about it. He never urges
   me to go back, but I know that he wishes that I should do
   so. He has ideas about money, which seem singular to me,
   knowing, as I do, how very generous he has been himself.
   When I married, my fortune, as you knew, had been just
   used in paying Chiltern's debts. Mr. Kennedy had declared
   himself to be quite indifferent about it, though the sum
   was large. The whole thing was explained to him, and he
   was satisfied. Before a year was over he complained to
   Papa, and then Papa and Chiltern together raised the
   money,--£40,000,--and it was paid to Mr. Kennedy. He
   has written more than once to Papa's lawyer to say that,
   though the money is altogether useless to him, he will not
   return a penny of it, because by doing so he would seem
   to abandon his rights. Nobody has asked him to return it.
   Nobody has asked him to defray a penny on my account since
   I left him. But Papa continues to say that the money
   should not be lost to the family. I cannot, however,
   return to such a husband for the sake of £40,000. Papa is
   very angry about the money, because he says that if it had
   been paid in the usual way at my marriage, settlements
   would have been required that it should come back to the
   family after Mr. Kennedy's death in the event of my having
   no child. But, as it is now, the money would go to his
   estate after my death. I don't understand why it should be
   so, but Papa is always harping upon it, and declaring that
   Mr. Kennedy's pretended generosity has robbed us all. Papa
   thinks that were I to return this could be arranged; but
   I could not go back to him for such a reason. What does
   it matter? Chiltern and Violet will have enough; and of
   what use would it be to such a one as I am to have a sum
   of money to leave behind me? I should leave it to your
   children, Phineas, and not to Chiltern's.

   He bids me neither see you nor write to you,--but how can
   I obey a man whom I believe to be mad? And when I will not
   obey him in the greater matter by returning to him it
   would be absurd were I to attempt to obey him in smaller
   details. I don't suppose I shall see you very often. His
   letter has, at any rate, made me feel that it would be
   impossible for me to return to England, and it is not
   likely that you will soon come here again. I will not even
   ask you to do so, though your presence gave a brightness
   to my life for a few days which nothing else could have
   produced. But when the lamp for a while burns with special
   brightness there always comes afterwards a corresponding
   dullness. I had to pay for your visit, and for the comfort
   of my confession to you at Königstein. I was determined
   that you should know it all; but, having told you, I do
   not want to see you again. As for writing, he shall not
   deprive me of the consolation,--nor I trust will you.

   Do you think that I should answer his letter, or will it
   be better that I should show it to Papa? I am very averse
   to doing this, as I have explained to you; but I would do
   so if I thought that Mr. Kennedy really intended to act
   upon his threats. I will not conceal from you that it
   would go nigh to kill me if my name were dragged through
   the papers. Can anything be done to prevent it? If he were
   known to be mad of course the papers would not publish his
   statements; but I suppose that if he were to send a letter
   from Loughlinter with his name to it they would print it.
   It would be very, very cruel.

   God bless you. I need not say how faithfully I am

   Your friend,

   L. K.


This letter was addressed to Phineas at his club, and there he
received it on the evening before the meeting of Parliament. He sat
up for nearly an hour thinking of it after he read it. He must answer
it at once. That was a matter of course. But he could give her no
advice that would be of any service to her. He was, indeed, of all
men the least fitted to give her counsel in her present emergency. It
seemed to him that as she was safe from any attack on her person, she
need only remain at Dresden, answering his letter by what softest
negatives she could use. It was clear to him that in his present
condition she could take no steps whatever in regard to the money.
That must be left to his conscience, to time, and to chance. As to
the threat of publicity, the probability, he thought, was that it
would lead to nothing. He doubted whether any respectable newspaper
would insert such a statement as that suggested. Were it published,
the evil must be borne. No diligence on her part, or on the part of
her lawyers, could prevent it.

But what had she meant when she wrote of continual sin, sin not to be
avoided, of sin repeated daily which nevertheless weighed her to the
ground? Was it expected of him that he should answer that portion of
her letter? It amounted to a passionate renewal of that declaration
of affection for himself which she had made at Königstein, and which
had pervaded her whole life since some period antecedent to her
wretched marriage. Phineas, as he thought of it, tried to analyse the
nature of such a love. He also, in those old days, had loved her, and
had at once resolved that he must tell her so, though his hopes of
success had been poor indeed. He had taken the first opportunity, and
had declared his purpose. She, with the imperturbable serenity of a
matured kind-hearted woman, had patted him on the back, as it were,
as she told him of her existing engagement with Mr. Kennedy. Could it
be that at that moment she could have loved him as she now said she
did, and that she should have been so cold, so calm, and so kind;
while, at that very moment, this coldness, calmness, and kindness was
but a thin crust over so strong a passion? How different had been
his own love! He had been neither calm nor kind. He had felt himself
for a day or two to be so terribly knocked about that the world was
nothing to him. For a month or two he had regarded himself as a man
peculiarly circumstanced,--marked for misfortune and for a solitary
life. Then he had retricked his beams, and before twelve months were
passed had almost forgotten his love. He knew now, or thought that
he knew,--that the continued indulgence of a hopeless passion was a
folly opposed to the very instincts of man and woman,--a weakness
showing want of fibre and of muscle in the character. But here was
a woman who could calmly conceal her passion in its early days and
marry a man whom she did not love in spite of it, who could make her
heart, her feelings, and all her feminine delicacy subordinate to
material considerations, and nevertheless could not rid herself of
her passion in the course of years, although she felt its existence
to be an intolerable burden on her conscience. On which side lay
strength of character and on which side weakness? Was he strong or
was she?

And he tried to examine his own feelings in regard to her. The thing
was so long ago that she was to him as some aunt, or sister, so much
the elder as to be almost venerable. He acknowledged to himself a
feeling which made it incumbent upon him to spend himself in her
service, could he serve her by any work of his. He was,--or would be,
devoted to her. He owed her a never-dying gratitude. But were she
free to marry again to-morrow, he knew that he could not marry her.
She herself had said the same thing. She had said that she would be
his sister. She had specially required of him that he should make
known to her his wife, should he ever marry again. She had declared
that she was incapable of further jealousy;--and yet she now told him
of daily sin of which her conscience could not assoil itself.

"Phineas," said a voice close to his ears, "are you repenting your
sins?"

"Oh, certainly;--what sins?"

It was Barrington Erle. "You know that we are going to do nothing
to-morrow," continued he.

"So I am told."

"We shall let the Address pass almost without a word. Gresham will
simply express his determination to oppose the Church Bill to the
knife. He means to be very plain-spoken about it. Whatever may be the
merits of the Bill, it must be regarded as an unconstitutional effort
to retain power in the hands of the minority, coming from such hands
as those of Mr. Daubeny. I take it he will go at length into the
question of majorities, and show how inexpedient it is on behalf
of the nation that any Ministry should remain in power who cannot
command a majority in the House on ordinary questions. I don't know
whether he will do that to-morrow or at the second reading of the
Bill."

"I quite agree with him."

"Of course you do. Everybody agrees with him. No gentleman can have
a doubt on the subject. Personally, I hate the idea of Church Reform.
Dear old Mildmay, who taught me all I know, hates it too. But Mr.
Gresham is the head of our party now, and much as I may differ from
him on many things, I am bound to follow him. If he proposes Church
Reform in my time, or anything else, I shall support him."

"I know those are your ideas."

"Of course they are. There are no other ideas on which things can be
made to work. Were it not that men get drilled into it by the force
of circumstances any government in this country would be impossible.
Were it not so, what should we come to? The Queen would find herself
justified in keeping in any set of Ministers who could get her
favour, and ambitious men would prevail without any support from the
country. The Queen must submit to dictation from some quarter."

"She must submit to advice, certainly."

"Don't cavil at a word when you know it to be true," said Barrington,
energetically. "The constitution of the country requires that she
should submit to dictation. Can it come safely from any other quarter
than that of a majority of the House of Commons?"

"I think not."

"We are all agreed about that. Not a single man in either House would
dare to deny it. And if it be so, what man in his senses can think
of running counter to the party which he believes to be right in its
general views? A man so burthened with scruples as to be unable to
act in this way should keep himself aloof from public life. Such a
one cannot serve the country in Parliament, though he may possibly do
so with pen and ink in his closet."

"I wonder then that you should have asked me to come forward again
after what I did about the Irish land question," said Phineas.

"A first fault may be forgiven when the sinner has in other respects
been useful. The long and the short of it is that you must vote
with us against Daubeny's bill. Browborough sees it plainly enough.
He supported his chief in the teeth of all his protestations at
Tankerville."

"I am not Browborough."

"Nor half so good a man if you desert us," said Barrington Erle, with
anger.

"I say nothing about that. He has his ideas of duty, and I have mine.
But I will go so far as this. I have not yet made up my mind. I shall
ask advice; but you must not quarrel with me if I say that I must
seek it from some one who is less distinctly a partisan than you
are."

"From Monk?"

"Yes;--from Mr. Monk. I do think it will be bad for the country that
this measure should come from the hands of Mr. Daubeny."

"Then why the d---- should you support it, and oppose your own party
at the same time? After that you can't do it. Well, Ratler, my guide
and philosopher, how is it going to be?"

Mr. Ratler had joined them, but was still standing before the seat
they occupied, not condescending to sit down in amicable intercourse
with a man as to whom he did not yet know whether to regard him as
a friend or foe. "We shall be very quiet for the next month or six
weeks," said Ratler.

"And then?" asked Phineas.

"Well, then it will depend on what may be the number of a few insane
men who never ought to have seats in the House."

"Such as Mr. Monk and Mr. Turnbull?" Now it was well known that both
those gentlemen, who were recognised as leading men, were strong
Radicals, and it was supposed that they both would support any bill,
come whence it might, which would separate Church and State.

"Such as Mr. Monk," said Ratler. "I will grant that Turnbull may be
an exception. It is his business to go in for everything in the way
of agitation, and he at any rate is consistent. But when a man has
once been in office,--why then--"

"When he has taken the shilling?" said Phineas. "Just so. I confess I
do not like a deserter."

"Phineas will be all right," said Barrington Erle.

"I hope so," said Mr. Ratler, as he passed on.

"Ratler and I run very much in the same groove," said Barrington,
"but I fancy there is some little difference in the motive power."

"Ratler wants place."

"And so do I."

"He wants it just as most men want professional success," said
Phineas. "But if I understand your object, it is chiefly the
maintenance of the old-established political power of the Whigs. You
believe in families?"

"I do believe in the patriotism of certain families. I believe that
the Mildmays, FitzHowards, and Pallisers have for some centuries
brought up their children to regard the well-being of their country
as their highest personal interest, and that such teaching has been
generally efficacious. Of course, there have been failures. Every
child won't learn its lesson however well it may be taught. But the
school in which good training is most practised will, as a rule, turn
out the best scholars. In this way I believe in families. You have
come in for some of the teaching, and I expect to see you a scholar
yet."

The House met on the following day, and the Address was moved and
seconded; but there was no debate. There was not even a full House.
The same ceremony had taken place so short a time previously, that
the whole affair was flat and uninteresting. It was understood that
nothing would in fact be done. Mr. Gresham, as leader of his side
of the House, confined himself to asserting that he should give his
firmest opposition to the proposed measure, which was, it seemed,
so popular with the gentlemen who sat on the other side, and
who supported the so-called Conservative Government of the day.
His reasons for doing so had been stated very lately, and must
unfortunately be repeated very soon, and he would not, therefore, now
trouble the House with them. He did not on this occasion explain his
ideas as to majorities, and the Address was carried by seven o'clock
in the evening. Mr. Daubeny named a day a month hence for the first
reading of his bill, and was asked the cause of the delay by some
member on a back bench. "Because it cannot be ready sooner," said
Mr. Daubeny. "When the honourable gentleman has achieved a position
which will throw upon him the responsibility of bringing forward some
great measure for the benefit of his country, he will probably find
it expedient to devote some little time to details. If he do not,
he will be less anxious to avoid attack than I am." A Minister
can always give a reason; and, if he be clever, he can generally
when doing so punish the man who asks for it. The punishing of an
influential enemy is an indiscretion; but an obscure questioner may
often be crushed with good effect.

Mr. Monk's advice to Phineas was both simple and agreeable. He
intended to support Mr. Gresham, and of course counselled his friend
to do the same.

"But you supported Mr. Daubeny on the Address before Christmas," said
Phineas.

"And shall therefore be bound to explain why I oppose him now;--but
the task will not be difficult. The Queen's speech to Parliament was
in my judgment right, and therefore I concurred in the Address. But I
certainly cannot trust Mr. Daubeny with Church Reform. I do not know
that many will make the same distinction, but I shall do so."

Phineas soon found himself sitting in the House as though he had
never left it. His absence had not been long enough to make the place
feel strange to him. He was on his legs before a fortnight was over
asking some question of some Minister, and of course insinuating
as he did so that the Minister in question had been guilty of some
enormity of omission or commission. It all came back upon him as
though he had been born to the very manner. And as it became known
to the Ratlers that he meant to vote right on the great coming
question,--to vote right and to speak right in spite of his doings at
Tankerville,--everybody was civil to him. Mr. Bonteen did express an
opinion to Mr. Ratler that it was quite impossible that Phineas Finn
should ever again accept office, as of course the Tankervillians
would never replace him in his seat after manifest apostasy to his
pledge; but Mr. Ratler seemed to think very little of that. "They
won't remember, Lord bless you;--and then he's one of those fellows
that always get in somewhere. He's not a man I particularly like; but
you'll always see him in the House;--up and down, you know. When a
fellow begins early, and has got it in him, it's hard to shake him
off." And thus even Mr. Ratler was civil to our hero.

Lady Laura Kennedy's letter had, of course, been answered,--not
without very great difficulty. "My dear Laura," he had begun,--for
the first time in his life. She had told him to treat her as a
brother would do, and he thought it best to comply with her
instructions. But beyond that, till he declared himself at the end to
be hers affectionately, he made no further protestation of affection.
He made no allusion to that sin which weighed so heavily on her, but
answered all her questions. He advised her to remain at Dresden. He
assured her that no power could be used to enforce her return. He
expressed his belief that Mr. Kennedy would abstain from making any
public statement, but suggested that if any were made the answering
of it should be left to the family lawyer. In regard to the money, he
thought it impossible that any step should be taken. He then told her
all there was to tell of Lord and Lady Chiltern, and something also
of himself. When the letter was written he found that it was cold and
almost constrained. To his own ears it did not sound like the hearty
letter of a generous friend. It savoured of the caution with which it
had been prepared. But what could he do? Would he not sin against
her and increase her difficulties if he addressed her with warm
affection? Were he to say a word that ought not to be addressed to
any woman he might do her an irreparable injury; and yet the tone of
his own letter was odious to him.



CHAPTER XXI

Mr. Maule, Senior


The life of Mr. Maurice Maule, of Maule Abbey, the father of Gerard
Maule, had certainly not been prosperous. He had from his boyhood
enjoyed a reputation for cleverness, and at school had done great
things,--winning prizes, spouting speeches on Speech days, playing in
elevens, and looking always handsome. He had been one of those show
boys of which two or three are generally to be found at our great
schools, and all manner of good things had been prophesied on his
behalf. He had been in love before he was eighteen, and very nearly
succeeded in running away with the young lady before he went to
college. His father had died when he was an infant, so that at
twenty-one he was thought to be in possession of comfortable wealth.
At Oxford he was considered to have got into a good set,--men of
fashion who were also given to talking of books,--who spent money,
read poetry, and had opinions of their own respecting the Tracts
and Mr. Newman. He took his degree, and then started himself in the
world upon that career which is of all the most difficult to follow
with respect and self-comfort. He proposed to himself the life of an
idle man with a moderate income,--a life which should be luxurious,
refined, and graceful, but to which should be attached the burden
of no necessary occupation. His small estate gave him but little to
do, as he would not farm any portion of his own acres. He became a
magistrate in his county; but he would not interest himself with the
price of a good yoke of bullocks, as did Mr. Justice Shallow,--nor
did he ever care how a score of ewes went at any fair. There is no
harder life than this. Here and there we may find a man who has so
trained himself that day after day he can devote his mind without
compulsion to healthy pursuits, who can induce himself to work,
though work be not required from him for any ostensible object, who
can save himself from the curse of misusing his time, though he has
for it no defined and necessary use; but such men are few, and are
made of better metal than was Mr. Maule. He became an idler, a man of
luxury, and then a spendthrift. He was now hardly beyond middle life,
and he assumed for himself the character of a man of taste. He loved
music, and pictures, and books, and pretty women. He loved also good
eating and drinking; but conceived of himself that in his love for
them he was an artist, and not a glutton. He had married early, and
his wife had died soon. He had not given himself up with any special
zeal to the education of his children, nor to the preservation of his
property. The result of his indifference has been told in a previous
chapter. His house was deserted, and his children were scattered
about the world. His eldest son, having means of his own, was living
an idle, desultory life, hardly with prospects of better success than
had attended his father.

Mr. Maule was now something about fifty-five years of age, and
almost considered himself young. He lived in chambers on a flat in
Westminster, and belonged to two excellent clubs. He had not been
near his property for the last ten years, and as he was addicted to
no country sport there were ten weeks in the year which were terrible
to him. From the middle of August to the end of October for him there
was no whist, no society,--it may almost be said no dinner. He had
tried going to the seaside; he had tried going to Paris; he had
endeavoured to enjoy Switzerland and the Italian lakes;--but all
had failed, and he had acknowledged to himself that this sad period
of the year must always be endured without relaxation, and without
comfort.

Of his children he now took but little notice. His daughter was
married and in India. His younger son had disappeared, and the father
was perhaps thankful that he was thus saved from trouble. With his
elder son he did maintain some amicable intercourse, but it was very
slight in its nature. They never corresponded unless the one had
something special to say to the other. They had no recognised ground
for meeting. They did not belong to the same clubs. They did not live
in the same circles. They did not follow the same pursuits. They were
interested in the same property;--but, as on that subject there had
been something approaching to a quarrel, and as neither looked for
assistance from the other, they were now silent on the matter. The
father believed himself to be a poorer man than his son, and was very
sore on the subject; but he had nothing beyond a life interest in
his property, and there remained to him a certain amount of prudence
which induced him to abstain from eating more of his pudding,--lest
absolute starvation and the poorhouse should befall him. There still
remained to him the power of spending some five or six hundred a
year, and upon this practice had taught him to live with a very
considerable amount of self-indulgence. He dined out a great deal,
and was known everywhere as Mr. Maule of Maule Abbey.

He was a slight, bright-eyed, grey-haired, good-looking man,
who had once been very handsome. He had married, let us say for
love;--probably very much by chance. He had ill-used his wife, and
had continued a long-continued liaison with a complaisant friend.
This had lasted some twenty years of his life, and had been to him an
intolerable burden. He had come to see the necessity of employing his
good looks, his conversational powers, and his excellent manners on
a second marriage which might be lucrative; but the complaisant lady
had stood in his way. Perhaps there had been a little cowardice on
his part; but at any rate he had hitherto failed. The season for such
a mode of relief was not, however, as yet clean gone with him, and
he was still on the look out. There are women always in the market
ready to buy for themselves the right to hang on the arm of a real
gentleman. That Mr. Maurice Maule was a real gentleman no judge in
such matters had ever doubted.

On a certain morning just at the end of February Mr. Maule was
sitting in his library,--so-called,--eating his breakfast, at about
twelve o'clock; and at his side there lay a note from his son Gerard.
Gerard had written to say that he would call on that morning, and the
promised visit somewhat disturbed the father's comfort. He was in
his dressing-gown and slippers, and had his newspaper in his hand.
When his newspaper and breakfast should be finished,--as they would
be certainly at the same moment,--there were in store for him two
cigarettes, and perhaps some new French novel which had just reached
him. They would last him till two o'clock. Then he would dress and
saunter out in his great coat, made luxurious with furs. He would
see a picture, or perhaps some china-vase, of which news had reached
him, and would talk of them as though he might be a possible buyer.
Everybody knew that he never bought anything;--but he was a man whose
opinion on such matters was worth having. Then he would call on
some lady whose acquaintance at the moment might be of service to
him;--for that idea of blazing once more out into the world on a
wife's fortune was always present to him. At about five he would
saunter into his club, and play a rubber in a gentle unexcited manner
till seven. He never played for high points, and would never be
enticed into any bet beyond the limits of his club stakes. Were he
to lose £10 or £20 at a sitting his arrangements would be greatly
disturbed, and his comfort seriously affected. But he played well,
taking pains with his game, and some who knew him well declared that
his whist was worth a hundred a year to him. Then he would dress and
generally dine in society. He was known as a good diner out, though
in what his excellence consisted they who entertained him might find
it difficult to say. He was not witty, nor did he deal in anecdotes.
He spoke with a low voice, never addressing himself to any but his
neighbour, and even to his neighbour saying but little. But he looked
like a gentleman, was well dressed, and never awkward. After dinner
he would occasionally play another rubber; but twelve o'clock always
saw him back into his own rooms. No one knew better than Mr. Maule
that the continual bloom of lasting summer which he affected requires
great accuracy in living. Late hours, nocturnal cigars, and midnight
drinkings, pleasurable though they may be, consume too quickly the
free-flowing lamps of youth, and are fatal at once to the husbanded
candle-ends of age.

But such as his days were, every minute of them was precious to him.
He possessed the rare merit of making a property of his time and not
a burden. He had so shuffled off his duties that he had now rarely
anything to do that was positively disagreeable. He had been a
spendthrift; but his creditors, though perhaps never satisfied, had
been quieted. He did not now deal with reluctant and hard-tasked
tenants, but with punctual, though inimical, trustees, who paid to
him with charming regularity that portion of his income which he was
allowed to spend. But that he was still tormented with the ambition
of a splendid marriage it might be said of him that he was completely
at his ease. Now, as he lit his cigarette, he would have been
thoroughly comfortable, were it not that he was threatened with
disturbance by his son. Why should his son wish to see him, and thus
break in upon him at the most charming hour of the day? Of course
his son would not come to him without having some business in hand
which must be disagreeable. He had not the least desire to see his
son,--and yet, as they were on amicable terms, he could not deny
himself after the receipt of his son's note. Just at one, as he
finished his first cigarette, Gerard was announced.

"Well, Gerard!"

"Well, father,--how are you? You are looking as fresh as paint, sir."

"Thanks for the compliment, if you mean one. I am pretty well. I
thought you were hunting somewhere."

"So I am; but I have just come up to town to see you. I find you have
been smoking;--may I light a cigar?"

"I never do smoke cigars here, Gerard. I'll offer you a cigarette."
The cigarette was reluctantly offered, and accepted with a shrug.
"But you didn't come here merely to smoke, I dare say."

"Certainly not, sir. We do not often trouble each other, father; but
there are things about which I suppose we had better speak. I'm going
to be married!"

"To be married!" The tone in which Mr. Maule, senior, repeated the
words was much the same as might be used by any ordinary father if
his son expressed an intention of going into the shoe-black business.

"Yes, sir. It's a kind of thing men do sometimes."

"No doubt;--and it's a kind of thing that they sometimes repent of
having done."

"Let us hope for the best. It is too late at any rate to think about
that, and as it is to be done, I have come to tell you."

"Very well. I suppose you are right to tell me. Of course you know
that I can do nothing for you; and I don't suppose that you can do
anything for me. As far as your own welfare goes, if she has a large
fortune,--"

"She has no fortune."

"No fortune!"

"Two or three thousand pounds perhaps."

"Then I look upon it as an act of simple madness, and can only say
that as such I shall treat it. I have nothing in my power, and
therefore I can neither do you good or harm; but I will not hear
any particulars, and I can only advise you to break it off, let the
trouble be what it may."

"I certainly shall not do that, sir."

"Then I have nothing more to say. Don't ask me to be present, and
don't ask me to see her."

"You haven't heard her name yet."

"I do not care one straw what her name is."

"It is Adelaide Palliser."

"Adelaide Muggins would be exactly the same thing to me. My dear
Gerard, I have lived too long in the world to believe that men can
coin into money the noble blood of well-born wives. Twenty thousand
pounds is worth more than all the blood of all the Howards, and
a wife even with twenty thousand pounds would make you a poor,
embarrassed, and half-famished man."

"Then I suppose I shall be whole famished, as she certainly has not
got a quarter of that sum."

"No doubt you will."

"Yet, sir, married men with families have lived on my income."

"And on less than a quarter of it. The very respectable man who
brushes my clothes no doubt does so. But then you see he has been
brought up in that way. I suppose that you as a bachelor put by every
year at least half your income?"

"I never put by a shilling, sir. Indeed, I owe a few hundred pounds."

"And yet you expect to keep a house over your head, and an expensive
wife and family, with lady's maid, nurses, cook, footman, and grooms,
on a sum which has been hitherto insufficient for your own wants! I
didn't think you were such an idiot, my boy."

"Thank you, sir."

"What will her dress cost?"

"I have not the slightest idea."

"I dare say not. Probably she is a horsewoman. As far as I know
anything of your life that is the sphere in which you will have made
the lady's acquaintance."

"She does ride."

"No doubt, and so do you; and it will be very easy to say whither you
will ride together if you are fools enough to get married. I can only
advise you to do nothing of the kind. Is there anything else?"

There was much more to be said if Gerard could succeed in forcing his
father to hear him. Mr. Maule, who had hitherto been standing, seated
himself as he asked that last question, and took up the book which
had been prepared for his morning's delectation. It was evidently
his intention that his son should leave him. The news had been
communicated to him, and he had said all that he could say on the
subject. He had at once determined to confine himself to a general
view of the matter, and to avoid details,--which might be personal to
himself. But Gerard had been specially required to force his father
into details. Had he been left to himself he would certainly have
thought that the conversation had gone far enough. He was inclined,
almost as well as his father, to avoid present discomfort. But when
Miss Palliser had suddenly,--almost suddenly,--accepted him; and when
he had found himself describing the prospects of his life in her
presence and in that of Lady Chiltern, the question of the Maule
Abbey inheritance had of necessity been discussed. At Maule Abbey
there might be found a home for the married couple, and,--so thought
Lady Chiltern,--the only fitting home. Mr. Maule, the father,
certainly did not desire to live there. Probably arrangements might
be made for repairing the house and furnishing it with Adelaide's
money. Then, if Gerard Maule would be prudent, and give up hunting,
and farm a little himself,--and if Adelaide would do her own
housekeeping and dress upon forty pounds a year, and if they would
both live an exemplary, model, energetic, and strictly economical
life, both ends might be made to meet. Adelaide had been quite
enthusiastic as to the forty pounds, and had suggested that she would
do it for thirty. The housekeeping was a matter of course, and the
more so as a leg of mutton roast or boiled would be the beginning
and the end of it. To Adelaide the discussion had been exciting and
pleasurable, and she had been quite in earnest when looking forward
to a new life at Maule Abbey. After all there could be no such great
difficulty for a young married couple to live on £800 a year, with a
house and garden of their own. There would be no carriage and no man
servant till,--till old Mr. Maule was dead. The suggestion as to
the ultimate and desirable haven was wrapped up in ambiguous words.
"The property must be yours some day," suggested Lady Chiltern.
"If I outlive my father." "We take that for granted; and then, you
know--" So Lady Chiltern went on, dilating upon a future state of
squirearchal bliss and rural independence. Adelaide was enthusiastic;
but Gerard Maule,--after he had assented to the abandonment of his
hunting, much as a man assents to being hung when the antecedents of
his life have put any option in the matter out of his power,--had
sat silent and almost moody while the joys of his coming life were
described to him. Lady Chiltern, however, had been urgent in pointing
out to him that the scheme of living at Maule Abbey could not be
carried on without his father's assistance. They all knew that Mr.
Maule himself could not be affected by the matter, and they also
knew that he had but very little power in reference to the property.
But the plan could not be matured without some sanction from him.
Therefore there was still much more to be said when the father had
completed the exposition of his views on marriage in general. "I
wanted to speak to you about the property," said Gerard. He had been
specially enjoined to be staunch in bringing his father to the point.

"And what about the property?"

"Of course my marriage will not affect your interests."

"I should say not. It would be very odd if it did. As it is, your
income is much larger than mine."

"I don't know how that is, sir; but I suppose you will not refuse to
give me a helping hand if you can do so without disturbance to your
own comfort."

"In what sort of way? Don't you think anything of that kind can be
managed better by the lawyer? If there is a thing I hate, it is
business."

Gerard, remembering his promise to Lady Chiltern, did persevere,
though the perseverance went much against the grain with him. "We
thought, sir, that if you would consent we might live at Maule
Abbey."

"Oh;--you did; did you?"

"Is there any objection?"

"Simply the fact that it is my house, and not yours."

"It belongs, I suppose, to the property; and as--"

"As what?" asked the father, turning upon the son with sharp angry
eyes, and with something of real animation in his face.

Gerard was very awkward in conveying his meaning to his father. "And
as," he continued,--"as it must come to me, I suppose, some day, and
it will be the proper sort of thing that we should live there then, I
thought that you would agree that if we went and lived there now it
would be a good sort of thing to do."

"That was your idea?"

"We talked it over with our friend, Lady Chiltern."

"Indeed! I am so much obliged to your friend, Lady Chiltern, for the
interest she takes in my affairs. Pray make my compliments to Lady
Chiltern, and tell her at the same time that, though no doubt I have
one foot in the grave, I should like to keep my house for the other
foot, though too probably I may never be able to drag it so far as
Maule Abbey."

"But you don't think of living there."

"My dear boy, if you will inquire among any friends you may happen
to know who understand the world better than Lady Chiltern seems
to do, they will tell you that a son should not suggest to his
father the abandonment of the family property, because the father
may--probably--soon--be conveniently got rid of under ground."

"There was no thought of such a thing," said Gerard.

"It isn't decent. I say that with all due deference to Lady
Chiltern's better judgment. It's not the kind of thing that men do.
I care less about it than most men, but even I object to such a
proposition when it is made so openly. No doubt I am old." This
assertion Mr. Maule made in a weak, quavering voice, which showed
that had his intention been that way turned in his youth, he might
probably have earned his bread on the stage.

"Nobody thought of your being old, sir."

"I shan't last long, of course. I am a poor feeble creature. But
while I do live, I should prefer not to be turned out of my own
house,--if Lady Chiltern could be induced to consent to such an
arrangement. My doctor seems to think that I might linger on for a
year or two,--with great care."

"Father, you know I was thinking of nothing of the kind."

"We won't act the king and the prince any further, if you please.
The prince protested very well, and, if I remember right, the father
pretended to believe him. In my weak state you have rather upset me.
If you have no objection I would choose to be left to recover myself
a little."

"And is that all that you will say to me?"

"Good heavens;--what more can you want? I will not--consent--to give
up--my house at Maule Abbey for your use,--as long as I live. Will
that do? And if you choose to marry a wife and starve, I won't think
that any reason why I should starve too. Will that do? And your
friend, Lady Chiltern, may--go--and be d----d. Will that do?"

"Good morning, sir."

"Good morning, Gerard." So the interview was over, and Gerard Maule
left the room. The father, as soon as he was alone, immediately lit
another cigarette, took up his French novel, and went to work as
though he was determined to be happy and comfortable again without
losing a moment. But he found this to be beyond his power. He had
been really disturbed, and could not easily compose himself. The
cigarette was almost at once chucked into the fire, and the little
volume was laid on one side. Mr. Maule rose almost impetuously from
his chair, and stood with his back to the fire, contemplating the
proposition that had been made to him.

It was actually true that he had been offended by the very faint idea
of death which had been suggested to him by his son. Though he was
a man bearing no palpable signs of decay, in excellent health, with
good digestion,--who might live to be ninety,--he did not like to be
warned that his heir would come after him. The claim which had been
put forward to Maule Abbey by his son had rested on the fact that
when he should die the place must belong to his son;--and the fact
was unpleasant to him. Lady Chiltern had spoken of him behind
his back as being mortal, and in doing so had been guilty of an
impertinence. Maule Abbey, no doubt, was a ruined old house, in which
he never thought of living,--which was not let to a tenant by the
creditors of his estate, only because its condition was unfit for
tenancy. But now Mr. Maule began to think whether he might not
possibly give the lie to these people who were compassing his death,
by returning to the halls of his ancestors, if not in the bloom of
youth, still in the pride of age. Why should he not live at Maule
Abbey if this successful marriage could be effected? He almost knew
himself well enough to be aware that a month at Maule Abbey would
destroy him; but it is the proper thing for a man of fashion to have
a place of his own, and he had always been alive to the glory of
being Mr. Maule of Maule Abbey. In preparing the way for the marriage
that was to come he must be so known. To be spoken of as the father
of Maule of Maule Abbey would have been fatal to him. To be the
father of a married son at all was disagreeable, and therefore
when the communication was made to him he had managed to be very
unpleasant. As for giving up Maule Abbey,--! He fretted and fumed
as he thought of the proposition through the hour which should have
been to him an hour of enjoyment; and his anger grew hot against
his son as he remembered all that he was losing. At last, however,
he composed himself sufficiently to put on with becoming care his
luxurious furred great coat, and then he sallied forth in quest of
the lady.



CHAPTER XXII

"Purity of morals, Finn"


Mr. Quintus Slide was now, as formerly, the editor of the _People's
Banner_, but a change had come over the spirit of his dream. His
newspaper was still the _People's Banner_, and Mr. Slide still
professed to protect the existing rights of the people, and to demand
new rights for the people. But he did so as a Conservative. He had
watched the progress of things, and had perceived that duty called
upon him to be the organ of Mr. Daubeny. This duty he performed with
great zeal, and with an assumption of consistency and infallibility
which was charming. No doubt the somewhat difficult task of veering
round without inconsistency, and without flaw to his infallibility,
was eased by Mr. Daubeny's newly-declared views on Church matters.
_The People's Banner_ could still be a genuine _People's Banner_ in
reference to ecclesiastical policy. And as that was now the subject
mainly discussed by the newspapers, the change made was almost
entirely confined to the lauding of Mr. Daubeny instead of Mr.
Turnbull. Some other slight touches were no doubt necessary. Mr.
Daubeny was the head of the Conservative party in the kingdom, and
though Mr. Slide himself might be of all men in the kingdom the most
democratic, or even the most destructive, still it was essential that
Mr. Daubeny's organ should support the Conservative party all round.
It became Mr. Slide's duty to speak of men as heaven-born patriots
whom he had designated a month or two since as bloated aristocrats
and leeches fattened on the blood of the people. Of course remarks
were made by his brethren of the press,--remarks which were intended
to be very unpleasant. One evening newspaper took the trouble to
divide a column of its own into double columns, printing on one
side of the inserted line remarks made by the _People's Banner_ in
September respecting the Duke of ----, and the Marquis of ----, and
Sir ---- ----, which were certainly very harsh; and on the other side
remarks equally laudatory as to the characters of the same titled
politicians. But a journalist, with the tact and experience of Mr.
Quintus Slide, knew his business too well to allow himself to be
harassed by any such small stratagem as that. He did not pause to
defend himself, but boldly attacked the meanness, the duplicity,
the immorality, the grammar, the paper, the type, and the wife of
the editor of the evening newspaper. In the storm of wind in which
he rowed it was unnecessary for him to defend his own conduct.
"And then," said he at the close of a very virulent and successful
article, "the hirelings of ---- dare to accuse me of inconsistency!"
The readers of the _People's Banner_ all thought that their editor
had beaten his adversary out of the field.

Mr. Quintus Slide was certainly well adapted for his work. He could
edit his paper with a clear appreciation of the kind of matter which
would best conduce to its success, and he could write telling leading
articles himself. He was indefatigable, unscrupulous, and devoted
to his paper. Perhaps his great value was shown most clearly in his
distinct appreciation of the low line of public virtue with which
his readers would be satisfied. A highly-wrought moral strain would
he knew well create either disgust or ridicule. "If there is any
beastliness I 'ate it is 'igh-faluting," he has been heard to say to
his underlings. The sentiment was the same as that conveyed in the
"Point de zèle" of Talleyrand. "Let's 'ave no d----d nonsense," he
said on another occasion, when striking out from a leading article
a passage in praise of the patriotism of a certain public man. "Mr.
Gresham is as good as another man, no doubt; what we want to know is
whether he's along with us." Mr. Gresham was not along with Mr. Slide
at present, and Mr. Slide found it very easy to speak ill of Mr.
Gresham.

Mr. Slide one Sunday morning called at the house of Mr. Bunce in
Great Marlborough Street, and asked for Phineas Finn. Mr. Slide and
Mr. Bunce had an old acquaintance with each other, and the editor was
not ashamed to exchange a few friendly words with the law-scrivener
before he was shown up to the member of Parliament. Mr. Bunce was an
outspoken, eager, and honest politician,--with very little accurate
knowledge of the political conditions by which he was surrounded,
but with a strong belief in the merits of his own class. He was a
sober, hardworking man, and he hated all men who were not sober and
hardworking. He was quite clear in his mind that all nobility should
be put down, and that all property in land should be taken away from
men who were enabled by such property to live in idleness. What
should be done with the land when so taken away was a question
which he had not yet learnt to answer. At the present moment he was
accustomed to say very hard words of Mr. Slide behind his back,
because of the change which had been effected in the _People's
Banner_, and he certainly was not the man to shrink from asserting
in a person's presence aught that he said in his absence. "Well, Mr.
Conservative Slide," he said, stepping into the little back parlour,
in which the editor was left while Mrs. Bunce went up to learn
whether the member of Parliament would receive his visitor.

"None of your chaff, Bunce."

"We have enough of your chaff, anyhow; don't we, Mr. Slide? I still
sees the _Banner_, Mr. Slide,--most days; just for the joke of it."

"As long as you take it, Bunce, I don't care what the reason is."

"I suppose a heditor's about the same as a Cabinet Minister. You've
got to keep your place;--that's about it, Mr. Slide."

"We've got to tell the people who's true to 'em. Do you believe
that Gresham 'd ever have brought in a Bill for doing away with the
Church? Never;--not if he'd been Prime Minister till doomsday. What
you want is progress."

"That's about it, Mr. Slide."

"And where are you to get it? Did you ever hear that a rose by any
other name 'd smell as sweet? If you can get progress from the
Conservatives, and you want progress, why not go to the Conservatives
for it? Who repealed the corn laws? Who gave us 'ousehold suffrage?"

"I think I've been told all that before, Mr. Slide; them things
weren't given by no manner of means, as I look at it. We just went in
and took 'em. It was hall a haccident whether it was Cobden or Peel,
Gladstone or Disraeli, as was the servants we employed to do our
work. But Liberal is Liberal, and Conservative is Conservative. What
are you, Mr. Slide, to-day?"

"If you'd talk of things, Bunce, which you understand, you would not
talk quite so much nonsense."

At this moment Mrs. Bunce entered the room, perhaps preventing a
quarrel, and offered to usher Mr. Slide up to the young member's
room. Phineas had not at first been willing to receive the gentleman,
remembering that when they had last met the intercourse had not been
pleasant,--but he knew that enmities are foolish things, and that
it did not become him to perpetuate a quarrel with such a man as Mr.
Quintus Slide. "I remember him very well, Mrs. Bunce."

"I know you didn't like him, Sir."

"Not particularly."

"No more don't I. No more don't Bunce. He's one of them as 'd say
a'most anything for a plate of soup and a glass of wine. That's what
Bunce says."

"It won't hurt me to see him."

"No, sir; it won't hurt you. It would be a pity indeed if the likes
of him could hurt the likes of you." And so Mr. Quintus Slide was
shown up into the room.

The first greeting was very affectionate, at any rate on the part of
the editor. He grasped the young member's hand, congratulated him
on his seat, and began his work as though he had never been all but
kicked out of that very same room by its present occupant. "Now you
want to know what I'm come about; don't you?"

"No doubt I shall hear in good time, Mr. Slide."

"It's an important matter;--and so you'll say when you do hear. And
it's one in which I don't know whether you'll be able to see your way
quite clear."

"I'll do my best, if it concerns me."

"It does." So saying, Mr. Slide, who had seated himself in an
arm-chair by the fireside opposite to Phineas, crossed his legs,
folded his arms on his breast, put his head a little on one side,
and sat for a few moments in silence, with his eyes fixed on his
companion's face. "It does concern you, or I shouldn't be here.
Do you know Mr. Kennedy,--the Right Honourable Robert Kennedy, of
Loughlinter, in Scotland?"

"I do know Mr. Kennedy."

"And do you know Lady Laura Kennedy, his wife?"

"Certainly I do."

"So I supposed. And do you know the Earl of Brentford, who is, I take
it, father to the lady in question?"

"Of course I do. You know that I do." For there had been a time in
which Phineas had been subjected to the severest censure which the
_People's Banner_ could inflict upon him, because of his adherence
to Lord Brentford, and the vials of wrath had been poured out by the
hands of Mr. Quintus Slide himself.

"Very well. It does not signify what I know or what I don't. Those
preliminary questions I have been obliged to ask as my justification
for coming to you on the present occasion. Mr. Kennedy has I believe
been greatly wronged."

"I am not prepared to talk about Mr. Kennedy's affairs," said Phineas
gravely.

"But unfortunately he is prepared to talk about them. That's the rub.
He has been ill-used, and he has come to the _People's Banner_ for
redress. Will you have the kindness to cast your eye down that slip?"
Whereupon the editor handed to Phineas a long scrap of printed paper,
amounting to about a column and a half of the _People's Banner_,
containing a letter to the editor dated from Loughlinter, and signed
Robert Kennedy at full length.

"You don't mean to say that you're going to publish this," said
Phineas before he had read it.

"Why not?"

"The man is a madman."

"There's nothing in the world easier than calling a man mad. It's
what we do to dogs when we want to hang them. I believe Mr. Kennedy
has the management of his own property. He is not too mad for that.
But just cast your eye down and read it."

Phineas did cast his eye down, and read the whole letter;--nor as
he read it could he bring himself to believe that the writer of it
would be judged to be mad from its contents. Mr. Kennedy had told
the whole story of his wrongs, and had told it well,--with piteous
truthfulness, as far as he himself knew and understood the truth. The
letter was almost simple in its wailing record of his own desolation.
With a marvellous absence of reticence he had given the names of all
persons concerned. He spoke of his wife as having been, and being,
under the influence of Mr. Phineas Finn;--spoke of his own former
friendship for that gentleman, who had once saved his life when
he fell among thieves, and then accused Phineas of treachery in
betraying that friendship. He spoke with bitter agony of the injury
done him by the Earl, his wife's father, in affording a home to his
wife, when her proper home was at Loughlinter. And then declared
himself willing to take the sinning woman back to his bosom. "That
she had sinned is certain," he said; "I do not believe she has sinned
as some sin; but, whatever be her sin, it is for a man to forgive as
he hopes for forgiveness." He expatiated on the absolute and almost
divine right which it was intended that a husband should exercise
over his wife, and quoted both the Old and New Testament in proof of
his assertions. And then he went on to say that he appealed to public
sympathy, through the public press, because, owing to some gross
insufficiency in the laws of extradition, he could not call upon the
magistracy of a foreign country to restore to him his erring wife.
But he thought that public opinion, if loudly expressed, would have
an effect both upon her and upon her father, which his private words
could not produce. "I wonder very greatly that you should put such a
letter as that into type," said Phineas when he had read it all.

"Why shouldn't we put it into type?"

"You don't mean to say that you'll publish it."

"Why shouldn't we publish it?"

"It's a private quarrel between a man and his wife. What on earth
have the public got to do with that?"

"Private quarrels between gentlemen and ladies have been public
affairs for a long time past. You must know that very well."

"When they come into court they are."

"In court and out of court! The morale of our aristocracy,--what you
call the Upper Ten,--would be at a low ebb indeed if the public press
didn't act as their guardians. Do you think that if the Duke of ----
beats his wife black and blue, nothing is to be said about it unless
the Duchess brings her husband into court? Did you ever know of a
separation among the Upper Ten, that wasn't handled by the press
one way or the other? It's my belief that there isn't a peer among
'em all as would live with his wife constant, if it was not for the
press;--only some of the very old ones, who couldn't help
themselves."

"And you call yourself a Conservative?"

"Never mind what I call myself. That has nothing to do with what
we're about now. You see that letter, Finn. There is nothing little
or dirty about us. We go in for morals and purity of life, and we
mean to do our duty by the public without fear or favour. Your name
is mentioned there in a manner that you won't quite like, and I think
I am acting uncommon kind by you in showing it to you before we
publish it." Phineas, who still held the slip in his hand, sat silent
thinking of the matter. He hated the man. He could not endure the
feeling of being called Finn by him without showing his resentment.
As regarded himself, he was thoroughly well inclined to kick Mr.
Slide and his _Banner_ into the street. But he was bound to think
first of Lady Laura. Such a publication as this, which was now
threatened, was the misfortune which the poor woman dreaded more
than any other. He, personally, had certainly been faultless in the
matter. He had never addressed a word of love to Mr. Kennedy's wife
since the moment in which she had told him that she was engaged to
marry the Laird of Loughlinter. Were the letter to be published he
could answer it, he thought, in such a manner as to defend himself
and her without damage to either. But on her behalf he was bound to
prevent this publicity if it could be prevented;--and he was bound
also, for her sake, to allow himself to be called Finn by this most
obnoxious editor. "In the ordinary course of things, Finn, it will
come out to-morrow morning," said the obnoxious editor.

"Every word of it is untrue," said Phineas.

"You say that, of course."

"And I should at once declare myself willing to make such a statement
on oath. It is a libel of the grossest kind, and of course there
would be a prosecution. Both Lord Brentford and I would be driven to
that."

"We should be quite indifferent. Mr. Kennedy would hold us harmless.
We're straightforward. My showing it to you would prove that."

"What is it you want, Mr. Slide?"

"Want! You don't suppose we want anything. If you think that the
columns of the _People's Banner_ are to be bought, you must have
opinions respecting the press of the day which make me pity you as
one grovelling in the very dust. The daily press of London is pure
and immaculate. That is, the morning papers are. Want, indeed! What
do you think I want?"

"I have not the remotest idea."

"Purity of morals, Finn;--punishment for the guilty;--defence for the
innocent;--support for the weak;--safety for the oppressed;--and a
rod of iron for the oppressors!"

"But that is a libel."

"It's very heavy on the old Earl, and upon you, and upon Lady
Laura;--isn't it?"

"It's a libel,--as you know. You tell me that purity of morals can be
supported by such a publication as this! Had you meant to go on with
it, you would hardly have shown it to me."

"You're in the wrong box there, Finn. Now I'll tell you what
we'll do,--on behalf of what I call real purity. We'll delay the
publication if you'll undertake that the lady shall go back to her
husband."

"The lady is not in my hands."

"She's under your influence. You were with her over at Dresden not
much more than a month ago. She'd go sharp enough if you told her."

"You never made a greater mistake in your life."

"Say that you'll try."

"I certainly will not do so."

"Then it goes in to-morrow," said Mr. Quintus Slide, stretching out
his hand and taking back the slip.

"What on earth is your object?"

"Morals! Morals! We shall be able to say that we've done our best to
promote domestic virtue and secure forgiveness for an erring wife.
You've no notion, Finn, in your mind of what will soon be the hextent
of the duties, privileges, and hinfluences of the daily press;--the
daily morning press, that is; for I look on those little evening
scraps as just so much paper and ink wasted. You won't interfere,
then?"

"Yes, I will;--if you'll give me time. Where is Mr. Kennedy?"

"What has that to do with it? Do you write over to Lady Laura and the
old lord and tell them that if she'll undertake to be at Loughlinter
within a month this shall be suppressed. Will you do that?"

"Let me first see Mr. Kennedy."

Mr. Slide thought a while over that matter. "Well," said he at last,
"you can see Kennedy if you will. He came up to town four or five
days ago, and he's staying at an hotel in Judd Street."

"An hotel in Judd Street?"

"Yes;--Macpherson's in Judd Street. I suppose he likes to keep among
the Scotch. I don't think he ever goes out of the house, and he's
waiting in London till this thing is published."

"I will go and see him," said Phineas.

"I shouldn't wonder if he murdered you;--but that's between you and
him."

"Just so."

"And I shall hear from you?"

"Yes," said Phineas, hesitating as he made the promise. "Yes, you
shall hear from me."

"We've got our duty to do, and we mean to do it. If we see that we
can induce the lady to go back to her husband, we shall habstain from
publishing, and virtue will be its own reward. I needn't tell you
that such a letter as that would sell a great many copies, Finn."
Then, at last, Mr. Slide arose and departed.



CHAPTER XXIII

Macpherson's Hotel


Phineas, when he was left alone, found himself greatly at a loss as
to what he had better do. He had pledged himself to see Mr. Kennedy,
and was not much afraid of encountering personal violence at the
hands of that gentleman. But he could think of nothing which he could
with advantage say to Mr. Kennedy. He knew that Lady Laura would not
return to her husband. Much as she dreaded such exposure as was now
threatened, she would not return to Loughlinter to avoid even that.
He could not hold out any such hope to Mr. Kennedy;--and without
doing so how could he stop the publication? He thought of getting
an injunction from the Vice-Chancellor;--but it was now Sunday, and
he had understood that the publication would appear on the morrow,
unless stopped by some note from himself. He thought of finding some
attorney, and taking him to Mr. Kennedy; but he knew that Mr. Kennedy
would be deterred by no attorney. Then he thought of Mr. Low. He
would see Mr. Kennedy first, and then go to Mr. Low's house.

Judd Street runs into the New Road near the great stations of the
Midland and Northern Railways, and is a highly respectable street.
But it can hardly be called fashionable, as is Piccadilly; or
central, as is Charing Cross; or commercial, as is the neighbourhood
of St. Paul's. Men seeking the shelter of an hotel in Judd Street
most probably prefer decent and respectable obscurity to other
advantages. It was some such feeling, no doubt, joined to the fact
that the landlord had originally come from the neighbourhood of
Loughlinter, which had taken Mr. Kennedy to Macpherson's Hotel.
Phineas, when he called at about three o'clock on Sunday afternoon,
was at once informed by Mrs. Macpherson that Mr. Kennedy was "nae
doubt at hame, but was nae willing to see folk on the Saaboth."
Phineas pleaded the extreme necessity of his business, alleging
that Mr. Kennedy himself would regard its nature as a sufficient
justification for such Sabbath-breaking,--and sent up his card.
Then there came down a message to him. Could not Mr. Finn postpone
his visit to the following morning? But Phineas declared that it
could not be postponed. Circumstances, which he would explain to
Mr. Kennedy, made it impossible. At last he was desired to walk up
stairs, though Mrs. Macpherson, as she showed him the way, evidently
thought that her house was profaned by such wickedness.

Macpherson in preparing his house had not run into that extravagance
of architecture which has lately become so common in our hotels. It
was simply an ordinary house, with the words "Macpherson's Hotel"
painted on a semi-circular board over the doorway. The front
parlour had been converted into a bar, and in the back parlour the
Macphersons lived. The staircase was narrow and dirty, and in the
front drawing-room,--with the chamber behind for his bedroom,--Mr.
Kennedy was installed. Mr. Macpherson probably did not expect any
customers beyond those friendly Scots who came up to London from his
own side of the Highlands. Mrs. Macpherson, as she opened the door,
was silent and almost mysterious. Such a breach of the law might
perhaps be justified by circumstances of which she knew nothing, but
should receive no sanction from her which she could avoid. So she did
not even whisper the name.

Mr. Kennedy, as Phineas entered, slowly rose from his chair, putting
down the Bible which had been in his hands. He did not speak at once,
but looked at his visitor over the spectacles which he wore. Phineas
thought that he was even more haggard in appearance and aged than
when they two had met hardly three months since at Loughlinter. There
was no shaking of hands, and hardly any pretence at greeting. Mr.
Kennedy simply bowed his head, and allowed his visitor to begin the
conversation.

"I should not have come to you on such a day as this, Mr. Kennedy--"

"It is a day very unfitted for the affairs of the world," said Mr.
Kennedy.

"Had not the matter been most pressing in regard both to time and its
own importance."

"So the woman told me, and therefore I have consented to see you."

"You know a man of the name of--Slide, Mr. Kennedy?" Mr. Kennedy
shook his head. "You know the editor of the _People's Banner_?" Again
he shook his head. "You have, at any rate, written a letter for
publication to that newspaper."

"Need I consult you as to what I write?"

"But he,--the editor,--has consulted me."

"I can have nothing to do with that."

"This Mr. Slide, the editor of the _People's Banner_, has just been
with me, having in his hand a printed letter from you, which,--you
will excuse me, Mr. Kennedy,--is very libellous."

"I will bear the responsibility of that."

"But you would not wish to publish falsehood about your wife, or even
about me."

"Falsehood! sir; how dare you use that word to me? Is it false to say
that she has left my house? Is it false to say that she is my wife,
and cannot desert me, as she has done, without breaking her vows, and
disregarding the laws both of God and man? Am I false when I say that
I gave her no cause? Am I false when I offer to take her back, let
her faults be what they may have been? Am I false when I say that her
father acts illegally in detaining her? False! False in your teeth!
Falsehood is villainy, and it is not I that am the villain."

"You have joined my name in the accusation."

"Because you are her paramour. I know you now;--viper that was warmed
in my bosom! Will you look me in the face and tell me that, had
it not been for you, she would not have strayed from me?" To this
Phineas could make no answer. "Is it not true that when she went with
me to the altar you had been her lover?"

"I was her lover no longer, when she once told me that she was to be
your wife."

"Has she never spoken to you of love since? Did she not warn you from
the house in her faint struggle after virtue? Did she not whistle you
back again when she found the struggle too much for her? When I asked
you to the house, she bade you not come. When I desired that you
might never darken my eyes again, did she not seek you? With whom was
she walking on the villa grounds by the river banks when she resolved
that she would leave all her duties and desert me? Will you dare
to say that you were not then in her confidence? With whom was she
talking when she had the effrontery to come and meet me at the house
of the Prime Minister, which I was bound to attend? Have you not been
with her this very winter in her foreign home?"

"Of course I have,--and you sent her a message by me."

"I sent no message. I deny it. I refused to be an accomplice in your
double guilt. I laid my command upon you that you should not visit my
wife in my absence, and you disobeyed, and you are an adulterer. Who
are you that you are to come for ever between me and my wife?"

"I never injured you in thought or deed. I come to you now because I
have seen a printed letter which contains a gross libel upon myself."

"It is printed then?" he asked, in an eager tone.

"It is printed; but it need not, therefore, be published. It is a
libel, and should not be published. I shall be forced to seek redress
at law. You cannot hope to regain your wife by publishing false
accusations against her."

"They are true. I can prove every word that I have written. She dare
not come here, and submit herself to the laws of her country. She is
a renegade from the law, and you abet her in her sin. But it is not
vengeance that I seek. 'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.'"

"It looks like vengeance, Mr. Kennedy."

"Is it for you to teach me how I shall bear myself in this time of my
great trouble?" Then suddenly he changed; his voice falling from one
of haughty defiance to a low, mean, bargaining whisper. "But I'll
tell you what I'll do. If you will say that she shall come back again
I'll have it cancelled, and pay all the expenses."

"I cannot bring her back to you."

"She'll come if you tell her. If you'll let them understand that she
must come they'll give way. You can try it at any rate."

"I shall do nothing of the kind. Why should I ask her to submit
herself to misery?"

"Misery! What misery? Why should she be miserable? Must a woman need
be miserable because she lives with her husband? You hear me say that
I will forgive everything. Even she will not doubt me when I say so,
because I have never lied to her. Let her come back to me, and she
shall live in peace and quiet, and hear no word of reproach."

"I can have nothing to do with it, Mr. Kennedy."

"Then, sir, you shall abide my wrath." With that he sprang quickly
round, grasping at something which lay upon a shelf near him, and
Phineas saw that he was armed with a pistol. Phineas, who had
hitherto been seated, leaped to his legs; but the pistol in a moment
was at his head, and the madman pulled at the trigger. But the
mechanism of the instrument required that some bolt should be loosed
before the hammer would fall upon the nipple, and the unhandy wretch
for an instant fumbled over the work so that Phineas, still facing
his enemy, had time to leap backwards towards the door. But Kennedy,
though he was awkward, still succeeded in firing before our friend
could leave the room. Phineas heard the thud of the bullet, and knew
that it must have passed near his head. He was not struck, however;
and the man, frightened at his own deed, abstained from the second
shot, or loitered long enough in his remorse to enable his prey to
escape. With three or four steps Phineas leaped down the stairs, and,
finding the front door closed, took shelter within Mrs. Macpherson's
bar. "The man is mad," he said; "did you not hear the shot?" The
woman was too frightened to reply, but stood trembling, holding
Phineas by the arm. There was nobody in the house, she said, but she
and the two lasses. "Nae doobt the Laird's by ordinaire," she said
at last. She had known of the pistol; but had not dared to have
it removed. She and Macpherson had only feared that he would hurt
himself,--and had at last agreed, as day after day passed without any
injury from the weapon, to let the thing remain unnoticed. She had
heard the shot, and had been sure that one of the two men above would
have been killed.

Phineas was now in great doubt as to what duty was required of him.
His first difficulty consisted in this,--that his hat was still in
Mr. Kennedy's room, and that Mrs. Macpherson altogether refused to go
and fetch it. While they were still discussing this, and Phineas had
not as yet resolved whether he would first get a policeman or go at
once to Mr. Low, the bell from the room was rung furiously. "It's
the Laird," said Mrs. Macpherson, "and if naebody waits on him he'll
surely be shooting ane of us." The two girls were now outside the bar
shaking in their shoes, and evidently unwilling to face the danger.
At last the door of the room above was opened, and our hero's hat was
sent rolling down the stairs.

It was clear to Phineas that the man was so mad as to be not even
aware of the act he had perpetrated. "He'll do nothing more with the
pistol," he said, "unless he should attempt to destroy himself." At
last it was determined that one of the girls should be sent to fetch
Macpherson home from the Scotch Church, and that no application
should be made at once to the police. It seemed that the Macphersons
knew the circumstances of their guest's family, and that there was a
cousin of his in London who was the only one with whom he seemed to
have any near connection. The thing that had occurred was to be told
to this cousin, and Phineas left his address, so that if it should be
thought necessary he might be called upon to give his account of the
affair. Then, in his perturbation of spirit, he asked for a glass of
brandy; and having swallowed it, was about to take his leave. "The
brandy wull be saxpence, sir," said Mrs. Macpherson, as she wiped the
tears from her eyes.

Having paid for his refreshment, Phineas got into a cab, and had
himself driven to Mr. Low's house. He had escaped from his peril,
and now again it became his strongest object to stop the publication
of the letter which Slide had shown him. But as he sat in the cab
he could not hinder himself from shuddering at the danger which had
been so near to him. He remembered his sensation as he first saw the
glimmer of the barrel of the pistol, and then became aware of the
man's first futile attempt, and afterwards saw the flash and heard
the hammer fall at the same moment. He had once stood up to be fired
at in a duel, and had been struck by the ball. But nothing in that
encounter had made him feel sick and faint through every muscle as
he had felt just now. As he sat in the cab he was aware that but for
the spirits he had swallowed he would be altogether overcome, and he
doubted even now whether he would be able to tell his story to Mr.
Low. Luckily perhaps for him neither Mr. Low nor his wife were at
home. They were out together, but were expected in between five
and six. Phineas declared his purpose of waiting for them, and
requested that Mr. Low might be asked to join him in the dining-room
immediately on his return. In this way an hour was allowed him, and
he endeavoured to compose himself. Still, even at the end of the
hour, his heart was beating so violently that he could hardly control
the motion of his own limbs. "Low, I have been shot at by a madman,"
he said, as soon as his friend entered the room. He had determined to
be calm, and to speak much more of the document in the editor's hands
than of the attempt which had been made on his own life; but he had
been utterly unable to repress the exclamation.

"Shot at?"

"Yes; by Robert Kennedy; the man who was Chancellor of the
Duchy;--almost within a yard of my head." Then he sat down and burst
out into a fit of convulsive laughter.

The story about the pistol was soon told, and Mr. Low was of opinion
that Phineas should not have left the place without calling in
policemen and giving an account to them of the transaction. "But
I had something else on my mind," said Phineas, "which made it
necessary that I should see you at once;--something more important
even than this madman's attack upon me. He has written a most
foul-mouthed attack upon his wife, which is already in print, and
will I fear be published to-morrow morning." Then he told the story
of the letter. "Slide no doubt will be at the _People's Banner_
office to-night, and I can see him there. Perhaps when I tell
him what has occurred he will consent to drop the publication
altogether."

But in this view of the matter Mr. Low did not agree with his
visitor. He argued the case with a deliberation which to Phineas in
his present state of mind was almost painful. If the whole story of
what had occurred were told to Quintus Slide, that worthy protector
of morals and caterer for the amusement of the public would, Mr.
Low thought, at once publish the letter and give a statement of the
occurrence at Macpherson's Hotel. There would be nothing to hinder
him from so profitable a proceeding, as he would know that no one
would stir on behalf of Lady Laura in the matter of the libel, when
the tragedy of Mr. Kennedy's madness should have been made known. The
publication would be as safe as attractive. But if Phineas should
abstain from going to him at all, the same calculation which had
induced him to show the letter would induce him to postpone the
publication, at any rate for another twenty-four hours. "He means
to make capital out of his virtue; and he won't give that up for
the sake of being a day in advance. In the meantime we will get an
injunction from the Vice-Chancellor to stop the publication."

"Can we do that in one day?"

"I think we can. Chancery isn't what it used to be," said Mr. Low,
with a sigh. "I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll go this very moment
to Pickering." Mr. Pickering at this time was one of the three
Vice-Chancellors. "It isn't exactly the proper thing for counsel to
call on a judge on a Sunday afternoon with the direct intention of
influencing his judgment for the following morning; but this is a
case in which a point may be strained. When such a paper as the
_People's Banner_ gets hold of a letter from a madman, which if
published would destroy the happiness of a whole family, one
shouldn't stick at a trifle. Pickering is just the man to take a
common-sense view of the matter. You'll have to make an affidavit in
the morning, and we can get the injunction served before two or three
o'clock. Mr. Septimus Slope, or whatever his name is, won't dare to
publish it after that. Of course, if it comes out to-morrow morning,
we shall have been too late; but this will be our best chance."
So Mr. Low got his hat and umbrella, and started for the
Vice-Chancellor's house. "And I tell you what, Phineas;--do you stay
and dine here. You are so flurried by all this, that you are not fit
to go anywhere else."

"I am flurried."

"Of course you are. Never mind about dressing. Do you go up and tell
Georgiana all about it;--and have dinner put off half an hour. I must
hunt Pickering up, if I don't find him at home." Then Phineas did go
upstairs and tell Georgiana--otherwise Mrs. Low--the whole story.
Mrs. Low was deeply affected, declaring her opinion very strongly as
to the horrible condition of things, when madmen could go about with
pistols, and without anybody to take care against them. But as to
Lady Laura Kennedy, she seemed to think that the poor husband had
great cause of complaint, and that Lady Laura ought to be punished.
Wives, she thought, should never leave their husbands on any pretext;
and, as far as she had heard the story, there had been no pretext at
all in the case. Her sympathies were clearly with the madman, though
she was quite ready to acknowledge that any and every step should be
taken which might be adverse to Mr. Quintus Slide.



CHAPTER XXIV

Madame Goesler Is Sent For


When the elder Mr. Maule had sufficiently recovered from the
perturbation of mind and body into which he had been thrown by the
ill-timed and ill-worded proposition of his son to enable him to
resume the accustomed tenour of his life, he arrayed himself in his
morning winter costume, and went forth in quest of a lady. So much
was told some few chapters back, but the name of the lady was not
then disclosed. Starting from Victoria Street, Westminster, he walked
slowly across St. James's Park and the Green Park till he came out in
Piccadilly, near the bottom of Park Lane. As he went up the Lane he
looked at his boots, at his gloves, and at his trousers, and saw that
nothing was unduly soiled. The morning air was clear and frosty, and
had enabled him to dispense with the costly comfort of a cab. Mr.
Maule hated cabs in the morning,--preferring never to move beyond the
tether of his short daily constitutional walk. A cab for going out to
dinner was a necessity;--but his income would not stand two or three
cabs a day. Consequently he never went north of Oxford Street, or
east of the theatres, or beyond Eccleston Square towards the river.
The regions of South Kensington and New Brompton were a trouble to
him, as he found it impossible to lay down a limit in that direction
which would not exclude him from things which he fain would not
exclude. There are dinners given at South Kensington which such a man
as Mr. Maule cannot afford not to eat. In Park Lane he knocked at
the door of a very small house,--a house that might almost be called
tiny by comparison of its dimensions with those around it, and then
asked for Madame Goesler. Madame Goesler had that morning gone
into the country. Mr. Maule in his blandest manner expressed some
surprise, having understood that she had not long since returned from
Harrington Hall. To this the servant assented, but went on to explain
that she had been in town only a day or two when she was summoned
down to Matching by a telegram. It was believed, the man said, that
the Duke of Omnium was poorly. "Oh! indeed;--I am sorry to hear
that," said Mr. Maule, with a wry face. Then, with steps perhaps a
little less careful, he walked back across the park to his club. On
taking up the evening paper he at once saw a paragraph stating that
the Duke of Omnium's condition to-day was much the same as yesterday;
but that he had passed a quiet night. That very distinguished but
now aged physician, Sir Omicron Pie, was still staying at Matching
Priory. "So old Omnium is going off the hooks at last," said Mr.
Maule to a club acquaintance.

The club acquaintance was in Parliament, and looked at the matter
from a strictly parliamentary point of view. "Yes, indeed. It has
given a deal of trouble."

Mr. Maule was not parliamentary, and did not understand. "Why
trouble,--except to himself? He'll leave his Garter and
strawberry-leaves, and all his acres behind him."

"What is Gresham to do about the Exchequer when he comes in? I don't
know whom he's to send there. They talk of Bonteen, but Bonteen
hasn't half weight enough. They'll offer it to Monk, but Monk 'll
never take office again."

"Ah, yes. Planty Pall was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I suppose he
must give that up now?"

The parliamentary acquaintance looked up at the unparliamentary man
with that mingled disgust and pity which parliamentary gentlemen and
ladies always entertain for those who have not devoted their minds
to the constitutional forms of the country. "The Chancellor of the
Exchequer can't very well sit in the House of Lords, and Palliser
can't very well help becoming Duke of Omnium. I don't know whether he
can take the decimal coinage question with him, but I fear not. They
don't like it at all in the city."

"I believe I'll go and play a rubber of whist," said Mr. Maule.
He played his whist, and lost thirty points without showing the
slightest displeasure, either by the tone of his voice or by any
grimace of his countenance. And yet the money which passed from his
hands was material to him. But he was great at such efforts as these,
and he understood well the fluctuations of the whist table. The
half-crowns which he had paid were only so much invested capital.

He dined at his club this evening, and joined tables with another
acquaintance who was not parliamentary. Mr. Parkinson Seymour was
a man much of his own stamp, who cared not one straw as to any
difficulty which the Prime Minister might feel in filling the office
of Chancellor of the Exchequer. There were men by dozens ready and
willing, and no doubt able,--or at any rate, one as able as the
other,--to manage the taxes of the country. But the blue riband and
the Lord Lieutenancy of Barsetshire were important things,--which
would now be in the gift of Mr. Daubeny; and Lady Glencora would at
last be a duchess,--with much effect on Society, either good or bad.
And Planty Pall would be a duke, with very much less capability, as
Mr. Parkinson Seymour thought, for filling that great office, than
that which the man had displayed who was now supposed to be dying
at Matching. "He has been a fine old fellow," said Mr. Parkinson
Seymour.

"Very much so. There ain't many of that stamp left."

"I don't know one," continued the gentleman, with enthusiasm. "They
all go in for something now, just as Jones goes in for being a bank
clerk. They are politicians, or gamblers, or, by heaven, tradesmen,
as some of them are. The Earl of Tydvil and Lord Merthyr are in
partnership together working their own mines,--by the Lord, with a
regular deed of partnership, just like two cheesemongers. The Marquis
of Maltanops has a share in a bitter beer house at Burton. And
the Duke of Discount, who married old Ballance's daughter, and is
brother-in-law to young George Advance, retains his interest in the
house in Lombard Street. I know it for a fact."

"Old Omnium was above that kind of thing," said Mr. Maule.

"Lord bless you;--quite another sort of man. There is nothing left
like it now. With a princely income I don't suppose he ever put by
a shilling in his life. I've heard it said that he couldn't afford
to marry, living in the manner in which he chose to live. And he
understood what dignity meant. None of them understand that now.
Dukes are as common as dogs in the streets, and a marquis thinks no
more of himself than a market-gardener. I'm very sorry the old duke
should go. The nephew may be very good at figures, but he isn't fit
to fill his uncle's shoes. As for Lady Glencora, no doubt as things
go now she's very popular, but she's more like a dairy-maid than a
duchess to my way of thinking."

There was not a club in London, and hardly a drawing-room in which
something was not said that day in consequence of the two bulletins
which had appeared as to the condition of the old Duke;--and in no
club and in no drawing-room was a verdict given against the dying
man. It was acknowledged everywhere that he had played his part in a
noble and even in a princely manner, that he had used with a becoming
grace the rich things that had been given him, and that he had
deserved well of his country. And yet, perhaps, no man who had lived
during the same period, or any portion of the period, had done less,
or had devoted himself more entirely to the consumption of good
things without the slightest idea of producing anything in return!
But he had looked like a duke, and known how to set a high price on
his own presence.

To Mr. Maule the threatened demise of this great man was not without
a peculiar interest. His acquaintance with Madame Goesler had not
been of long standing, nor even as yet had it reached a close
intimacy. During the last London season he had been introduced to
her, and had dined twice at her house. He endeavoured to make himself
agreeable to her, and he flattered himself that he had succeeded. It
may be said of him generally, that he had the gift of making himself
pleasant to women. When last she had parted from him with a smile,
repeating the last few words of some good story which he had told
her, the idea struck him that she after all might perhaps be the
woman. He made his inquiries, and had learned that there was not
a shadow of a doubt as to her wealth,--or even to her power of
disposing of that wealth as she pleased. So he wrote to her a pretty
little note, in which he gave to her the history of that good story,
how it originated with a certain Cardinal, and might be found in
certain memoirs,--which did not, however, bear the best reputation in
the world. Madame Goesler answered his note very graciously, thanking
him for the reference, but declaring that the information given was
already so sufficient that she need prosecute the inquiry no further.
Mr. Maule smiled as he declared to himself that those memoirs would
certainly be in Madame Goesler's hands before many days were over.
Had his intimacy been a little more advanced he would have sent the
volume to her.

But he also learned that there was some romance in the lady's life
which connected her with the Duke of Omnium. He was diligent in
seeking information, and became assured that there could be no chance
for himself, or for any man, as long as the Duke was alive. Some
hinted that there had been a private marriage,--a marriage, however,
which Madame Goesler had bound herself by solemn oaths never to
disclose. Others surmised that she was the Duke's daughter. Hints
were, of course, thrown out as to a connection of another kind,--but
with no great vigour, as it was admitted on all hands that Lady
Glencora, the Duke's niece by marriage, and the mother of the Duke's
future heir, was Madame Goesler's great friend. That there was a
mystery was a fact very gratifying to the world at large; and
perhaps, upon the whole, the more gratifying in that nothing had
occurred to throw a gleam of light upon the matter since the fact
of the intimacy had become generally known. Mr. Maule was aware,
however, that there could be no success for him as long as the Duke
lived. Whatever might be the nature of the alliance, it was too
strong to admit of any other while it lasted. But the Duke was a very
old,--or, at least, a very infirm man. And now the Duke was dying.
Of course it was only a chance. Mr. Maule knew the world too well to
lay out any great portion of his hopes on a prospect so doubtful.
But it was worth a struggle, and he would so struggle that he might
enjoy success, should success come, without laying himself open
to the pangs of disappointment. Mr. Maule hated to be unhappy or
uncomfortable, and therefore never allowed any aspiration to proceed
to such length as to be inconvenient to his feelings should it not be
gratified.

In the meantime Madame Max Goesler had been sent for, and had hurried
off to Matching almost without a moment's preparation. As she sat in
the train, thinking of it, tears absolutely filled her eyes. "Poor
dear old man," she said to herself; and yet the poor dear old man had
simply been a trouble to her, adding a most disagreeable task to her
life, and one which she was not called on to perform by any sense of
duty. "How is he?" she said anxiously, when she met Lady Glencora in
the hall at Matching. The two women kissed each other as though they
had been almost sisters since their birth. "He is a little better
now, but he was very uneasy when we telegraphed this morning. He
asked for you twice, and then we thought it better to send."

"Oh, of course it was best," said Madame Goesler.



CHAPTER XXV

"I would do it now"


Though it was rumoured all over London that the Duke of Omnium was
dying, his Grace had been dressed and taken out of his bed-chamber
into a sitting-room, when Madame Goesler was brought into his
presence by Lady Glencora Palliser. He was reclining in a great
arm-chair, with his legs propped up on cushions, and a respectable
old lady in a black silk gown and a very smart cap was attending
to his wants. The respectable old lady took her departure when the
younger ladies entered the room, whispering a word of instruction
to Lady Glencora as she went. "His Grace should have his broth at
half-past four, my lady, and a glass and a half of champagne. His
Grace won't drink his wine out of a tumbler, so perhaps your ladyship
won't mind giving it him at twice."

"Marie has come," said Lady Glencora.

"I knew she would come," said the old man, turning his head round
slowly on the back of his chair. "I knew she would be good to me to
the last." And he laid his withered hand on the arm of his chair, so
that the woman whose presence gratified him might take it within hers
and comfort him.

"Of course I have come," said Madame Goesler, standing close by him
and putting her left arm very lightly on his shoulder. It was all
that she could do for him, but it was in order that she might do this
that she had been summoned from London to his side. He was wan and
worn and pale,--a man evidently dying, the oil of whose lamp was all
burned out; but still as he turned his eyes up to the woman's face
there was a remnant of that look of graceful fainéant nobility which
had always distinguished him. He had never done any good, but he
had always carried himself like a duke, and like a duke he carried
himself to the end.

"He is decidedly better than he was this morning," said Lady
Glencora.

"It is pretty nearly all over, my dear. Sit down, Marie. Did they
give you anything after your journey?"

"I could not wait, Duke."

"I'll get her some tea," said Lady Glencora. "Yes, I will. I'll do it
myself. I know he wants to say a word to you alone." This she added
in a whisper.

But sick people hear everything, and the Duke did hear the whisper.
"Yes, my dear;--she is quite right. I am glad to have you for a
minute alone. Do you love me, Marie?"

It was a foolish question to be asked by a dying old man of a young
woman who was in no way connected with him, and whom he had never
seen till some three or four years since. But it was asked with
feverish anxiety, and it required an answer. "You know I love you,
Duke. Why else should I be here?"

"It is a pity you did not take the coronet when I offered it you."

"Nay, Duke, it was no pity. Had I done so, you could not have had us
both."

"I should have wanted only you."

"And I should have stood aloof,--in despair to think that I was
separating you from those with whom your Grace is bound up so
closely. We have ever been dear friends since that."

"Yes;--we have been dear friends. But--" Then he closed his eyes, and
put his long thin fingers across his face, and lay back awhile in
silence, still holding her by the other hand. "Kiss me, Marie," he
said at last; and she stooped over him and kissed his forehead. "I
would do it now if I thought it would serve you." She only shook her
head and pressed his hand closely. "I would; I would. Such things
have been done, my dear."

"Such a thing shall never be done by me, Duke."

They remained seated side by side, the one holding the other by the
hand, but without uttering another word, till Lady Glencora returned
bringing a cup of tea and a morsel of toast in her own hand. Madame
Goesler, as she took it, could not help thinking how it might have
been with her had she accepted the coronet which had been offered. In
that case she might have been a duchess herself, but assuredly she
would not have been waited upon by a future duchess. As it was, there
was no one in that family who had not cause to be grateful to her.
When the Duke had sipped a spoonful of his broth, and swallowed his
allowance of wine, they both left him, and the respectable old lady
with the smart cap was summoned back to her position. "I suppose he
whispered something very gracious to you," Lady Glencora said when
they were alone.

"Very gracious."

"And you were gracious to him,--I hope."

"I meant to be."

"I'm sure you did. Poor old man! If you had done what he asked you I
wonder whether his affection would have lasted as it has done."

"Certainly not, Lady Glen. He would have known that I had injured
him."

"I declare I think you are the wisest woman I ever met, Madame Max.
I am sure you are the most discreet. If I had always been as wise as
you are!"

"You always have been wise."

"Well,--never mind. Some people fall on their feet like cats; but you
are one of those who never fall at all. Others tumble about in the
most unfortunate way, without any great fault of their own. Think of
that poor Lady Laura."

"Yes, indeed."

"I suppose it's true about Mr. Kennedy. You've heard of it of course
in London." But as it happened Madame Goesler had not heard the
story. "I got it from Barrington Erle, who always writes to me if
anything happens. Mr. Kennedy has fired a pistol at the head of
Phineas Finn."

"At Phineas Finn!"

"Yes, indeed. Mr. Finn went to him at some hotel in London. No
one knows what it was about; but Mr. Kennedy went off in a fit of
jealousy, and fired a pistol at him."

"He did not hit him?"

"It seems not. Mr. Finn is one of those Irish gentlemen who always
seem to be under some special protection. The ball went through his
whiskers and didn't hurt him."

"And what has become of Mr. Kennedy?"

"Nothing, it seems. Nobody sent for the police, and he has been
allowed to go back to Scotland,--as though a man were permitted by
special Act of Parliament to try to murder his wife's lover. It would
be a bad law, because it would cause such a deal of bloodshed."

"But he is not Lady Laura's lover," said Madame Goesler, gravely.

"That would make the law difficult, because who is to say whether a
man is or is not a woman's lover?"

"I don't think there was ever anything of that kind."

"They were always together, but I dare say it was Platonic. I
believe these kind of things generally are Platonic. And as for Lady
Laura;--heavens and earth!--I suppose it must have been Platonic.
What did the Duke say to you?"

"He bade me kiss him."

"Poor dear old man. He never ceases to speak of you when you are
away, and I do believe he could not have gone in peace without seeing
you. I doubt whether in all his life he ever loved any one as he
loves you. We dine at half-past seven, dear: and you had better just
go into his room for a moment as you come down. There isn't a soul
here except Sir Omicron Pie, and Plantagenet, and two of the other
nephews,--whom, by the bye, he has refused to see. Old Lady Hartletop
wanted to come."

"And you wouldn't have her?"

"I couldn't have refused. I shouldn't have dared. But the Duke would
not hear of it. He made me write to say that he was too weak to see
any but his nearest relatives. Then he made me send for you, my
dear;--and now he won't see the relatives. What shall we do if Lady
Hartletop turns up? I'm living in fear of it. You'll have to be shut
up out of sight somewhere if that should happen."

During the next two or three days the Duke was neither much better
nor much worse. Bulletins appeared in the newspapers, though no one
at Matching knew from whence they came. Sir Omicron Pie, who, having
retired from general practice, was enabled to devote his time to the
"dear Duke," protested that he had no hand in sending them out. He
declared to Lady Glencora every morning that it was only a question
of time. "The vital spark is on the spring," said Sir Omicron, waving
a gesture heavenward with his hand. For three days Mr. Palliser was
at Matching, and he duly visited his uncle twice a day. But not a
syllable was ever said between them beyond the ordinary words of
compliments. Mr. Palliser spent his time with his private secretary,
working out endless sums and toiling for unapproachable results in
reference to decimal coinage. To him his uncle's death would be a
great blow, as in his eyes to be Chancellor of the Exchequer was much
more than to be Duke of Omnium. For herself Lady Glencora was nearly
equally indifferent, though she did in her heart of hearts wish that
her son should go to Eton with the title of Lord Silverbridge.

On the third morning the Duke suddenly asked a question of Madame
Goesler. The two were again sitting near to each other, and the Duke
was again holding her hand; but Lady Glencora was also in the room.
"Have you not been staying with Lord Chiltern?"

"Yes, Duke."

"He is a friend of yours."

"I used to know his wife before they were married."

"Why does he go on writing me letters about a wood?" This he asked in
a wailing voice, as though he were almost weeping. "I know nothing
of Lord Chiltern. Why does he write to me about the wood? I wish he
wouldn't write to me."

"He does not know that you are ill, Duke. By-the-bye, I promised to
speak to Lady Glencora about it. He says that foxes are poisoned at
Trumpeton Wood."

"I don't believe a word of it," said the Duke. "No one would poison
foxes in my wood. I wish you'd see about it, Glencora. Plantagenet
will never attend to anything. But he shouldn't write to me. He ought
to know better than to write letters to me. I will not have people
writing letters to me. Why don't they write to Fothergill?" and then
the Duke began in truth to whimper.

"I'll put it all right," said Lady Glencora.

"I wish you would. I don't like them to say there are no foxes; and
Plantagenet never will attend to anything." The wife had long since
ceased to take the husband's part when accusations such as this were
brought against him. Nothing could make Mr. Palliser think it worth
his while to give up any shred of his time to such a matter as the
preservation of foxes.

On the fourth day the catastrophe happened which Lady Glencora had
feared. A fly with a pair of horses from the Matching Road station
was driven up to the door of the Priory, and Lady Hartletop was
announced. "I knew it," said Lady Glencora, slapping her hand down on
the table in the room in which she was sitting with Madame Goesler.
Unfortunately the old lady was shown into the room before Madame
Goesler could escape, and they passed each other on the threshold.
The Dowager Marchioness of Hartletop was a very stout old lady, now
perhaps nearer to seventy than sixty-five years of age, who for many
years had been the intimate friend of the Duke of Omnium. In latter
days, during which she had seen but little of the Duke himself, she
had heard of Madame Max Goesler, but she had never met that lady.
Nevertheless, she knew the rival friend at a glance. Some instinct
told her that that woman with the black brow and the dark curls was
Madame Goesler. In these days the Marchioness was given to waddling
rather than to walking, but she waddled past the foreign female,--as
she had often called Madame Max,--with a dignified though duck-like
step. Lady Hartletop was a bold woman; and it must be supposed that
she had some heart within her or she would hardly have made such
a journey with such a purpose. "Dear Lady Hartletop," said Lady
Glencora, "I am so sorry that you should have had this trouble."

"I must see him," said Lady Hartletop. Lady Glencora put both her
hands together piteously, as though deprecating her visitor's wrath.
"I must insist on seeing him."

"Sir Omicron has refused permission to any one to visit him."

"I shall not go till I've seen him. Who was that lady?"

"A friend of mine," said Lady Glencora, drawing herself up.

"She is--, Madame Goesler."

"That is her name, Lady Hartletop. She is my most intimate friend."

"Does she see the Duke?"

Lady Glencora, when expressing her fear that the woman would come
to Matching, had confessed that she was afraid of Lady Hartletop.
And a feeling of dismay--almost of awe--had fallen upon her on
hearing the Marchioness announced. But when she found herself thus
cross-examined, she resolved that she would be bold. Nothing on
earth should induce her to open the door of the Duke's room to Lady
Hartletop, nor would she scruple to tell the truth about Madame
Goesler. "Yes," she said, "Madame Goesler does see the Duke."

"And I am to be excluded!"

"My dear Lady Hartletop, what can I do? The Duke for some time past
has been accustomed to the presence of my friend, and therefore her
presence now is no disturbance. Surely that can be understood."

"I should not disturb him."

"He would be inexpressibly excited were he to know that you were even
in the house. And I could not take it upon myself to tell him."

Then Lady Hartletop threw herself upon a sofa, and began to weep
piteously. "I have known him for more than forty years," she moaned,
through her choking tears. Lady Glencora's heart was softened, and
she was kind and womanly; but she would not give way about the Duke.
It would, as she knew, have been useless, as the Duke had declared
that he would see no one except his eldest nephew, his nephew's wife,
and Madame Goesler.

That evening was very dreadful to all of them at Matching,--except to
the Duke, who was never told of Lady Hartletop's perseverance. The
poor old woman could not be sent away on that afternoon, and was
therefore forced to dine with Mr. Palliser. He, however, was warned
by his wife to say nothing in the lady's presence about his uncle,
and he received her as he would receive any other chance guest at
his wife's table. But the presence of Madame Goesler made the chief
difficulty. She herself was desirous of disappearing for that
evening, but Lady Glencora would not permit it. "She has seen you,
my dear, and asked about you. If you hide yourself, she'll say all
sorts of things." An introduction was therefore necessary, and Lady
Hartletop's manner was grotesquely grand. She dropped a very low
curtsey, and made a very long face, but she did not say a word. In
the evening the Marchioness sat close to Lady Glencora, whispering
many things about the Duke; and condescending at last to a final
entreaty that she might be permitted to see him on the following
morning. "There is Sir Omicron," said Lady Glencora, turning round to
the little doctor. But Lady Hartletop was too proud to appeal to Sir
Omicron, who, as a matter of course, would support the orders of Lady
Glencora. On the next morning Madame Goesler did not appear at the
breakfast-table, and at eleven Lady Hartletop was taken back to the
train in Lady Glencora's carriage. She had submitted herself to
discomfort, indignity, fatigue, and disappointment; and it had all
been done for love. With her broad face, and her double chin, and her
heavy jowl, and the beard that was growing round her lips, she did
not look like a romantic woman; but, in spite of appearances, romance
and a duck-like waddle may go together. The memory of those forty
years had been strong upon her, and her heart was heavy because she
could not see that old man once again. Men will love to the last,
but they love what is fresh and new. A woman's love can live on the
recollection of the past, and cling to what is old and ugly. "What
an episode!" said Lady Glencora, when the unwelcome visitor was
gone;--"but it's odd how much less dreadful things are than you think
they will be. I was frightened when I heard her name; but you see
we've got through it without much harm."

A week passed by, and still the Duke was living. But now he was too
weak to be moved from one room to another, and Madame Goesler passed
two hours each day sitting by his bedside. He would lie with his hand
out upon the coverlid, and she would put hers upon it; but very few
words passed between them. He grumbled again about the Trumpeton
Woods, and Lord Chiltern's interference, and complained of his
nephew's indifference. As to himself and his own condition, he seemed
to be, at any rate, without discomfort, and was certainly free from
fear. A clergyman attended him, and gave him the sacrament. He took
it,--as the champagne prescribed by Sir Omicron, or the few mouthfuls
of chicken broth which were administered to him by the old lady with
the smart cap; but it may be doubted whether he thought much more of
the one remedy than of the other. He knew that he had lived, and that
the thing was done. His courage never failed him. As to the future,
he neither feared much nor hoped much; but was, unconsciously,
supported by a general trust in the goodness and the greatness of the
God who had made him what he was. "It is nearly done now, Marie,"
he said to Madame Goesler one evening. She only pressed his hand in
answer. His condition was too well understood between them to allow
of her speaking to him of any possible recovery. "It has been a great
comfort to me that I have known you," he said.

"Oh no!"

"A great comfort;--only I wish it had been sooner. I could have
talked to you about things which I never did talk of to any one. I
wonder why I should have been a duke, and another man a servant."

"God Almighty ordained such difference."

"I'm afraid I have not done it well;--but I have tried; indeed I have
tried." Then she told him he had ever lived as a great nobleman ought
to live. And, after a fashion, she herself believed what she was
saying. Nevertheless, her nature was much nobler than his; and she
knew that no man should dare to live idly as the Duke had lived.



CHAPTER XXVI

The Duke's Will


On the ninth day after Madame Goesler's arrival the Duke died, and
Lady Glencora Palliser became Duchess of Omnium. But the change
probably was much greater to Mr. Palliser than to his wife. It would
seem to be impossible to imagine a greater change than had come upon
him. As to rank, he was raised from that of a simple commoner to the
very top of the tree. He was made master of almost unlimited wealth,
Garters, and lord-lieutenancies; and all the added grandeurs which
come from high influence when joined to high rank were sure to be
his. But he was no more moved by these things than would have been a
god, or a block of wood. His uncle was dead; but his uncle had been
an old man, and his grief on that score was moderate. As soon as his
uncle's body had been laid in the family vault at Gatherum, men would
call him Duke of Omnium; and then he could never sit again in the
House of Commons. It was in that light, and in that light only, that
he regarded the matter. To his uncle it had been everything to be
Duke of Omnium. To Plantagenet Palliser it was less than nothing.
He had lived among men and women with titles all his life, himself
untitled, but regarded by them as one of themselves, till the thing,
in his estimation, had come to seem almost nothing. One man walked
out of a room before another man; and he, as Chancellor of the
Exchequer, had, during a part of his career, walked out of most rooms
before most men. But he cared not at all whether he walked out first
or last,--and for him there was nothing else in it. It was a toy that
would perhaps please his wife, but he doubted even whether she would
not cease to be Lady Glencora with regret. In himself this thing that
had happened had absolutely crushed him. He had won for himself by
his own aptitudes and his own industry one special position in the
empire,--and that position, and that alone, was incompatible with the
rank which he was obliged to assume! His case was very hard, and he
felt it;--but he made no complaint to human ears. "I suppose you must
give up the Exchequer," his wife said to him. He shook his head, and
made no reply. Even to her he could not explain his feelings.

I think, too, that she did regret the change in her name, though she
was by no means indifferent to the rank. As Lady Glencora she had
made a reputation which might very possibly fall away from her as
Duchess of Omnium. Fame is a skittish jade, more fickle even than
Fortune, and apt to shy, and bolt, and plunge away on very trifling
causes. As Lady Glencora Palliser she was known to every one, and had
always done exactly as she had pleased. The world in which she lived
had submitted to her fantasies, and had placed her on a pedestal from
which, as Lady Glencora, nothing could have moved her. She was by no
means sure that the same pedestal would be able to carry the Duchess
of Omnium. She must begin again, and such beginnings are dangerous;
As Lady Glencora she had almost taken upon herself to create a
rivalry in society to certain very distinguished, and indeed
illustrious, people. There were only two houses in London, she used
to say, to which she never went. The "never" was not quite true;--but
there had been something in it. She doubted whether as Duchess of
Omnium she could go on with this. She must lay down her mischief,
and abandon her eccentricity, and in some degree act like other
duchesses. "The poor old man," she said to Madame Goesler; "I wish
he could have gone on living a little longer." At this time the two
ladies were alone together at Matching. Mr. Palliser, with the
cousins, had gone to Gatherum, whither also had been sent all that
remained of the late Duke, in order that fitting funeral obsequies
might be celebrated over the great family vault.

"He would hardly have wished it himself, I think."

"One never knows,--and as far as one can look into futurity one has
no idea what would be one's own feelings. I suppose he did enjoy
life."

"Hardly, for the last twelve months," said Madame Goesler.

"I think he did. He was happy when you were about him; and he
interested himself about things. Do you remember how much he used to
think of Lady Eustace and her diamonds? When I first knew him he was
too magnificent to care about anything."

"I suppose his nature was the same."

"Yes, my dear; his nature was the same, but he was strong enough to
restrain his nature, and wise enough to know that his magnificence
was incompatible with ordinary interests. As he got to be older he
broke down, and took up with mere mortal gossip. But I think it must
have made him happier."

"He showed his weakness in coming to me," said Madame Goesler,
laughing.

"Of course he did;--not in liking your society, but in wanting to
give you his name. I have often wondered what kind of things he used
to say to that old Lady Hartletop. That was in his full grandeur,
and he never condescended to speak much then. I used to think him so
hard; but I suppose he was only acting his part. I used to call him
the Grand Lama to Plantagenet when we were first married,--before
Planty was born. I shall always call him Silverbridge now instead of
Planty."

"I would let others do that."

"Of course I was joking; but others will, and he will be spoilt.
I wonder whether he will live to be a Grand Lama or a popular
Minister. There cannot be two positions further apart. My husband,
no doubt, thinks a good deal of himself as a statesman and a clever
politician,--at least I suppose he does; but he has not the slightest
reverence for himself as a nobleman. If the dear old Duke were
hobbling along Piccadilly, he was conscious that Piccadilly was
graced by his presence, and never moved without being aware that
people looked at him, and whispered to each other,--'There goes the
Duke of Omnium.' Plantagenet considers himself inferior to a sweeper
while on the crossing, and never feels any pride of place unless he
is sitting on the Treasury Bench with his hat over his eyes."

"He'll never sit on the Treasury Bench again."

"No;--poor dear. He's an Othello now with a vengeance, for his
occupation is gone. I spoke to him about your friend and the foxes,
and he told me to write to Mr. Fothergill. I will as soon as it's
decent. I fancy a new duchess shouldn't write letters about foxes
till the old Duke is buried. I wonder what sort of a will he'll have
made. There's nothing I care twopence for except his pearls. No man
in England had such a collection of precious stones. They'd been
yours, my dear, if you had consented to be Mrs. O."

The Duke was buried and the will was read, and Plantagenet Palliser
was addressed as Duke of Omnium by all the tenantry and retainers
of the family in the great hall of Gatherum Castle. Mr. Fothergill,
who had upon occasion in former days been driven by his duty to
remonstrate with the heir, was all submission. Planty Pall had come
to the throne, and half a county was ready to worship him. But he did
not know how to endure worship, and the half county declared that he
was stern and proud, and more haughty even than his uncle. At every
"Grace" that was flung at him he winced and was miserable, and
declared to himself that he should never become accustomed to his
new life. So he sat all alone, and meditated how he might best
reconcile the forty-eight farthings which go to a shilling with that
thorough-going useful decimal, fifty.

But his meditations did not prevent him from writing to his wife, and
on the following morning, Lady Glencora,--as she shall be called now
for the last time,--received a letter from him which disturbed her a
good deal. She was in her room when it was brought to her, and for an
hour after reading it hardly knew how to see her guest and friend,
Madame Goesler. The passage in the letter which produced this dismay
was as follows:--"He has left to Madame Goesler twenty thousand
pounds and all his jewels. The money may be very well, but I think
he has been wrong about the jewellery. As to myself I do not care a
straw, but you will be sorry; and then people will talk. The lawyers
will, of course, write to her, but I suppose you had better tell her.
They seem to think that the stones are worth a great deal of money;
but I have long learned never to believe any statement that is made
to me. They are all here, and I suppose she will have to send some
authorised person to have them packed. There is a regular inventory,
of which a copy shall be sent to her by post as soon as it can be
prepared." Now it must be owned that the duchess did begrudge her
friend the duke's collection of pearls and diamonds.

About noon they met. "My dear," she said, "you had better hear your
good fortune at once. Read that,--just that side. Plantagenet is
wrong in saying that I shall regret it. I don't care a bit about it.
If I want a ring or a brooch he can buy me one. But I never did care
about such things, and I don't now. The money is all just as it
should be." Madame Goesler read the passage, and the blood mounted
up into her face. She read it very slowly, and when she had finished
reading it she was for a moment or two at a loss for her words to
express herself. "You had better send one of Garnett's people,"
said the Duchess, naming the house of a distinguished jeweller and
goldsmith in London.

"It will hardly need," said Madame Goesler.

"You had better be careful. There is no knowing what they are worth.
He spent half his income on them, I believe, during part of his
life." There was a roughness about the Duchess of which she was
herself conscious, but which she could not restrain, though she knew
that it betrayed her chagrin.

Madame Goesler came gently up to her and touched her arm caressingly.
"Do you remember," said Madame Goesler, "a small ring with a black
diamond,--I suppose it was a diamond,--which he always wore?"

"I remember that he always did wear such a ring."

"I should like to have that," said Madame Goesler.

"You have them all,--everything. He makes no distinction."

"I should like to have that, Lady Glen,--for the sake of the hand
that wore it. But, as God is great above us, I will never take aught
else that has belonged to the Duke."

"Not take them!"

"Not a gem; not a stone; not a shilling."

"But you must."

"I rather think that I can be under no such obligation," she said,
laughing. "Will you write to Mr. Palliser,--or I should say, to the
Duke,--to-night, and tell him that my mind is absolutely made up?"

"I certainly shall not do that."

"Then I must. As it is, I shall have pleasant memories of his Grace.
According to my ability I have endeavoured to be good to him, and I
have no stain on my conscience because of his friendship. If I took
his money and his jewels,--or rather your money and your jewels,--do
you think I could say as much?"

"Everybody takes what anybody leaves them by will."

"I will be an exception to the rule, Lady Glen. Don't you think that
your friendship is more to me than all the diamonds in London?"

"You shall have both, my dear," said the Duchess,--quite in earnest
in her promise. Madame Goesler shook her head. "Nobody ever
repudiates legacies. The Queen would take the jewels if they were
left to her."

"I am not the Queen. I have to be more careful what I do than any
queen. I will take nothing under the Duke's will. I will ask a boon
which I have already named, and if it be given me as a gift by
the Duke's heir, I will wear it till I die. You will write to Mr.
Palliser?"

"I couldn't do it," said the Duchess.

"Then I will write myself." And she did write, and of all the rich
things which the Duke of Omnium had left to her, she took nothing but
the little ring with the black stone which he had always worn on his
finger.



CHAPTER XXVII

An Editor's Wrath


On that Sunday evening in London Mr. Low was successful in finding
the Vice-Chancellor, and the great judge smiled and nodded, listened
to the story, and acknowledged that the circumstances were very
peculiar. He thought that an injunction to restrain the publication
might be given at once upon Mr. Finn's affidavit; and that the
peculiar circumstances justified the peculiarity of Mr. Low's
application. Whether he would have said as much had the facts
concerned the families of Mr. Joseph Smith and his son-in-law Mr.
John Jones, instead of the Earl of Brentford and the Right Honourable
Robert Kennedy, some readers will perhaps doubt, and may doubt also
whether an application coming from some newly-fledged barrister would
have been received as graciously as that made by Mr. Low, Q.C. and
M.P.,--who would probably himself soon sit on some lofty legal bench.
On the following morning Phineas and Mr. Low,--and no doubt also Mr.
Vice-Chancellor Pickering,--obtained early copies of the _People's
Banner_, and were delighted to find that Mr. Kennedy's letter did not
appear in it. Mr. Low had made his calculation rightly. The editor,
considering that he would gain more by having the young member of
Parliament and the Standish family, as it were, in his hands than by
the publication of a certain libellous letter, had resolved to put
the document back for at least twenty-four hours, even though the
young member neither came nor wrote as he had promised. The letter
did not appear, and before ten o'clock Phineas Finn had made his
affidavit in a dingy little room behind the Vice-Chancellor's Court.
The injunction was at once issued, and was of such potency that
should any editor dare to publish any paper therein prohibited, that
editor and that editor's newspaper would assuredly be crumpled up in
a manner very disagreeable, if not altogether destructive. Editors
of newspapers are self-willed, arrogant, and stiff-necked, a race
of men who believe much in themselves and little in anything else,
with no feelings of reverence or respect for matters which are
august enough to other men;--but an injunction from a Court of
Chancery is a power which even an editor respects. At about noon
Vice-Chancellor Pickering's injunction was served at the office of
the _People's Banner_ in Quartpot Alley, Fleet Street. It was done
in duplicate,--or perhaps in triplicate,--so that there should be no
evasion; and all manner of crumpling was threatened in the event of
any touch of disobedience. All this happened on Monday, March the
first, while the poor dying Duke was waiting impatiently for the
arrival of his friend at Matching. Phineas was busy all the morning
till it was time that he should go down to the House. For as soon as
he could leave Mr. Low's chambers in Lincoln's Inn he had gone to
Judd Street, to inquire as to the condition of the man who had tried
to murder him. He there saw Mr. Kennedy's cousin, and received an
assurance from that gentleman that Robert Kennedy should be taken
down at once to Loughlinter. Up to that moment not a word had been
said to the police as to what had been done. No more notice had been
taken of the attempt to murder than might have been necessary had Mr.
Kennedy thrown a clothes-brush at his visitor's head. There was the
little hole in the post of the door with the bullet in it, just six
feet above the ground; and there was the pistol, with five chambers
still loaded, which Macpherson had cunningly secured on his return
from church, and given over to the cousin that same evening. There
was certainly no want of evidence, but nobody was disposed to use it.

At noon the injunction was served in Quartpot Alley, and was put into
Mr. Slide's hands on his arrival at the office at three o'clock. That
gentleman's duties required his attendance from three till five in
the afternoon, and then again from nine in the evening till any hour
in the morning at which he might be able to complete the _People's
Banner_ for that day's use. He had been angry with Phineas when the
Sunday night passed without a visit or letter at the office, as
a promise had been made that there should be either a visit or a
letter; but he had felt sure, as he walked into the city from his
suburban residence at Camden Town, that he would now find some
communication on the great subject. The matter was one of most
serious importance. Such a letter as that which was in his possession
would no doubt create much surprise, and receive no ordinary
attention. A _People's Banner_ could hardly ask for a better bit of
good fortune than the privilege of first publishing such a letter. It
would no doubt be copied into every London paper, and into hundreds
of provincial papers, and every journal so copying it would be bound
to declare that it was taken from the columns of the _People's
Banner_. It was, indeed, addressed "To the Editor of the _People's
Banner_" in the printed slip which Mr. Slide had shown to Phineas
Finn, though Kennedy himself had not prefixed to it any such
direction. And the letter, in the hands of Quintus Slide, would
not simply have been a letter. It might have been groundwork for,
perhaps, some half-dozen leading articles, all of a most attractive
kind. Mr. Slide's high moral tone upon such an occasion would have
been qualified to do good to every British matron, and to add
virtues to the Bench of Bishops. All this he had postponed with some
inadequately defined idea that he could do better with the property
in his hands by putting himself into personal communication with the
persons concerned. If he could manage to reconcile such a husband to
such a wife,--or even to be conspicuous in an attempt to do so; and
if he could make the old Earl and the young Member of Parliament
feel that he had spared them by abstaining from the publication, the
results might be very beneficial. His conception of the matter had
been somewhat hazy, and he had certainly made a mistake. But, as he
walked from his home to Quartpot Alley, he little dreamed of the
treachery with which he had been treated. "Has Phineas Finn been
here?" he asked as he took his accustomed seat within a small
closet, that might be best described as a glass cage. Around him lay
the debris of many past newspapers, and the germs of many future
publications. To all the world except himself it would have been a
chaos, but to him, with his experience, it was admirable order. No;
Mr. Finn had not been there. And then, as he was searching among the
letters for one from the Member for Tankerville, the injunction was
thrust into his hands. To say that he was aghast is but a poor form
of speech for the expression of his emotion.

He had been "done"--"sold,"--absolutely robbed by that wretchedly
false Irishman whom he had trusted with all the confidence of a
candid nature and an open heart! He had been most treacherously
misused! Treachery was no adequate word for the injury inflicted
on him. The more potent is a man, the less accustomed to endure
injustice, and the more his power to inflict it,--the greater is the
sting and the greater the astonishment when he himself is made to
suffer. Newspaper editors sport daily with the names of men of whom
they do not hesitate to publish almost the severest words that can
be uttered;--but let an editor be himself attacked, even without
his name, and he thinks that the thunderbolts of heaven should fall
upon the offender. Let his manners, his truth, his judgment, his
honesty, or even his consistency be questioned, and thunderbolts
are forthcoming, though they may not be from heaven. There should
certainly be a thunderbolt or two now, but Mr. Slide did not at first
quite see how they were to be forged.

He read the injunction again and again. As far as the document went
he knew its force, and recognised the necessity of obedience. He
might, perhaps, be able to use the information contained in the
letter from Mr. Kennedy, so as to harass Phineas and Lady Laura and
the Earl, but he was at once aware that it must not be published.
An editor is bound to avoid the meshes of the law, which are always
infinitely more costly to companies, or things, or institutions, than
they are to individuals. Of fighting with Chancery he had no notion;
but it should go hard with him if he did not have a fight with
Phineas Finn. And then there arose another cause for deep sorrow. A
paragraph was shown to him in a morning paper of that day which must,
he thought, refer to Mr. Kennedy and Phineas Finn. "A rumour has
reached us that a member of Parliament, calling yesterday afternoon
upon a right honourable gentleman, a member of a late Government, at
his hotel, was shot at by the latter in his sitting room. Whether
the rumour be true or not we have no means of saying, and therefore
abstain from publishing names. We are informed that the gentleman who
used the pistol was out of his mind. The bullet did not take effect."
How cruel it was that such information should have reached the hands
of a rival, and not fallen in the way of the _People's Banner_! And
what a pity that the bullet should have been wasted! The paragraph
must certainly refer to Phineas Finn and Kennedy. Finn, a Member of
Parliament, had been sent by Slide himself to call upon Kennedy, a
member of the late Government, at Kennedy's hotel. And the paragraph
must be true. He himself had warned Finn that there would be danger
in the visit. He had even prophesied murder,--and murder had been
attempted! The whole transaction had been, as it were, the very
goods and chattels of the _People's Banner_, and the paper had been
shamefully robbed of its property. Mr. Slide hardly doubted that
Phineas Finn had himself sent the paragraph to an adverse paper, with
the express view of adding to the injury inflicted upon the _Banner_.
That day Mr. Slide hardly did his work effectively within his glass
cage, so much was his mind affected, and at five o'clock, when he
left his office, instead of going at once home to Mrs. Slide at
Camden Town, he took an omnibus, and went down to Westminster. He
would at once confront the traitor who had deceived him.

It must be acknowledged on behalf of this editor that he did in truth
believe that he had been hindered from doing good. The whole practice
of his life had taught him to be confident that the editor of a
newspaper must be the best possible judge,--indeed the only possible
good judge,--whether any statement or story should or should not
be published. Not altogether without a conscience, and intensely
conscious of such conscience as did constrain him, Mr. Quintus
Slide imagined that no law of libel, no injunction from any
Vice-Chancellor, no outward power or pressure whatever was needed to
keep his energies within their proper limits. He and his newspaper
formed together a simply beneficent institution, any interference
with which must of necessity be an injury to the public. Everything
done at the office of the _People's Banner_ was done in the interest
of the People,--and, even though individuals might occasionally be
made to suffer by the severity with which their names were handled
in its columns, the general result was good. What are the sufferings
of the few to the advantage of the many? If there be fault in
high places, it is proper that it be exposed. If there be fraud,
adulteries, gambling, and lasciviousness,--or even quarrels and
indiscretions among those whose names are known, let every detail be
laid open to the light, so that the people may have a warning. That
such details will make a paper "pay" Mr. Slide knew also; but it is
not only in Mr. Slide's path of life that the bias of a man's mind
may lead him to find that virtue and profit are compatible. An
unprofitable newspaper cannot long continue its existence, and,
while existing, cannot be widely beneficial. It is the circulation,
the profitable circulation,--of forty, fifty, sixty, or a hundred
thousand copies through all the arteries and veins of the public body
which is beneficent. And how can such circulation be effected unless
the taste of the public be consulted? Mr. Quintus Slide, as he walked
up Westminster Hall, in search of that wicked member of Parliament,
did not at all doubt the goodness of his cause. He could not contest
the Vice-Chancellor's injunction, but he was firm in his opinion that
the Vice-Chancellor's injunction had inflicted an evil on the public
at large, and he was unhappy within himself in that the power and
majesty and goodness of the press should still be hampered by
ignorance, prejudice, and favour for the great. He was quite sure
that no injunction would have been granted in favour of Mr. Joseph
Smith and Mr. John Jones.

He went boldly up to one of the policemen who sit guarding the door
of the lobby of our House of Commons, and asked for Mr. Finn. The
Cerberus on the left was not sure whether Mr. Finn was in the House,
but would send in a card if Mr. Slide would stand on one side. For
the next quarter of an hour Mr. Slide heard no more of his message,
and then applied again to the Cerberus. The Cerberus shook his head,
and again desired the applicant to stand on one side. He had done all
that in him lay. The other watchful Cerberus standing on the right,
observing that the intruder was not accommodated with any member,
intimated to him the propriety of standing back in one of the
corners. Our editor turned round upon the man as though he would
bite him;--but he did stand back, meditating an article on the
gross want of attention to the public shown in the lobby of the
House of Commons. Is it possible that any editor should endure any
inconvenience without meditating an article? But the judicious editor
thinks twice of such things. Our editor was still in his wrath when
he saw his prey come forth from the House with a card,--no doubt his
own card. He leaped forward in spite of the policeman, in spite of
any Cerberus, and seized Phineas by the arm. "I want just to have a
few words," he said. He made an effort to repress his wrath, knowing
that the whole world would be against him should he exhibit any
violence of indignation on that spot; but Phineas could see it all in
the fire of his eye.

"Certainly," said Phineas, retiring to the side of the lobby, with a
conviction that the distance between him and the House was already
sufficient.

"Can't you come down into Westminster Hall?"

"I should only have to come up again. You can say what you've got to
say here."

"I've got a great deal to say. I never was so badly treated in my
life;--never." He could not quite repress his voice, and he saw that
a policeman looked at him. Phineas saw it also.

"Because we have hindered you from publishing an untrue and very
slanderous letter about a lady!"

"You promised me that you'd come to me yesterday."

"I think not. I think I said that you should hear from me,--and you
did."

"You call that truth,--and honesty!"

"Certainly I do. Of course it was my first duty to stop the
publication of the letter."

"You haven't done that yet."

"I've done my best to stop it. If you have nothing more to say I'll
wish you good evening."

"I've a deal more to say. You were shot at, weren't you?"

"I have no desire to make any communication to you on anything that
has occurred, Mr. Slide. If I stayed with you all the afternoon I
could tell you nothing more. Good evening."

"I'll crush you," said Quintus Slide, in a stage whisper; "I will, as
sure as my name is Slide."

Phineas looked at him and retired into the House, whither Quintus
Slide could not follow him, and the editor of the _People's Banner_
was left alone in his anger.

"How a cock can crow on his own dunghill!" That was Mr. Slide's
first feeling, as with a painful sense of diminished consequence
he retraced his steps through the outer lobbies and down into
Westminster Hall. He had been browbeaten by Phineas Finn, simply
because Phineas had been able to retreat within those happy doors. He
knew that to the eyes of all the policemen and strangers assembled
Phineas Finn had been a hero, a Parliamentary hero, and he had been
some poor outsider,--to be ejected at once should he make himself
disagreeable to the Members. Nevertheless, had he not all the columns
of the _People's Banner_ in his pocket? Was he not great in the
Fourth Estate,--much greater than Phineas Finn in his estate? Could
he not thunder every night so that an audience to be counted by
hundreds of thousands should hear his thunder;--whereas this
poor Member of Parliament must struggle night after night for an
opportunity of speaking; and could then only speak to benches half
deserted; or to a few Members half asleep,--unless the Press should
choose to convert his words into thunderbolts. Who could doubt for
a moment with which lay the greater power? And yet this wretched
Irishman, who had wriggled himself into Parliament on a petition,
getting the better of a good, downright English John Bull by a
quibble, had treated him with scorn,--the wretched Irishman being for
the moment like a cock on his own dunghill. Quintus Slide was not
slow to tell himself that he also had an elevation of his own, from
which he could make himself audible. In former days he had forgiven
Phineas Finn more than once. If he ever forgave Phineas Finn again
might his right hand forget its cunning, and never again draw blood
or tear a scalp.



CHAPTER XXVIII

The First Thunderbolt


It was not till after Mr. Slide had left him that Phineas wrote the
following letter to Lady Laura:--


   House of Commons, 1st March, 18--

   MY DEAR FRIEND,

   I have a long story to tell, which I fear I shall find
   difficult in the telling; but it is so necessary that you
   should know the facts that I must go through with it as
   best I may. It will give you very great pain; but the
   result as regards your own position will not I think be
   injurious to you.

   Yesterday, Sunday, a man came to me who edits a newspaper,
   and whom I once knew. You will remember when I used to
   tell you in Portman Square of the amenities and angers of
   Mr. Slide,--the man who wanted to sit for Loughton. He is
   the editor. He brought me a long letter from Mr. Kennedy
   himself, intended for publication, and which was already
   printed, giving an elaborate and, I may say, a most
   cruelly untrue account of your quarrel. I read the letter,
   but of course cannot remember the words. Nor if I could
   remember them should I repeat them. They contained all the
   old charges with which you are familiar, and which your
   unfortunate husband now desired to publish in consummation
   of his threats. Why Mr. Slide should have brought me the
   paper before publishing it I can hardly understand. But he
   did so;--and told me that Mr. Kennedy was in town. We have
   managed among us to obtain a legal warrant for preventing
   the publication of the letter, and I think I may say that
   it will not see the light.

   When Mr. Slide left me I called on Mr. Kennedy, whom I
   found in a miserable little hotel, in Judd Street, kept
   by Scotch people named Macpherson. They had come from the
   neighbourhood of Loughlinter, and knew Mr. Kennedy well.
   This was yesterday afternoon, Sunday, and I found some
   difficulty in making my way into his presence. My object
   was to induce him to withdraw the letter;--for at that
   time I doubted whether the law could interfere quickly
   enough to prevent the publication.

   I found your husband in a very sad condition. What he said
   or what I said I forget; but he was as usual intensely
   anxious that you should return to him. I need not hesitate
   now to say that he is certainly mad. After a while, when I
   expressed my assured opinion that you would not go back to
   Loughlinter, he suddenly turned round, grasped a revolver,
   and fired at my head. How I got out of the room I don't
   quite remember. Had he repeated the shot, which he might
   have done over and over again, he must have hit me. As
   it was I escaped, and blundered down the stairs to Mrs.
   Macpherson's room.

   They whom I have consulted in the matter, namely,
   Barrington Erle and my particular friend, Mr. Low,--to
   whom I went for legal assistance in stopping the
   publication,--seem to think that I should have at once
   sent for the police, and given Mr. Kennedy in charge. But
   I did not do so, and hitherto the police have, I believe,
   no knowledge of what occurred. A paragraph appeared in one
   of the morning papers to-day, giving almost an accurate
   account of the matter, but mentioning neither the place
   nor any of the names. No doubt it will be repeated in
   all the papers, and the names will soon be known. But
   the result will be simply a general conviction as to the
   insanity of poor Mr. Kennedy,--as to which they who know
   him have had for a long time but little doubt.

   The Macphersons seem to have been very anxious to screen
   their guest. At any other hotel no doubt the landlord
   would have sent for the police;--but in this case the
   attempt was kept quite secret. They did send for George
   Kennedy, a cousin of your husband's, whom I think you
   know, and whom I saw this morning. He assures me that
   Robert Kennedy is quite aware of the wickedness of the
   attempt he made, and that he is plunged in deep remorse.
   He is to be taken down to Loughlinter to-morrow, and
   is,--so says his cousin,--as tractable as a child. What
   George Kennedy means to do, I cannot say; but for myself,
   as I did not send for the police at the moment, as I am
   told I ought to have done, I shall now do nothing. I don't
   know that a man is subject to punishment because he does
   not make complaint. I suppose I have a right to regard it
   all as an accident if I please.

   But for you this must be very important. That Mr. Kennedy
   is insane there cannot now, I think, be a doubt; and
   therefore the question of your returning to him,--as far
   as there has been any question,--is absolutely settled.
   None of your friends would be justified in allowing you to
   return. He is undoubtedly mad, and has done an act which
   is not murderous only on that conclusion. This settles the
   question so perfectly that you could, no doubt, reside in
   England now without danger. Mr. Kennedy himself would feel
   that he could take no steps to enforce your return after
   what he did yesterday. Indeed, if you could bring yourself
   to face the publicity, you could, I imagine, obtain a
   legal separation which would give you again the control of
   your own fortune. I feel myself bound to mention this; but
   I give you no advice. You will no doubt explain all the
   circumstances to your father.

   I think I have now told you everything that I need tell
   you. The thing only happened yesterday, and I have been
   all the morning busy, getting the injunction, and seeing
   Mr. George Kennedy. Just before I began this letter that
   horrible editor was with me again, threatening me with
   all the penalties which an editor can inflict. To tell
   the truth, I do feel confused among them all, and still
   fancy that I hear the click of the pistol. That newspaper
   paragraph says that the ball went through my whiskers,
   which was certainly not the case;--but a foot or two off
   is quite near enough for a pistol ball.

   The Duke of Omnium is dying, and I have heard to-day that
   Madame Goesler, our old friend, has been sent for to
   Matching. She and I renewed our acquaintance the other day
   at Harrington.

   God bless you.

   Your most sincere friend,

   PHINEAS FINN.

   Do not let my news oppress you. The firing of the pistol
   is a thing done and over without evil results. The state
   of Mr. Kennedy's mind is what we have long suspected; and,
   melancholy though it be, should contain for you at any
   rate this consolation,--that the accusations made against
   you would not have been made had his mind been unclouded.


Twice while Finn was writing this letter was he rung into the House
for a division, and once it was suggested to him to say a few words
of angry opposition to the Government on some not important subject
under discussion. Since the beginning of the Session hardly a night
had passed without some verbal sparring, and very frequently the
limits of parliamentary decorum had been almost surpassed. Never
within the memory of living politicians had political rancour been so
sharp, and the feeling of injury so keen, both on the one side and on
the other. The taunts thrown at the Conservatives, in reference to
the Church, had been almost unendurable,--and the more so because the
strong expressions of feeling from their own party throughout the
country were against them. Their own convictions also were against
them. And there had for a while been almost a determination through
the party to deny their leader and disclaim the bill. But a feeling
of duty to the party had prevailed, and this had not been done. It
had not been done; but the not doing of it was a sore burden on the
half-broken shoulders of many a man who sat gloomily on the benches
behind Mr. Daubeny. Men goaded as they were, by their opponents,
by their natural friends, and by their own consciences, could not
bear it in silence, and very bitter things were said in return. Mr.
Gresham was accused of a degrading lust for power. No other feeling
could prompt him to oppose with a factious acrimony never before
exhibited in that House,--so said some wretched Conservative with
broken back and broken heart,--a measure which he himself would only
be too willing to carry were he allowed the privilege of passing over
to the other side of the House for the purpose. In these encounters,
Phineas Finn had already exhibited his prowess, and, in spite of his
declarations at Tankerville, had become prominent as an opponent to
Mr. Daubeny's bill. He had, of course, himself been taunted, and held
up in the House to the execration of his own constituents; but he had
enjoyed his fight, and had remembered how his friend Mr. Monk had
once told him that the pleasure lay all on the side of opposition.
But on this evening he declined to speak. "I suppose you have hardly
recovered from Kennedy's pistol," said Mr. Ratler, who had, of
course, heard the whole story. "That, and the whole affair together
have upset me," said Phineas. "Fitzgibbon will do it for you; he's in
the House." And so it happened that on that occasion the Honourable
Laurence Fitzgibbon made a very effective speech against the
Government.

On the next morning from the columns of the _People's Banner_ was
hurled the first of those thunderbolts with which it was the purpose
of Mr. Slide absolutely to destroy the political and social life of
Phineas Finn. He would not miss his aim as Mr. Kennedy had done. He
would strike such blows that no constituency should ever venture to
return Mr. Finn again to Parliament; and he thought that he could
also so strike his blows that no mighty nobleman, no distinguished
commoner, no lady of rank should again care to entertain the
miscreant and feed him with the dainties of fashion. The first
thunderbolt was as follows:--


   We abstained yesterday from alluding to a circumstance
   which occurred at a small hotel in Judd Street on Sunday
   afternoon, and which, as we observe, was mentioned by one
   of our contemporaries. The names, however, were not given,
   although the persons implicated were indicated. We can
   see no reason why the names should be concealed. Indeed,
   as both the gentlemen concerned have been guilty of very
   great criminality, we think that we are bound to tell the
   whole story,--and this the more especially as certain
   circumstances have in a very peculiar manner placed us in
   possession of the facts.

   It is no secret that for the last two years Lady
   Laura Kennedy has been separated from her husband,
   the Honourable Robert Kennedy, who, in the last
   administration, under Mr. Mildmay, held the office of
   Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and we believe as
   little a secret that Mr. Kennedy has been very persistent
   in endeavouring to recall his wife to her home. With equal
   persistence she has refused to obey, and we have in our
   hands the clearest possible evidence that Mr. Kennedy has
   attributed her obstinate refusal to influence exercised
   over her by Mr. Phineas Finn, who three years since was
   her father's nominee for the then existing borough of
   Loughton, and who lately succeeded in ousting poor Mr.
   Browborough from his seat for Tankerville by his impetuous
   promises to support that very measure of Church Reform
   which he is now opposing with that venom which makes him
   valuable to his party. Whether Mr. Phineas Finn will ever
   sit in another Parliament we cannot, of course, say, but
   we think we can at least assure him that he will never
   again sit for Tankerville.

   On last Sunday afternoon Mr. Finn, knowing well the
   feeling with which he is regarded by Mr. Kennedy, outraged
   all decency by calling upon that gentleman, whose address
   he obtained from our office. What took place between them
   no one knows, and, probably, no one ever will know. But
   the interview was ended by Mr. Kennedy firing a pistol at
   Mr. Finn's head. That he should have done so without the
   grossest provocation no one will believe. That Mr. Finn
   had gone to the husband to interfere with him respecting
   his wife is an undoubted fact,--a fact which, if
   necessary, we are in a position to prove. That such
   interference must have been most heartrending every one
   will admit. This intruder, who had thrust himself upon the
   unfortunate husband on the Sabbath afternoon, was the very
   man whom the husband accuses of having robbed him of the
   company and comfort of his wife. But we cannot, on that
   account, absolve Mr. Kennedy of the criminality of his
   act. It should be for a jury to decide what view should
   be taken of that act, and to say how far the outrageous
   provocation offered should be allowed to palliate the
   offence. But hitherto the matter has not reached the
   police. Mr. Finn was not struck, and managed to escape
   from the room. It was his manifest duty as one of
   the community, and more especially so as a member of
   Parliament, to have reported all the circumstances at
   once to the police. This was not done by him, nor by the
   persons who keep the hotel. That Mr. Finn should have
   reasons of his own for keeping the whole affair secret,
   and for screening the attempt at murder, is clear enough.
   What inducements have been used with the people of the
   house we cannot, of course, say. But we understand that
   Mr. Kennedy has been allowed to leave London without
   molestation.

   Such is the true story of what occurred on Sunday
   afternoon in Judd Street, and, knowing what we do, we
   think ourselves justified in calling upon Major Mackintosh
   to take the case into his own hands.


Now Major Mackintosh was at this time the head of the London
constabulary.


   It is quite out of the question that such a transaction
   should take place in the heart of London at three o'clock
   on a Sunday afternoon, and be allowed to pass without
   notice. We intend to keep as little of what we know
   from the public as possible, and do not hesitate to
   acknowledge that we are debarred by an injunction of
   the Vice-Chancellor from publishing a certain document
   which would throw the clearest light upon the whole
   circumstance. As soon as possible after the shot was
   fired Mr. Finn went to work, and, as we think, by
   misrepresentations, obtained the injunction early on
   yesterday morning. We feel sure that it would not have
   been granted had the transaction in Judd Street been at
   the time known to the Vice-Chancellor in all its enormity.
   Our hands are, of course, tied. The document in question
   is still with us, but it is sacred. When called upon to
   show it by any proper authority we shall be ready; but,
   knowing what we do know, we should not be justified in
   allowing the matter to sleep. In the meantime we call upon
   those whose duty it is to preserve the public peace to
   take the steps necessary for bringing the delinquents to
   justice.

   The effect upon Mr. Finn, we should say, must be his
   immediate withdrawal from public life. For the last year
   or two he has held some subordinate but permanent place
   in Ireland, which he has given up on the rumour that the
   party to which he has attached himself is likely to return
   to office. That he is a seeker after office is notorious.
   That any possible Government should now employ him, even
   as a tide-waiter, is quite out of the question; and it
   is equally out of the question that he should be again
   returned to Parliament, were he to resign his seat on
   accepting office. As it is, we believe, notorious that
   this gentlemen cannot maintain the position which he holds
   without being paid for his services, it is reasonable to
   suppose that his friends will recommend him to retire, and
   seek his living in some obscure, and, let us hope, honest
   profession.


Mr. Slide, when his thunderbolt was prepared, read it over with
delight, but still with some fear as to probable results. It was
expedient that he should avoid a prosecution for libel, and essential
that he should not offend the majesty of the Vice-Chancellor's
injunction. Was he sure that he was safe in each direction? As to
the libel, he could not tell himself that he was certainly safe. He
was saying very hard things both of Lady Laura and of Phineas Finn,
and sailing very near the wind. But neither of those persons would
probably be willing to prosecute; and, should he be prosecuted, he
would then, at any rate, be able to give in Mr. Kennedy's letter as
evidence in his own defence. He really did believe that what he was
doing was all done in the cause of morality. It was the business of
such a paper as that which he conducted to run some risk in defending
morals, and exposing distinguished culprits on behalf of the
public. And then, without some such risk, how could Phineas Finn be
adequately punished for the atrocious treachery of which he had been
guilty? As to the Chancellor's order, Mr. Slide thought that he had
managed that matter very completely. No doubt he had acted in direct
opposition to the spirit of the injunction, but legal orders are read
by the letter, and not by the spirit. It was open to him to publish
anything he pleased respecting Mr. Kennedy and his wife, subject,
of course, to the general laws of the land in regard to libel.
The Vice-Chancellor's special order to him referred simply to a
particular document, and from that document he had not quoted a word,
though he had contrived to repeat all the bitter things which it
contained, with much added venom of his own. He felt secure of being
safe from any active anger on the part of the Vice-Chancellor.

The article was printed and published. The reader will perceive that
it was full of lies. It began with a lie in that statement that "we
abstained yesterday from alluding to circumstances" which had been
unknown to the writer when his yesterday's paper was published.
The indignant reference to poor Finn's want of delicacy in forcing
himself upon Mr. Kennedy on the Sabbath afternoon, was, of course,
a tissue of lies. The visit had been made almost at the instigation
of the editor himself. The paper from beginning to end was full of
falsehood and malice, and had been written with the express intention
of creating prejudice against the man who had offended the writer.
But Mr. Slide did not know that he was lying, and did not know that
he was malicious. The weapon which he used was one to which his hand
was accustomed, and he had been led by practice to believe that the
use of such weapons by one in his position was not only fair, but
also beneficial to the public. Had anybody suggested to him that he
was stabbing his enemy in the dark, he would have averred that he
was doing nothing of the kind, because the anonymous accusation of
sinners in high rank was, on behalf of the public, the special duty
of writers and editors attached to the public press. Mr. Slide's
blood was running high with virtuous indignation against our hero as
he inserted those last cruel words as to the choice of an obscure but
honest profession.

Phineas Finn read the article before he sat down to breakfast on the
following morning, and the dagger went right into his bosom. Every
word told upon him. With a jaunty laugh within his own sleeve he had
assured himself that he was safe against any wound which could be
inflicted on him from the columns of the _People's Banner_. He had
been sure that he would be attacked, and thought that he was armed
to bear it. But the thin blade penetrated every joint of his harness,
and every particle of the poison curdled in his blood. He was hurt
about Lady Laura; he was hurt about his borough of Tankerville; he
was hurt by the charges against him of having outraged delicacy;
he was hurt by being handed over to the tender mercies of Major
Mackintosh; he was hurt by the craft with which the Vice-Chancellor's
injunction had been evaded; but he was especially hurt by the
allusions to his own poverty. It was necessary that he should earn
his bread, and no doubt he was a seeker after place. But he did not
wish to obtain wages without working for them; and he did not see why
the work and wages of a public office should be less honourable than
those of any other profession. To him, with his ideas, there was no
profession so honourable, as certainly there were none which demanded
greater sacrifices or were more precarious. And he did believe that
such an article as that would have the effect of shutting against
him the gates of that dangerous Paradise which he desired to enter.
He had no great claim upon his party; and, in giving away the good
things of office, the giver is only too prone to recognise any
objections against an individual which may seem to relieve him from
the necessity of bestowing aught in that direction. Phineas felt that
he would almost be ashamed to show his face at the clubs or in the
House. He must do so as a matter of course, but he knew that he could
not do so without confessing by his visage that he had been deeply
wounded by the attack in the _People's Banner_.

He went in the first instance to Mr. Low, and was almost surprised
that Mr. Low should not have yet even have heard that such an attack
had been made. He had almost felt, as he walked to Lincoln's Inn,
that everybody had looked at him, and that passers-by in the street
had declared to each other that he was the unfortunate one who had
been doomed by the editor of the _People's Banner_ to seek some
obscure way of earning his bread. Mr. Low took the paper, read, or
probably only half read, the article, and then threw the sheet aside
as worthless. "What ought I to do?"

"Nothing at all."

"One's first desire would be to beat him to a jelly."

"Of all courses that would be the worst, and would most certainly
conduce to his triumph."

"Just so;--I only allude to the pleasure one would have, but which
one has to deny oneself. I don't know whether he has laid himself
open for libel."

"I should think not. I have only just glanced at it, and therefore
can't give an opinion; but I should think you would not dream of such
a thing. Your object is to screen Lady Laura's name."

"I have to think of that first."

"It may be necessary that steps should be taken to defend her
character. If an accusation be made with such publicity as to enforce
belief if not denied, the denial must be made, and may probably be
best made by an action for libel. But that must be done by her or her
friends,--but certainly not by you."

"He has laughed at the Vice-Chancellor's injunction."

"I don't think that you can interfere. If, as you believe, Mr.
Kennedy be insane, that fact will probably soon be proved, and will
have the effect of clearing Lady Laura's character. A wife may be
excused for leaving a mad husband."

"And you think I should do nothing?"

"I don't see what you can do. You have encountered a chimney sweeper,
and of course you get some of the soot. What you do do, and what
you do not do, must depend at any rate on the wishes of Lady Laura
Kennedy and her father. It is a matter in which you must make
yourself subordinate to them."

Fuming and fretting, and yet recognising the truth of Mr. Low's
words, Phineas left the chambers, and went down to his club. It was
a Wednesday, and the House was to sit in the morning; but before
he went to the House he put himself in the way of certain of his
associates in order that he might hear what would be said, and learn
if possible what was thought. Nobody seemed to treat the accusations
in the newspaper as very serious, though all around him congratulated
him on his escape from Mr. Kennedy's pistol. "I suppose the poor man
really is mad," said Lord Cantrip, whom he met on the steps of one of
the clubs.

"No doubt, I should say."

"I can't understand why you didn't go to the police."

"I had hoped the thing would not become public," said Phineas.

"Everything becomes public;--everything of that kind. It is very hard
upon poor Lady Laura."

"That is the worst of it, Lord Cantrip."

"If I were her father I should bring her to England, and demand a
separation in a regular and legal way. That is what he should do now
in her behalf. She would then have an opportunity of clearing her
character from imputations which, to a certain extent, will affect
it, even though they come from a madman, and from the very scum of
the press."

"You have read that article?"

"Yes;--I saw it but a minute ago."

"I need not tell you that there is not the faintest ground in the
world for the imputation made against Lady Laura there."

"I am sure that there is none;--and therefore it is that I tell you
my opinion so plainly. I think that Lord Brentford should be advised
to bring Lady Laura to England, and to put down the charges openly in
Court. It might be done either by an application to the Divorce Court
for a separation, or by an action against the newspaper for libel.
I do not know Lord Brentford quite well enough to intrude upon him
with a letter, but I have no objection whatever to having my name
mentioned to him. He and I and you and poor Mr. Kennedy sat together
in the same Government, and I think that Lord Brentford would trust
my friendship so far." Phineas thanked him, and assured him that what
he had said should be conveyed to Lord Brentford.



CHAPTER XXIX

The Spooner Correspondence


It will be remembered that Adelaide Palliser had accepted the hand of
Mr. Maule, junior, and that she and Lady Chiltern between them had
despatched him up to London on an embassy to his father, in which he
failed very signally. It had been originally Lady Chiltern's idea
that the proper home for the young couple would be the ancestral
hall, which must be theirs some day, and in which, with exceeding
prudence, they might be able to live as Maules of Maule Abbey upon
the very limited income which would belong to them. How slight were
the grounds for imputing such stern prudence to Gerard Maule both the
ladies felt;--but it had become essential to do something; the young
people were engaged to each other, and a manner of life must be
suggested, discussed, and as far as possible arranged. Lady Chiltern
was useful at such work, having a practical turn of mind, and
understanding well the condition of life for which it was necessary
that her friend should prepare herself. The lover was not vicious,
he neither drank nor gambled, nor ran himself hopelessly in debt.
He was good-humoured and tractable, and docile enough when nothing
disagreeable was asked from him. He would have, he said, no objection
to live at Maule Abbey if Adelaide liked it. He didn't believe much
in farming, but would consent at Adelaide's request to be the owner
of bullocks. He was quite ready to give up hunting, having already
taught himself to think that the very few good runs in a season
were hardly worth the trouble of getting up before daylight all the
winter. He went forth, therefore, on his embassy, and we know how he
failed. Another lover would have communicated the disastrous tidings
at once to the lady; but Gerard Maule waited a week before he did so,
and then told his story in half-a-dozen words. "The governor cut up
rough about Maule Abbey, and will not hear of it. He generally does
cut up rough."

"But he must be made to hear of it," said Lady Chiltern. Two days
afterwards the news reached Harrington of the death of the Duke of
Omnium. A letter of an official nature reached Adelaide from Mr.
Fothergill, in which the writer explained that he had been desired by
Mr. Palliser to communicate to her and the relatives the sad tidings.
"So the poor old man has gone at last," said Lady Chiltern, with that
affectation of funereal gravity which is common to all of us.

"Poor old Duke!" said Adelaide. "I have been hearing of him as a sort
of bugbear all my life. I don't think I ever saw him but once, and
then he gave me a kiss and a pair of earrings. He never paid any
attention to us at all, but we were taught to think that Providence
had been very good to us in making the Duke our uncle."

"He was very rich?"

"Horribly rich, I have always heard."

"Won't he leave you something? It would be very nice now that you are
engaged to find that he has given you five thousand pounds."

"Very nice indeed;--but there is not a chance of it. It has always
been known that everything is to go to the heir. Papa had his fortune
and spent it. He and his brother were never friends, and though the
Duke did once give me a kiss I imagine that he forgot my existence
immediately afterwards."

"So the Duke of Omnium is dead," said Lord Chiltern when he came home
that evening.

"Adelaide has had a letter to tell her so this afternoon."

"Mr. Fothergill wrote to me," said Adelaide;--"the man who is so
wicked about the foxes."

"I don't care a straw about Mr. Fothergill; and now my mouth is
closed against your uncle. But it's quite frightful to think that a
Duke of Omnium must die like anybody else."

"The Duke is dead;--long live the Duke," said Lady Chiltern. "I
wonder how Mr. Palliser will like it."

"Men always do like it, I suppose," said Adelaide.

"Women do," said Lord Chiltern. "Lady Glencora will be delighted to
reign,--though I can hardly fancy her by any other name. By the bye,
Adelaide, I have got a letter for you."

"A letter for me, Lord Chiltern!"

"Well,--yes; I suppose I had better give it you. It is not addressed
to you, but you must answer it."

"What on earth is it?"

"I think I can guess," said Lady Chiltern, laughing. She had guessed
rightly, but Adelaide Palliser was still altogether in the dark when
Lord Chiltern took a letter from his pocket and handed it to her. As
he did so he left the room, and his wife followed him. "I shall be
upstairs, Adelaide, if you want advice," said Lady Chiltern.

The letter was from Mr. Spooner. He had left Harrington Hall after
the uncourteous reception which had been accorded to him by Miss
Palliser in deep disgust, resolving that he would never again speak
to her, and almost resolving that Spoon Hall should never have a
mistress in his time. But with his wine after dinner his courage
came back to him, and he began to reflect once more that it is not
the habit of young ladies to accept their lovers at the first offer.
There was living with Mr. Spooner at this time a very attached
friend, whom he usually consulted in all emergencies, and to whom
on this occasion he opened his heart. Mr. Edward Spooner, commonly
called Ned by all who knew him, and not unfrequently so addressed
by those who did not, was a distant cousin of the Squire's, who
unfortunately had no particular income of his own. For the last ten
years he had lived at Spoon Hall, and had certainly earned his bread.
The Squire had achieved a certain credit for success as a country
gentleman. Nothing about his place was out of order. His own farming,
which was extensive, succeeded. His bullocks and sheep won prizes.
His horses were always useful and healthy. His tenants were solvent,
if not satisfied, and he himself did not owe a shilling. Now many
people in the neighbourhood attributed all this to the judicious care
of Mr. Edward Spooner, whose eye was never off the place, and whose
discretion was equal to his zeal. In giving the Squire his due, one
must acknowledge that he recognised the merits of his cousin, and
trusted him in everything. That night, as soon as the customary
bottle of claret had succeeded the absolutely normal bottle of port
after dinner, Mr. Spooner of Spoon Hall opened his heart to his
cousin.

"I shall have to walk, then," said Ned.

"Not if I know it," said the Squire. "You don't suppose I'm going to
let any woman have the command of Spoon Hall?"

"They do command,--inside, you know."

"No woman shall ever turn you out of this house, Ned."

"I'm not thinking of myself, Tom," said the cousin. "Of course you'll
marry some day, and of course I must take my chance. I don't see why
it shouldn't be Miss Palliser as well as another."

"The jade almost made me angry."

"I suppose that's the way with most of 'em. _'Ludit exultim metuitque
tangi'_." For Ned Spooner had himself preserved some few tattered
shreds of learning from his school days. "You don't remember about
the filly?"

"Yes I do; very well," said the Squire.

"_'Nuptiarum expers.'_ That's what it is, I suppose. Try it again."
The advice on the part of the cousin was genuine and unselfish. That
Mr. Spooner of Spoon Hall should be rejected by a young lady without
any fortune seemed to him to be impossible. At any rate it is the
duty of a man in such circumstances to persevere. As far as Ned knew
the world, ladies always required to be asked a second or a third
time. And then no harm can come from such perseverance. "She can't
break your bones, Tom."

There was much honesty displayed on this occasion. The Squire, when
he was thus instigated to persevere, did his best to describe the
manner in which he had been rejected. His powers of description were
not very great, but he did not conceal anything wilfully. "She was as
hard as nails, you know."

"I don't know that that means much. Horace's filly kicked a few, no
doubt."

"She told me that if I'd go one way, she'd go the other!"

"They always say about the hardest things that come to their tongues.
They don't curse and swear as we do, or there'd be no bearing them.
If you really like her--"

"She's such a well-built creature! There's a look of blood about her
I don't see in any of 'em. That sort of breeding is what one wants to
get through the mud with."

Then it was that the cousin recommended a letter to Lord Chiltern.
Lord Chiltern was at the present moment to be regarded as the lady's
guardian, and was the lover's intimate friend. A direct proposal had
already been made to the young lady, and this should now be repeated
to the gentleman who for the time stood in the position of her
father. The Squire for a while hesitated, declaring that he was
averse to make his secret known to Lord Chiltern. "One doesn't want
every fellow in the country to know it," he said. But in answer to
this the cousin was very explicit. There could be but little doubt
that Lord Chiltern knew the secret already; and he would certainly
be rather induced to keep it as a secret than to divulge it if it
were communicated to him officially. And what other step could the
Squire take? It would not be likely that he should be asked again to
Harrington Hall with the express view of repeating his offer. The
cousin was quite of opinion that a written proposition should be
made; and on that very night the cousin himself wrote out a letter
for the Squire to copy in the morning. On the morning the Squire
copied the letter,--not without additions of his own, as to which he
had very many words with his discreet cousin,--and in a formal manner
handed it to Lord Chiltern towards the afternoon of that day, having
devoted his whole morning to the finding of a proper opportunity for
doing so. Lord Chiltern had read the letter, and had, as we see,
delivered it to Adelaide Palliser. "That's another proposal from Mr.
Spooner," Lady Chiltern said, as soon as they were alone.

"Exactly that."

"I knew he'd go on with it. Men are such fools."

"I don't see that he's a fool at all;" said Lord Chiltern, almost in
anger. "Why shouldn't he ask a girl to be his wife? He's a rich man,
and she hasn't got a farthing."

"You might say the same of a butcher, Oswald."

"Mr. Spooner is a gentleman."

"You do not mean to say that he's fit to marry such a girl as
Adelaide Palliser?"

"I don't know what makes fitness. He's got a red nose, and if she
don't like a red nose,--that's unfitness. Gerard Maule's nose isn't
red, and I dare say therefore he's fitter. Only, unfortunately, he
has no money."

"Adelaide Palliser would no more think of marrying Mr. Spooner than
you would have thought of marrying the cook."

"If I had liked the cook I should have asked her, and I don't see why
Mr. Spooner shouldn't ask Miss Palliser. She needn't take him."

In the meantime Miss Palliser was reading the following letter:--


   Spoon Hall, 11th March, 18--.

   MY DEAR LORD CHILTERN,--

   I venture to suppose that at present you are acting as the
   guardian of Miss Palliser, who has been staying at your
   house all the winter. If I am wrong in this I hope you
   will pardon me, and consent to act in that capacity for
   this occasion. I entertain feelings of the greatest
   admiration and warmest affection for the young lady I have
   named, which I ventured to express when I had the pleasure
   of staying at Harrington Hall in the early part of last
   month. I cannot boast that I was received on that occasion
   with much favour; but I know that I am not very good at
   talking, and we are told in all the books that no man has
   a right to expect to be taken at the first time of asking.
   Perhaps Miss Palliser will allow me, through you, to
   request her to consider my proposal with more deliberation
   than was allowed to me before, when I spoke to her perhaps
   with injudicious hurry.


So far the Squire adopted his cousin's words without alteration.


   I am the owner of my own property,--which is more than
   everybody can say. My income is nearly £4,000 a year. I
   shall be willing to make any proper settlement that may
   be recommended by the lawyers,--though I am strongly of
   opinion that an estate shouldn't be crippled for the
   sake of the widow. As to refurnishing the old house, and
   all that, I'll do anything that Miss Palliser may please.
   She knows my taste about hunting, and I know hers, so that
   there need not be any difference of opinion on that score.

   Miss Palliser can't suspect me of any interested motives.
   I come forward because I think she is the most charming
   girl I ever saw, and because I love her with all my heart.
   I haven't got very much to say for myself, but if she'll
   consent to be the mistress of Spoon Hall, she shall have
   all that the heart of a woman can desire.

   Pray believe me,

   My dear Lord Chiltern,

   Yours very sincerely,

   THOMAS PLATTER SPOONER.

   As I believe that Miss Palliser is fond of books, it may
   be well to tell her that there is an uncommon good library
   at Spoon Hall. I shall have no objection to go abroad for
   the honeymoon for three or four months in the summer.


The postscript was the Squire's own, and was inserted in opposition
to the cousin's judgment. "She won't come for the sake of the books,"
said the cousin. But the Squire thought that the attractions should
be piled up. "I wouldn't talk of the honeymoon till I'd got her to
come round a little," said the cousin. The Squire thought that the
cousin was falsely delicate, and pleaded that all girls like to be
taken abroad when they're married. The second half of the body of the
letter was very much disfigured by the Squire's petulance; so that
the modesty with which he commenced was almost put to the blush by
a touch of arrogance in the conclusion. That sentence in which the
Squire declared that an estate ought not to be crippled for the sake
of the widow was very much questioned by the cousin. "Such a word as
'widow' never ought to go into such a letter as this." But the Squire
protested that he would not be mealy-mouthed. "She can bear to think
of it, I'll go bail; and why shouldn't she hear about what she can
think about?" "Don't talk about furniture yet, Tom," the cousin said;
but the Squire was obstinate, and the cousin became hopeless. That
word about loving her with all his heart was the cousin's own, but
what followed, as to her being mistress of Spoon Hall, was altogether
opposed to his judgment. "She'll be proud enough of Spoon Hall if
she comes here," said the Squire. "I'd let her come first," said the
cousin.

We all know that the phraseology of the letter was of no importance
whatever. When it was received the lady was engaged to another
man; and she regarded Mr. Spooner of Spoon Hall as being guilty of
unpardonable impudence in approaching her at all.

"A red-faced vulgar old man, who looks as if he did nothing but
drink," she said to Lady Chiltern.

"He does you no harm, my dear."

"But he does do harm. He makes things very uncomfortable. He has no
business to think it possible. People will suppose that I gave him
encouragement."

"I used to have lovers coming to me year after year,--the same
people,--whom I don't think I ever encouraged; but I never felt angry
with them."

"But you didn't have Mr. Spooner."

"Mr. Spooner didn't know me in those days, or there is no saying what
might have happened." Then Lady Chiltern argued the matter on views
directly opposite to those which she had put forward when discussing
the matter with her husband. "I always think that any man who is
privileged to sit down to table with you is privileged to ask.
There are disparities of course which may make the privilege
questionable,--disparities of age, rank, and means."

"And of tastes," said Adelaide.

"I don't know about that.--A poet doesn't want to marry a poetess,
nor a philosopher a philosopheress. A man may make himself a fool
by putting himself in the way of certain refusal; but I take it
the broad rule is that a man may fall in love with any lady who
habitually sits in his company."

"I don't agree with you at all. What would be said if the curate at
Long Royston were to propose to one of the FitzHoward girls?"

"The Duchess would probably ask the Duke to make the young man a
bishop out of hand, and the Duke would have to spend a morning in
explaining to her the changes which have come over the making of
bishops since she was young. There is no other rule that you can lay
down, and I think that girls should understand that they have to
fight their battles subject to that law. It's very easy to say,
'No.'"

"But a man won't take 'No.'"

"And it's lucky for us sometimes that they don't," said Lady
Chiltern, remembering certain passages in her early life.

The answer was written that night by Lord Chiltern after much
consultation. As to the nature of the answer,--that it should be a
positive refusal,--of course there could be no doubt; but then arose
a question whether a reason should be given, or whether the refusal
should be simply a refusal. At last it was decided that a reason
should be given, and the letter ran as follows:--


   MY DEAR MR. SPOONER,

   I am commissioned to inform you that Miss Palliser is
   engaged to be married to Mr. Gerard Maule.

   Yours faithfully,

   CHILTERN.


The young lady had consented to be thus explicit because it had been
already determined that no secret should be kept as to her future
prospects.

"He is one of those poverty-stricken wheedling fellows that one meets
about the world every day," said the Squire to his cousin--"a fellow
that rides horses that he can't pay for, and owes some poor devil of
a tailor for the breeches that he sits in. They eat, and drink, and
get along heaven only knows how. But they're sure to come to smash at
last. Girls are such fools nowadays."

"I don't think there has ever been much difference in that," said the
cousin.

"Because a man greases his whiskers, and colours his hair, and paints
his eyebrows, and wears kid gloves, by George, they'll go through
fire and water after him. He'll never marry her."

"So much the better for her."

"But I hate such d---- impudence. What right has a man to come
forward in that way who hasn't got a house over his head, or the
means of getting one? Old Maule is so hard up that he can barely
get a dinner at his club in London. What I wonder at is that Lady
Chiltern shouldn't know better."



CHAPTER XXX

Regrets


Madame Goesler remained at Matching till after the return of Mr.
Palliser--or, as we must now call him, the Duke of Omnium--from
Gatherum Castle, and was therefore able to fight her own battle
with him respecting the gems and the money which had been left her.
He brought to her with his own hands the single ring which she had
requested, and placed it on her finger. "The goldsmith will soon make
that all right," she said, when it was found to be much too large for
the largest finger on which she could wear a ring. "A bit shall be
taken out, but I will not have it reset."

"You got the lawyer's letter and the inventory, Madame Goesler?"

"Yes, indeed. What surprises me is that the dear old man should never
have spoken of so magnificent a collection of gems."

"Orders have been given that they shall be packed."

"They may be packed or unpacked, of course, as your Grace pleases,
but pray do not connect me with the packing."

"You must be connected with it."

"But I wish not to be connected with it, Duke. I have written to the
lawyer to renounce the legacy, and, if your Grace persists, I must
employ a lawyer of my own to renounce them after some legal form.
Pray do not let the case be sent to me, or there will be so much
trouble, and we shall have another great jewel robbery. I won't take
it in, and I won't have the money, and I will have my own way. Lady
Glen will tell you that I can be very obstinate when I please."

Lady Glencora had told him so already. She had been quite sure that
her friend would persist in her determination as to the legacy, and
had thought that her husband should simply accept Madame Goesler's
assurances to that effect. But a man who had been Chancellor of the
Exchequer could not deal with money, or even with jewels, so lightly.
He assured his wife that such an arrangement was quite out of the
question. He remarked that property was property, by which he meant
to intimate that the real owner of substantial wealth could not be
allowed to disembarrass himself of his responsibilities or strip
himself of his privileges by a few generous but idle words. The late
Duke's will was a very serious thing, and it seemed to the heir that
this abandoning of a legacy bequeathed by the Duke was a making
light of the Duke's last act and deed. To refuse money in such
circumstances was almost like refusing rain from heaven, or warmth
from the sun. It could not be done. The things were her property, and
though she might, of course, chuck them into the street, they would
no less be hers. "But I won't have them, Duke," said Madame Goesler;
and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer found that no proposition
made by him in the House had ever been received with a firmer
opposition. His wife told him that nothing he could say would be of
any avail, and rather ridiculed his idea of the solemnity of wills.
"You can't make a person take a thing because you write it down on a
thick bit of paper, any more than if you gave it her across a table.
I understand it all, of course. She means to show that she didn't
want anything from the Duke. As she refused the name and title, she
won't have the money and jewels. You can't make her take them, and
I'm quite sure you can't talk her over." The young Duke was not
persuaded, but had to give the battle up,--at any rate, for the
present.

On the 19th of March Madame Goesler returned to London, having been
at Matching Priory for more than three weeks. On her journey back to
Park Lane many thoughts crowded on her mind. Had she, upon the whole,
done well in reference to the Duke of Omnium? The last three years of
her life had been sacrificed to an old man with whom she had not in
truth possessed aught in common. She had persuaded herself that there
had existed a warm friendship between them;--but of what nature could
have been a friendship with one whom she had not known till he had
been in his dotage? What words of the Duke's speaking had she ever
heard with pleasure, except certain terms of affection which had been
half mawkish and half senile? She had told Phineas Finn, while riding
home with him from Broughton Spinnies, that she had clung to the Duke
because she loved him, but what had there been to produce such love?
The Duke had begun his acquaintance with her by insulting her,--and
had then offered to make her his wife. This,--which would have
conferred upon her some tangible advantages, such as rank, and
wealth, and a great name,--she had refused, thinking that the price
to be paid for them was too high, and that life might even yet have
something better in store for her. After that she had permitted
herself to become, after a fashion, head nurse to the old man, and
in that pursuit had wasted three years of what remained to her of
her youth. People, at any rate, should not say of her that she had
accepted payment for the three years' service by taking a casket of
jewels. She would take nothing that should justify any man in saying
that she had been enriched by her acquaintance with the Duke of
Omnium. It might be that she had been foolish, but she would be more
foolish still were she to accept a reward for her folly. As it was
there had been something of romance in it,--though the romance of
friendship at the bedside of a sick and selfish old man had hardly
been satisfactory.

Even in her close connection with the present Duchess there was
something which was almost hollow. Had there not been a compact
between them, never expressed, but not the less understood? Had
not her dear friend, Lady Glen, agreed to bestow upon her support,
fashion, and all kinds of worldly good things,--on condition that she
never married the old Duke? She had liked Lady Glencora,--had enjoyed
her friend's society, and been happy in her friend's company,--but
she had always felt that Lady Glencora's attraction to herself had
been simply on the score of the Duke. It was necessary that the Duke
should be pampered and kept in good humour. An old man, let him be
ever so old, can do what he likes with himself and his belongings. To
keep the Duke out of harm's way Lady Glencora had opened her arms to
Madame Goesler. Such, at least, was the interpretation which Madame
Goesler chose to give to the history of the last three years. They
had not, she thought, quite understood her. When once she had made up
her mind not to marry the Duke, the Duke had been safe from her;--as
his jewels and money should be safe now that he was dead.

Three years had passed by, and nothing had been done of that which
she had intended to do. Three years had passed, which to her, with
her desires, were so important. And yet she hardly knew what were her
desires, and had never quite defined her intentions. She told herself
on this very journey that the time had now gone by, and that in
losing these three years she had lost everything. As yet,--so she
declared to herself now,--the world had done but little for her. Two
old men had loved her; one had become her husband, and the other had
asked to become so;--and to both she had done her duty. To both she
had been grateful, tender, and self-sacrificing. From the former she
had, as his widow, taken wealth which she valued greatly; but the
wealth alone had given her no happiness. From the latter, and from
his family, she had accepted a certain position. Some persons, high
in repute and fashion, had known her before, but everybody knew her
now. And yet what had all this done for her? Dukes and duchesses,
dinner-parties and drawing-rooms,--what did they all amount to? What
was it that she wanted?

She was ashamed to tell herself that it was love. But she knew
this,--that it was necessary for her happiness that she should devote
herself to some one. All the elegancies and outward charms of life
were delightful, if only they could be used as the means to some end.
As an end themselves they were nothing. She had devoted herself to
this old man who was now dead, and there had been moments in which
she had thought that that sufficed. But it had not sufficed, and
instead of being borne down by grief at the loss of her friend, she
found herself almost rejoicing at relief from a vexatious burden.
Had she been a hypocrite then? Was it her nature to be false? After
that she reflected whether it might not be best for her to become
a devotee,--it did not matter much in what branch of the Christian
religion, so that she could assume some form of faith. The sour
strictness of the confident Calvinist or the asceticism of St.
Francis might suit her equally,--if she could only believe in Calvin
or in St. Francis. She had tried to believe in the Duke of Omnium,
but there she had failed. There had been a saint at whose shrine she
thought she could have worshipped with a constant and happy devotion,
but that saint had repulsed her from his altar.

Mr. Maule, Senior, not understanding much of all this, but still
understanding something, thought that he might perhaps be the
saint. He knew well that audacity in asking is a great merit in a
middle-aged wooer. He was a good deal older than the lady, who, in
spite of all her experiences, was hardly yet thirty. But then he
was,--he felt sure,--very young for his age, whereas she was old.
She was a widow; he was a widower. She had a house in town and an
income. He had a place in the country and an estate. She knew all the
dukes and duchesses, and he was a man of family. She could make him
comfortably opulent. He could make her Mrs. Maule of Maule Abbey.
She, no doubt, was good-looking. Mr. Maule, Senior, as he tied on
his cravat, thought that even in that respect there was no great
disparity between them. Considering his own age, Mr. Maule, Senior,
thought there was not perhaps a better-looking man than himself about
Pall Mall. He was a little stiff in the joints and moved rather
slowly, but what was wanting in suppleness was certainly made up in
dignity.

He watched his opportunity, and called in Park Lane on the day after
Madame Goesler's return. There was already between them an amount of
acquaintance which justified his calling, and, perhaps, there had
been on the lady's part something of that cordiality of manner which
is wont to lead to intimate friendship. Mr. Maule had made himself
agreeable, and Madame Goesler had seemed to be grateful. He was
admitted, and on such an occasion it was impossible not to begin the
conversation about the "dear Duke." Mr. Maule could afford to talk
about the Duke, and to lay aside for a short time his own cause,
as he had not suggested to himself the possibility of becoming
pressingly tender on his own behalf on this particular occasion.
Audacity in wooing is a great virtue, but a man must measure even his
virtues. "I heard that you had gone to Matching, as soon as the poor
Duke was taken ill," he said.

She was in mourning, and had never for a moment thought of denying
the peculiarity of the position she had held in reference to the old
man. She could not have been content to wear her ordinary coloured
garments after sitting so long by the side of the dying man. A
hired nurse may do so, but she had not been that. If there had been
hypocrisy in her friendship the hypocrisy must be maintained to the
end.

"Poor old man! I only came back yesterday."

"I never had the pleasure of knowing his Grace," said Mr. Maule. "But
I have always heard him named as a nobleman of whom England might
well be proud."

Madame Goesler was not at the moment inclined to tell lies on the
matter, and did not think that England had much cause to be proud of
the Duke of Omnium. "He was a man who held a very peculiar position,"
she said.

"Most peculiar;--a man of infinite wealth, and of that special
dignity which I am sorry to say so many men of rank among us are
throwing aside as a garment which is too much for them. We can all
wear coats, but it is not every one that can carry a robe. The Duke
carried his to the last." Madame Goesler remembered how he looked
with his nightcap on, when he had lost his temper because they would
not let him have a glass of curaçoa. "I don't know that we have any
one left that can be said to be his equal," continued Mr. Maule.

"No one like him, perhaps. He was never married, you know."

"But was once willing to marry," said Mr. Maule, "if all that we
hear be true." Madame Goesler, without a smile and equally without a
frown, looked as though the meaning of Mr. Maule's words had escaped
her. "A grand old gentleman! I don't know that anybody will ever say
as much for his heir."

"The men are very different."

"Very different indeed. I dare say that Mr. Palliser, as Mr.
Palliser, has been a useful man. But so is a coal-heaver a useful
man. The grace and beauty of life will be clean gone when we all
become useful men."

"I don't think we are near that yet."

"Upon my word, Madame Goesler, I am not so sure about it. Here are
sons of noblemen going into trade on every side of us. We have earls
dealing in butter, and marquises sending their peaches to market.
There was nothing of that kind about the Duke. A great fortune had
been entrusted to him, and he knew that it was his duty to spend it.
He did spend it, and all the world looked up to him. It must have
been a great pleasure to you to know him so well."

Madame Goesler was saved the necessity of making any answer to this
by the announcement of another visitor. The door was opened, and
Phineas Finn entered the room. He had not seen Madame Goesler since
they had been together at Harrington Hall, and had never before met
Mr. Maule. When riding home with the lady after their unsuccessful
attempt to jump out of the wood, Phineas had promised to call in
Park Lane whenever he should learn that Madame Goesler was not at
Matching. Since that the Duke had died, and the bond with Matching no
longer existed. It seemed but the other day that they were talking
about the Duke together, and now the Duke was gone. "I see you are in
mourning," said Phineas, as he still held her hand. "I must say one
word to condole with you for your lost friend."

"Mr. Maule and I were now speaking of him," she said, as she
introduced the two gentlemen. "Mr. Finn and I had the pleasure of
meeting your son at Harrington Hall a few weeks since, Mr. Maule."

"I heard that he had been there. Did you know the Duke, Mr. Finn?"

"After the fashion in which such a one as I would know such a one as
the Duke, I knew him. He probably had forgotten my existence."

"He never forgot any one," said Madame Goesler.

"I don't know that I was ever introduced to him," continued Mr.
Maule, "and I shall always regret it. I was telling Madame Goesler
how profound a reverence I had for the Duke's character." Phineas
bowed, and Madame Goesler, who was becoming tired of the Duke as a
subject of conversation, asked some question as to what had been
going on in the House. Mr. Maule, finding it to be improbable that he
should be able to advance his cause on that occasion, took his leave.
The moment he was gone Madame Goesler's manner changed altogether.
She left her former seat and came near to Phineas, sitting on a sofa
close to the chair he occupied; and as she did so she pushed her hair
back from her face in a manner that he remembered well in former
days.

"I am so glad to see you," she said. "Is it not odd that he should
have gone so soon after what we were saying but the other day?"

"You thought then that he would not last long."

"Long is comparative. I did not think he would be dead within six
weeks, or I should not have been riding there. He was a burden to me,
Mr. Finn."

"I can understand that."

"And yet I shall miss him sorely. He had given all the colour to my
life which it possessed. It was not very bright, but still it was
colour."

"The house will be open to you just the same."

"I shall not go there. I shall see Lady Glencora in town, of course;
but I shall not go to Matching; and as to Gatherum Castle, I would
not spend another week there, if they would give it me. You haven't
heard of his will?"

"No;--not a word. I hope he remembered you,--to mention your name.
You hardly wanted more."

"Just so. I wanted no more than that."

"It was made, perhaps, before you knew him."

"He was always making it, and always altering it. He left me money,
and jewels of enormous value."

"I am so glad to hear it."

"But I have refused to take anything. Am I not right?"

"I don't know why you should refuse."

"There are people who will say that--I was his mistress. If a woman
be young, a man's age never prevents such scandal. I don't know that
I can stop it, but I can perhaps make it seem to be less probable.
And after all that has passed, I could not bear that the Pallisers
should think that I clung to him for what I could get. I should be
easier this way."

"Whatever is best to be done, you will do it;--I know that."

"Your praise goes beyond the mark, my friend. I can be both generous
and discreet;--but the difficulty is to be true. I did take one
thing,--a black diamond that he always wore. I would show it you, but
the goldsmith has it to make it fit me. When does the great affair
come off at the House?"

"The bill will be read again on Monday, the first."

"What an unfortunate day!--You remember young Mr. Maule? Is he not
like his father? And yet in manners they are as unlike as possible."

"What is the father?" Phineas asked.

"A battered old beau about London, selfish and civil, pleasant and
penniless, and I should think utterly without a principle. Come again
soon. I am so anxious to hear that you are getting on. And you have
got to tell me all about that shooting with the pistol." Phineas as
he walked away thought that Madame Goesler was handsomer even than
she used to be.



CHAPTER XXXI

The Duke and Duchess in Town


At the end of March the Duchess of Omnium, never more to be called
Lady Glencora by the world at large, came up to London. The
Duke, though he was now banished from the House of Commons, was
nevertheless wanted in London; and what funereal ceremonies were left
might be accomplished as well in town as at Matching Priory. No old
Ministry could be turned out and no new Ministry formed without the
assistance of the young Duchess. It was a question whether she should
not be asked to be Mistress of the Robes, though those who asked
it knew very well that she was the last woman in England to hamper
herself by dependence on the Court. Up to London they came; and,
though of course they went into no society, the house in Carlton
Gardens was continually thronged with people who had some special
reason for breaking the ordinary rules of etiquette in their desire
to see how Lady Glencora carried herself as Duchess of Omnium. "Do
you think she's altered much?" said Aspasia Fitzgibbon, an elderly
spinster, the daughter of Lord Claddagh, and sister of Laurence
Fitzgibbon, member for one of the western Irish counties. "I don't
think she was quite so loud as she used to be."

Mrs. Bonteen was of opinion that there was a change. "She was always
uncertain, you know, and would scratch like a cat if you offended
her."

"And won't she scratch now?" asked Miss Fitzgibbon.

"I'm afraid she'll scratch oftener. It was always a trick of hers to
pretend to think nothing of rank;--but she values her place as highly
as any woman in England."

This was Mrs. Bonteen's opinion; but Lady Baldock, who was present,
differed. This Lady Baldock was not the mother, but the sister-in-law
of that Augusta Boreham who had lately become Sister Veronica John.
"I don't believe it," said Lady Baldock. "She always seems to me to
be like a great schoolgirl who has been allowed too much of her own
way. I think people give way to her too much, you know." As Lady
Baldock was herself the wife of a peer, she naturally did not stand
so much in awe of a duchess as did Mrs. Bonteen, or Miss Fitzgibbon.

"Have you seen the young Duke?" asked Mr. Ratler of Barrington Erle.

"Yes; I have been with him this morning."

"How does he like it?"

"He's bothered out of his life,--as a hen would be if you were to
throw her into water. He's so shy, he hardly knows how to speak to
you; and he broke down altogether when I said something about the
Lords."

"He'll not do much more."

"I don't know about that," said Erle. "He'll get used to it, and go
into harness again. He's a great deal too good to be lost."

"He didn't give himself airs?"

"What!--Planty Pall! If I know anything of a man he's not the man to
do that because he's a duke. He can hold his own against all comers,
and always could. Quiet as he always seemed, he knew who he was, and
who other people were. I don't think you'll find much difference in
him when he has got over the annoyance." Mr. Ratler, however, was of
a different opinion. Mr. Ratler had known many docile members of the
House of Commons who had become peers by the death of uncles and
fathers, and who had lost all respect for him as soon as they were
released from the crack of the whip. Mr. Ratler rather despised peers
who had been members of the House of Commons, and who passed by
inheritance from a scene of unparalleled use and influence to one of
idle and luxurious dignity.

Soon after their arrival in London the Duchess wrote the following
very characteristic letter:--


   DEAR LORD CHILTERN,

   Mr. Palliser-- [Then having begun with a mistake, she
   scratched the word through with her pen.] The Duke has
   asked me to write about Trumpeton Wood, as he knows
   nothing about it, and I know just as little. But if you
   say what you want, it shall be done. Shall we get foxes
   and put them there? Or ought there to be a special
   fox-keeper? You mustn't be angry because the poor old Duke
   was too feeble to take notice of the matter. Only speak,
   and it shall be done.

   Yours faithfully,

   GLENCORA O.

   Madame Goesler spoke to me about it; but at that time we
   were in trouble.


The answer was as characteristic:--


   DEAR DUCHESS OF OMNIUM,

   Thanks. What is wanted, is that keepers should know that
   there are to be foxes. When keepers know that foxes are
   really expected, there always are foxes. The men latterly
   have known just the contrary. It is all a question of
   shooting. I don't mean to say a word against the late
   Duke. When he got old the thing became bad. No doubt it
   will be right now.

   Faithfully yours,

   CHILTERN.

   Our hounds have been poisoned in Trumpeton Wood. This
   would never have been done had not the keepers been
   against the hunting.


Upon receipt of this she sent the letter to Mr. Fothergill, with a
request that there might be no more shooting in Trumpeton Wood. "I'll
be shot if we'll stand that, you know," said Mr. Fothergill to one of
his underlings. "There are two hundred and fifty acres in Trumpeton
Wood, and we're never to kill another pheasant because Lord Chiltern
is Master of the Brake Hounds. Property won't be worth having at that
rate."

The Duke by no means intended to abandon the world of politics, or
even the narrower sphere of ministerial work, because he had been
ousted from the House of Commons, and from the possibility of filling
the office which he had best liked. This was proved to the world by
the choice of his house for a meeting of the party on the 30th of
March. As it happened, this was the very day on which he and the
Duchess returned to London; but nevertheless the meeting was held
there, and he was present at it. Mr. Gresham then repeated his
reasons for opposing Mr. Daubeny's bill; and declared that even while
doing so he would, with the approbation of his party, pledge himself
to bring in a bill somewhat to the same effect, should he ever again
find himself in power. And he declared that he would do this solely
with the view of showing how strong was his opinion that such a
measure should not be left in the hands of the Conservative party. It
was doubted whether such a political proposition had ever before been
made in England. It was a simple avowal that on this occasion men
were to be regarded, and not measures. No doubt such is the case, and
ever has been the case, with the majority of active politicians. The
double pleasure of pulling down an opponent, and of raising oneself,
is the charm of a politician's life. And by practice this becomes
extended to so many branches, that the delights,--and also the
disappointments,--are very widespread. Great satisfaction is felt
by us because by some lucky conjunction of affairs our man, whom we
never saw, is made Lord-Lieutenant of a county, instead of another
man, of whom we know as little. It is a great thing to us that Sir
Samuel Bobwig, an excellent Liberal, is seated high on the bench of
justice, instead of that time-serving Conservative, Sir Alexander
McSilk. Men and not measures are, no doubt, the very life of
politics. But then it is not the fashion to say so in public places.
Mr. Gresham was determined to introduce that fashion on the present
occasion. He did not think very much of Mr. Daubeny's Bill. So
he told his friends at the Duke's house. The Bill was full of
faults,--went too far in one direction, and not far enough in
another. It was not difficult to pick holes in the Bill. But the sin
of sins consisted in this,--that it was to be passed, if passed at
all, by the aid of men who would sin against their consciences by
each vote they gave in its favour. What but treachery could be
expected from an army in which every officer, and every private, was
called upon to fight against his convictions? The meeting passed off
with dissension, and it was agreed that the House of Commons should
be called upon to reject the Church Bill simply because it was
proposed from that side of the House on which the minority was
sitting. As there were more than two hundred members present on the
occasion, by none of whom were any objections raised, it seemed
probable that Mr. Gresham might be successful. There was still,
however, doubt in the minds of some men. "It's all very well," said
Mr. Ratler, "but Turnbull wasn't there, you know."

But from what took place the next day but one in Park Lane it would
almost seem that the Duchess had been there. She came at once to see
Madame Goesler, having very firmly determined that the Duke's death
should not have the appearance of interrupting her intimacy with her
friend. "Was it not very disagreeable,"--asked Madame Goesler,--"just
the day you came to town?"

"We didn't think of that at all. One is not allowed to think of
anything now. It was very improper, of course, because of the Duke's
death;--but that had to be put on one side. And then it was quite
contrary to etiquette that Peers and Commoners should be brought
together. I think there was some idea of making sure of Plantagenet,
and so they all came and wore out our carpets. There wasn't above a
dozen peers; but they were enough to show that all the old landmarks
have been upset. I don't think any one would have objected if I had
opened the meeting myself, and called upon Mrs. Bonteen to second
me."

"Why Mrs. Bonteen?"

"Because next to myself she's the most talkative and political woman
we have. She was at our house yesterday, and I'm not quite sure that
she doesn't intend to cut me out."

"We must put her down, Lady Glen."

"Perhaps she'll put me down now that we're half shelved. The men did
make such a racket, and yet no one seemed to speak for two minutes
except Mr. Gresham, who stood upon my pet footstool, and kicked it
almost to pieces."

"Was Mr. Finn there?"

"Everybody was there, I suppose. What makes you ask particularly
about Mr. Finn?"

"Because he's a friend."

"That's come up again, has it? He's the handsome Irishman, isn't he,
that came to Matching, the same day that brought you there?"

"He is an Irishman, and he was at Matching, that day."

"He's certainly handsome. What a day that was, Marie! When one thinks
of it all,--of all the perils and all the salvations, how strange
it is! I wonder whether you would have liked it now if you were the
Dowager Duchess."

"I should have had some enjoyment, I suppose."

"I don't know that it would have done us any harm, and yet how keen I
was about it. We can't give you the rank now, and you won't take the
money."

"Not the money, certainly."

"Plantagenet says you'll have to take it;--but it seems to me he's
always wrong. There are so many things that one must do that one
doesn't do. He never perceives that everything gets changed every
five years. So Mr. Finn is the favourite again?"

"He is a friend whom I like. I may be allowed to have a friend, I
suppose."

"A dozen, my dear;--and all of them good-looking. Good-bye, dear.
Pray come to us. Don't stand off and make yourself disagreeable.
We shan't be giving dinner parties, but you can come whenever you
please. Tell me at once;--do you mean to be disagreeable?"

Then Madame Goesler was obliged to promise that she would not be more
disagreeable than her nature had made her.



CHAPTER XXXII

The World Becomes Cold


A great deal was said by very many persons in London as to the
murderous attack which had been made by Mr. Kennedy on Phineas Finn
in Judd Street, but the advice given by Mr. Slide in _The People's
Banner_ to the police was not taken. No public or official inquiry
was made into the circumstance. Mr. Kennedy, under the care of his
cousin, retreated to Scotland; and, as it seemed, there was to be
an end of it. Throughout the month of March various smaller bolts
were thrust both at Phineas and at the police by the editor of the
above-named newspaper, but they seemed to fall without much effect.
No one was put in prison; nor was any one ever examined. But,
nevertheless, these missiles had their effect. Everybody knew that
there had been a "row" between Mr. Kennedy and Phineas Finn, and that
the "row" had been made about Mr. Kennedy's wife. Everybody knew
that a pistol had been fired at Finn's head; and a great many people
thought that there had been some cause for the assault. It was
alleged at one club that the present member for Tankerville had spent
the greater part of the last two years at Dresden, and at another
that he had called on Mr. Kennedy twice, once down in Scotland,
and once at the hotel in Judd Street, with a view of inducing that
gentleman to concede to a divorce. There was also a very romantic
story afloat as to an engagement which had existed between Lady Laura
and Phineas Finn before the lady had been induced by her father to
marry the richer suitor. Various details were given in corroboration
of these stories. Was it not known that the Earl had purchased the
submission of Phineas Finn by a seat for his borough of Loughton?
Was it not known that Lord Chiltern, the brother of Lady Laura, had
fought a duel with Phineas Finn? Was it not known that Mr. Kennedy
himself had been as it were coerced into quiescence by the singular
fact that he had been saved from garotters in the street by the
opportune interference of Phineas Finn? It was even suggested that
the scene with the garotters had been cunningly planned by Phineas
Finn, that he might in this way be able to restrain the anger of
the husband of the lady whom he loved. All these stories were very
pretty; but as the reader, it is hoped, knows, they were all untrue.
Phineas had made but one short visit to Dresden in his life. Lady
Laura had been engaged to Mr. Kennedy before Phineas had ever spoken
to her of his love. The duel with Lord Chiltern had been about
another lady, and the seat at Loughton had been conferred upon
Phineas chiefly on account of his prowess in extricating Mr. Kennedy
from the garotters,--respecting which circumstance it may be said
that as the meeting in the street was fortuitous, the reward was
greater than the occasion seemed to require.

While all these things were being said Phineas became something of a
hero. A man who is supposed to have caused a disturbance between two
married people, in a certain rank of life, does generally receive a
certain meed of admiration. A man who was asked out to dinner twice a
week before such rumours were afloat, would probably receive double
that number of invitations afterwards. And then to have been shot
at by a madman in a room, and to be the subject of the venom of a
_People's Banner_, tends also to Fame. Other ladies besides Madame
Goesler were anxious to have the story from the very lips of the
hero, and in this way Phineas Finn became a conspicuous man. But
Fame begets envy, and there were some who said that the member for
Tankerville had injured his prospects with his party. It may be very
well to give a dinner to a man who has caused the wife of a late
Cabinet Minister to quarrel with her husband; but it can hardly be
expected that he should be placed in office by the head of the party
to which that late Cabinet Minister belonged. "I never saw such a
fellow as you are," said Barrington Erle to him. "You are always
getting into a mess."

"Nobody ought to know better than you how false all these calumnies
are." This he said because Erle and Lady Laura were cousins.

"Of course they are calumnies; but you had heard them before, and
what made you go poking your head into the lion's mouth?"

Mr. Bonteen was very much harder upon him than was Barrington Erle.
"I never liked him from the first, and always knew he would not run
straight. No Irishman ever does." This was said to Viscount Fawn, a
distinguished member of the Liberal party, who had but lately been
married, and was known to have very strict notions as to the bonds of
matrimony. He had been heard to say that any man who had interfered
with the happiness of a married couple should be held to have
committed a capital offence.

"I don't know whether the story about Lady Laura is true."

"Of course it's true. All the world knows it to be true. He was
always there; at Loughlinter, and at Saulsby, and in Portman
Square after she had left her husband. The mischief he has done is
incalculable. There's a Conservative sitting in poor Kennedy's seat
for Dunross-shire."

"That might have been the case anyway."

"Nothing could have turned Kennedy out. Don't you remember how he
behaved about the Irish Land Question? I hate such fellows."

"If I thought it true about Lady Laura--"

Lord Fawn was again about to express his opinion in regard to
matrimony, but Mr. Bonteen was too impetuous to listen to him. "It's
out of the question that he should come in again. At any rate if he
does, I won't. I shall tell Gresham so very plainly. The women will
do all that they can for him. They always do for a fellow of that
kind."

Phineas heard of it;--not exactly by any repetition of the words
that were spoken, but by chance phrases, and from the looks of men.
Lord Cantrip, who was his best friend among those who were certain
to hold high office in a Liberal Government, did not talk to him
cheerily,--did not speak as though he, Phineas, would as a matter
of course have some place assigned to him. And he thought that Mr.
Gresham was hardly as cordial to him as he might be when they met
in the closer intercourse of the House. There was always a word
or two spoken, and sometimes a shaking of hands. He had no right
to complain. But yet he knew that something was wanting. We can
generally read a man's purpose towards us in his manner, if his
purposes are of much moment to us.

Phineas had written to Lady Laura, giving her an account of the
occurrence in Judd Street on the 1st of March, and had received from
her a short answer by return of post. It contained hardly more than a
thanksgiving that his life had not been sacrificed, and in a day or
two she had written again, letting him know that she had determined
to consult her father. Then on the last day of the month he received
the following letter:--


   Dresden, March 27th, 18--.

   MY DEAR FRIEND,--

   At last we have resolved that we will go back to England,
   --almost at once. Things have gone so rapidly that I
   hardly know how to explain them all, but that is Papa's
   resolution. His lawyer, Mr. Forster, tells him that it
   will be best, and goes so far as to say that it is
   imperative on my behalf that some steps should be taken
   to put an end to the present state of things. I will
   not scruple to tell you that he is actuated chiefly by
   considerations as to money. It is astonishing to me that
   a man who has all his life been so liberal should now in
   his old age think so much about it. It is, however, in no
   degree for himself. It is all for me. He cannot bear to
   think that my fortune should be withheld from me by Mr.
   Kennedy while I have done nothing wrong. I was obliged to
   show him your letter, and what you said about the control
   of money took hold of his mind at once. He thinks that
   if my unfortunate husband be insane, there can be no
   difficulty in my obtaining a separation on terms which
   would oblige him or his friends to restore this horrid
   money.

   Of course I could stay if I chose. Papa would not refuse
   to find a home for me here. But I do agree with Mr.
   Forster that something should be done to stop the tongues
   of ill-conditioned people. The idea of having my name
   dragged through the newspapers is dreadful to me; but if
   this must be done one way or the other, it will be better
   that it should be done with truth. There is nothing that
   I need fear,--as you know so well.

   I cannot look forward to happiness anywhere. If the
   question of separation were once settled, I do not know
   whether I would not prefer returning here to remaining in
   London. Papa has got tired of the place, and wants, he
   says, to see Saulsby once again before he dies. What can I
   say in answer to this, but that I will go? We have sent to
   have the house in Portman Square got ready for us, and I
   suppose we shall be there about the 15th of next month.
   Papa has instructed Mr. Forster to tell Mr. Kennedy's
   lawyer that we are coming, and he is to find out, if he
   can, whether any interference in the management of the
   property has been as yet made by the family. Perhaps I
   ought to tell you that Mr. Forster has expressed surprise
   that you did not call on the police when the shot was
   fired. Of course I can understand it all. God bless you.

   Your affectionate friend,

   L. K.


Phineas was obliged to console himself by reflecting that if she
understood him of course that was everything. His first and great
duty in the matter had been to her. If in performing that duty he had
sacrificed himself, he must bear his undeserved punishment like a
man. That he was to be punished he began to perceive too clearly. The
conviction that Mr. Daubeny must recede from the Treasury Bench after
the coming debate became every day stronger, and within the little
inner circles of the Liberal party the usual discussions were made
as to the Ministry which Mr. Gresham would, as a matter of course,
be called upon to form. But in these discussions Phineas Finn did
not find himself taking an assured and comfortable part. Laurence
Fitzgibbon, his countryman,--who in the way of work had never been
worth his salt,--was eager, happy, and without a doubt. Others of the
old stagers, men who had been going in and out ever since they had
been able to get seats in Parliament, stood about in clubs, and in
lobbies, and chambers of the House, with all that busy, magpie air
which is worn only by those who have high hopes of good things to
come speedily. Lord Mount Thistle was more sublime and ponderous
than ever, though they who best understood the party declared that
he would never again be invited to undergo the cares of office. His
lordship was one of those terrible political burdens, engendered
originally by private friendship or family considerations, which
one Minister leaves to another. Sir Gregory Grogram, the great Whig
lawyer, showed plainly by his manner that he thought himself at last
secure of reaching the reward for which he had been struggling all
his life; for it was understood by all men who knew anything that
Lord Weazeling was not to be asked again to sit on the Woolsack.
No better advocate or effective politician ever lived; but it was
supposed that he lacked dignity for the office of first judge in
the land. That most of the old lot would come back was a matter of
course.

There would be the Duke,--the Duke of St. Bungay, who had for years
past been "the Duke" when Liberal administrations were discussed, and
the second Duke, whom we know so well; and Sir Harry Coldfoot, and
Legge Wilson, Lord Cantrip, Lord Thrift, and the rest of them. There
would of course be Lord Fawn, Mr. Ratler, and Mr. Erle. The thing was
so thoroughly settled that one was almost tempted to think that the
Prime Minister himself would have no voice in the selections to be
made. As to one office it was acknowledged on all sides that a doubt
existed which would at last be found to be very injurious,--as some
thought altogether crushing,--to the party. To whom would Mr. Gresham
entrust the financial affairs of the country? Who would be the new
Chancellor of the Exchequer? There were not a few who inferred that
Mr. Bonteen would be promoted to that high office. During the last
two years he had devoted himself to decimal coinage with a zeal only
second to that displayed by Plantagenet Palliser, and was accustomed
to say of himself that he had almost perished under his exertions. It
was supposed that he would have the support of the present Duke of
Omnium,--and that Mr. Gresham, who disliked the man, would be coerced
by the fact that there was no other competitor. That Mr. Bonteen
should go into the Cabinet would be gall and wormwood to many brother
Liberals; but gall and wormwood such as this have to be swallowed.
The rising in life of our familiar friends is, perhaps, the bitterest
morsel of the bitter bread which we are called upon to eat in life.
But we do eat it; and after a while it becomes food to us,--when we
find ourselves able to use, on behalf, perhaps, of our children, the
influence of those whom we had once hoped to leave behind in the race
of life. When a man suddenly shoots up into power few suffer from it
very acutely. The rise of a Pitt can have caused no heart-burning.
But Mr. Bonteen had been a hack among the hacks, had filled the usual
half-dozen places, had been a junior Lord, a Vice-President, a Deputy
Controller, a Chief Commissioner, and a Joint Secretary. His hopes
had been raised or abased among the places of £1,000, £1,200, or
£1,500 a year. He had hitherto culminated at £2,000, and had been
supposed with diligence to have worked himself up to the top of
the ladder, as far as the ladder was accessible to him. And now he
was spoken of in connection with one of the highest offices of the
State! Of course this created much uneasiness, and gave rise to
many prophecies of failure. But in the midst of it all no office
was assigned to Phineas Finn; and there was a general feeling, not
expressed, but understood, that his affair with Mr. Kennedy stood in
his way.

Quintus Slide had undertaken to crush him! Could it be possible that
so mean a man should be able to make good so monstrous a threat?
The man was very mean, and the threat had been absurd as well as
monstrous; and yet it seemed that it might be realised. Phineas was
too proud to ask questions, even of Barrington Erle, but he felt
that he was being "left out in the cold," because the editor of _The
People's Banner_ had said that no government could employ him; and at
this moment, on the very morning of the day which was to usher in the
great debate, which was to be so fatal to Mr. Daubeny and his Church
Reform, another thunderbolt was hurled. The "we" of _The People's
Banner_ had learned that the very painful matter, to which they had
been compelled by a sense of duty to call the public attention in
reference to the late member for Dunross-shire and the present member
for Tankerville, would be brought before one of the tribunals of the
country, in reference to the matrimonial differences between Mr.
Kennedy and his wife. It would be in the remembrance of their readers
that the unfortunate gentleman had been provoked to fire a pistol
at the head of the member for Tankerville,--a circumstance which,
though publicly known, had never been brought under the notice of
the police. There was reason to hope that the mystery might now be
cleared up, and that the ends of justice would demand that a certain
document should be produced, which they,--the "we,"--had been
vexatiously restrained from giving to their readers, although it had
been most carefully prepared for publication in the columns of _The
People's Banner_. Then the thunderbolt went on to say that there was
evidently a great move among the members of the so-called Liberal
party, who seemed to think that it was only necessary that they
should open their mouths wide enough in order that the sweets of
office should fall into them. The "we" were quite of a different
opinion. The "we" believed that no Minister for many a long day had
been so firmly fixed on the Treasury Bench as was Mr. Daubeny at the
present moment. But this at any rate might be inferred;--that should
Mr. Gresham by any unhappy combination of circumstances be called
upon to form a Ministry, it would be quite impossible for him to
include within it the name of the member for Tankerville. This was
the second great thunderbolt that fell,--and so did the work of
crushing our poor friend proceed.

There was a great injustice in all this; at least so Phineas
thought;--injustice, not only from the hands of Mr. Slide, who was
unjust as a matter of course, but also from those who ought to have
been his staunch friends. He had been enticed over to England almost
with a promise of office, and he was sure that he had done nothing
which deserved punishment, or even censure. He could not condescend
to complain,--nor indeed as yet could he say that there was ground
for complaint. Nothing had been done to him. Not a word had been
spoken,--except those lying words in the newspapers which he was too
proud to notice. On one matter, however, he was determined to be
firm. When Barrington Erle had absolutely insisted that he should
vote upon the Church Bill in opposition to all that he had said upon
the subject at Tankerville, he had stipulated that he should have an
opportunity in the great debate which would certainly take place of
explaining his conduct,--or, in other words, that the privilege of
making a speech should be accorded to him at a time in which very
many members would no doubt attempt to speak and would attempt in
vain. It may be imagined,--probably still is imagined by a great
many,--that no such pledge as this could be given, that the right to
speak depends simply on the Speaker's eye, and that energy at the
moment in attracting attention would alone be of account to an eager
orator. But Phineas knew the House too well to trust to such a
theory. That some preliminary assistance would be given to the
travelling of the Speaker's eye, in so important a debate, he knew
very well; and he knew also that a promise from Barrington Erle or
from Mr. Ratler would be his best security. "That will be all right,
of course," said Barrington Erle to him on the evening the day before
the debate: "We have quite counted on your speaking." There had been
a certain sullenness in the tone with which Phineas had asked his
question as though he had been labouring under a grievance, and he
felt himself rebuked by the cordiality of the reply. "I suppose we
had better fix it for Monday or Tuesday," said the other. "We hope
to get it over by Tuesday, but there is no knowing. At any rate you
shan't be thrown over." It was almost on his tongue,--the entire
story of his grievance, the expression of his feeling that he was not
being treated as one of the chosen; but he restrained himself. He
liked Barrington Erle well enough, but not so well as to justify him
in asking for sympathy.

Nor had it been his wont in any of the troubles of his life to ask
for sympathy from a man. He had always gone to some woman;--in old
days to Lady Laura, or to Violet Effingham, or to Madame Goesler. By
them he could endure to be petted, praised, or upon occasion even
pitied. But pity or praise from any man had been distasteful to him.
On the morning of the 1st of April he again went to Park Lane, not
with any formed plan of telling the lady of his wrongs, but driven by
a feeling that he wanted comfort, which might perhaps be found there.
The lady received him very kindly, and at once inquired as to the
great political tournament which was about to be commenced. "Yes; we
begin to-day," said Phineas. "Mr. Daubeny will speak, I should say,
from half-past four till seven. I wonder you don't go and hear him."

"What a pleasure! To hear a man speak for two hours and a half about
the Church of England. One must be very hard driven for amusement!
Will you tell me that you like it?"

"I like to hear a good speech."

"But you have the excitement before you of making a good speech in
answer. You are in the fight. A poor woman, shut up in a cage, feels
there more acutely than anywhere else how insignificant a position
she fills in the world."

"You don't advocate the rights of women, Madame Goesler?"

"Oh, no. Knowing our inferiority I submit without a grumble; but I am
not sure that I care to go and listen to the squabbles of my masters.
You may arrange it all among you, and I will accept what you do,
whether it be good or bad,--as I must; but I cannot take so much
interest in the proceeding as to spend my time in listening where I
cannot speak, and in looking when I cannot be seen. You will speak?"

"Yes; I think so."

"I shall read your speech, which is more than I shall do for most of
the others. And when it is all over, will your turn come?"

"Not mine individually, Madame Goesler."

"But it will be yours individually;--will it not?" she asked with
energy. Then gradually, with half-pronounced sentences, he explained
to her that even in the event of the formation of a Liberal
Government, he did not expect that any place would be offered to him.
"And why not? We have been all speaking of it as a certainty."

He longed to inquire who were the all of whom she spoke, but he could
not do it without an egotism which would be distasteful to him. "I
can hardly tell;--but I don't think I shall be asked to join them."

"You would wish it?"

"Yes;--talking to you I do not see why I should hesitate to say so."

"Talking to me, why should you hesitate to say anything about
yourself that is true? I can hold my tongue. I do not gossip about my
friends. Whose doing is it?"

"I do not know that it is any man's doing."

"But it must be. Everybody said that you were to be one of them if
you could get the other people out. Is it Mr. Bonteen?"

"Likely enough. Not that I know anything of the kind; but as I hate
him from the bottom of my heart, it is natural to suppose that he has
the same feeling in regard to me."

"I agree with you there."

"But I don't know that it comes from any feeling of that kind."

"What does it come from?"

"You have heard all the calumny about Lady Laura Kennedy."

"You do not mean to say that a story such as that has affected your
position."

"I fancy it has. But you must not suppose, Madame Goesler, that I
mean to complain. A man must take these things as they come. No one
has received more kindness from friends than I have, and few perhaps
more favours from fortune. All this about Mr. Kennedy has been
unlucky,--but it cannot be helped."

"Do you mean to say that the morals of your party will be offended?"
said Madame Goesler, almost laughing.

"Lord Fawn, you know, is very particular. In sober earnest one cannot
tell how these things operate; but they do operate gradually. One's
friends are sometimes very glad of an excuse for not befriending
one."

"Lady Laura is coming home?"

"Yes."

"That will put an end to it."

"There is nothing to put an end to except the foul-mouthed malice of
a lying newspaper. Nobody believes anything against Lady Laura."

"I'm not so sure of that. I believe nothing against her."

"I'm sure you do not, Madame Goesler. Nor do I think that anybody
does. It is too absurd for belief from beginning to end. Good-bye.
Perhaps I shall see you when the debate is over."

"Of course you will. Good-bye, and success to your oratory." Then
Madame Goesler resolved that she would say a few judicious words to
her friend, the Duchess, respecting Phineas Finn.



CHAPTER XXXIII

The Two Gladiators


The great debate was commenced with all the solemnities which are
customary on such occasions, and which make men think for the day
that no moment of greater excitement has ever blessed or cursed the
country. Upon the present occasion London was full of clergymen.
The specially clerical clubs,--the Oxford and Cambridge, the Old
University, and the Athenaeum,--were black with them. The bishops and
deans, as usual, were pleasant in their manner and happy-looking, in
spite of adverse circumstances. When one sees a bishop in the hours
of the distress of the Church, one always thinks of the just and firm
man who will stand fearless while the ruins of the world are falling
about his ears. But the parsons from the country were a sorry
sight to see. They were in earnest with all their hearts, and did
believe,--not that the crack of doom was coming, which they could
have borne with equanimity if convinced that their influence would
last to the end,--but that the Evil One was to be made welcome
upon the earth by Act of Parliament. It is out of nature that any
man should think it good that his own order should be repressed,
curtailed, and deprived of its power. If we go among cab-drivers
or letter-carriers, among butlers or gamekeepers, among tailors or
butchers, among farmers or graziers, among doctors or attorneys, we
shall find in each set of men a conviction that the welfare of the
community depends upon the firmness with which they,--especially
they,--hold their own. This is so manifestly true with the Bar that
no barrister in practice scruples to avow that barristers in practice
are the salt of the earth. The personal confidence of a judge in his
own position is beautiful, being salutary to the country, though not
unfrequently damaging to the character of the man. But if this be so
with men who are conscious of no higher influence than that exercised
over the bodies and minds of their fellow creatures, how much
stronger must be the feeling when the influence affects the soul! To
the outsider, or layman, who simply uses a cab, or receives a letter,
or goes to law, or has to be tried, these pretensions are ridiculous
or annoying, according to the ascendancy of the pretender at the
moment. But as the clerical pretensions are more exacting than
all others, being put forward with an assertion that no answer is
possible without breach of duty and sin, so are they more galling.
The fight has been going on since the idea of a mitre first entered
the heart of a priest,--since dominion in this world has found itself
capable of sustentation by the exercise of fear as to the world to
come. We do believe,--the majority among us does so,--that if we live
and die in sin we shall after some fashion come to great punishment,
and we believe also that by having pastors among us who shall be
men of God, we may best aid ourselves and our children in avoiding
this bitter end. But then the pastors and men of God can only be
human,--cannot be altogether men of God; and so they have oppressed
us, and burned us, and tortured us, and hence come to love palaces,
and fine linen, and purple, and, alas, sometimes, mere luxury and
idleness. The torturing and the burning, as also to speak truth the
luxury and the idleness, have, among us, been already conquered, but
the idea of ascendancy remains. What is a thoughtful man to do who
acknowledges the danger of his soul, but cannot swallow his parson
whole simply because he has been sent to him from some source in
which he has no special confidence, perhaps by some distant lord,
perhaps by a Lord Chancellor whose political friend has had a son
with a tutor? What is he to do when, in spite of some fine linen and
purple left among us, the provision for the man of God in his parish
or district is so poor that no man of God fitted to teach him will
come and take it? In no spirit of animosity to religion he begins
to tell himself that Church and State together was a monkish
combination, fit perhaps for monkish days, but no longer having
fitness, and not much longer capable of existence in this country.
But to the parson himself,--to the honest, hardworking, conscientious
priest who does in his heart of hearts believe that no diminution in
the general influence of his order can be made without ruin to the
souls of men,--this opinion, when it becomes dominant, is as though
the world were in truth breaking to pieces over his head. The world
has been broken to pieces in the same way often;--but extreme Chaos
does not come. The cabman and the letter-carrier always expect that
Chaos will very nearly come when they are disturbed. The barristers
are sure of Chaos when the sanctity of Benchers is in question. What
utter Chaos would be promised to us could any one with impunity
contemn the majesty of the House of Commons! But of all these
Chaoses there can be no Chaos equal to that which in the mind of a
zealous Oxford-bred constitutional country parson must attend that
annihilation of his special condition which will be produced by the
disestablishment of the Church. Of all good fellows he is the best
good fellow. He is genial, hospitable, well-educated, and always
has either a pretty wife or pretty daughters. But he has so
extreme a belief in himself that he cannot endure to be told that
absolute Chaos will not come at once if he be disturbed. And now
disturbances,--ay, and utter dislocation and ruin were to come from
the hands of a friend! Was it wonderful that parsons should be seen
about Westminster in flocks with _"Et tu, Brute"_ written on their
faces as plainly as the law on the brows of a Pharisee?

The Speaker had been harassed for orders. The powers and prowess
of every individual member had been put to the test. The galleries
were crowded. Ladies' places had been ballotted for with desperate
enthusiasm, in spite of the sarcasm against the House which Madame
Goesler had expressed. Two royal princes and a royal duke were
accommodated within the House in an irregular manner. Peers swarmed
in the passages, and were too happy to find standing room. Bishops
jostled against lay barons with no other preference than that
afforded to them by their broader shoulders. Men, and especially
clergymen, came to the galleries loaded with sandwiches and flasks,
prepared to hear all there was to be heard should the debate last
from 4 P.M. to the same hour on the following morning. At two in the
afternoon the entrances to the House were barred, and men of all
ranks,--deans, prebends, peers' sons, and baronets,--stood there
patiently waiting till some powerful nobleman should let them
through. The very ventilating chambers under the House were filled
with courteous listeners, who had all pledged themselves that under
no possible provocation would they even cough during the debate.

A few minutes after four, in a House from which hardly more than a
dozen members were absent, Mr. Daubeny took his seat with that air of
affected indifference to things around him which is peculiar to him.
He entered slowly, amidst cheers from his side of the House, which no
doubt were loud in proportion to the dismay of the cheerers as to the
matter in hand. Gentlemen lacking substantial sympathy with their
leader found it to be comfortable to deceive themselves, and raise
their hearts at the same time by the easy enthusiasm of noise. Mr.
Daubeny having sat down and covered his head just raised his hat from
his brows, and then tried to look as though he were no more than any
other gentleman present. But the peculiar consciousness of the man
displayed itself even in his constrained absence of motion. You could
see that he felt himself to be the beheld of all beholders, and that
he enjoyed the position,--with some slight inward trepidation lest
the effort to be made should not equal the greatness of the occasion.
Immediately after him Mr. Gresham bustled up the centre of the House
amidst a roar of good-humoured welcome. We have had many Ministers
who have been personally dearer to their individual adherents in the
House than the present leader of the Opposition and late Premier, but
none, perhaps, who has been more generally respected by his party
for earnestness and sincerity. On the present occasion there was a
fierceness, almost a ferocity, in his very countenance, to the fire
of which friends and enemies were equally anxious to add fuel,--the
friends in order that so might these recreant Tories be more
thoroughly annihilated, and the enemies, that their enemy's
indiscretion might act back upon himself to his confusion. For,
indeed, it never could be denied that as a Prime Minister Mr. Gresham
could be very indiscreet.

A certain small amount of ordinary business was done, to the disgust
of expectant strangers, which was as trivial as possible in its
nature,--so arranged, apparently, that the importance of what was to
follow might be enhanced by the force of contrast. And, to make the
dismay of the novice stranger more thorough, questions were asked and
answers were given in so low a voice, and Mr. Speaker uttered a word
or two in so quick and shambling a fashion, that he, the novice
stranger, began to fear that no word of the debate would reach him up
there in his crowded back seat. All this, however, occupied but a few
minutes, and at twenty minutes past four Mr. Daubeny was on his legs.
Then the novice stranger found that, though he could not see Mr.
Daubeny without the aid of an opera glass, he could hear every word
that fell from his lips.

Mr. Daubeny began by regretting the hardness of his position, in that
he must, with what thoroughness he might be able to achieve, apply
himself to two great subjects, whereas the right honourable gentleman
opposite had already declared, with all the formality which could be
made to attach itself to a combined meeting of peers and commoners,
that he would confine himself strictly to one. The subject selected
by the right honourable gentleman opposite on the present occasion
was not the question of Church Reform. The right honourable gentleman
had pledged himself with an almost sacred enthusiasm to ignore that
subject altogether. No doubt it was the question before the House,
and he, himself,--the present speaker,--must unfortunately discuss it
at some length. The right honourable gentleman opposite would not,
on this great occasion, trouble himself with anything of so little
moment. And it might be presumed that the political followers of the
right honourable gentleman would be equally reticent, as they were
understood to have accepted his tactics without a dissentient voice.
He, Mr. Daubeny, was the last man in England to deny the importance
of the question which the right honourable gentleman would select for
discussions in preference to that of the condition of the Church.
That question was a very simple one, and might be put to the House
in a very few words. Coming from the mouth of the right honourable
gentleman, the proposition would probably be made in this
form:--"That this House does think that I ought to be Prime Minister
now, and as long as I may possess a seat in this House." It was
impossible to deny the importance of that question; but perhaps he,
Mr. Daubeny, might be justified in demurring to the preference given
to it over every other matter, let that matter be of what importance
it might be to the material welfare of the country.

He made his point well; but he made it too often. And an attack of
that kind, personal and savage in its nature, loses its effect when
it is evident that the words have been prepared. A good deal may be
done in dispute by calling a man an ass or a knave,--but the resolve
to use the words should have been made only at the moment, and they
should come hot from the heart. There was much neatness and some
acuteness in Mr. Daubeny's satire, but there was no heat, and it was
prolix. It had, however, the effect of irritating Mr. Gresham,--as
was evident from the manner in which he moved his hat and shuffled
his feet.

A man destined to sit conspicuously on our Treasury Bench, or on the
seat opposite to it, should ask the gods for a thick skin as a first
gift. The need of this in our national assembly is greater than
elsewhere, because the differences between the men opposed to each
other are smaller. When two foes meet together in the same Chamber,
one of whom advocates the personal government of an individual ruler,
and the other that form of State, which has come to be called a Red
Republic, they deal, no doubt, weighty blows of oratory at each
other, but blows which never hurt at the moment. They may cut each
other's throats if they can find an opportunity; but they do not bite
each other like dogs over a bone. But when opponents are almost in
accord, as is always the case with our parliamentary gladiators, they
are ever striving to give maddening little wounds through the joints
of the harness. What is there with us to create the divergence
necessary for debate but the pride of personal skill in the
encounter? Who desires among us to put down the Queen, or to
repudiate the National Debt, or to destroy religious worship, or even
to disturb the ranks of society? When some small measure of reform
has thoroughly recommended itself to the country,--so thoroughly that
all men know that the country will have it,--then the question arises
whether its details shall be arranged by the political party which
calls itself Liberal,--or by that which is termed Conservative. The
men are so near to each other in all their convictions and theories
of life that nothing is left to them but personal competition for the
doing of the thing that is to be done. It is the same in religion.
The apostle of Christianity and the infidel can meet without a chance
of a quarrel; but it is never safe to bring together two men who
differ about a saint or a surplice.

Mr. Daubeny, having thus attacked and wounded his enemy, rushed
boldly into the question of Church Reform, taking no little pride
to himself and to his party that so great a blessing should be
bestowed upon the country from so unexpected a source. "See what we
Conservatives can do. In fact we will conserve nothing when we find
that you do not desire to have it conserved any longer. _'Quod minime
reris Graiâ pandetur ab urbe.'_" It was exactly the reverse of the
complaint which Mr. Gresham was about to make. On the subject of
the Church itself he was rather misty but very profound. He went
into the question of very early Churches indeed, and spoke of the
misappropriation of endowments in the time of Eli. The establishment
of the Levites had been no doubt complete; but changes had been
effected as circumstances required. He was presumed to have alluded
to the order of Melchisedek, but he abstained from any mention of the
name. He roamed very wide, and gave many of his hearers an idea that
his erudition had carried him into regions in which it was impossible
to follow him. The gist of his argument was to show that audacity in
Reform was the very backbone of Conservatism. By a clearly pronounced
disunion of Church and State the theocracy of Thomas à Becket would
be restored, and the people of England would soon again become the
faithful flocks of faithful shepherds. By taking away the endowments
from the parishes, and giving them back in some complicated way to
the country, the parishes would be better able than ever to support
their clergymen. Bishops would be bishops indeed, when they were no
longer the creatures of a Minister's breath. As to the deans, not
seeing a clear way to satisfy aspirants for future vacancies in the
deaneries, he became more than usually vague, but seemed to imply
that the Bill which was now with the leave of the House to be read a
second time, contained no clause forbidding the appointment of deans,
though the special stipend of the office must be matter of
consideration with the new Church Synod.

The details of this part of his speech were felt to be dull by the
strangers. As long as he would abuse Mr. Gresham, men could listen
with pleasure; and could keep their attention fixed while he referred
to the general Conservatism of the party which he had the honour
of leading. There was a raciness in the promise of so much Church
destruction from the chosen leader of the Church party, which was
assisted by a conviction in the minds of most men that it was
impossible for unfortunate Conservatives to refuse to follow this
leader, let him lead where he might. There was a gratification in
feeling that the country party was bound to follow, even should he
take them into the very bowels of a mountain, as the pied piper did
the children of Hamelin;--and this made listening pleasant. But when
Mr. Daubeny stated the effect of his different clauses, explaining
what was to be taken and what left,--with a fervent assurance that
what was to be left would, under the altered circumstances, go much
further than the whole had gone before,--then the audience became
weary, and began to think that it was time that some other gentleman
should be upon his legs. But at the end of the Minister's speech
there was another touch of invective which went far to redeem him.
He returned to that personal question to which his adversary had
undertaken to confine himself, and expressed a holy horror at
the political doctrine which was implied. He, during a prolonged
Parliamentary experience, had encountered much factious opposition.
He would even acknowledge that he had seen it exercised on both sides
of the House, though he had always striven to keep himself free from
its baneful influence. But never till now had he known a statesman
proclaim his intention of depending upon faction, and upon faction
alone, for the result which he desired to achieve. Let the right
honourable gentleman raise a contest on either the principles or
the details of the measure, and he would be quite content to abide
the decision of the House; but he should regard such a raid as that
threatened against him and his friends by the right honourable
gentleman as unconstitutional, revolutionary, and tyrannical. He felt
sure that an opposition so based, and so maintained, even if it be
enabled by the heated feelings of the moment to obtain an unfortunate
success in the House, would not be encouraged by the sympathy
and support of the country at large. By these last words he was
understood to signify that should he be beaten on the second reading,
not in reference to the merits of the Bill, but simply on the issue
as proposed by Mr. Gresham, he would again dissolve the House before
he would resign. Now it was very well understood that there were
Liberal members in the House who would prefer even the success of Mr.
Daubeny to a speedy reappearance before their constituents.

Mr. Daubeny spoke till nearly eight, and it was surmised at the time
that he had craftily arranged his oratory so as to embarrass his
opponent. The House had met at four, and was to sit continuously till
it was adjourned for the night. When this is the case, gentlemen
who speak about eight o'clock are too frequently obliged to address
themselves to empty benches. On the present occasion it was Mr.
Gresham's intention to follow his opponent at once, instead of
waiting, as is usual with a leader of his party, to the close of the
debate. It was understood that Mr. Gresham would follow Mr. Daubeny,
with the object of making a distinct charge against Ministers, so
that the vote on this second reading of the Church Bill might in
truth be a vote of want of confidence. But to commence his speech at
eight o'clock when the House was hungry and uneasy, would be a trial.
Had Mr. Daubeny closed an hour sooner there would, with a little
stretching of the favoured hours, have been time enough. Members
would not have objected to postpone their dinner till half-past
eight, or perhaps nine, when their favourite orator was on his legs.
But with Mr. Gresham beginning a great speech at eight, dinner would
altogether become doubtful, and the disaster might be serious. It was
not probable that Mr. Daubeny had even among his friends proclaimed
any such strategy; but it was thought by the political speculators of
the day that such an idea had been present to his mind.

But Mr. Gresham was not to be turned from his purpose. He waited for
a few moments, and then rose and addressed the Speaker. A few members
left the House;--gentlemen, doubtless, whose constitutions, weakened
by previous service, could not endure prolonged fasting. Some who had
nearly reached the door returned to their seats, mindful of Messrs.
Roby and Ratler. But for the bulk of those assembled the interest
of the moment was greater even than the love of dinner. Some of the
peers departed, and it was observed that a bishop or two left the
House; but among the strangers in the gallery, hardly a foot of space
was gained. He who gave up his seat then, gave it up for the night.

Mr. Gresham began with a calmness of tone which seemed almost to be
affected, but which arose from a struggle on his own part to repress
that superabundant energy of which he was only too conscious. But the
calmness soon gave place to warmth, which heated itself into violence
before he had been a quarter of an hour upon his legs. He soon became
even ferocious in his invective, and said things so bitter that
he had himself no conception of their bitterness. There was this
difference between the two men,--that whereas Mr. Daubeny hit always
as hard as he knew how to hit, having premeditated each blow, and
weighed its results beforehand, having calculated his power even to
the effect of a blow repeated on a wound already given, Mr. Gresham
struck right and left and straightforward with a readiness engendered
by practice, and in his fury might have murdered his antagonist
before he was aware that he had drawn blood. He began by refusing
absolutely to discuss the merits of the bill. The right honourable
gentleman had prided himself on his generosity as a Greek. He would
remind the right honourable gentleman that presents from Greeks had
ever been considered dangerous. "It is their gifts, and only their
gifts, that we fear," he said. The political gifts of the right
honourable gentleman, extracted by him from his unwilling colleagues
and followers, had always been more bitter to the taste than Dead
Sea apples. That such gifts should not be bestowed on the country
by unwilling hands, that reform should not come from those who
themselves felt the necessity of no reform, he believed to be the
wish not only of that House, but of the country at large. Would
any gentleman on that bench, excepting the right honourable
gentleman himself,--and he pointed to the crowded phalanx of the
Government,--get up and declare that this measure of Church Reform,
this severance of Church and State, was brought forward in consonance
with his own long-cherished political conviction? He accused that
party of being so bound to the chariot wheels of the right honourable
gentleman, as to be unable to abide by their own convictions. And as
to the right honourable gentleman himself, he would appeal to his
followers opposite to say whether the right honourable gentleman was
possessed of any one strong political conviction.

He had been accused of being unconstitutional, revolutionary, and
tyrannical. If the House would allow him he would very shortly
explain his idea of constitutional government as carried on in this
country. It was based and built on majorities in that House, and
supported solely by that power. There could be no constitutional
government in this country that was not so maintained. Any other
government must be both revolutionary and tyrannical. Any other
government was a usurpation; and he would make bold to tell the right
honourable gentleman that a Minister in this country who should
recommend Her Majesty to trust herself to advisers not supported by a
majority of the House of Commons, would plainly be guilty of usurping
the powers of the State. He threw from him with disdain the charge
which had been brought against himself of hankering after the sweets
of office. He indulged and gloried in indulging the highest ambition
of an English subject. But he gloried much more in the privileges and
power of that House, within the walls of which was centred all that
was salutary, all that was efficacious, all that was stable in the
political constitution of his country. It had been his pride to have
acted during nearly all his political life with that party which had
commanded a majority, but he would defy his most bitter adversary, he
would defy the right honourable gentleman himself, to point to any
period of his career in which he had been unwilling to succumb to a
majority when he himself had belonged to the minority.

He himself would regard the vote on this occasion as a vote of want
of confidence. He took the line he was now taking because he desired
to bring the House to a decision on that question. He himself had not
that confidence in the right honourable gentleman which would justify
him in accepting a measure on so important a subject as the union or
severance of Church and State from his hands. Should the majority of
the House differ from him and support the second reading of the Bill,
he would at once so far succumb as to give his best attention to
the clauses of the bill, and endeavour with the assistance of those
gentlemen who acted with him to make it suitable to the wants of the
country by omissions and additions as the clauses should pass through
Committee. But before doing that he would ask the House to decide
with all its solemnity and all its weight whether it was willing to
accept from the hands of the right honourable gentleman any measure
of reform on a matter so important as this now before them. It was
nearly ten when he sat down; and then the stomach of the House could
stand it no longer, and an adjournment at once took place.

On the next morning it was generally considered that Mr. Daubeny had
been too long and Mr. Gresham too passionate. There were some who
declared that Mr. Gresham had never been finer than when he described
the privileges of the House of Commons; and others who thought that
Mr. Daubeny's lucidity had been marvellous; but in this case, as in
most others, the speeches of the day were generally thought to have
been very inferior to the great efforts of the past.



CHAPTER XXXIV

The Universe


Before the House met again, the quidnuncs about the clubs, on both
sides of the question, had determined that Mr. Gresham's speech,
whether good or not as an effort of oratory, would serve its intended
purpose. He would be backed by a majority of votes, and it might
have been very doubtful whether such would have been the case had
he attempted to throw out the Bill on its merits. Mr. Ratler, by
the time that prayers had been read, had become almost certain of
success. There were very few Liberals in the House who were not
anxious to declare by their votes that they had no confidence in Mr.
Daubeny. Mr. Turnbull, the great Radical, and, perhaps, some two
dozen with him, would support the second reading, declaring that they
could not reconcile it with their consciences to record a vote in
favour of a union of Church and State. On all such occasions as the
present Mr. Turnbull was sure to make himself disagreeable to those
who sat near to him in the House. He was a man who thought that so
much was demanded of him in order that his independence might be
doubted by none. It was nothing to him, he was wont to say, who
called himself Prime Minister, or Secretary here, or President there.
But then there would be quite as much of this independence on the
Conservative as on the Liberal side of the House. Surely there would
be more than two dozen gentlemen who would be true enough to the
cherished principles of their whole lives to vote against such a Bill
as this! It was the fact that there were so very few so true which
added such a length to the faces of the country parsons. Six months
ago not a country gentleman in England would have listened to such a
proposition without loud protests as to its revolutionary wickedness.
And now, under the sole pressure of one man's authority, the subject
had become so common that men were assured that the thing would be
done even though of all things that could be done it were the worst.
"It is no good any longer having any opinion upon anything," one
parson said to another, as they sat together at their club with
their newspapers in their hands. "Nothing frightens any one,--no
infidelity, no wickedness, no revolution. All reverence is at an end,
and the Holy of Holies is no more even to the worshipper than the
threshold of the Temple." Though it became known that the Bill would
be lost, what comfort was there in that, when the battle was to be
won, not by the chosen Israelites to whom the Church with all its
appurtenances ought to be dear, but by a crew of Philistines who
would certainly follow the lead of their opponents in destroying the
holy structure?

On the Friday the debate was continued with much life on the
Ministerial side of the House. It was very easy for them to cry
Faction! Faction! and hardly necessary for them to do more. A few
parrot words had been learned as to the expediency of fitting the
great and increasing Church of England to the growing necessity of
the age. That the CHURCH OF ENGLAND would still be the CHURCH OF
ENGLAND was repeated till weary listeners were sick of the unmeaning
words. But the zeal of the combatants was displayed on that other
question. Faction was now the avowed weapon of the leaders of
the so-called Liberal side of the House, and it was very easy to
denounce the new doctrine. Every word that Mr. Gresham had spoken
was picked in pieces, and the enormity of his theory was exhibited.
He had boldly declared to them that they were to regard men and not
measures, and they were to show by their votes whether they were
prepared to accept such teaching. The speeches were, of course, made
by alternate orators, but the firing from the Conservative benches
was on this evening much the louder.

It would have seemed that with such an issue between them they might
almost have consented to divide after the completion of the two great
speeches. The course on which they were to run had been explained to
them, and it was not probable that any member's intention as to his
running would now be altered by anything that he might hear. Mr.
Turnbull's two dozen defaulters were all known, and the two dozen and
four true Conservatives were known also. But, nevertheless, a great
many members were anxious to speak. It would be the great debate
of the Session, and the subject to be handled,--that, namely, of
the general merits and demerits of the two political parties,--was
wide and very easy. On that night it was past one o'clock when Mr.
Turnbull adjourned the House.

"I'm afraid we must put you off till Tuesday," Mr. Ratler said on the
Sunday afternoon to Phineas Finn.

"I have no objection at all, so long as I get a fair place on that
day."

"There shan't be a doubt about that. Gresham particularly wants you
to speak, because you are pledged to a measure of disestablishment.
You can insist on his own views,--that even should such a measure be
essentially necessary--"

"Which I think it is," said Phineas.

"Still it should not be accepted from the old Church-and-State
party."

There was something pleasant in this to Phineas Finn,--something that
made him feel for the moment that he had perhaps mistaken the bearing
of his friend towards him. "We are sure of a majority, I suppose," he
said.

"Absolutely sure," said Ratler. "I begin to think it will amount to
half a hundred,--perhaps more."

"What will Daubeny do?"

"Go out. He can't do anything else. His pluck is certainly wonderful,
but even with his pluck he can't dissolve again. His Church Bill has
given him a six months' run, and six months is something."

"Is it true that Grogram is to be Chancellor?" Phineas asked the
question, not from any particular solicitude as to the prospects
of Sir Gregory Grogram, but because he was anxious to hear whether
Mr. Ratler would speak to him with anything of the cordiality of
fellowship respecting the new Government. But Mr. Ratler became at
once discreet and close, and said that he did not think that anything
as yet was known as to the Woolsack. Then Phineas retreated again
within his shell, with a certainty that nothing would be done for
him.

And yet to whom could this question of place be of such vital
importance as it was to him? He had come back to his old haunts from
Ireland, abandoning altogether the pleasant safety of an assured
income, buoyed by the hope of office. He had, after a fashion, made
his calculations. In the present disposition of the country it was,
he thought, certain that the Liberal party must, for the next twenty
years, have longer periods of power than their opponents; and he had
thought also that were he in the House, some place would eventually
be given to him. He had been in office before, and had been
especially successful. He knew that it had been said of him that of
the young debutants of latter years he had been the best. He had left
his party by opposing them; but he had done so without creating any
ill-will among the leaders of his party,--in a manner that had been
regarded as highly honourable to him, and on departing had received
expressions of deep regret from Mr. Gresham himself. When Barrington
Erle had wanted him to return to his old work, his own chief doubt
had been about the seat. But he had been bold and had adventured all,
and had succeeded. There had been some little trouble about those
pledges given at Tankerville, but he would be able to turn them even
to the use of his party. It was quite true that nothing had been
promised him; but Erle, when he had written, bidding him to come over
from Ireland, must have intended him to understand that he would be
again enrolled in the favoured regiment, should he be able to show
himself as the possessor of a seat in the House. And yet,--yet he
felt convinced that when the day should come it would be to him a
day of disappointment, and that when the list should appear his name
would not be on it. Madame Goesler had suggested to him that Mr.
Bonteen might be his enemy, and he had replied by stating that he
himself hated Mr. Bonteen. He now remembered that Mr. Bonteen had
hardly spoken to him since his return to London, though there had not
in fact been any quarrel between them. In this condition of mind he
longed to speak openly to Barrington Erle, but he was restrained by
a feeling of pride, and a still existing idea that no candidate for
office, let his claim be what it might, should ask for a place. On
that Sunday evening he saw Bonteen at the club. Men were going in and
out with that feverish excitement which always prevails on the eve of
a great parliamentary change. A large majority against the Government
was considered to be certain; but there was an idea abroad that Mr.
Daubeny had some scheme in his head by which to confute the immediate
purport of his enemies. There was nothing to which the audacity
of the man was not equal. Some said that he would dissolve the
House,--which had hardly as yet been six months sitting. Others
were of opinion that he would simply resolve not to vacate his
place,--thus defying the majority of the House and all the
ministerial traditions of the country. Words had fallen from him
which made some men certain that such was his intention. That it
should succeed ultimately was impossible. The whole country would
rise against him. Supplies would be refused. In every detail of
Government he would be impeded. But then,--such was the temper of
the man,--it was thought that all these horrors would not deter him.
There would be a blaze and a confusion, in which timid men would
doubt whether the constitution would be burned to tinder or only
illuminated; but that blaze and that confusion would be dear to
Mr. Daubeny if he could stand as the centre figure,--the great
pyrotechnist who did it all, red from head to foot with the glare of
the squibs with which his own hands were filling all the spaces. The
anticipation that some such display might take place made men busy
and eager; so that on that Sunday evening they roamed about from
one place of meeting to another, instead of sitting at home with
their wives and daughters. There was at this time existing a small
club,--so called though unlike other clubs,--which had entitled
itself the Universe. The name was supposed to be a joke, as it was
limited to ninety-nine members. It was domiciled in one simple and
somewhat mean apartment. It was kept open only one hour before and
one hour after midnight, and that only on two nights of the week,
and that only when Parliament was sitting. Its attractions were not
numerous, consisting chiefly of tobacco and tea. The conversation was
generally listless and often desultory; and occasionally there would
arise the great and terrible evil of a punster whom every one hated
but no one had life enough to put down. But the thing had been a
success, and men liked to be members of the Universe. Mr. Bonteen was
a member, and so was Phineas Finn. On this Sunday evening the club
was open, and Phineas, as he entered the room, perceived that his
enemy was seated alone on a corner of a sofa. Mr. Bonteen was not a
man who loved to be alone in public places, and was apt rather to
make one of congregations, affecting popularity, and always at work
increasing his influence. But on this occasion his own greatness had
probably isolated him. If it were true that he was to be the new
Chancellor of the Exchequer,--to ascend from demi-godhead to the
perfect divinity of the Cabinet,--and to do so by a leap which would
make him high even among first-class gods, it might be well for
himself to look to himself and choose new congregations. Or, at
least, it would be becoming that he should be chosen now instead of
being a chooser. He was one who could weigh to the last ounce the
importance of his position, and make most accurate calculations as to
the effect of his intimacies. On that very morning Mr. Gresham had
suggested to him that in the event of a Liberal Government being
formed, he should hold the high office in question. This, perhaps,
had not been done in the most flattering manner, as Mr. Gresham had
deeply bewailed the loss of Mr. Palliser, and had almost demanded a
pledge from Mr. Bonteen that he would walk exactly in Mr. Palliser's
footsteps;--but the offer had been made, and could not be retracted;
and Mr. Bonteen already felt the warmth of the halo of perfect
divinity.

There are some men who seem to have been born to be Cabinet
Ministers,--dukes mostly, or earls, or the younger sons of such,--who
have been trained to it from their very cradles, and of whom we may
imagine that they are subject to no special awe when they first enter
into that august assembly, and feel but little personal elevation.
But to the political aspirant not born in the purple of public
life, this entrance upon the counsels of the higher deities
must be accompanied by a feeling of supreme triumph, dashed by
considerable misgivings. Perhaps Mr. Bonteen was revelling in his
triumph;--perhaps he was anticipating his misgivings. Phineas, though
disinclined to make any inquiries of a friend which might seem to
refer to his own condition, felt no such reluctance in regard to
one who certainly could not suspect him of asking a favour. He was
presumed to be on terms of intimacy with the man, and he took his
seat beside him, asking some question as to the debate. Now Mr.
Bonteen had more than once expressed an opinion among his friends
that Phineas Finn would throw his party over, and vote with the
Government. The Ratlers and Erles and Fitzgibbons all knew that
Phineas was safe, but Mr. Bonteen was still in doubt. It suited him
to affect something more than doubt on the present occasion. "I
wonder that you should ask me," said Mr. Bonteen.

"What do you mean by that?"

"I presume that you, as usual, will vote against us."

"I never voted against my party but once," said Phineas, "and then I
did it with the approbation of every man in it for whose good opinion
I cared a straw." There was insult in his tone as he said this, and
something near akin to insult in his words.

"You must do it again now, or break every promise that you made at
Tankerville."

"Do you know what promise I made at Tankerville? I shall break no
promise."

"You must allow me to say, Mr. Finn, that the kind of independence
which is practised by you and Mr. Monk, grand as it may be on the
part of men who avowedly abstain from office, is a little dangerous
when it is now and again adopted by men who have taken place. I like
to be sure that the men who are in the same boat with me won't take
it into their heads that their duty requires them to scuttle the
ship." Having so spoken, Mr. Bonteen, with nearly all the grace of a
full-fledged Cabinet Minister, rose from his seat on the corner of
the sofa and joined a small congregation.

Phineas felt that his ears were tingling and that his face was red.
He looked round to ascertain from the countenances of others whether
they had heard what had been said. Nobody had been close to them, and
he thought that the conversation had been unnoticed. He knew now that
he had been imprudent in addressing himself to Mr. Bonteen, though
the question that he had first asked had been quite commonplace. As
it was, the man, he thought, had been determined to affront him,
and had made a charge against him which he could not allow to pass
unnoticed. And then there was all the additional bitterness in it
which arose from the conviction that Bonteen had spoken the opinion
of other men as well as his own, and that he had plainly indicated
that the gates of the official paradise were to be closed against the
presumed offender. Phineas had before believed that it was to be so,
but that belief had now become assurance. He got up in his misery to
leave the room, but as he did so he met Laurence Fitzgibbon. "You
have heard the news about Bonteen?" said Laurence.

"What news?"

"He's to be pitchforked up to the Exchequer. They say it's quite
settled. The higher a monkey climbs--; you know the proverb." So
saying Laurence Fitzgibbon passed into the room, and Phineas Finn
took his departure in solitude.

And so the man with whom he had managed to quarrel utterly was to be
one in the Cabinet, a man whose voice would probably be potential in
the selection of minor members of the Government. It seemed to him to
be almost incredible that such a one as Mr. Bonteen should be chosen
for such an office. He had despised almost as soon as he had known
Mr. Bonteen, and had rarely heard the future manager of the finance
of the country spoken of with either respect or regard. He had
regarded Mr. Bonteen as a useful, dull, unscrupulous politician, well
accustomed to Parliament, acquainted with the bye-paths and back
doors of official life,--and therefore certain of employment when
the Liberals were in power; but there was no one in the party he had
thought less likely to be selected for high place. And yet this man
was to be made Chancellor of the Exchequer, while he, Phineas Finn,
very probably at this man's instance, was to be left out in the cold.

He knew himself to be superior to the man he hated, to have higher
ideas of political life, and to be capable of greater political
sacrifices. He himself had sat shoulder to shoulder with many men
on the Treasury Bench whose political principles he had not greatly
valued; but of none of them had he thought so little as he had done
of Mr. Bonteen. And yet this Mr. Bonteen was to be the new Chancellor
of the Exchequer! He walked home to his lodgings in Marlborough
Street, wretched because of his own failure;--doubly wretched because
of the other man's success.

He laid awake half the night thinking of the words that had been
spoken to him, and after breakfast on the following morning he wrote
the following note to his enemy:--


   House of Commons, 5th April, 18--.

   DEAR MR. BONTEEN,

   It is matter of extreme regret to me that last night at
   the Universe I should have asked you some chance question
   about the coming division. Had I guessed to what it might
   have led, I should not have addressed you. But as it is I
   can hardly abstain from noticing what appeared to me to be
   a personal charge made against myself with a great want of
   the courtesy which is supposed to prevail among men who
   have acted together. Had we never done so my original
   question to you might perhaps have been deemed an
   impertinence.

   As it was, you accused me of having been dishonest to my
   party, and of having "scuttled the ship." On the occasion
   to which you alluded I acted with much consideration,
   greatly to the detriment of my own prospects,--and as I
   believed with the approbation of all who knew anything of
   the subject. If you will make inquiry of Mr. Gresham, or
   Lord Cantrip who was then my chief, I think that either
   will tell you that my conduct on that occasion was not
   such as to lay me open to reproach. If you will do this,
   I think that you cannot fail afterwards to express regret
   for what you said to me last night.

   Yours sincerely,

   PHINEAS FINN.

   Thos. Bonteen, Esq., M.P.


He did not like the letter when he had written it, but he did not
know how to improve it, and he sent it.



CHAPTER XXXV

Political Venom


On the Monday Mr. Turnbull opened the ball by declaring his reasons
for going into the same lobby with Mr. Daubeny. This he did at great
length. To him all the mighty pomp and all the little squabbles of
office were, he said, as nothing. He would never allow himself to
regard the person of the Prime Minister. The measure before the House
ever had been and ever should be all in all to him. If the public
weal were more regarded in that House, and the quarrels of men less
considered, he thought that the service of the country would be
better done. He was answered by Mr. Monk, who was sitting near him,
and who intended to support Mr. Gresham. Mr. Monk was rather happy
in pulling his old friend, Mr. Turnbull, to pieces, expressing his
opinion that a difference in men meant a difference in measures. The
characters of men whose principles were known were guarantees for the
measures they would advocate. To him,--Mr. Monk,--it was matter of
very great moment who was Prime Minister of England. He was always
selfish enough to wish for a Minister with whom he himself could
agree on the main questions of the day. As he certainly could not say
that he had political confidence in the present Ministry, he should
certainly vote against them on this occasion.

In the course of the evening Phineas found a letter addressed to
himself from Mr. Bonteen. It was as follows:--


   House of Commons, April 5th, 18--.

   DEAR MR. FINN,

   I never accused you of dishonesty. You must have mis-heard
   or misunderstood me if you thought so. I did say that you
   had scuttled the ship;--and as you most undoubtedly did
   scuttle it,--you and Mr. Monk between you,--I cannot
   retract my words.

   I do not want to go to any one for testimony as to your
   merits on the occasion. I accused you of having done
   nothing dishonourable or disgraceful. I think I said that
   there was danger in the practice of scuttling. I think so
   still, though I know that many fancy that those who
   scuttle do a fine thing. I don't deny that it's fine, and
   therefore you can have no cause of complaint against me.

   Yours truly,

   J. BONTEEN.


He had brought a copy of his own letter in his pocket to the House,
and he showed the correspondence to Mr. Monk. "I would not have
noticed it, had I been you," said he.

"You can have no idea of the offensive nature of the remark when it
was made."

"It's as offensive to me as to you, but I should not think of moving
in such a matter. When a man annoys you, keep out of his way. It is
generally the best thing you can do."

"If a man were to call you a liar?"

"But men don't call each other liars. Bonteen understands the world
much too well to commit himself by using any word which common
opinion would force him to retract. He says we scuttled the ship.
Well;--we did. Of all the political acts of my life it is the one
of which I am most proud. The manner in which you helped me has
entitled you to my affectionate esteem. But we did scuttle the ship.
Before you can quarrel with Bonteen you must be able to show that a
metaphorical scuttling of a ship must necessarily be a disgraceful
act. You see how he at once retreats behind the fact that it need not
be so."

"You wouldn't answer his letter."

"I think not. You can do yourself no good by a correspondence in
which you cannot get a hold of him. And if you did get a hold of him
you would injure yourself much more than him. Just drop it." This
added much to our friend's misery, and made him feel that the weight
of it was almost more than he could bear. His enemy had got the
better of him at every turn. He had now rushed into a correspondence
as to which he would have to own by his silence that he had been
confuted. And yet he was sure that Mr. Bonteen had at the club
insulted him most unjustifiably, and that if the actual truth were
known, no man, certainly not Mr. Monk, would hesitate to say that
reparation was due to him. And yet what could he do? He thought that
he would consult Lord Cantrip, and endeavour to get from his late
Chief some advice more palatable than that which had been tendered to
him by Mr. Monk.

In the meantime animosities in the House were waxing very furious;
and, as it happened, the debate took a turn that was peculiarly
injurious to Phineas Finn in his present state of mind. The rumour as
to the future promotion of Mr. Bonteen, which had been conveyed by
Laurence Fitzgibbon to Phineas at the Universe, had, as was natural,
spread far and wide, and had reached the ears of those who still
sat on the Ministerial benches. Now it is quite understood among
politicians in this country that no man should presume that he will
have imposed upon him the task of forming a Ministry until he has
been called upon by the Crown to undertake that great duty. Let the
Gresham or the Daubeny of the day be ever so sure that the reins of
the State chariot must come into his hands, he should not visibly
prepare himself for the seat on the box till he has actually been
summoned to place himself there. At this moment it was alleged that
Mr. Gresham had departed from the reticence and modesty usual in
such a position as his, by taking steps towards the formation of a
Cabinet, while it was as yet quite possible that he might never be
called upon to form any Cabinet. Late on this Monday night, when the
House was quite full, one of Mr. Daubeny's leading lieutenants, a
Secretary of State, Sir Orlando Drought by name,--a gentleman who if
he had any heart in the matter must have hated this Church Bill from
the very bottom of his heart, and who on that account was the more
bitter against opponents who had not ceased to throw in his teeth his
own political tergiversation,--fell foul of Mr. Gresham as to this
rumoured appointment to the Chancellorship of the Exchequer. The
reader will easily imagine the things that were said. Sir Orlando
had heard, and had been much surprised at hearing, that a certain
honourable member of that House, who had long been known to them as a
tenant of the Ministerial bench, had already been appointed to a high
office. He, Sir Orlando, had not been aware that the office had been
vacant, or that if vacant it would have been at the disposal of the
right honourable gentleman; but he believed that there was no doubt
that the place in question, with a seat in the Cabinet, had been
tendered to, and accepted by, the honourable member to whom he
alluded. Such was the rabid haste with which the right honourable
gentleman opposite, and his colleagues, were attempting, he would not
say to climb, but to rush into office, by opposing a great measure of
Reform, the wisdom of which, as was notorious to all the world, they
themselves did not dare to deny. Much more of the same kind was said,
during which Mr. Gresham pulled about his hat, shuffled his feet,
showed his annoyance to all the House, and at last jumped upon his
legs.

"If," said Sir Orlando Drought,--"if the right honourable gentleman
wishes to deny the accuracy of any statements that I have made, I
will give way to him for the moment, that he may do so."

"I deny utterly, not only the accuracy, but every detail of the
statement made by the right honourable gentleman opposite," said
Mr. Gresham, still standing and holding his hat in his hand as he
completed his denial.

"Does the right honourable gentleman mean to assure me that he has
not selected his future Chancellor of the Exchequer?"

"The right honourable gentleman is too acute not to be aware that we
on this side of the House may have made such selection, and that yet
every detail of the statement which he has been rash enough to make
to the House may be--unfounded. The word, sir, is weak; but I would
fain avoid the use of any words which, justifiable though they might
be, would offend the feelings of the House. I will explain to the
House exactly what has been done."

Then there was a great hubbub--cries of "Order," "Gresham," "Spoke,"
"Hear, hear," and the like,--during which Sir Orlando Drought and Mr.
Gresham both stood on their legs. So powerful was Mr. Gresham's voice
that, through it all, every word that he said was audible to the
reporters. His opponent hardly attempted to speak, but stood relying
upon his right. Mr. Gresham said he understood that it was the desire
of the House that he should explain the circumstances in reference
to the charge that had been made against him, and it would certainly
be for the convenience of the House that this should be done at
the moment. The Speaker of course ruled that Sir Orlando was in
possession of the floor, but suggested that it might be convenient
that he should yield to the right honourable gentleman on the
other side for a few minutes. Mr. Gresham, as a matter of course,
succeeded. Rights and rules, which are bonds of iron to a little man,
are packthread to a giant. No one in all that assembly knew the House
better than did Mr. Gresham, was better able to take it by storm, or
more obdurate in perseverance. He did make his speech, though clearly
he had no right to do so. The House, he said, was aware, that by the
most unfortunate demise of the late Duke of Omnium, a gentleman had
been removed from this House to another place, whose absence from
their counsels would long be felt as a very grievous loss. Then he
pronounced a eulogy on Plantagenet Palliser, so graceful and well
arranged, that even the bitterness of the existing opposition was
unable to demur to it. The House was well aware of the nature of the
labours which now for some years past had occupied the mind of the
noble duke; and the paramount importance which the country attached
to their conclusion. The noble duke no doubt was not absolutely
debarred from a continuance of his work by the change which had
fallen upon him; but it was essential that some gentleman, belonging
to the same party with the noble duke, versed in office, and having a
seat in that House, should endeavour to devote himself to the great
measure which had occupied so much of the attention of the late
Chancellor of the Exchequer. No doubt it must be fitting that the
gentleman so selected should be at the Exchequer, in the event of
their party coming into office. The honourable gentleman to whom
allusion had been made had acted throughout with the present noble
duke in arranging the details of the measure in question; and the
probability of his being able to fill the shoes left vacant by
the accession to the peerage of the noble duke had, indeed, been
discussed;--but the discussion had been made in reference to the
measure, and only incidentally in regard to the office. He, Mr.
Gresham, held that he had done nothing that was indiscreet,--nothing
that his duty did not demand. If right honourable gentlemen opposite
were of a different opinion, he thought that that difference came
from the fact that they were less intimately acquainted than he
unfortunately had been with the burdens and responsibilities of
legislation.

There was very little in the dispute which seemed to be worthy of
the place in which it occurred, or of the vigour with which it was
conducted; but it served to show the temper of the parties, and to
express the bitterness of the political feelings of the day. It was
said at the time, that never within the memory of living politicians
had so violent an animosity displayed itself in the House as had
been witnessed on this night. While Mr. Gresham was giving his
explanation, Mr. Daubeny had arisen, and with a mock solemnity that
was peculiar to him on occasions such as these, had appealed to the
Speaker whether the right honourable gentleman opposite should not be
called upon to resume his seat. Mr. Gresham had put him down with a
wave of his hand. An affected stateliness cannot support itself but
for a moment; and Mr. Daubeny had been forced to sit down when the
Speaker did not at once support his appeal. But he did not forget
that wave of the hand, nor did he forgive it. He was a man who in
public life rarely forgot, and never forgave. They used to say
of him that "at home" he was kindly and forbearing, simple and
unostentatious. It may be so. Who does not remember that horrible
Turk, Jacob Asdrubal, the Old Bailey barrister, the terror of
witnesses, the bane of judges,--who was gall and wormwood to all
opponents. It was said of him that "at home" his docile amiability
was the marvel of his friends, and delight of his wife and daughters.
"At home," perhaps, Mr. Daubeny might have been waved at, and have
forgiven it; but men who saw the scene in the House of Commons knew
that he would never forgive Mr. Gresham. As for Mr. Gresham himself,
he triumphed at the moment, and exulted in his triumph.

Phineas Finn heard it all, and was disgusted to find that his enemy
thus became the hero of the hour. It was, indeed, the opinion
generally of the Liberal party that Mr. Gresham had not said much to
flatter his new Chancellor of the Exchequer. In praise of Plantagenet
Palliser he had been very loud, and he had no doubt said that which
implied the capability of Mr. Bonteen, who, as it happened, was
sitting next to him at the time; but he had implied also that the
mantle which was to be transferred from Mr. Palliser to Mr. Bonteen
would be carried by its new wearer with grace very inferior to that
which had marked all the steps of his predecessor. Ratler, and Erle,
and Fitzgibbon, and others had laughed in their sleeves at the
expression, understood by them, of Mr. Gresham's doubt as to the
qualifications of his new assistant, and Sir Orlando Drought,
in continuing his speech, remarked that the warmth of the right
honourable gentleman had been so completely expended in abusing his
enemies that he had had none left for the defence of his friend. But
to Phineas it seemed that this Bonteen, who had so grievously injured
him, and whom he so thoroughly despised, was carrying off all the
glories of the fight. A certain amount of consolation was, however,
afforded to him. Between one and two o'clock he was told by
Mr. Ratler that he might enjoy the privilege of adjourning the
debate,--by which would accrue to him the right of commencing on the
morrow,--and this he did at a few minutes before three.



CHAPTER XXXVI

Seventy-Two


On the next morning Phineas, with his speech before him, was obliged
for a while to forget, or at least to postpone, Mr. Bonteen and his
injuries. He could not now go to Lord Cantrip, as the hours were
too precious to him, and, as he felt, too short. Though he had been
thinking what he would say ever since the debate had become imminent,
and knew accurately the line which he would take, he had not as yet
prepared a word of his speech. But he had resolved that he would
not prepare a word otherwise than he might do by arranging certain
phrases in his memory. There should be nothing written; he had tried
that before in old days, and had broken down with the effort. He
would load himself with no burden of words in itself so heavy that
the carrying of it would incapacitate him for any other effort.

After a late breakfast he walked out far away, into the Regent's
Park, and there, wandering among the uninteresting paths, he devised
triumphs of oratory for himself. Let him resolve as he would to
forget Mr. Bonteen, and that charge of having been untrue to his
companions, he could not restrain himself from efforts to fit the
matter after some fashion into his speech. Dim ideas of a definition
of political honesty crossed his brain, bringing with him, however, a
conviction that his thought must be much more clearly worked out than
it could be on that day before he might venture to give it birth in
the House of Commons. He knew that he had been honest two years ago
in separating himself from his colleagues. He knew that he would
be honest now in voting with them, apparently in opposition to the
pledges he had given at Tankerville. But he knew also that it would
behove him to abstain from speaking of himself unless he could do so
in close reference to some point specially in dispute between the two
parties. When he returned to eat a mutton chop at Great Marlborough
Street at three o'clock he was painfully conscious that all his
morning had been wasted. He had allowed his mind to run revel,
instead of tying it down to the formation of sentences and
construction of arguments.

He entered the House with the Speaker at four o'clock, and took his
seat without uttering a word to any man. He seemed to be more than
ever disjoined from his party. Hitherto, since he had been seated
by the Judge's order, the former companions of his Parliamentary
life,--the old men whom he had used to know,--had to a certain degree
admitted him among them. Many of them sat on the front Opposition
bench, whereas he, as a matter of course, had seated himself behind.
But he had very frequently found himself next to some man who had
held office and was living in the hope of holding it again, and had
felt himself to be in some sort recognised as an aspirant. Now it
seemed to him that it was otherwise. He did not doubt but that
Bonteen had shown the correspondence to his friends, and that the
Ratlers and Erles had conceded that he, Phineas, was put out of
court by it. He sat doggedly still, at the end of a bench behind Mr.
Gresham, and close to the gangway. When Mr. Gresham entered the House
he was received with much cheering; but Phineas did not join in the
cheer. He was studious to avoid any personal recognition of the
future giver-away of places, though they two were close together; and
he then fancied that Mr. Gresham had specially and most ungraciously
abstained from any recognition of him. Mr. Monk, who sat near him,
spoke a kind word to him. "I shan't be very long," said Phineas; "not
above twenty minutes, I should think." He was able to assume an air
of indifference, and yet at the moment he heartily wished himself
back in Dublin. It was not now that he feared the task immediately
before him, but that he was overcome by the feeling of general
failure which had come upon him. Of what use was it to him or to any
one else that he should be there in that assembly, with the privilege
of making a speech that would influence no human being, unless his
being there could be made a step to something beyond? While the usual
preliminary work was being done, he looked round the House, and saw
Lord Cantrip in the Peers' gallery. Alas! of what avail was that? He
had always been able to bind to him individuals with whom he had been
brought into close contact; but more than that was wanted in this
most precarious of professions, in which now, for a second time, he
was attempting to earn his bread.

At half-past four he was on his legs in the midst of a crowded House.
The chance,--perhaps the hope,--of some such encounter as that of the
former day, brought members into their seats, and filled the gallery
with strangers. We may say, perhaps, that the highest duty imposed
upon us as a nation is the management of India; and we may also
say that in a great national assembly personal squabbling among
its members is the least dignified work in which it can employ
itself. But the prospect of an explanation,--or otherwise of a
fight,--between two leading politicians will fill the House; and any
allusion to our Eastern Empire will certainly empty it. An aptitude
for such encounters is almost a necessary qualification for a popular
leader in Parliament, as is a capacity for speaking for three
hours to the reporters, and to the reporters only,--a necessary
qualification for an Under-Secretary of State for India.

Phineas had the advantage of the temper of the moment in a House
thoroughly crowded, and he enjoyed it. Let a man doubt ever so much
his own capacity for some public exhibition which he has undertaken;
yet he will always prefer to fail,--if fail he must,--before a large
audience. But on this occasion there was no failure. That sense of
awe from the surrounding circumstances of the moment, which had once
been heavy on him, and which he still well remembered, had been
overcome, and had never returned to him. He felt now that he should
not lack words to pour out his own individual grievances were it not
that he was prevented by a sense of the indiscretion of doing so. As
it was, he did succeed in alluding to his own condition in a manner
that brought upon him no reproach. He began by saying that he should
not have added to the difficulty of the debate,--which was one simply
of length,--were it not that he had been accused in advance of voting
against a measure as to which he had pledged himself at the hustings
to do all that he could to further it. No man was more anxious than
he, an Irish Roman Catholic, to abolish that which he thought to be
the anomaly of a State Church, and he did not in the least doubt that
he should now be doing the best in his power with that object in
voting against the second reading of the present bill. That such a
measure should be carried by the gentlemen opposite, in their own
teeth, at the bidding of the right honourable gentleman who led
them, he thought to be impossible. Upon this he was hooted at from
the other side with many gestures of indignant denial, and was, of
course, equally cheered by those around him. Such interruptions are
new breath to the nostrils of all orators, and Phineas enjoyed the
noise. He repeated his assertion that it would be an evil thing for
the country that the measure should be carried by men who in their
hearts condemned it, and was vehemently called to order for this
assertion about the hearts of gentlemen. But a speaker who can
certainly be made amenable to authority for vilipending in debate
the heart of any specified opponent, may with safety attribute all
manner of ill to the agglomerated hearts of a party. To have told any
individual Conservative,--Sir Orlando Drought for instance,--that
he was abandoning all the convictions of his life, because he was a
creature at the command of Mr. Daubeny, would have been an insult
that would have moved even the Speaker from his serenity; but you can
hardly be personal to a whole bench of Conservatives,--to bench above
bench of Conservatives. The charge had been made and repeated over
and over again, till all the Orlando Droughts were ready to cut some
man's throat,--whether their own, or Mr. Daubeny's, or Mr. Gresham's,
they hardly knew. It might probably have been Mr. Daubeny's for
choice, had any real cutting of a throat been possible. It was now
made again by Phineas Finn,--with the ostensible object of defending
himself,--and he for the moment became the target for Conservative
wrath. Some one asked him in fury by what right he took upon himself
to judge of the motives of gentlemen on that side of the House of
whom personally he knew nothing. Phineas replied that he did not
at all doubt the motives of the honourable gentleman who asked
the question, which he was sure were noble and patriotic. But
unfortunately the whole country was convinced that the Conservative
party as a body was supporting this measure, unwillingly, and at the
bidding of one man;--and, for himself, he was bound to say that he
agreed with the country. And so the row was renewed and prolonged,
and the gentlemen assembled, members and strangers together, passed a
pleasant evening.

Before he sat down, Phineas made one allusion to that former
scuttling of the ship,--an accusation as to which had been made
against him so injuriously by Mr. Bonteen. He himself, he said, had
been called impractical, and perhaps he might allude to a vote which
he had given in that House when last he had the honour of sitting
there, and on giving which he resigned the office which he had then
held. He had the gratification of knowing that he had been so far
practical as to have then foreseen the necessity of a measure which
had since been passed. And he did not doubt that he would hereafter
be found to have been equally practical in the view that he had
expressed on the hustings at Tankerville, for he was convinced that
before long the anomaly of which he had spoken would cease to exist
under the influence of a Government that would really believe in the
work it was doing.

There was no doubt as to the success of his speech. The vehemence
with which his insolence was abused by one after another of those who
spoke later from the other side was ample evidence of its success.
But nothing occurred then or at the conclusion of the debate to make
him think that he had won his way back to Elysium. During the whole
evening he exchanged not a syllable with Mr. Gresham,--who indeed was
not much given to converse with those around him in the House. Erle
said a few good-natured words to him, and Mr. Monk praised him
highly. But in reading the general barometer of the party as regarded
himself, he did not find that the mercury went up. He was wretchedly
anxious, and angry with himself for his own anxiety. He scorned to
say a word that should sound like an entreaty; and yet he had placed
his whole heart on a thing which seemed to be slipping from him
for the want of asking. In a day or two it would be known whether
the present Ministry would or would not go out. That they must be
out of office before a month was over seemed to him the opinion
of everybody. His fate,--and what a fate it was!--would then be
absolutely in the hands of Mr. Gresham. Yet he could not speak a
word of his hopes and fears even to Mr. Gresham. He had given up
everything in the world with the view of getting into office; and now
that the opportunity had come,--an opportunity which if allowed to
slip could hardly return again in time to be of service to him,--the
prize was to elude his grasp!

But yet he did not say a word to any one on the subject that was
so near his heart, although in the course of the night he spoke to
Lord Cantrip in the gallery of the House. He told his friend that a
correspondence had taken place between himself and Mr. Bonteen, in
which he thought that he had been ill-used, and as to which he was
quite anxious to ask His Lordship's advice. "I heard that you and he
had been tilting at each other," said Lord Cantrip, smiling.

"Have you seen the letters?"

"No;--but I was told of them by Lord Fawn, who has seen them."

"I knew he would show them to every newsmonger about the clubs," said
Phineas angrily.

"You can't quarrel with Bonteen for showing them to Fawn, if you
intend to show them to me."

"He may publish them at Charing Cross if he likes."

"Exactly. I am sure that there will have been nothing in them
prejudicial to you. What I mean is that if you think it necessary,
with a view to your own character, to show them to me or to another
friend, you cannot complain that he should do the same."

An appointment was made at Lord Cantrip's house for the next morning,
and Phineas could but acknowledge to himself that the man's manner to
himself had been kind and constant. Nevertheless, the whole affair
was going against him. Lord Cantrip had not said a word prejudicial
to that wretch Bonteen; much less had he hinted at any future
arrangements which would be comfortable to poor Phineas. They two,
Lord Cantrip and Phineas, had at one period been on most intimate
terms together;--had worked in the same office, and had thoroughly
trusted each other. The elder of the two,--for Lord Cantrip was about
ten years senior to Phineas,--had frequently expressed the most
lively interest in the prospects of the other; and Phineas had felt
that in any emergency he could tell his friend all his hopes and
fears. But now he did not say a word of his position, nor did Lord
Cantrip allude to it. They were to meet on the morrow in order that
Lord Cantrip might read the correspondence;--but Phineas was sure
that no word would be said about the Government.

At five o'clock in the morning the division took place, and the
Government was beaten by a majority of 72. This was much higher
than any man had expected. When the parties were marshalled in the
opposite lobbies it was found that in the last moment the number of
those Conservatives who dared to rebel against their Conservative
leaders was swelled by the course which the debate had taken. There
were certain men who could not endure to be twitted with having
deserted the principles of their lives, when it was clear that
nothing was to be gained by the party by such desertion.



CHAPTER XXXVII

The Conspiracy


On the morning following the great division Phineas was with his
friend, Lord Cantrip, by eleven o'clock; and Lord Cantrip, when
he had read the two letters in which were comprised the whole
correspondence, made to our unhappy hero the following little speech.
"I do not think that you can do anything. Indeed, I am sure that Mr.
Monk is quite right. I don't quite see what it is that you wish to
do. Privately,--between our two selves,--I do not hesitate to say
that Mr. Bonteen has intended to be ill-natured. I fancy that he is
an ill-natured--or at any rate a jealous--man; and that he would be
willing to run down a competitor in the race who had made his running
after a fashion different from his own. Bonteen has been a useful
man,--a very useful man; and the more so perhaps because he has not
entertained any high political theory of his own. You have chosen to
do so,--and undoubtedly when you and Monk left us, to our very great
regret, you did scuttle the ship."

"We had no intention of that kind."

"Do not suppose that I blame you. That which was odious to the eyes
of Mr. Bonteen was to my thinking high and honourable conduct. I
have known the same thing done by members of a Government perhaps
half-a-dozen times, and the men by whom it has been done have been
the best and noblest of our modern statesmen. There has generally
been a hard contest in the man's breast between loyalty to his
party and strong personal convictions, the result of which has been
an inability on the part of the struggler to give even a silent
support to a measure which he has disapproved. That inability is no
doubt troublesome at the time to the colleagues of the seceder, and
constitutes an offence hardly to be pardoned by such gentlemen as Mr.
Bonteen."

"For Mr. Bonteen personally I care nothing."

"But of course you must endure the ill-effects of his influence,--be
they what they may. When you seceded from our Government you looked
for certain adverse consequences. If you did not, where was your
self-sacrifice? That such men as Mr. Bonteen should feel that you had
scuttled the ship, and be unable to forgive you for doing so,--that
is exactly the evil which you knew you must face. You have to face it
now, and surely you can do so without showing your teeth. Hereafter,
when men more thoughtful than Mr. Bonteen shall have come to
acknowledge the high principle by which your conduct has been
governed, you will receive your reward. I suppose Mr. Daubeny must
resign now."

"Everybody says so."

"I am by no means sure that he will. Any other Minister since Lord
North's time would have done so, with such a majority against him on
a vital measure; but he is a man who delights in striking out some
wonderful course for himself."

"A prime minister so beaten surely can't go on."

"Not for long, one would think. And yet how are you to turn him out?
It depends very much on a man's power of endurance."

"His colleagues will resign, I should think."

"Probably;--and then he must go. I should say that that will be the
way in which the matter will settle itself. Good morning, Finn;--and
take my word for it, you had better not answer Mr. Bonteen's letter."

Not a word had fallen from Lord Cantrip's friendly lips as to the
probability of Phineas being invited to join the future Government.
An attempt had been made to console him with the hazy promise of
some future reward,--which however was to consist rather of the good
opinion of good men than of anything tangible and useful. But even
this would never come to him. What would good men know of him and of
his self-sacrifice when he should have been driven out of the world
by poverty, and forced probably to go to some New Zealand or back
Canadian settlement to look for his bread? How easy, thought Phineas,
must be the sacrifices of rich men, who can stay their time, and wait
in perfect security for their rewards! But for such a one as he,
truth to a principle was political annihilation. Two or three years
ago he had done what he knew to be a noble thing;--and now, because
he had done that noble thing, he was to be regarded as unfit for that
very employment for which he was peculiarly fitted. But Bonteen and
Co. had not been his only enemies. His luck had been against him
throughout. Mr. Quintus Slide, with his _People's Banner_, and the
story of that wretched affair in Judd Street, had been as strong
against him probably as Mr. Bonteen's ill-word. Then he thought of
Lady Laura, and her love for him. His gratitude to Lady Laura was
boundless. There was nothing he would not do for Lady Laura,--were it
in his power to do anything. But no circumstance in his career had
been so unfortunate for him as this affection. A wretched charge had
been made against him which, though wholly untrue, was as it were
so strangely connected with the truth, that slanderers might not
improbably be able almost to substantiate their calumnies. She would
be in London soon, and he must devote himself to her service. But
every act of friendship that he might do for her would be used as
proof of the accusation that had been made against him. As he thought
of all this he was walking towards Park Lane in order that he might
call upon Madame Goesler according to his promise. As he went up to
the drawing-room he met old Mr. Maule coming down, and the two bowed
to each other on the stairs. In the drawing-room, sitting with Madame
Goesler, he found Mrs. Bonteen. Now Mrs. Bonteen was almost as odious
to him as was her husband.

"Did you ever know anything more shameful, Mr. Finn," said Mrs.
Bonteen, "than the attack made upon Mr. Bonteen the night before
last?" Phineas could see a smile on Madame Goesler's face as the
question was asked;--for she knew, and he knew that she knew, how
great was the antipathy between him and the Bonteens.

"The attack was upon Mr. Gresham, I thought," said Phineas.

"Oh, yes; nominally. But of course everybody knows what was meant.
Upon my word there is twice more jealousy among men than among women.
Is there not, Madame Goesler?"

"I don't think any man could be more jealous than I am myself," said
Madame Goesler.

"Then you're fit to be a member of a Government, that's all. I don't
suppose that there is a man in England has worked harder for his
party than Mr. Bonteen."

"I don't think there is," said Phineas.

"Or made himself more useful in Parliament. As for work, only that
his constitution is so strong, he would have killed himself."

"He should take Thorley's mixture,--twice a day," said Madame
Goesler.

"Take!--he never has time to take anything. He breakfasts in his
dressing-room, carries his lunch in his pocket, and dines with the
division bell ringing him up between his fish and his mutton chop.
Now he has got their decimal coinage in hand, and has not a moment to
himself, even on Sundays!"

"He'll be sure to go to Heaven for it,--that's one comfort."

"And because they are absolutely obliged to make him Chancellor of
the Exchequer,--just as if he had not earned it,--everybody is so
jealous that they are ready to tear him to pieces!"

"Who is everybody?" asked Phineas.

"Oh! I know. It wasn't only Sir Orlando Drought. Who told Sir
Orlando? Never mind, Mr. Finn."

"I don't in the least, Mrs. Bonteen."

"I should have thought you would have been so triumphant," said
Madame Goesler.

"Not in the least, Madame Goesler. Why should I be triumphant? Of
course the position is very high,--very high indeed. But it's no more
than what I have always expected. If a man give up his life to a
pursuit he ought to succeed. As for ambition, I have less of it than
any woman. Only I do hate jealousy, Mr. Finn." Then Mrs. Bonteen took
her leave, kissing her dear friend, Madame Goesler, and simply bowing
to Phineas.

"What a detestable woman!" said Phineas.

"I know of old that you don't love her."

"I don't believe that you love her a bit better than I do, and yet
you kiss her."

"Hardly that, Mr. Finn. There has come up a fashion for ladies to
pretend to be very loving, and so they put their faces together. Two
hundred years ago ladies and gentlemen did the same thing with just
as little regard for each other. Fashions change, you know."

"That was a change for the worse, certainly, Madame Goesler."

"It wasn't of my doing. So you've had a great victory."

"Yes;--greater than we expected."

"According to Mrs. Bonteen, the chief result to the country will be
that the taxes will be so very safe in her husband's hands! I am sure
she believes that all Parliament has been at work in order that he
might be made a Cabinet Minister. I rather like her for it."

"I don't like her, or her husband."

"I do like a woman that can thoroughly enjoy her husband's success.
When she is talking of his carrying about his food in his pocket she
is completely happy. I don't think Lady Glencora ever cared in the
least about her husband being Chancellor of the Exchequer."

"Because it added nothing to her own standing."

"That's very ill-natured, Mr. Finn; and I find that you are becoming
generally ill-natured. You used to be the best-humoured of men."

"I hadn't so much to try my temper as I have now, and then you must
remember, Madame Goesler, that I regard these people as being
especially my enemies."

"Lady Glencora was never your enemy."

"Nor my friend,--especially."

"Then you wrong her. If I tell you something you must be discreet."

"Am I not always discreet?"

"She does not love Mr. Bonteen. She has had too much of him at
Matching. And as for his wife, she is quite as unwilling to be kissed
by her as you can be. Her Grace is determined to fight your battle
for you."

"I want her to do nothing of the kind, Madame Goesler."

"You will know nothing about it. We have put our heads to work, and
Mr. Palliser,--that is, the new Duke,--is to be made to tell Mr.
Gresham that you are to have a place. It is no good you being angry,
for the thing is done. If you have enemies behind your back, you must
have friends behind your back also. Lady Cantrip is to do the same
thing."

"For Heaven's sake, not."

"It's all arranged. You'll be called the ladies' pet, but you mustn't
mind that. Lady Laura will be here before it's arranged, and she will
get hold of Mr. Erle."

"You are laughing at me, I know."

"Let them laugh that win. We thought of besieging Lord Fawn through
Lady Chiltern, but we are not sure that anybody cares for Lord
Fawn. The man we specially want now is the other Duke. We're afraid
of attacking him through the Duchess because we think that he is
inhumanly indifferent to anything that his wife says to him."

"If that kind of thing is done I shall not accept place even if it
is offered me."

"Why not? Are you going to let a man like Mr. Bonteen bowl you over?
Did you ever know Lady Glen fail in anything that she attempted? She
is preparing a secret with the express object of making Mr. Ratler
her confidant. Lord Mount Thistle is her slave, but then I fear Lord
Mount Thistle is not of much use. She'll do anything and
everything,--except flatter Mr. Bonteen."

"Heaven forbid that anybody should do that for my sake."

"The truth is that he made himself so disagreeable at Matching that
Lady Glen is broken-hearted at finding that he is to seem to owe his
promotion to her husband's favour. Now you know all about it."

"You have been very wrong to tell me."

"Perhaps I have, Mr. Finn. But I thought it better that you should
know that you have friends at work for you. We believe,--or rather,
the Duchess believes,--that falsehoods have been used which are as
disparaging to Lady Laura Kennedy as they are injurious to you, and
she is determined to put it right. Some one has told Mr. Gresham that
you have been the means of breaking the hearts both of Lord Brentford
and Mr. Kennedy,--two members of the late Cabinet,--and he must be
made to understand that this is untrue. If only for Lady Laura's sake
you must submit."

"Lord Brentford and I are the best friends in the world."

"And Mr. Kennedy is a madman,--absolutely in custody of his friends,
as everybody knows; and yet the story has been made to work."

"And you do not feel that all this is derogatory to me?"

Madame Goesler was silent for a moment, and then she answered boldly,
"Not a whit. Why should it be derogatory? It is not done with
the object of obtaining an improper appointment on behalf of an
unimportant man. When falsehoods of that kind are told you can't meet
them in a straightforward way. I suppose I know with fair accuracy
the sort of connection there has been between you and Lady Laura."
Phineas very much doubted whether she had any such knowledge; but he
said nothing, though the lady paused a few moments for reply. "You
can't go and tell Mr. Gresham all that; nor can any friend do so on
your behalf. It would be absurd."

"Most absurd."

"And yet it is essential to your interests that he should know it.
When your enemies are undermining you, you must countermine or you'll
be blown up."

"I'd rather fight above ground."

"That's all very well, but your enemies won't stay above ground.
Is that newspaper man above ground? And for a little job of clever
mining, believe me, that there is not a better engineer going than
Lady Glen;--not but what I've known her to be very nearly 'hoist with
her own petard,'"--added Madame Goesler, as she remembered a certain
circumstance in their joint lives.

All that Madame Goesler said was true. A conspiracy had been formed,
in the first place at the instance of Madame Goesler, but altogether
by the influence of the young Duchess, for forcing upon the future
Premier the necessity of admitting Phineas Finn into his Government.
On the Wednesday following the conclusion of the debate,--the day on
the morning of which the division was to take place,--there was no
House. On the Thursday, the last day on which the House was to sit
before the Easter holidays, Mr. Daubeny announced his intention
of postponing the declaration of his intentions till after the
adjournment. The House would meet, he said, on that day week, and
then he would make his official statement. This communication he made
very curtly, and in a manner that was thought by some to be almost
insolent to the House. It was known that he had been grievously
disappointed by the result of the debate,--not probably having
expected a majority since his adversary's strategy had been declared,
but always hoping that the deserters from his own standard would be
very few. The deserters had been very many, and Mr. Daubeny was
majestic in his wrath.

Nothing, however, could be done till after Easter. The Ratlers of
the Liberal party were very angry at the delay, declaring that it
would have been much to the advantage of the country at large that
the vacation week should have been used for constructing a Liberal
Cabinet. This work of construction always takes time, and delays the
business of the country. No one can have known better than did Mr.
Daubeny how great was the injury of delay, and how advantageously the
short holiday might have been used. With a majority of seventy-two
against him, there could be no reason why he should not have at once
resigned, and advised the Queen to send for Mr. Gresham. Nothing
could be worse than his conduct. So said the Liberals, thirsting
for office. Mr. Gresham himself did not open his mouth when the
announcement was made;--nor did any man, marked for future office,
rise to denounce the beaten statesman. But one or two independent
Members expressed their great regret at the unnecessary delay which
was to take place before they were informed who was to be the
Minister of the Crown. But Mr. Daubeny, as soon as he had made his
statement, stalked out of the House, and no reply whatever was made
to the independent Members. Some few sublime and hot-headed gentlemen
muttered the word "impeachment." Others, who were more practical and
less dignified, suggested that the Prime Minister "ought to have his
head punched."

It thus happened that all the world went out of town that week,--so
that the Duchess of Omnium was down at Matching when Phineas called
at the Duke's house in Carlton Terrace on Friday. With what object he
had called he hardly knew himself; but he thought that he intended to
assure the Duchess that he was not a candidate for office, and that
he must deprecate her interference. Luckily,--or unluckily,--he did
not see her, and he felt that it would be impossible to convey his
wishes in a letter. The whole subject was one which would have defied
him to find words sufficiently discreet for his object.

The Duke and Duchess of St. Bungay were at Matching for the
Easter,--as also was Barrington Erle, and also that dreadful Mr.
Bonteen, from whose presence the poor Duchess of Omnium could in
these days never altogether deliver herself. "Duke," she said, "you
know Mr. Finn?"

"Certainly. It was not very long ago that I was talking to him."

"He used to be in office, you remember."

"Oh yes;--and a very good beginner he was. Is he a friend of Your
Grace's?"

"A great friend. I'll tell you what I want you to do. You must have
some place found for him."

"My dear Duchess, I never interfere."

"Why, Duke, you've made more Cabinets than any man living."

"I fear, indeed, that I have been at the construction of more
Governments than most men. It's forty years ago since Lord Melbourne
first did me the honour of consulting me. When asked for advice, my
dear, I have very often given it. It has occasionally been my duty to
say that I could not myself give my slender assistance to a Ministry
unless I were supported by the presence of this or that political
friend. But never in my life have I asked for an appointment as a
personal favour; and I am sure you won't be angry with me if I say
that I cannot begin to do so now."

"But Mr. Finn ought to be there. He did so well before."

"If so, let us presume that he will be there. I can only say, from
what little I know of him, that I shall be happy to see him in any
office to which the future Prime Minister may consider it to be
his duty to appoint him." "To think," said the Duchess of Omnium
afterwards to her friend Madame Goesler,--"to think that I should
have had that stupid old woman a week in the house, and all for
nothing!"

"Upon my word, Duchess," said Barrington Erle, "I don't know why it
is, but Gresham seems to have taken a dislike to him."

"It's Bonteen's doing."

"Very probably."

"Surely you can get the better of that?"

"I look upon Phineas Finn, Duchess, almost as a child of my own. He
has come back to Parliament altogether at my instigation."

"Then you ought to help him."

"And so I would if I could. Remember I am not the man I used to be
when dear old Mr. Mildmay reigned. The truth is, I never interfere
now unless I'm asked."

"I believe that every one of you is afraid of Mr. Gresham."

"Perhaps we are."

"I'll tell you what. If he's passed over I'll make such a row that
some of you shall hear it."

"How fond all you women are of Phineas Finn."

"I don't care that for him," said the Duchess, snapping her
fingers--"more than I do, that is, for any other mere acquaintance.
The man is very well, as most men are."

"Not all."

"No, not all. Some are as little and jealous as a girl in her tenth
season. He is a decently good fellow, and he is to be thrown over,
because--"

"Because of what?"

"I don't choose to name any one. You ought to know all about it, and
I do not doubt but you do. Lady Laura Kennedy is your own cousin."

"There is not a spark of truth in all that."

"Of course there is not; and yet he is to be punished. I know very
well, Mr. Erle, that if you choose to put your shoulder to the wheel
you can manage it; and I shall expect to have it managed."

"Plantagenet," she said the next day to her husband, "I want you to
do something for me."

"To do something! What am I to do? It's very seldom you want anything
in my line."

"This isn't in your line at all, and yet I want you to do it."

"Ten to one it's beyond my means."

"No, it isn't. I know you can if you like. I suppose you are all sure
to be in office within ten days or a fortnight?"

"I can't say, my dear. I have promised Mr. Gresham to be of use to
him if I can."

"Everybody knows all that. You're going to be Privy Seal, and to work
just the same as ever at those horrible two farthings."

"And what is it you want, Glencora?"

"I want you to say that you won't take any office unless you are
allowed to bring in one or two friends with you."

"Why should I do that? I shall not doubt any Cabinet chosen by Mr.
Gresham."

"I'm not speaking of the Cabinet; I allude to men in lower offices,
lords, and Under-Secretaries, and Vice-people. You know what I mean."

"I never interfere."

"But you must. Other men do continually. It's quite a common thing
for a man to insist that one or two others should come in with him."

"Yes. If a man feels that he cannot sustain his own position without
support, he declines to join the Government without it. But that
isn't my case. The friends who are necessary to me in the Cabinet are
the very men who will certainly be there. I would join no Government
without the Duke; but--"

"Oh, the Duke--the Duke! I hate dukes--and duchesses too. I'm not
talking about a duke. I want you to oblige me by making a point with
Mr. Gresham that Mr. Finn shall have an office."

"Mr. Finn!"

"Yes, Mr. Finn. I'll explain it all if you wish it."

"My dear Glencora, I never interfere."

"Who does interfere? Everybody says the same. Somebody interferes,
I suppose. Mr. Gresham can't know everybody so well as to be able
to fit all the pegs into all the holes without saying a word to
anybody."

"He would probably speak to Mr. Bonteen."

"Then he would speak to a very disagreeable man, and one I'm as sick
of as I ever was of any man I ever knew. If you can't manage this for
me, Plantagenet, I shall take it very ill. It's a little thing, and
I'm sure you could have it done. I don't very often trouble you by
asking for anything."

The Duke in his quiet way was an affectionate man, and an indulgent
husband. On the following morning he was closeted with Mr. Bonteen,
two private Secretaries, and a leading clerk from the Treasury for
four hours, during which they were endeavouring to ascertain whether
the commercial world of Great Britain would be ruined or enriched
if twelve pennies were declared to contain fifty farthings. The
discussion had been grievously burdensome to the minds of the Duke's
assistants in it, but he himself had remembered his wife through it
all. "By the way," he said, whispering into Mr. Bonteen's private ear
as he led that gentleman away to lunch, "if we do come in--"

"Oh, we must come in."

"If we do, I suppose something will be done for that Mr. Finn. He
spoke well the other night."

Mr. Bonteen's face became very long. "He helped to upset the coach
when he was with us before."

"I don't think that that is much against him."

"Is he--a personal friend of Your Grace's?"

"No--not particularly. I never care about such things for myself; but
Lady Glencora--"

"I think the Duchess can hardly know what has been his conduct to
poor Kennedy. There was a most disreputable row at a public-house in
London, and I am told that he behaved--very badly."

"I never heard a word about it," said the Duke.

"I'll tell you just the truth," said Mr. Bonteen. "I've been asked
about him, and I've been obliged to say that he would weaken any
Government that would give him office."

"Oh, indeed!"

That evening the Duke told the Duchess nearly all that he had heard,
and the Duchess swore that she wasn't going to be beaten by Mr.
Bonteen.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

Once Again in Portman Square


On the Wednesday in Easter week Lord Brentford and Lady Laura Kennedy
reached Portman Square from Dresden, and Phineas, who had remained in
town, was summoned thither by a note written at Dover. "We arrived
here to-day, and shall be in town to-morrow afternoon, between four
and five. Papa wants to see you especially. Can you manage to be with
us in the Square at about eight? I know it will be inconvenient, but
you will put up with inconvenience. I don't like to keep Papa up
late; and if he is tired he won't speak to you as he would if you
came early.--L. K." Phineas was engaged to dine with Lord Cantrip;
but he wrote to excuse himself,--telling the simple truth. He had
been asked to see Lord Brentford on business, and must obey the
summons.

He was shown into a sitting-room on the ground floor, which he
had always known as the Earl's own room, and there he found Lord
Brentford alone. The last time he had been there he had come to plead
with the Earl on behalf of Lord Chiltern, and the Earl had then been
a stern self-willed man, vigorous from a sense of power, and very
able to maintain and to express his own feelings. Now he was a
broken-down old man,--whose mind had been, as it were, unbooted and
put into moral slippers for the remainder of its term of existence
upon earth. He half shuffled up out of his chair as Phineas came
up to him, and spoke as though every calamity in the world were
oppressing him. "Such a passage! Oh, very bad, indeed! I thought it
would have been the death of me. Laura thought it better to come on."
The fact, however, had been that the Earl had so many objections to
staying at Calais, that his daughter had felt herself obliged to
yield to him.

"You must be glad at any rate to have got home," said Phineas.

"Home! I don't know what you call home. I don't suppose I shall ever
feel any place to be home again."

"You'll go to Saulsby;--will you not?"

"How can I tell? If Chiltern would have kept the house up, of course
I should have gone there. But he never would do anything like anybody
else. Violet wants me to go to that place they've got there, but I
shan't do that."

"It's a comfortable house."

"I hate horses and dogs, and I won't go."

There was nothing more to be said on that point. "I hope Lady Laura
is well."

"No, she's not. How should she be well? She's anything but well.
She'll be in directly, but she thought I ought to see you first. I
suppose this wretched man is really mad."

"I am told so."

"He never was anything else since I knew him. What are we to do now?
Forster says it won't look well to ask for a separation only because
he's insane. He tried to shoot you?"

"And very nearly succeeded."

"Forster says that if we do anything, all that must come out."

"There need not be the slightest hesitation as far as I am concerned,
Lord Brentford."

"You know he keeps all her money."

"At present I suppose he couldn't give it up."

"Why not? Why shouldn't he give it up? God bless my soul! Forty
thousand pounds and all for nothing. When he married he declared that
he didn't care about it! Money was nothing to him! So she lent it to
Chiltern."

"I remember."

"But they hadn't been together a year before he asked for it. Now
there it is;--and if she were to die to-morrow it would be lost to
the family. Something must be done, you know. I can't let her money
go in that way."

"You'll do what Mr. Forster suggests, no doubt."

"But he won't suggest anything. They never do. He doesn't care what
becomes of the money. It never ought to have been given up as it
was."

"It was settled, I suppose."

"Yes;--if there were children. And it will come back to her if he
dies first. But mad people never do die. That's a well-known fact.
They've nothing to trouble them, and they live for ever. It'll all go
to some cousin of his that nobody ever saw."

"Not as long as Lady Laura lives."

"But she does not get a penny of the income;--not a penny. There
never was anything so cruel. He has published all manner of
accusations against her."

"Nobody believes a word of that, my lord."

"And then when she is dragged forward by the necessity of vindicating
her character, he goes mad and keeps all her money! There never was
anything so cruel since the world began."

This continued for half-an-hour, and then Lady Laura came in. Nothing
had come, or could have come, from the consultation with the Earl.
Had it gone on for another hour, he would simply have continued
to grumble, and have persevered in insisting upon the hardships
he endured. Lady Laura was in black, and looked sad, and old, and
careworn; but she did not seem to be ill. Phineas could not but think
at the moment how entirely her youth had passed away from her. She
came and sat close by him, and began at once to speak of the late
debate. "Of course they'll go out," she said.

"I presume they will."

"And our party will come in."

"Oh, yes;--Mr. Gresham, and the two dukes, and Lord Cantrip,--with
Legge Wilson, Sir Harry Coldfoot, and the rest of them."

"And you?"

Phineas smiled, and tried to smile pleasantly, as he answered, "I
don't know that they'll put themselves out by doing very much for
me."

"They'll do something."

"I fancy not. Indeed, Lady Laura, to tell the truth at once, I know
that they don't mean to offer me anything."

"After making you give up your place in Ireland?"

"They didn't make me give it up. I should never dream of using such
an argument to any one. Of course I had to judge for myself. There is
nothing to be said about it;--only it is so." As he told her this he
strove to look light-hearted, and so to speak that she should not see
the depth of his disappointment;--but he failed altogether. She knew
him too well not to read his whole heart in the matter.

"Who has said it?" she asked.

"Nobody says things of that kind, and yet one knows."

"And why is it?"

"How can I say? There are various reasons,--and, perhaps, very good
reasons. What I did before makes men think that they can't depend on
me. At any rate it is so."

"Shall you not speak to Mr. Gresham?"

"Certainly not."

"What do you say, Papa?"

"How can I understand it, my dear? There used to be a kind of honour
in these things, but that's all old-fashioned now. Ministers used to
think of their political friends; but in these days they only regard
their political enemies. If you can make a Minister afraid of you,
then it becomes worth his while to buy you up. Most of the young
men rise now by making themselves thoroughly disagreeable. Abuse a
Minister every night for half a session, and you may be sure to be in
office the other half,--if you care about it."

"May I speak to Barrington Erle?" asked Lady Laura.

"I had rather you did not. Of course I must take it as it comes."

"But, my dear Mr. Finn, people do make efforts in such cases. I don't
doubt but that at this moment there are a dozen men moving heaven and
earth to secure something. No one has more friends than you have."

Had not her father been present he would have told her what his
friends were doing for him, and how unhappy such interferences made
him; but he could not explain all this before the Earl. "I would so
much rather hear about yourself," he said, again smiling.

"There is but little to say about us. I suppose Papa has told you?"

But the Earl had told him nothing, and indeed, there was nothing to
tell. The lawyer had advised that Mr. Kennedy's friends should be
informed that Lady Laura now intended to live in England, and that
they should be invited to make to her some statement as to Mr.
Kennedy's condition. If necessary he, on her behalf, would justify
her departure from her husband's roof by a reference to the
outrageous conduct of which Mr. Kennedy had since been guilty. In
regard to Lady Laura's fortune, Mr. Forster said that she could no
doubt apply for alimony, and that if the application were pressed at
law she would probably obtain it;--but he could not recommend such a
step at the present moment. As to the accusation which had been made
against her character, and which had become public through the malice
of the editor of _The People's Banner_, Mr. Forster thought that the
best refutation would be found in her return to England. At any rate
he would advise no further step at the present moment. Should any
further libel appear in the columns of the newspaper, then the
question might be again considered. Mr. Forster had already been in
Portman Square, and this had been the result of the conference.

"There is not much comfort in it all,--is there?" said Lady Laura.

"There is no comfort in anything," said the Earl.

When Phineas took his leave Lady Laura followed him out into the
hall, and they went together into the large, gloomy dining-room,
--gloomy and silent now, but which in former days he had known to be
brilliant with many lights, and cheerful with eager voices. "I must
have one word with you," she said, standing close to him against the
table, and putting her hand upon his arm. "Amidst all my sorrow, I
have been so thankful that he did not--kill you."

"I almost wish he had."

"Oh, Phineas!--how can you say words so wicked! Would you have had
him a murderer?"

"A madman is responsible for nothing."

"Where should I have been? What should I have done? But of course you
do not mean it. You have everything in life before you. Say some word
to me more comfortable than that. You cannot think how I have looked
forward to meeting you again. It has robbed the last month of half
its sadness." He put his arm round her waist and pressed her to his
side, but he said nothing. "It was so good of you to go to him as you
did. How was he looking?"

"Twenty years older than when you saw him last."

"But how in health?"

"He was thin and haggard."

"Was he pale?"

"No; flushed and red. He had not shaved himself for days; nor, as I
believe, had he been out of his room since he came up to London. I
fancy that he will not live long."

"Poor fellow;--unhappy man! I was very wrong to marry him, Phineas."

"I have never said so;--nor, indeed, thought so."

"But I have thought so; and I say it also,--to you. I owe him any
reparation that I can make him; but I could not have lived with him.
I had no idea, before, that the nature of two human beings could be
so unlike. I so often remember what you told me of him,--here; in
this house, when I first brought you together. Alas, how sad it has
been!"

"Sad, indeed."

"But can this be true that you tell me of yourself?

"It is quite true. I could not say so before your father, but it is
Mr. Bonteen's doing. There is no remedy. I am sure of that. I am only
afraid that people are interfering for me in a manner that will be as
disagreeable to me as it will be useless."

"What friends?" she asked.

He was still standing with his arm round her waist, and he did not
like to mention the name of Madame Goesler.

"The Duchess of Omnium,--whom you remember as Lady Glencora
Palliser."

"Is she a friend of yours?"

"No;--not particularly. But she is an indiscreet woman, and hates
Bonteen, and has taken it into her stupid head to interest herself in
my concerns. It is no doing of mine, and yet I cannot help it."

"She will succeed."

"I don't want assistance from such a quarter; and I feel sure that
she will not succeed."

"What will you do, Phineas?"

"What shall I do? Carry on the battle as long as I can without
getting into debt, and then--vanish."

"You vanished once before,--did you not,--with a wife?"

"And now I shall vanish alone. My poor little wife! It seems all like
a dream. She was so good, so pure, so pretty, so loving!"

"Loving! A man's love is so easily transferred;--as easily as a
woman's hand;--is it not, Phineas? Say the word, for it is what you
are thinking."

"I was thinking of no such thing."

"You must think it--You need not be afraid to reproach me. I could
bear it from you. What could I not bear from you? Oh, Phineas;--if I
had only known myself then, as I do now!"

"It is too late for regrets," he said. There was something in the
words which grated on her feelings, and induced her at length to
withdraw herself from his arm. Too late for regrets! She had never
told herself that it was not too late. She was the wife of another
man, and therefore, surely it was too late. But still the word coming
from his mouth was painful to her. It seemed to signify that for him
at least the game was all over.

"Yes, indeed," she said,--"if our regrets and remorse were at our own
disposal! You might as well say that it is too late for unhappiness,
too late for weariness, too late for all the misery that comes from a
life's disappointment."

"I should have said that indulgence in regrets is vain."

"That is a scrap of philosophy which I have heard so often before!
But we will not quarrel, will we, on the first day of my return?"

"I hope not."

"And I may speak to Barrington?"

"No; certainly not."

"But I shall. How can I help it? He will be here to-morrow, and will
be full of the coming changes. How should I not mention your name? He
knows--not all that has passed, but too much not to be aware of my
anxiety. Of course your name will come up?"

"What I request,--what I demand is, that you ask no favour for me.
Your father will miss you,--will he not? I had better go now."

"Good night, Phineas."

"Good night, dear friend."

"Dearest, dearest friend," she said. Then he left her, and without
assistance, let himself out into the square. In her intercourse with
him there was a passion the expression of which caused him sorrow and
almost dismay. He did not say so even to himself, but he felt that a
time might come in which she would resent the coldness of demeanour
which it would be imperative upon him to adopt in his intercourse
with her. He knew how imprudent he had been to stand there with his
arm round her waist.



CHAPTER XXXIX

Cagliostro


It had been settled that Parliament should meet on the Thursday in
Easter week, and it was known to the world at large that Cabinet
Councils were held on the Friday previous, on the Monday, and on the
Tuesday; but nobody knew what took place at those meetings. Cabinet
Councils are, of course, very secret. What kind of oath the members
take not to divulge any tittle of the proceedings at these awful
conferences, the general public does not know; but it is presumed
that oaths are taken very solemn, and it is known that they are very
binding. Nevertheless, it is not an uncommon thing to hear openly
at the clubs an account of what has been settled; and, as we all
know, not a council is held as to which the editor of _The People's
Banner_ does not inform its readers next day exactly what took
place. But as to these three Cabinet Councils there was an increased
mystery abroad. Statements, indeed, were made, very definite and
circumstantial, but then they were various,--and directly opposed
one to another. According to _The People's Banner_, Mr. Daubeny
had resolved, with that enduring courage which was his peculiar
characteristic, that he would not be overcome by faction, but would
continue to exercise all the functions of Prime Minister until he had
had an opportunity of learning whether his great measure had been
opposed by the sense of the country, or only by the tactics of an
angry and greedy party. Other journals declared that the Ministry as
a whole had decided on resigning. But the clubs were in a state of
agonising doubt. At the great stronghold of conservative policy in
Pall Mall men were silent, embarrassed, and unhappy. The party was
at heart divorced from its leaders,--and a party without leaders is
powerless. To these gentlemen there could be no triumph, whether Mr.
Daubeny went out or remained in office. They had been betrayed;--but
as a body were unable even to accuse the traitor. As regarded most
of them they had accepted the treachery and bowed their heads
beneath it, by means of their votes. And as to the few who had been
staunch,--they also were cowed by a feeling that they had been
instrumental in destroying their own power by endeavouring to protect
a doomed institution. Many a thriving county member in those days
expressed a wish among his friends that he had never meddled with the
affairs of public life, and hinted at the Chiltern Hundreds. On the
other side, there was undoubtedly something of a rabid desire for
immediate triumph, which almost deserved that epithet of greedy
which was then commonly used by Conservatives in speaking of their
opponents. With the Liberal leaders,--such men as Mr. Gresham and
the two dukes,--the anxiety displayed was, no doubt, on behalf of
the country. It is right, according to our constitution, that the
Government should be entrusted to the hands of those whom the
constituencies of the country have most trusted. And, on behalf of
the country, it behoves the men in whom the country has placed its
trust to do battle in season and out of season,--to carry on war
internecine,--till the demands of the country are obeyed. A sound
political instinct had induced Mr. Gresham on this occasion to attack
his opponent simply on the ground of his being the leader only of
a minority in the House of Commons. But from among Mr. Gresham's
friends there had arisen a noise which sounded very like a clamour
for place, and this noise of course became aggravated in the ears of
those who were to be displaced. Now, during Easter week, the clamour
became very loud. Could it be possible that the archfiend of a
Minister would dare to remain in office till the end of a hurried
Session, and then again dissolve Parliament? Men talked of rows in
London,--even of revolution, and there were meetings in open places
both by day and night. Petitions were to be prepared, and the country
was to be made to express itself.

When, however, Thursday afternoon came, Mr. Daubeny "threw up the
sponge." Up to the last moment the course which he intended to pursue
was not known to the country at large. He entered the House very
slowly,--almost with a languid air, as though indifferent to its
performances, and took his seat at about half-past four. Every man
there felt that there was insolence in his demeanour,--and yet
there was nothing on which it was possible to fasten in the way of
expressed complaint. There was a faint attempt at a cheer,--for good
soldiers acknowledge the importance of supporting even an unpopular
general. But Mr. Daubeny's soldiers on this occasion were not very
good. When he had been seated about five minutes he rose, still very
languidly, and began his statement. He and his colleagues, he said,
in their attempt to legislate for the good of their country had been
beaten in regard to a very great measure by a large majority, and in
compliance with what he acknowledged to be the expressed opinion of
the House, he had considered it to be his duty--as his colleagues had
considered it to be theirs--to place their joint resignations in the
hands of Her Majesty. This statement was received with considerable
surprise, as it was not generally known that Mr. Daubeny had as
yet even seen the Queen. But the feeling most predominant in the
House was one almost of dismay at the man's quiescence. He and his
colleagues had resigned, and he had recommended Her Majesty to send
for Mr. Gresham. He spoke in so low a voice as to be hardly audible
to the House at large, and then paused,--ceasing to speak, as
though his work were done. He even made some gesture, as though
stepping back to his seat;--deceived by which Mr. Gresham, at the
other side of the table, rose to his legs. "Perhaps," said Mr.
Daubeny,--"Perhaps the right honourable gentleman would pardon him,
and the House would pardon him, if still, for a moment, he interposed
between the House and the right honourable gentleman. He could well
understand the impatience of the right honourable gentleman,--who
no doubt was anxious to reassume that authority among them, the
temporary loss of which he had not perhaps borne with all the
equanimity which might have been expected from him. He would promise
the House and the right honourable gentleman that he would not detain
them long." Mr. Gresham threw himself back into his seat, evidently
not without annoyance, and his enemy stood for a moment looking at
him. Unless they were angels these two men must at that moment have
hated each other;--and it is supposed that they were no more than
human. It was afterwards said that the little ruse of pretending to
resume his seat had been deliberately planned by Mr. Daubeny with the
view of seducing Mr. Gresham into an act of seeming impatience, and
that these words about his opponent's failing equanimity had been
carefully prepared.

Mr. Daubeny stood for a minute silent, and then began to pour forth
that which was really his speech on the occasion. Those flaccid
half-pronounced syllables in which he had declared that he had
resigned,--had been studiously careless, purposely flaccid. It was
his duty to let the House know the fact, and he did his duty. But
now he had a word to say in which he himself could take some little
interest. Mr. Daubeny could be fiery or flaccid as it suited
himself;--and now it suited him to be fiery. He had a prophecy
to make, and prophets have ever been energetic men. Mr. Daubeny
conceived it to be his duty to inform the House, and through the
House the country, that now, at last, had the day of ruin come upon
the British Empire, because it had bowed itself to the dominion of an
unscrupulous and greedy faction. It cannot be said that the language
which he used was unmeasured, because no word that he uttered would
have warranted the Speaker in calling him to order; but, within the
very wide bounds of parliamentary etiquette, there was no limit to
the reproach and reprobation which he heaped on the House of Commons
for its late vote. And his audacity equalled his insolence. In
announcing his resignation, he had condescended to speak of himself
and his colleagues; but now he dropped his colleagues as though they
were unworthy of his notice, and spoke only of his own doings,--of
his own efforts to save the country, which was indeed willing to be
saved, but unable to select fitting instruments of salvation. "He
had been twitted," he said, "with inconsistency to his principles
by men who were simply unable to understand the meaning of the word
Conservatism. These gentlemen seemed to think that any man who did
not set himself up as an apostle of constant change must therefore
be bound always to stand still and see his country perish from
stagnation. It might be that there were gentlemen in that House whose
timid natures could not face the dangers of any movement; but for
himself he would say that no word had ever fallen from his lips which
justified either his friends or his adversaries in classing him among
the number. If a man be anxious to keep his fire alight, does he
refuse to touch the sacred coals as in the course of nature they are
consumed? Or does he move them with the salutary poker and add fresh
fuel from the basket? They all knew that enemy to the comfort of the
domestic hearth, who could not keep his hands for a moment from the
fire-irons. Perhaps he might be justified if he said that they had
been very much troubled of late in that House by gentlemen who could
not keep their fingers from poker and tongs. But there had now fallen
upon them a trouble of a nature much more serious in its effects than
any that had come or could come from would-be reformers. A spirit of
personal ambition, a wretched thirst for office, a hankering after
the power and privileges of ruling, had not only actuated men,--as,
alas, had been the case since first the need for men to govern others
had arisen in the world,--but had been openly avowed and put forward
as an adequate and sufficient reason for opposing a measure in
disapprobation of which no single argument had been used! The right
honourable gentleman's proposition to the House had been simply
this;--'I shall oppose this measure, be it good or bad, because I
desire, myself, to be Prime Minister, and I call upon those whom I
lead in politics to assist me in doing so, in order that they may
share the good things on which we may thus be enabled to lay our
hands!'"

Then there arose a great row in the House, and there seemed to be a
doubt whether the still existing Minister of the day would be allowed
to continue his statement. Mr. Gresham rose to his feet, but sat down
again instantly, without having spoken a word that was audible. Two
or three voices were heard calling upon the Speaker for protection.
It was, however, asserted afterwards that nothing had been said
which demanded the Speaker's interference. But all moderate voices
were soon lost in the enraged clamour of members on each side. The
insolence showered upon those who generally supported Mr. Daubeny had
equalled that with which he had exasperated those opposed to him; and
as the words had fallen from his lips, there had been no purpose of
cheering him from the conservative benches. But noise creates noise,
and shouting is a ready and easy mode of contest. For a while it
seemed as though the right side of the Speaker's chair was only
beaten by the majority of lungs on the left side;--and in the midst
of it all Mr. Daubeny still stood, firm on his feet, till gentlemen
had shouted themselves silent,--and then he resumed his speech.

The remainder of what he said was profound, prophetic, and
unintelligible. The gist of it, so far as it could be understood
when the bran was bolted from it, consisted in an assurance that the
country had now reached that period of its life in which rapid decay
was inevitable, and that, as the mortal disease had already shown
itself in its worst form, national decrepitude was imminent, and
natural death could not long be postponed. They who attempted to
read the prophecy with accuracy were of opinion that the prophet had
intimated that had the nation, even in this its crisis, consented
to take him, the prophet, as its sole physician and to obey his
prescription with childlike docility, health might not only have been
re-established, but a new juvenescence absolutely created. The nature
of the medicine that should have been taken was even supposed to
have been indicated in some very vague terms. Had he been allowed to
operate he would have cut the tap-roots of the national cancer, have
introduced fresh blood into the national veins, and resuscitated the
national digestion, and he seemed to think that the nation, as a
nation, was willing enough to undergo the operation, and be treated
as he should choose to treat it;--but that the incubus of Mr.
Gresham, backed by an unworthy House of Commons, had prevented, and
was preventing, the nation from having its own way. Therefore the
nation must be destroyed. Mr. Daubeny as soon as he had completed his
speech took up his hat and stalked out of the House.

It was supposed at the time that the retiring Prime Minister had
intended, when he rose to his legs, not only to denounce his
opponents, but also to separate himself from his own unworthy
associates. Men said that he had become disgusted with politics,
disappointed, and altogether demoralized by defeat, and great
curiosity existed as to the steps which might be taken at the time by
the party of which he had hitherto been the leader. On that evening,
at any rate, nothing was done. When Mr. Daubeny was gone, Mr. Gresham
rose and said that in the present temper of the House he thought
it best to postpone any statement from himself. He had received
Her Majesty's commands only as he had entered that House, and in
obedience to those commands, he should wait upon Her Majesty early
to-morrow. He hoped to be able to inform the House at the afternoon
sitting, what was the nature of the commands with which Her Majesty
might honour him.

"What do you think of that?" Phineas asked Mr. Monk as they left the
House together.

"I think that our Chatham of to-day is but a very poor copy of him
who misbehaved a century ago."

"Does not the whole thing distress you?"

"Not particularly. I have always felt that there has been a mistake
about Mr. Daubeny. By many he has been accounted as a statesman,
whereas to me he has always been a political Cagliostro. Now a
conjuror is I think a very pleasant fellow to have among us, if we
know that he is a conjuror;--but a conjuror who is believed to do his
tricks without sleight of hand is a dangerous man. It is essential
that such a one should be found out and known to be a conjuror,--and
I hope that such knowledge may have been communicated to some men
this afternoon."

"He was very great," said Ratler to Bonteen. "Did you not think so?"

"Yes, I did,--very powerful indeed. But the party is broken up to
atoms."

"Atoms soon come together again in politics," said Ratler. "They
can't do without him. They haven't got anybody else. I wonder what he
did when he got home."

"Had some gruel and went to bed," said Bonteen. "They say these
scenes in the House never disturb him at home." From which
conversations it may be inferred that Mr. Monk and Messrs. Ratler and
Bonteen did not agree in their ideas respecting political conjurors.



CHAPTER XL

The Prime Minister is Hard Pressed


It can never be a very easy thing to form a Ministry. The one chosen
chief is readily selected. Circumstances, indeed, have probably left
no choice in the matter. Every man in the country who has at all
turned his thoughts that way knows very well who will be the next
Prime Minister when it comes to pass that a change is imminent.
In these days the occupant of the throne can have no difficulty.
Mr. Gresham recommends Her Majesty to send for Mr. Daubeny, or Mr.
Daubeny for Mr. Gresham,--as some ten or a dozen years since Mr.
Mildmay told her to send for Lord de Terrier, or Lord de Terrier
for Mr. Mildmay. The Prime Minister is elected by the nation, but
the nation, except in rare cases, cannot go below that in arranging
details, and the man for whom the Queen sends is burdened with the
necessity of selecting his colleagues. It may be,--probably must
always be the case,--that this, that, and the other colleagues are
clearly indicated to his mind, but then each of these colleagues
may want his own inferior coadjutors, and so the difficulty begins,
increases, and at length culminates. On the present occasion it was
known at the end of a week that Mr. Gresham had not filled all his
offices, and that there were difficulties. It was announced that the
Duke of St. Bungay could not quite agree on certain points with Mr.
Gresham, and that the Duke of Omnium would do nothing without the
other Duke. The Duke of St. Bungay was very powerful, as there were
three or four of the old adherents of Mr. Mildmay who would join
no Government unless he was with them. Sir Harry Coldfoot and Lord
Plinlimmon would not accept office without the Duke. The Duke was
essential, and now, though the Duke's character was essentially that
of a practical man who never raised unnecessary trouble, men said
that the Duke was at the bottom of it all. The Duke did not approve
of Mr. Bonteen. Mr. Gresham, so it was said, insisted on Mr.
Bonteen,--appealing to the other Duke. But that other Duke, our own
special Duke, Planty Pall that was, instead of standing up for Mr.
Bonteen, was cold and unsympathetic. He could not join the Ministry
without his friend, the Duke of St. Bungay, and as to Mr. Bonteen, he
thought that perhaps a better selection might be made.

Such were the club rumours which took place as to the difficulties
of the day, and, as is generally the case, they were not far from
the truth. Neither of the dukes had absolutely put a veto on poor Mr.
Bonteen's elevation, but they had expressed themselves dissatisfied
with the appointment, and the younger duke had found himself
called upon to explain that although he had been thrown much into
communication with Mr. Bonteen he had never himself suggested that
that gentleman should follow him at the Exchequer. This was one of
the many difficulties which beset the Prime Minister elect in the
performance of his arduous duty.

Lady Glencora, as people would still persist in calling her, was at
the bottom of it all. She had sworn an oath inimical to Mr. Bonteen,
and did not leave a stone unturned in her endeavours to accomplish
it. If Phineas Finn might find acceptance, then Mr. Bonteen might be
allowed to enter Elysium. A second Juno, she would allow the Romulus
she hated to sit in the seats of the blessed, to be fed with nectar,
and to have his name printed in the lists of unruffled Cabinet
meetings,--but only on conditions. Phineas Finn must be allowed a
seat also, and a little nectar,--though it were at the second table
of the gods. For this she struggled, speaking her mind boldly to this
and that member of her husband's party, but she struggled in vain.
She could obtain no assurance on behalf of Phineas Finn. The Duke of
St. Bungay would do nothing for her. Barrington Erle had declared
himself powerless. Her husband had condescended to speak to Mr.
Bonteen himself, and Mr. Bonteen's insolent answer had been reported
to her. Then she went sedulously to work, and before a couple of days
were over she did make her husband believe that Mr. Bonteen was not
fit to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. This took place before Mr.
Daubeny's statement, while the Duke and Duchess of St. Bungay were
still at Matching,--while Mr. Bonteen, unconscious of what was being
done, was still in the House. Before the two days were over, the Duke
of St. Bungay had a very low opinion of Mr. Bonteen, but was quite
ignorant of any connection between that low opinion and the fortunes
of Phineas Finn.

"Plantagenet, of all your men that are coming up, your Mr. Bonteen
is the worst. I often think that you are going down hill, both in
character and intellect, but if you go as low as that I shall prefer
to cross the water, and live in America." This she said in the
presence of the two dukes.

"What has Mr. Bonteen done?" asked the elder, laughing.

"He was boasting this morning openly of whom he intended to bring
with him into the Cabinet." Truth demands that the chronicler should
say that this was a positive fib. Mr. Bonteen, no doubt, had talked
largely and with indiscretion, but had made no such boast as that of
which the Duchess accused him. "Mr. Gresham will get astray if he
doesn't allow some one to tell him the truth."

She did not press the matter any further then, but what she had said
was not thrown away. "Your wife is almost right about that man," the
elder Duke said to the younger.

"It's Mr. Gresham's doing,--not mine," said the younger.

"She is right about Gresham, too," said the elder. "With all his
immense intellect and capacity for business no man wants more looking
after."

That evening Mr. Bonteen was singled out by the Duchess for her
special attention, and in the presence of all who were there
assembled he made himself an ass. He could not save himself from
talking about himself when he was encouraged. On this occasion he
offended all those feelings of official discretion and personal
reticence which had been endeared to the old duke by the lessons
which he had learned from former statesmen and by the experience of
his own life. To be quiet, unassuming, almost affectedly modest in
any mention of himself, low-voiced, reflecting always more than he
resolved, and resolving always more than he said, had been his aim.
Conscious of his high rank, and thinking, no doubt, much of the
advantages in public life which his birth and position had given him,
still he would never have ventured to speak of his own services as
necessary to any Government. That he had really been indispensable to
many he must have known, but not to his closest friend would he have
said so in plain language. To such a man the arrogance of Mr. Bonteen
was intolerable.

There is probably more of the flavour of political aristocracy to
be found still remaining among our liberal leading statesmen than
among their opponents. A conservative Cabinet is, doubtless, never
deficient in dukes and lords, and the sons of such; but conservative
dukes and lords are recruited here and there, and as recruits, are
new to the business, whereas among the old Whigs a halo of statecraft
has, for ages past, so strongly pervaded and enveloped certain great
families, that the power in the world of politics thus produced
still remains, and is even yet efficacious in creating a feeling of
exclusiveness. They say that "misfortune makes men acquainted with
strange bedfellows". The old hereditary Whig Cabinet ministers must,
no doubt, by this time have learned to feel themselves at home with
strange neighbours at their elbows. But still with them something of
the feeling of high blood, of rank, and of living in a park with deer
about it, remains. They still entertain a pride in their Cabinets,
and have, at any rate, not as yet submitted themselves to a conjuror.
The Charles James Fox element of liberality still holds its own, and
the fragrance of Cavendish is essential. With no man was this feeling
stronger than with the Duke of St. Bungay, though he well knew how to
keep it in abeyance,--even to the extent of self-sacrifice. Bonteens
must creep into the holy places. The faces which he loved to
see,--born chiefly of other faces he had loved when young,--could not
cluster around the sacred table without others which were much less
welcome to him. He was wise enough to know that exclusiveness did not
suit the nation, though human enough to feel that it must have been
pleasant to himself. There must be Bonteens;--but when any Bonteen
came up, who loomed before his eyes as specially disagreeable, it
seemed to him to be a duty to close the door against such a one, if
it could be closed without violence. A constant, gentle pressure
against the door would tend to keep down the number of the Bonteens.

"I am not sure that you are not going a little too quick in regard
to Mr. Bonteen," said the elder duke to Mr. Gresham before he had
finally assented to a proposition originated by himself,--that he
should sit in the Cabinet without a portfolio.

"Palliser wishes it," said Mr. Gresham, shortly.

"He and I think that there has been some mistake about that. You
suggested the appointment to him, and he felt unwilling to raise an
objection without giving the matter very mature consideration. You
can understand that."

"Upon my word I thought that the selection would be peculiarly
agreeable to him." Then the duke made a suggestion. "Could not some
special office at the Treasury be constructed for Mr. Bonteen's
acceptance, having special reference to the question of decimal
coinage?"

"But how about the salary?" asked Mr. Gresham. "I couldn't propose a
new office with a salary above £2,000."

"Couldn't we make it permanent," suggested the duke;--"with
permission to hold a seat if he can get one?"

"I fear not," said Mr. Gresham.

"He got into a very unpleasant scrape when he was Financial
Secretary," said the Duke.


   But whither would'st thou, Muse? Unmeet
      For jocund lyre are themes like these.
   Shalt thou the talk of Gods repeat,
   Debasing by thy strains effete
      Such lofty mysteries?


The absolute words of a conversation so lofty shall no longer be
attempted, but it may be said that Mr. Gresham was too wise to
treat as of no account the objections of such a one as the Duke
of St. Bungay. He saw Mr. Bonteen, and he saw the other duke, and
difficulties arose. Mr. Bonteen made himself very disagreeable
indeed. As Mr. Bonteen had never absolutely been as yet more than a
demigod, our Muse, light as she is, may venture to report that he
told Mr. Ratler that "he'd be d---- if he'd stand it. If he were to
be thrown over now, he'd make such a row, and would take such care
that the fat should be in the fire, that his enemies, whoever they
were, should wish that they had kept their fingers off him. He knew
who was doing it." If he did not know, his guess was right. In his
heart he accused the young duchess, though he mentioned her name
to no one. And it was the young duchess. Then there was made an
insidious proposition to Mr. Gresham,--which reached him at last
through Barrington Erle,--that matters would go quieter if Phineas
Finn were placed in his old office at the Colonies instead of Lord
Fawn, whose name had been suggested, and for whom,--as Barrington
Erle declared,--no one cared a brass farthing. Mr. Gresham, when he
heard this, thought that he began to smell a rat, and was determined
to be on his guard. Why should the appointment of Mr. Phineas Finn
make things go easier in regard to Mr. Bonteen? There must be some
woman's fingers in the pie. Now Mr. Gresham was firmly resolved that
no woman's fingers should have anything to do with his pie.

How the thing went from bad to worse, it would be bootless here
to tell. Neither of the two dukes absolutely refused to join the
Ministry; but they were persistent in their objection to Mr. Bonteen,
and were joined in it by Lord Plinlimmon and Sir Harry Coldfoot. It
was in vain that Mr. Gresham urged that he had no other man ready
and fit to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. That excuse could not be
accepted. There was Legge Wilson, who twelve years since had been
at the Treasury, and would do very well. Now Mr. Gresham had always
personally hated Legge Wilson,--and had, therefore, offered him the
Board of Trade. Legge Wilson had disgusted him by accepting it, and
the name had already been published in connection with the office.
But in the lists which had appeared towards the end of the week, no
name was connected with the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer,
and no office was connected with the name of Mr. Bonteen. The editor
of _The People's Banner_, however, expressed the gratification of
that journal that even Mr. Gresham had not dared to propose Mr.
Phineas Finn for any place under the Crown.

At last Mr. Bonteen was absolutely told that he could not be
Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he would consent to give his very
valuable services to the country with the view of carrying through
Parliament the great measure of decimal coinage he should be
President of the Board of Trade,--but without a seat in the Cabinet.
He would thus become the Right Honourable Bonteen, which, no doubt,
would be a great thing for him,--and, not busy in the Cabinet,
must be able to devote his time exclusively to the great measure
above-named. What was to become of "Trade" generally, was not
specially explained; but, as we all know, there would be a
Vice-President to attend to details.

The proposition very nearly broke the man's heart. With a voice
stopped by agitation, with anger flashing from his eyes, almost in a
convulsion of mixed feelings, he reminded his chief of what had been
said about his appointment in the House. Mr. Gresham had already
absolutely defended it. After that did Mr. Gresham mean to withdraw
a promise that had so formally been made? But Mr. Gresham was not to
be caught in that way. He had made no promise;--had not even stated
to the House that such appointment was to be made. A very improper
question had been asked as to a rumour,--in answering which he
had been forced to justify himself by explaining that discussions
respecting the office had been necessary. "Mr. Bonteen," said
Mr. Gresham, "no one knows better than you the difficulties of a
Minister. If you can act with us I shall be very grateful to you. If
you cannot, I shall regret the loss of your services." Mr. Bonteen
took twenty-four hours to consider, and was then appointed President
of the Board of Trade without a seat in the Cabinet. Mr. Legge Wilson
became Chancellor of the Exchequer. When the lists were completed,
no office whatever was assigned to Phineas Finn. "I haven't done
with Mr. Bonteen yet," said the young duchess to her friend Madame
Goesler.

The secrets of the world are very marvellous, but they are not
themselves half so wonderful as the way in which they become known to
the world. There could be no doubt that Mr. Bonteen's high ambition
had foundered, and that he had been degraded through the secret
enmity of the Duchess of Omnium. It was equally certain that his
secret enmity to Phineas Finn had brought this punishment on his
head. But before the Ministry had been a week in office almost
everybody knew that it was so. The rumours were full of falsehood,
but yet they contained the truth. The duchess had done it. The
duchess was the bosom friend of Lady Laura Kennedy, who was in love
with Phineas Finn. She had gone on her knees to Mr. Gresham to get
a place for her friend's favourite, and Mr. Gresham had refused.
Consequently, at her bidding, half-a-dozen embryo Ministers--her
husband among the number--had refused to be amenable to Mr. Gresham.
Mr. Gresham had at last consented to sacrifice Mr. Bonteen, who had
originally instigated him to reject the claims of Phineas Finn. That
the degradation of the one man had been caused by the exclusion of
the other all the world knew.

"It shuts the door to me for ever and ever," said Phineas to Madame
Goesler.

"I don't see that."

"Of course it does. Such an affair places a mark against a man's name
which will never be forgotten."

"Is your heart set upon holding some trifling appointment under a
Minister?"

"To tell you the truth, it is;--or rather it was. The prospect of
office to me was more than perhaps to any other expectant. Even this
man, Bonteen, has some fortune of his own, and can live if he be
excluded. I have given up everything for the chance of something in
this line."

"Other lines are open."

"Not to me, Madame Goesler. I do not mean to defend myself. I have
been very foolish, very sanguine, and am now very unhappy."

"What shall I say to you?"

"The truth."

"In truth, then, I do not sympathise with you. The thing lost is too
small, too mean to justify unhappiness."

"But, Madame Goesler, you are a rich woman."

"Well?"

"If you were to lose it all, would you not be unhappy? It has been
my ambition to live here in London as one of a special set which
dominates all other sets in our English world. To do so a man
should have means of his own. I have none; and yet I have tried
it,--thinking that I could earn my bread at it as men do at other
professions. I acknowledge that I should not have thought so. No man
should attempt what I have attempted without means, at any rate to
live on if he fail; but I am not the less unhappy because I have been
silly."

"What will you do?"

"Ah,--what? Another friend asked me that the other day, and I told
her that I should vanish."

"Who was that friend?"

"Lady Laura."

"She is in London again now?"

"Yes; she and her father are in Portman Square."

"She has been an injurious friend to you."

"No, by heaven," exclaimed Phineas. "But for her I should never have
been here at all, never have had a seat in Parliament, never have
been in office, never have known you."

"And might have been the better without any of these things."

"No man ever had a better friend than Lady Laura has been to me.
Malice, wicked and false as the devil, has lately joined our names
together to the incredible injury of both of us; but it has not been
her fault."

"You are energetic in defending her."

"And so would she be in defending me. Circumstances threw us together
and made us friends. Her father and her brother were my friends. I
happened to be of service to her husband. We belonged to the same
party. And therefore--because she has been unfortunate in her
marriage--people tell lies of her."

"It is a pity he should--not die, and leave her," said Madame Goesler
slowly.

"Why so?"

"Because then you might justify yourself in defending her by making
her your wife." She paused, but he made no answer to this. "You are
in love with her," she said.

"It is untrue."

"Mr. Finn!"

"Well, what would you have? I am not in love with her. To me she is
no more than my sister. Were she as free as air I should not ask her
to be my wife. Can a man and woman feel no friendship without being
in love with each other?"

"I hope they may," said Madame Goesler. Had he been lynx-eyed he
might have seen that she blushed; but it required quick eyes to
discover a blush on Madame Goesler's face. "You and I are friends."

"Indeed we are," he said, grasping her hand as he took his leave.



VOLUME II

CHAPTER XLI

"I hope I'm not distrusted"


Gerard Maule, as the reader has been informed, wrote three lines to
his dearest Adelaide to inform her that his father would not assent
to the suggestion respecting Maule Abbey which had been made by
Lady Chiltern, and then took no further steps in the matter. In the
fortnight next after the receipt of his letter nothing was heard of
him at Harrington Hall, and Adelaide, though she made no complaint,
was unhappy. Then came the letter from Mr. Spooner,--with all its
rich offers, and Adelaide's mind was for a while occupied with
wrath against her second suitor. But as the egregious folly of Mr.
Spooner,--for to her thinking the aspirations of Mr. Spooner were
egregiously foolish,--died out of her mind, her thoughts reverted to
her engagement. Why did not the man come to her, or why did he not
write?

She had received from Lady Chiltern an invitation to remain with
them,--the Chilterns,--till her marriage. "But, dear Lady Chiltern,
who knows when it will be?" Adelaide had said. Lady Chiltern had
good-naturedly replied that the longer it was put off the better
for herself. "But you'll be going to London or abroad before that
day comes." Lady Chiltern declared that she looked forward to
no festivities which could under any circumstances remove her
four-and-twenty hours travelling distance from the kennels. Probably
she might go up to London for a couple of months as soon as the
hunting was over, and the hounds had been drafted, and the horses had
been coddled, and every covert had been visited. From the month of
May till the middle of July she might, perhaps, be allowed to be in
town, as communications by telegram could now be made day and night.
After that, preparations for cub-hunting would be imminent, and,
as a matter of course, it would be necessary that she should be at
Harrington Hall at so important a period of the year. During those
couple of months she would be very happy to have the companionship of
her friend, and she hinted that Gerard Maule would certainly be in
town. "I begin to think it would have been better that I should never
have seen Gerard Maule," said Adelaide Palliser.

This happened about the middle of March, while hunting was still in
force. Gerard's horses were standing in the neighbourhood, but Gerard
himself was not there. Mr. Spooner, since that short, disheartening
note had been sent to him by Lord Chiltern, had not been seen at
Harrington. There was a Harrington Lawn Meet on one occasion, but
he had not appeared till the hounds were at the neighbouring covert
side. Nevertheless he had declared that he did not intend to give
up the pursuit, and had even muttered something of the sort to Lord
Chiltern. "I am one of those fellows who stick to a thing, you know,"
he said.

"I am afraid you had better give up sticking to her, because she's
going to marry somebody else."

"I've heard all about that, my lord. He's a very nice sort of young
man, but I'm told he hasn't got his house ready yet for a family."
All which Lord Chiltern repeated to his wife. Neither of them spoke
to Adelaide again about Mr. Spooner; but this did cause a feeling in
Lady Chiltern's mind that perhaps this engagement with young Maule
was a foolish thing, and that, if so, she was in a great measure
responsible for the folly.

"Don't you think you'd better write to him?" she said, one morning.

"Why does he not write to me?"

"But he did,--when he wrote you that his father would not consent to
give up the house. You did not answer him then."

"It was two lines,--without a date. I don't even know where he
lives."

"You know his club?"

"Yes,--I know his club. I do feel, Lady Chiltern, that I have become
engaged to marry a man as to whom I am altogether in the dark. I
don't like writing to him at his club."

"You have seen more of him here and in Italy than most girls see of
their future husbands."

"So I have,--but I have seen no one belonging to him. Don't you
understand what I mean? I feel all at sea about him. I am sure he
does not mean any harm."

"Certainly he does not."

"But then he hardly means any good."

"I never saw a man more earnestly in love," said Lady Chiltern.

"Oh yes,--he's quite enough in love. But--"

"But what?"

"He'll just remain up in London thinking about it, and never tell
himself that there's anything to be done. And then, down here, what
is my best hope? Not that he'll come to see me, but that he'll come
to see his horse, and that so, perhaps, I may get a word with him."
Then Lady Chiltern suggested, with a laugh, that perhaps it might
have been better that she should have accepted Mr. Spooner. There
would have been no doubt as to Mr. Spooner's energy and purpose.
"Only that if there was not another man in the world I wouldn't marry
him, and that I never saw any other man except Gerard Maule whom I
even fancied I could marry."

About a fortnight after this, when the hunting was all over, in the
beginning of April, she did write to him as follows, and did direct
her letter to his club. In the meantime Lord Chiltern had intimated
to his wife that if Gerard Maule behaved badly he should consider
himself to be standing in the place of Adelaide's father or brother.
His wife pointed out to him that were he her father or her brother he
could do nothing,--that in these days let a man behave ever so badly,
no means of punishing was within reach of the lady's friends. But
Lord Chiltern would not assent to this. He muttered something about
a horsewhip, and seemed to suggest that one man could, if he were so
minded, always have it out with another, if not in this way, then in
that. Lady Chiltern protested, and declared that horsewhips could not
under any circumstances be efficacious. "He had better mind what he
is about," said Lord Chiltern. It was after this that Adelaide wrote
her letter:--


   Harrington Hall, 5th April.

   DEAR GERARD,--

   I have been thinking that I should hear from you, and have
   been surprised,--I may say unhappy,--because I have not
   done so. Perhaps you thought I ought to have answered the
   three words which you wrote to me about your father; if
   so, I will apologise; only they did not seem to give me
   anything to say. I was very sorry that your father should
   have 'cut up rough,' as you call it, but you must remember
   that we both expected that he would refuse, and that
   we are only therefore where we thought we should be.
   I suppose we shall have to wait till Providence does
   something for us,--only, if so, it would be pleasanter to
   me to hear your own opinion about it.

   The Chilterns are surprised that you shouldn't have come
   back, and seen the end of the season. There were some very
   good runs just at last;--particularly one on last Monday.
   But on Wednesday Trumpeton Wood was again blank, and there
   was some row about wires. I can't explain it all; but you
   must come, and Lord Chiltern will tell you. I have gone
   down to see the horses ever so often;--but I don't care to
   go now as you never write to me. They are all three quite
   well, and Fan looks as silken and as soft as any lady need
   do.

   Lady Chiltern has been kinder than I can tell you. I go
   up to town with her in May, and shall remain with her
   while she is there. So far I have decided. After that
   my future home must, sir, depend on the resolution and
   determination, or perhaps on the vagaries and caprices, of
   him who is to be my future master. Joking apart, I must
   know to what I am to look forward before I can make up my
   mind whether I will or will not go back to Italy towards
   the end of the summer. If I do, I fear I must do so just
   in the hottest time of the year; but I shall not like
   to come down here again after leaving London,--unless
   something by that time has been settled.

   I shall send this to your club, and I hope that it will
   reach you. I suppose that you are in London.

   Good-bye, dearest Gerard.

   Yours most affectionately,

   ADELAIDE.

   If there is anything that troubles you, pray tell me. I
   ask you because I think it would be better for you that I
   should know. I sometimes think that you would have written
   if there had not been some misfortune. God bless you.


Gerard was in London, and sent the following note by return of
post:--


   ---- Club, Tuesday.

   DEAREST ADELAIDE,

   All right. If Chiltern can take me for a couple of nights,
   I'll come down next week, and settle about the horses, and
   will arrange everything.

   Ever your own, with all my heart,

   G. M.


"He will settle about his horses, and arrange everything," said
Adelaide, as she showed the letter to Lady Chiltern. "The horses
first, and everything afterwards. The everything, of course, includes
all my future happiness, the day of my marriage, whether to-morrow or
in ten years' time, and the place where we shall live."

"At any rate, he's coming."

"Yes;--but when? He says next week, but he does not name any day. Did
you ever hear or see anything so unsatisfactory?"

"I thought you would be glad to see him."

"So I should be,--if there was any sense in him. I shall be glad, and
shall kiss him."

"I dare say you will."

"And let him put his arm round my waist and be happy. He will be
happy because he will think of nothing beyond. But what is to be the
end of it?"

"He says that he will settle everything."

"But he will have thought of nothing. What must I settle? That is
the question. When he was told to go to his father, he went to his
father. When he failed there the work was done, and the trouble was
off his mind. I know him so well."

"If you think so ill of him why did you consent to get into his
boat?" said Lady Chiltern, seriously.

"I don't think ill of him. Why do you say that I think ill of him? I
think better of him than of anybody else in the world;--but I know
his fault, and, as it happens, it is a fault so very prejudicial to
my happiness. You ask me why I got into his boat. Why does any girl
get into a man's boat? Why did you get into Lord Chiltern's?"

"I promised to marry him when I was seven years old;--so he says."

"But you wouldn't have done it, if you hadn't had a sort of feeling
that you were born to be his wife. I haven't got into this man's boat
yet; but I never can be happy unless I do, simply because--"

"You love him."

"Yes;--just that. I have a feeling that I should like to be in his
boat, and I shouldn't like to be anywhere else. After you have come
to feel like that about a man I don't suppose it makes any difference
whether you think him perfect or imperfect. He's just my own,--at
least I hope so;--the one thing that I've got. If I wear a stuff
frock, I'm not going to despise it because it's not silk."

"Mr. Spooner would be the stuff frock."

"No;--Mr. Spooner is shoddy, and very bad shoddy, too."

On the Saturday in the following week Gerard Maule did arrive at
Harrington Hall,--and was welcomed as only accepted lovers are
welcomed. Not a word of reproach was uttered as to his delinquencies.
No doubt he got the kiss with which Adelaide had herself suggested
that his coming would be rewarded. He was allowed to stand on the rug
before the fire with his arm round her waist. Lady Chiltern smiled on
him. His horses had been specially visited that morning, and a lively
report as to their condition was made to him. Not a word was said on
that occasion which could distress him. Even Lord Chiltern when he
came in was gracious to him. "Well, old fellow," he said, "you've
missed your hunting."

"Yes; indeed. Things kept me in town."

"We had some uncommonly good runs."

"Have the horses stood pretty well?" asked Gerard.

"I felt uncommonly tempted to borrow yours; and should have done so
once or twice if I hadn't known that I should have been betrayed."

"I wish you had, with all my heart," said Gerard. And then they went
to dress for dinner.

In the evening, when the ladies had gone to bed, Lord Chiltern took
his friend off to the smoking-room. At Harrington Hall it was not
unusual for the ladies and gentlemen to descend together into the
very comfortable Pandemonium which was so called, when,--as was the
case at present,--the terms of intimacy between them were sufficient
to warrant such a proceeding. But on this occasion Lady Chiltern
went very discreetly upstairs, and Adelaide, with equal discretion,
followed her. It had been arranged beforehand that Lord Chiltern
should say a salutary word or two to the young man. Maule began about
the hunting, asking questions about this and that, but his host
stopped him at once. Lord Chiltern, when he had a task on hand, was
always inclined to get through it at once,--perhaps with an energy
that was too sudden in its effects. "Maule," he said, "you ought to
make up your mind what you mean to do about that girl."

"Do about her! How?"

"You and she are engaged, I suppose?"

"Of course we are. There isn't any doubt about it."

"Just so. But when things come to be like that, all delays are good
fun to the man, but they're the very devil to the girl."

"I thought it was always the other way up, and that girls wanted
delay?"

"That's only a theoretical delicacy which never means much. When a
girl is engaged she likes to have the day fixed. When there's a long
interval the man can do pretty much as he pleases, while the girl can
do nothing except think about him. Then it sometimes turns out that
when he's wanted, he's not there."

"I hope I'm not distrusted," said Gerard, with an air that showed
that he was almost disposed to be offended.

"Not in the least. The women here think you the finest paladin in the
world, and Miss Palliser would fly at my throat if she thought that
I said a word against you. But she's in my house, you see; and I'm
bound to do exactly as I should if she were my sister."

"And if she were your sister?"

"I should tell you that I couldn't approve of the engagement unless
you were prepared to fix the time of your marriage. And I should ask
you where you intended to live."

"Wherever she pleases. I can't go to Maule Abbey while my father
lives, without his sanction."

"And he may live for the next twenty years."

"Or thirty."

"Then you are bound to decide upon something else. It's no use saying
that you leave it to her. You can't leave it to her. What I mean
is this, that now you are here, I think you are bound to settle
something with her. Good-night, old fellow."



CHAPTER XLII

Boulogne


Gerard Maule, as he sat upstairs half undressed in his bedroom that
night didn't like it. He hardly knew what it was that he did not
like,--but he felt that there was something wrong. He thought that
Lord Chiltern had not been warranted in speaking to him with a tone
of authority, and in talking of a brother's position,--and the rest
of it. He had lacked the presence of mind for saying anything at the
moment; but he must say something sooner or later. He wasn't going to
be driven by Lord Chiltern. When he looked back at his own conduct he
thought that it had been more than noble,--almost romantic. He had
fallen in love with Miss Palliser, and spoken his love out freely,
without any reference to money. He didn't know what more any fellow
could have done. As to his marrying out of hand, the day after his
engagement, as a man of fortune can do, everybody must have known
that that was out of the question. Adelaide of course had known it.
It had been suggested to him that he should consult his father as to
living at Maule Abbey. Now if there was one thing he hated more than
another, it was consulting his father; and yet he had done it. He had
asked for a loan of the old house in perfect faith, and it was not
his fault that it had been refused. He could not make a house to live
in, nor could he coin a fortune. He had £800 a-year of his own, but
of course he owed a little money. Men with such incomes always do owe
a little money. It was almost impossible that he should marry quite
at once. It was not his fault that Adelaide had no fortune of her
own. When he fell in love with her he had been a great deal too
generous to think of fortune, and that ought to be remembered now to
his credit. Such was the sum of his thoughts, and his anger spread
itself from Lord Chiltern even on to Adelaide herself. Chiltern would
hardly have spoken in that way unless she had complained. She, no
doubt, had been speaking to Lady Chiltern, and Lady Chiltern had
passed it on to her husband. He would have it out with Adelaide on
the next morning,--quite decidedly. And he would make Lord Chiltern
understand that he would not endure interference. He was quite ready
to leave Harrington Hall at a moment's notice if he were ill-treated.
This was the humour in which Gerard Maule put himself to bed that
night.

On the following morning he was very late at breakfast,--so late that
Lord Chiltern had gone over to the kennels. As he was dressing he had
resolved that it would be fitting that he should speak again to his
host before he said anything to Adelaide that might appear to impute
blame to her. He would ask Chiltern whether anything was meant by
what had been said over-night. But, as it happened, Adelaide had been
left alone to pour out his tea for him, and,--as the reader will
understand to have been certain on such an occasion,--they were left
together for an hour in the breakfast parlour. It was impossible that
such an hour should be passed without some reference to the grievance
which was lying heavy on his heart. "Late; I should think you are,"
said Adelaide laughing. "It is nearly eleven. Lord Chiltern has been
out an hour. I suppose you never get up early except for hunting."

"People always think it is so wonderfully virtuous to get up. What's
the use of it?"

"Your breakfast is so cold."

"I don't care about that. I suppose they can boil me an egg. I was
very seedy when I went to bed."

"You smoked too many cigars, sir."

"No, I didn't; but Chiltern was saying things that I didn't like."
Adelaide's face at once became very serious. "Yes, a good deal of
sugar, please. I don't care about toast, and anything does for me. He
has gone to the kennels, has he?"

"He said he should. What was he saying last night?"

"Nothing particular. He has a way of blowing up, you know; and he
looks at one just as if he expected that everybody was to do just
what he chooses."

"You didn't quarrel?"

"Not at all; I went off to bed without saying a word. I hate jaws. I
shall just put it right this morning; that's all."

"Was it about me, Gerard?"

"It doesn't signify the least."

"But it does signify. If you and he were to quarrel would it not
signify to me very much? How could I stay here with them, or go up to
London with them, if you and he had really quarrelled? You must tell
me. I know that it was about me." Then she came and sat close to
him. "Gerard," she continued, "I don't think you understand how much
everything is to me that concerns you."

When he began to reflect, he could not quite recollect what it was
that Lord Chiltern had said to him. He did remember that something
had been suggested about a brother and sister which had implied that
Adelaide might want protection, but there was nothing unnatural or
other than kind in the position which Lord Chiltern had declared
that he would assume. "He seemed to think that I wasn't treating you
well," said he, turning round from the breakfast-table to the fire,
"and that is a sort of thing I can't stand."

"I have never said so, Gerard."

"I don't know what it is that he expects, or why he should interfere
at all. I can't bear to be interfered with. What does he know about
it? He has had somebody to pay everything for him half-a-dozen times,
but I have to look out for myself."

"What does all this mean?"

"You would ask me, you know. I am bothered out of my life by ever so
many things, and now he comes and adds his botheration."

"What bothers you, Gerard? If anything bothers you, surely you will
tell me. If there has been anything to trouble you since you saw your
father why have you not written and told me? Is your trouble about
me?"

"Well, of course it is, in a sort of way."

"I will not be a trouble to you."

"Now you are going to misunderstand me! Of course, you are not a
trouble to me. You know that I love you better than anything in the
world."

"I hope so."

"Of course I do." Then he put his arm round her waist and pressed her
to his bosom. "But what can a man do? When Lady Chiltern recommended
that I should go to my father and tell him, I did it. I knew that no
good could come of it. He wouldn't lift his hand to do anything for
me."

"How horrid that is!"

"He thinks it a shame that I should have my uncle's money, though he
never had any more right to it than that man out there. He is always
saying that I am better off than he is."

"I suppose you are."

"I am very badly off, I know that. People seem to think that £800 is
ever so much, but I find it to be very little."

"And it will be much less if you are married," said Adelaide gravely.

"Of course, everything must be changed. I must sell my horses, and we
must cut and run, and go and live at Boulogne, I suppose. But a man
can't do that kind of thing all in a moment. Then Chiltern comes and
talks as though he were Virtue personified. What business is it of
his?"

Then Adelaide became still more grave. She had now removed herself
from his embrace, and was standing a little apart from him on the
rug. She did not answer him at first; and when she did so, she spoke
very slowly. "We have been rash, I fear; and have done what we have
done without sufficient thought."

"I don't say that at all."

"But I do. It does seem now that we have been imprudent." Then she
smiled as she completed her speech. "There had better be no
engagement between us."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because it is quite clear that it his been a trouble to you rather
than a happiness."

"I wouldn't give it up for all the world."

"But it will be better. I had not thought about it as I should have
done. I did not understand that the prospect of marrying would make
you--so very poor. I see it now. You had better tell Lord Chiltern
that it is--done with, and I will tell her the same. It will be
better; and I will go back to Italy at once."

"Certainly not. It is not done with, and it shall not be done with."

"Do you think I will marry the man I love when he tells me that
by--marrying--me, he will be--banished to--Boulogne? You had better
see Lord Chiltern; indeed you had." And then she walked out of the
room.

Then came upon him at once a feeling that he had behaved badly; and
yet he had been so generous, so full of intentions to be devoted and
true! He had never for a moment thought of breaking off the match,
and would not think of it now. He loved her better than ever, and
would live only with the intention of making her his wife. But he
certainly should not have talked to her of his poverty, nor should he
have mentioned Boulogne. And yet what should he have done? She would
cross-question him about Lord Chiltern, and it was so essentially
necessary that he should make her understand his real condition. It
had all come from that man's unjustifiable interference,--as he would
at once go and tell him. Of course he would marry Adelaide, but the
marriage must be delayed. Everybody waits twelve months before they
are married; and why should she not wait? He was miserable because he
knew that he had made her unhappy;--but the fault had been with Lord
Chiltern. He would speak his mind frankly to Chiltern, and then would
explain with loving tenderness to his Adelaide that they would still
be all in all to each other, but that a short year must elapse before
he could put his house in order for her. After that he would sell his
horses. That resolve was in itself so great that he did not think
it necessary at the present moment to invent any more plans for the
future. So he went out into the hall, took his hat, and marched off
to the kennels.

At the kennels he found Lord Chiltern surrounded by the denizens of
the hunt. His huntsman, with the kennelman and feeder, and two whips,
and old Doggett were all there, and the Master of the Hounds was in
the middle of his business. The dogs were divided by ages, as well
as by sex, and were being brought out and examined. Old Doggett was
giving advice,--differing almost always from Cox, the huntsman, as
to the propriety of keeping this hound or of cashiering that. Nose,
pace, strength, and docility were all questioned with an eagerness
hardly known in any other business; and on each question Lord
Chiltern listened to everybody, and then decided with a single word.
When he had once resolved, nothing further urged by any man then
could avail anything. Jove never was so autocratic, and certainly
never so much in earnest. From the look of Lord Chiltern's brow it
almost seemed as though this weight of empire must be too much for
any mere man. Very little notice was taken of Gerard Maule when he
joined the conclave, though it was felt in reference to him that he
was sufficiently staunch a friend to the hunt to be trusted with
the secrets of the kennel. Lord Chiltern merely muttered some words
of greeting, and Cox lifted the old hunting-cap which he wore. For
another hour the conference was held. Those who have attended such
meetings know well that a morning on the flags is apt to be a long
affair. Old Doggett, who had privileges, smoked a pipe, and Gerard
Maule lit one cigar after another. But Lord Chiltern had become too
thorough a man of business to smoke when so employed. At last the
last order was given,--Doggett snarled his last snarl,--and Cox
uttered his last "My lord." Then Gerard Maule and the Master left the
hounds and walked home together.

The affair had been so long that Gerard had almost forgotten his
grievance. But now as they got out together upon the park, he
remembered the tone of Adelaide's voice as she left him, and
remembered also that, as matters stood at present, it was essentially
necessary that something should be said. "I suppose I shall have to
go and see that woman," said Lord Chiltern.

"Do you mean Adelaide?" asked Maule, in a tone of infinite surprise.

"I mean this new Duchess, who I'm told is to manage everything
herself. That man Fothergill is going on with just the old game at
Trumpeton."

"Is he, indeed? I was thinking of something else just at that moment.
You remember what you were saying about Miss Palliser last night."

"Yes."

"Well;--I don't think, you know, you had a right to speak as you
did."

Lord Chiltern almost flew at his companion, as he replied, "I said
nothing. I do say that when a man becomes engaged to a girl, he
should let her hear from him, so that they may know what each other
is about."

"You hinted something about being her brother."

"Of course I did. If you mean well by her, as I hope you do, it can't
fret you to think that she has got somebody to look after her till
you come in and take possession. It is the commonest thing in the
world when a girl is left all alone as she is."

"You seemed to make out that I wasn't treating her well."

"I said nothing of the kind, Maule; but if you ask me--"

"I don't ask you anything."

"Yes, you do. You come and find fault with me for speaking last night
in the most good-natured way in the world. And, therefore, I tell you
now that you will be behaving very badly indeed, unless you make some
arrangement at once as to what you mean to do."

"That's your opinion," said Gerard Maule.

"Yes, it is; and you'll find it to be the opinion of any man or woman
that you may ask who knows anything about such things. And I'll tell
you what, Master Maule, if you think you're going to face me down
you'll find yourself mistaken. Stop a moment, and just listen to me.
You haven't a much better friend than I am, and I'm sure she hasn't a
better friend than my wife. All this has taken place under our roof,
and I mean to speak my mind plainly. What do you propose to do about
your marriage?"

"I don't propose to tell you what I mean to do."

"Will you tell Miss Palliser,--or my wife?"

"That is just as I may think fit."

"Then I must tell you that you cannot meet her at my house."

"I'll leave it to-day."

"You needn't do that either. You sleep on it, and then make up your
mind. You can't suppose that I have any curiosity about it. The girl
is fond of you, and I suppose that you are fond of her. Don't quarrel
for nothing. If I have offended you, speak to Lady Chiltern about
it."

"Very well;--I will speak to Lady Chiltern."

When they reached the house it was clear that something was wrong.
Miss Palliser was not seen again before dinner, and Lady Chiltern was
grave and very cold in her manner to Gerard Maule. He was left alone
all the afternoon, which he passed with his horses and groom, smoking
more cigars,--but thinking all the time of Adelaide Palliser's last
words, of Lord Chiltern's frown, and of Lady Chiltern's manner to
him. When he came into the drawing-room before dinner, Lady Chiltern
and Adelaide were both there, and Adelaide immediately began to ask
questions about the kennel and the huntsmen. But she studiously
kept at a distance from him, and he himself felt that it would be
impossible to resume at present the footing on which he stood with
them both on the previous evening. Presently Lord Chiltern came in,
and another man and his wife who had come to stay at Harrington.
Nothing could be more dull than the whole evening. At least so Gerard
found it. He did take Adelaide in to dinner, but he did not sit next
to her at table, for which, however, there was an excuse, as, had
he done so, the new-comer must have been placed by his wife. He was
cross, and would not make an attempt to speak to his neighbour, and,
though he tried once or twice to talk to Lady Chiltern--than whom,
as a rule, no woman was ever more easy in conversation--he failed
altogether. Now and again he strove to catch Adelaide's eye, but even
in that he could not succeed. When the ladies left the room Chiltern
and the new-corner--who was not a sporting man, and therefore did not
understand the question--became lost in the mazes of Trumpeton Wood.
But Gerard Maule did not put in a word; nor was a word addressed to
him by Lord Chiltern. As he sat there sipping his wine, he made up
his mind that he would leave Harrington Hall the next morning. When
he was again in the drawing-room, things were conducted in just the
same way. He spoke to Adelaide, and she answered him; but there was
no word of encouragement--not a tone of comfort in her voice. He
found himself driven to attempt conversation with the strange lady,
and at last was made to play whist with Lady Chiltern and the
two new-corners. Later on in the evening, when Adelaide had gone
to her own chamber, he was invited by Lady Chiltern into her own
sitting-room upstairs, and there the whole thing was explained to
him. Miss Palliser had declared that the match should be broken off.

"Do you mean altogether, Lady Chiltern?"

"Certainly I do. Such a resolve cannot be a half-and-half
arrangement."

"But why?"

"I think you must know why, Mr. Maule."

"I don't in the least. I won't have it broken off. I have as much
right to have a voice in the matter as she has, and I don't in the
least believe it's her doing."

"Mr. Maule!"

"I do not care; I must speak out. Why does she not tell me so
herself?"

"She did tell you so."

"No, she didn't. She said something, but not that. I don't suppose
a man was ever so used before; and it's all Lord Chiltern;--just
because I told him that he had no right to interfere with me. And he
has no right."

"You and Oswald were away together when she told me that she had made
up her mind. Oswald has hardly spoken to her since you have been in
the house. He certainly has not spoken to her about you since you
came to us."

"What is the meaning of it, then?"

"You told her that your engagement had overwhelmed you with
troubles."

"Of course; there must be troubles."

"And that--you would have to be banished to Boulogne when you were
married."

"I didn't mean her to take that literally."

"It wasn't a nice way, Mr. Maule, to speak of your future life to the
girl to whom you were engaged. Of course it was her hope to make your
life happier, not less happy. And when you made her understand--as
you did very plainly--that your married prospects filled you with
dismay, of course she had no other alternative but to retreat from
her engagement."

"I wasn't dismayed."

"It is not my doing, Mr. Maule."

"I suppose she'll see me?"

"If you insist upon it she will; but she would rather not."

Gerard, however, did insist, and Adelaide was brought to him there
into that room before he went to bed. She was very gentle with him,
and spoke to him in a tone very different from that which Lady
Chiltern had used; but he found himself utterly powerless to change
her. That unfortunate allusion to a miserable exile at Boulogne had
completed the work which the former plaints had commenced, and had
driven her to a resolution to separate herself from him altogether.

"Mr. Maule;" she said, "when I perceived that our proposed marriage
was looked upon by you as a misfortune, I could do nothing but put
an end to our engagement."

"But I didn't think it a misfortune."

"You made me think that it would be unfortunate for you, and that is
quite as strong a reason. I hope we shall part as friends."

"I won't part at all," he said, standing his ground with his back to
the fire. "I don't understand it, by heaven I don't. Because I said
some stupid thing about Boulogne, all in joke--"

"It was not in joke when you said that troubles had come heavy on you
since you were engaged."

"A man may be allowed to know, himself, whether he was in joke or
not. I suppose the truth is you don't care about me?"

"I hope, Mr. Maule, that in time it may come--not quite to that."

"I think that you are--using me very badly. I think that you
are--behaving--falsely to me. I think that I am--very--shamefully
treated--among you. Of course I shall go. Of course I shall not stay
in this house. A man can't make a girl keep her promise. No--I won't
shake hands. I won't even say good-bye to you. Of course I shall go."
So saying he slammed the door behind him.

"If he cares for you he'll come back to you," Lady Chiltern said to
Adelaide that night, who at the moment was lying on her bed in a sad
condition, frantic with headache.

"I don't want him to come back; I will never make him go to
Boulogne."

"Don't think of it, dear."

"Not think of it! how can I help thinking of it? I shall always think
of it. But I never want to see him again--never! How can I want to
marry a man who tells me that I shall be a trouble to him? He shall
never,--never have to go to Boulogne for me."



CHAPTER XLIII

The Second Thunderbolt


The quarrel between Phineas Finn and Mr. Bonteen had now become the
talk of the town, and had taken many various phases. The political
phase, though it was perhaps the best understood, was not the most
engrossing. There was the personal phase,--which had reference to the
direct altercation that had taken place between the two gentlemen,
and to the correspondence between them which had followed, as to
which phase it may be said that though there were many rumours
abroad, very little was known. It was reported in some circles that
the two aspirants for office had been within an ace of striking
each other; in some, again, that a blow had passed,--and in others,
further removed probably from the House of Commons and the Universe
Club, that the Irishman had struck the Englishman, and that the
Englishman had given the Irishman a thrashing. This was a phase
that was very disagreeable to Phineas Finn. And there was a third,
--which may perhaps be called the general social phase, and which
unfortunately dealt with the name of Lady Laura Kennedy. They all,
of course, worked into each other, and were enlivened and made
interesting with the names of a great many big persons. Mr. Gresham,
the Prime Minister, was supposed to be very much concerned in this
matter. He, it was said, had found himself compelled to exclude
Phineas Finn from the Government, because of the unfortunate alliance
between him and the wife of one of his late colleagues, and had also
thought it expedient to dismiss Mr. Bonteen from his Cabinet,--for
it had amounted almost to dismissal,--because Mr. Bonteen had made
indiscreet official allusion to that alliance. In consequence of this
working in of the first and third phase, Mr. Gresham encountered
hard usage from some friends and from many enemies. Then, of course,
the scene at Macpherson's Hotel was commented on very generally. An
idea prevailed that Mr. Kennedy, driven to madness by his wife's
infidelity, which had become known to him through the quarrel between
Phineas and Mr. Bonteen,--had endeavoured to murder his wife's lover,
who had with the utmost effrontery invaded the injured husband's
presence with a view of deterring him by threats from a publication
of his wrongs. This murder had been nearly accomplished in the centre
of the metropolis,--by daylight, as if that made it worse,--on a
Sunday, which added infinitely to the delightful horror of the
catastrophe; and yet no public notice had been taken of it! The
would-be murderer had been a Cabinet Minister, and the lover who was
so nearly murdered had been an Under-Secretary of State, and was even
now a member of Parliament. And then it was positively known that the
lady's father, who had always been held in the highest respect as
a nobleman, favoured his daughter's lover, and not his daughter's
husband. All which things together filled the public with dismay, and
caused a delightful excitement, giving quite a feature of its own to
the season.

No doubt general opinion was adverse to poor Phineas Finn, but he was
not without his party in the matter. To oblige a friend by inflicting
an injury on his enemy is often more easy than to confer a benefit on
the friend himself. We have already seen how the young Duchess failed
in her attempt to obtain an appointment for Phineas, and also how
she succeeded in destroying the high hopes of Mr. Bonteen. Having
done so much, of course she clung heartily to the side which she
had adopted;--and, equally of course, Madame Goesler did the same.
Between these two ladies there was a slight difference of opinion as
to the nature of the alliance between Lady Laura and their hero. The
Duchess was of opinion that young men are upon the whole averse to
innocent alliances, and that, as Lady Laura and her husband certainly
had long been separated, there was probably--something in it. "Lord
bless you, my dear," the Duchess said, "they were known to be
lovers when they were at Loughlinter together before she married Mr.
Kennedy. It has been the most romantic affair! She made her father
give him a seat for his borough."

"He saved Mr. Kennedy's life," said Madame Goesler.

"That was one of the most singular things that ever happened.
Laurence Fitzgibbon says that it was all planned,--that the garotters
were hired, but unfortunately two policemen turned up at the moment,
so the men were taken. I believe there is no doubt they were pardoned
by Sir Henry Coldfoot, who was at the Home Office, and was Lord
Brentford's great friend. I don't quite believe it all,--it would be
too delicious; but a great many do." Madame Goesler, however, was
strong in her opinion that the report in reference to Lady Laura was
scandalous. She did not believe a word of it, and was almost angry
with the Duchess for her credulity.

It is probable that very many ladies shared the opinion of the
Duchess; but not the less on that account did they take part with
Phineas Finn. They could not understand why he should be shut out
of office because a lady had been in love with him, and by no means
seemed to approve the stern virtue of the Prime Minister. It was
an interference with things which did not belong to him. And many
asserted that Mr. Gresham was much given to such interference. Lady
Cantrip, though her husband was Mr. Gresham's most intimate friend,
was altogether of this party, as was also the Duchess of St. Bungay,
who understood nothing at all about it, but who had once fancied
herself to be rudely treated by Mrs. Bonteen. The young Duchess was
a woman very strong in getting up a party; and the old Duchess, with
many other matrons of high rank, was made to believe that it was
incumbent on her to be a Phineas Finnite. One result of this was,
that though Phineas was excluded from the Liberal Government, all
Liberal drawing-rooms were open to him, and that he was a lion.

Additional zest was given to all this by the very indiscreet conduct
of Mr. Bonteen. He did accept the inferior office of President of
the Board of Trade, an office inferior at least to that for which
he had been designated, and agreed to fill it without a seat in the
Cabinet. But having done so he could not bring himself to bear his
disappointment quietly. He could not work and wait and make himself
agreeable to those around him, holding his vexation within his own
bosom. He was dark and sullen to his chief, and almost insolent to
the Duke of Omnium. Our old friend Plantagenet Palliser was a man who
hardly knew insolence when he met it. There was such an absence about
him of all self-consciousness, he was so little given to think of his
own personal demeanour and outward trappings,--that he never brought
himself to question the manners of others to him. Contradiction he
would take for simple argument. Strong difference of opinion even on
the part of subordinates recommended itself to him. He could put up
with apparent rudeness without seeing it, and always gave men credit
for good intentions. And with it all he had an assurance in his own
position,--a knowledge of the strength derived from his intellect,
his industry, his rank, and his wealth,--which made him altogether
fearless of others. When the little dog snarls, the big dog does
not connect the snarl with himself, simply fancying that the little
dog must be uncomfortable. Mr. Bonteen snarled a good deal, and the
new Lord Privy Seal thought that the new President of the Board of
Trade was not comfortable within himself. But at last the little
dog took the big dog by the ear, and then the big dog put out his
paw and knocked the little dog over. Mr. Bonteen was told that he
had--forgotten himself; and there arose new rumours. It was soon
reported that the Lord Privy Seal had refused to work out decimal
coinage under the management, in the House of Commons, of the
President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Bonteen, in his troubled spirit, certainly did misbehave himself.
Among his closer friends he declared very loudly that he didn't mean
to stand it. He had not chosen to throw Mr. Gresham over at once, or
to make difficulties at the moment;--but he would not continue to
hold his present position or to support the Government without a seat
in the Cabinet. Palliser had become quite useless,--so Mr. Bonteen
said,--since his accession to the dukedom, and was quite unfit to
deal with decimal coinage. It was a burden to kill any man, and he
was not going to kill himself,--at any rate without the reward for
which he had been working all his life, and to which he was fully
entitled, namely, a seat in the Cabinet. Now there were Bonteenites
in those days as well as Phineas Finnites. The latter tribe was for
the most part feminine; but the former consisted of some half-dozen
members of Parliament, who thought they saw their way in encouraging
the forlorn hope of the unhappy financier.

A leader of a party is nothing without an organ, and an organ came
forward to support Mr. Bonteen,--not very creditable to him as a
Liberal, being a Conservative organ,--but not the less gratifying to
his spirit, inasmuch as the organ not only supported him, but exerted
its very loudest pipes in abusing the man whom of all men he hated
the most. The _People's Banner_ was the organ, and Mr. Quintus Slide
was, of course, the organist. The following was one of the tunes he
played, and was supposed by himself to be a second thunderbolt, and
probably a conclusively crushing missile. This thunderbolt fell on
Monday, the 3rd of May:--


   Early in last March we found it to be our duty to bring
   under public notice the conduct of the member for
   Tankerville in reference to a transaction which took place
   at a small hotel in Judd Street, and as to which we then
   ventured to call for the interference of the police. An
   attempt to murder the member for Tankerville had been made
   by a gentleman once well known in the political world,
   who,--as it is supposed,--had been driven to madness by
   wrongs inflicted on him in his dearest and nearest family
   relations. That the unfortunate gentleman is now insane we
   believe we may state as a fact. It had become our special
   duty to refer to this most discreditable transaction,
   from the fact that a paper, still in our hands, had been
   confided to us for publication by the wretched husband
   before his senses had become impaired,--which, however, we
   were debarred from giving to the public by an injunction
   served upon us in sudden haste by the Vice-Chancellor. We
   are far from imputing evil motives, or even indiscretion,
   to that functionary; but we are of opinion that the moral
   feeling of the country would have been served by the
   publication, and we are sure that undue steps were taken
   by the member for Tankerville to procure that injunction.

   No inquiries whatever were made by the police in reference
   to that attempt at murder, and we do expect that some
   member will ask a question on the subject in the House.
   Would such culpable quiescence have been allowed had
   not the unfortunate lady whose name we are unwilling to
   mention been the daughter of one of the colleagues of our
   present Prime Minister, the gentleman who fired the pistol
   another of them, and the presumed lover, who was fired at,
   also another? We think that we need hardly answer that
   question.

   One piece of advice which we ventured to give Mr. Gresham
   in our former article he has been wise enough to follow.
   We took upon ourselves to tell him that if, after what has
   occurred, he ventured to place the member for Tankerville
   again in office, the country would not stand it;--and he
   has abstained. The jaunty footsteps of Mr. Phineas Finn
   are not heard ascending the stairs of any office at about
   two in the afternoon, as used to be the case in one of
   those blessed Downing Street abodes about three years
   since. That scandal is, we think, over,--and for ever. The
   good-looking Irish member of Parliament who had been put
   in possession of a handsome salary by feminine influences,
   will not, we think, after what we have already said, again
   become a burden on the public purse. But we cannot say
   that we are as yet satisfied in this matter, or that we
   believe that the public has got to the bottom of it,--as
   it has a right to do in reference to all matters affecting
   the public service. We have never yet learned why it is
   that Mr. Bonteen, after having been nominated Chancellor
   of the Exchequer,--for the appointment to that office
   was declared in the House of Commons by the head of his
   party,--was afterwards excluded from the Cabinet, and
   placed in an office made peculiarly subordinate by the
   fact of that exclusion. We have never yet been told why
   this was done;--but we believe that we are justified in
   saying that it was managed through the influence of the
   member for Tankerville; and we are quite sure that the
   public service of the country has thereby been subjected
   to grievous injury.

   It is hardly our duty to praise any of that very awkward
   team of horses which Mr. Gresham drives with an audacity
   which may atone for his incapacity if no fearful accident
   should be the consequence; but if there be one among them
   whom we could trust for steady work up hill, it is Mr.
   Bonteen. We were astounded at Mr. Gresham's indiscretion
   in announcing the appointment of his new Chancellor of the
   Exchequer some weeks before he had succeeded in driving
   Mr. Daubeny from office;--but we were not the less glad to
   find that the finances of the country were to be entrusted
   to the hands of the most competent gentleman whom Mr.
   Gresham has induced to follow his fortunes. But Mr.
   Phineas Finn, with his female forces, has again
   interfered, and Mr. Bonteen has been relegated to the
   Board of Trade, without a seat in the Cabinet. We should
   not be at all surprised if, as the result of this
   disgraceful manoeuvring, Mr. Bonteen found himself at
   the head of the Liberal party before the Session be over.
   If so, evil would have worked to good. But, be that as
   it may, we cannot but feel that it is a disgrace to the
   Government, a disgrace to Parliament, and a disgrace to
   the country that such results should come from the private
   scandals of two or three people among us by no means of
   the best class.



CHAPTER XLIV

The Browborough Trial


There was another matter of public interest going on at this time
which created a great excitement. And this, too, added to the
importance of Phineas Finn, though Phineas was not the hero of the
piece. Mr. Browborough, the late member for Tankerville, was tried
for bribery. It will be remembered that when Phineas contested the
borough in the autumn, this gentleman was returned. He was afterwards
unseated, as the result of a petition before the judge, and Phineas
was declared to be the true member. The judge who had so decided had
reported to the Speaker that further inquiry before a commission into
the practices of the late and former elections at Tankerville would
be expedient, and such commission had sat in the months of January
and February. Half the voters in Tankerville had been examined, and
many who were not voters. The commissioners swept very clean, being
new brooms, and in their report recommended that Mr. Browborough,
whom they had themselves declined to examine, should be prosecuted.
That report was made about the end of March, when Mr. Daubeny's
great bill was impending. Then there arose a double feeling about
Mr. Browborough, who had been regarded by many as a model member of
Parliament, a man who never spoke, constant in his attendance, who
wanted nothing, who had plenty of money, who gave dinners, to whom a
seat in Parliament was the be-all and the end-all of life. It could
not be the wish of any gentleman, who had been accustomed to his slow
step in the lobbies, and his burly form always quiescent on one of
the upper seats just below the gangway on the Conservative side of
the House, that such a man should really be punished. When the new
laws regarding bribery came to take that shape the hearts of members
revolted from the cruelty,--the hearts even of members on the other
side of the House. As long as a seat was in question the battle
should of course be fought to the nail. Every kind of accusation
might then be lavished without restraint, and every evil practice
imputed. It had been known to all the world,--known as a thing that
was a matter of course,--that at every election Mr. Browborough had
bought his seat. How should a Browborough get a seat without buying
it,--a man who could not say ten words, of no family, with no natural
following in any constituency, distinguished by no zeal in politics,
entertaining no special convictions of his own? How should such a
one recommend himself to any borough unless he went there with money
in his hand? Of course, he had gone to Tankerville with money in
his hand, with plenty of money, and had spent it--like a gentleman.
Collectively the House of Commons had determined to put down
bribery with a very strong hand. Nobody had spoken against bribery
with more fervour than Sir Gregory Grogram, who had himself, as
Attorney-General, forged the chains for fettering future bribers. He
was now again Attorney-General, much to his disgust, as Mr. Gresham
had at the last moment found it wise to restore Lord Weazeling to the
woolsack; and to his hands was to be entrusted the prosecution of Mr.
Browborough. But it was observed by many that the job was not much to
his taste. The House had been very hot against bribery,--and certain
members of the existing Government, when the late Bill had been
passed, had expressed themselves with almost burning indignation
against the crime. But, through it all, there had been a slight
undercurrent of ridicule attaching itself to the question of which
only they who were behind the scenes were conscious. The House was
bound to let the outside world know that all corrupt practices at
elections were held to be abominable by the House; but Members of the
House, as individuals, knew very well what had taken place at their
own elections, and were aware of the cheques which they had drawn.
Public-houses had been kept open as a matter of course, and nowhere
perhaps had more beer been drunk than at Clovelly, the borough
for which Sir Gregory Grogram sat. When it came to be a matter of
individual prosecution against one whom they had all known, and
who, as a member, had been inconspicuous and therefore inoffensive,
against a heavy, rich, useful man who had been in nobody's way, many
thought that it would amount to persecution. The idea of putting
old Browborough into prison for conduct which habit had made second
nature to a large proportion of the House was distressing to Members
of Parliament generally. The recommendation for this prosecution was
made to the House when Mr. Daubeny was in the first agonies of his
great Bill, and he at once resolved to ignore the matter altogether,
at any rate for the present. If he was to be driven out of power
there could be no reason why his Attorney-General should prosecute
his own ally and follower,--a poor, faithful creature, who had never
in his life voted against his party, and who had always been willing
to accept as his natural leader any one whom his party might select.
But there were many who had felt that as Mr. Browborough must
certainly now be prosecuted sooner or later,--for there could be no
final neglecting of the Commissioners' report,--it would be better
that he should be dealt with by natural friends than by natural
enemies. The newspapers, therefore, had endeavoured to hurry the
matter on, and it had been decided that the trial should take place
at the Durham Spring Assizes, in the first week of May. Sir Gregory
Grogram became Attorney-General in the middle of April, and he
undertook the task upon compulsion. Mr. Browborough's own friends,
and Mr. Browborough himself, declared very loudly that there would be
the greatest possible cruelty in postponing the trial. His lawyers
thought that his best chance lay in bustling the thing on, and
were therefore able to show that the cruelty of delay would be
extreme,--nay, that any postponement in such a matter would be
unconstitutional, if not illegal. It would, of course, have been just
as easy to show that hurry on the part of the prosecutor was cruel,
and illegal, and unconstitutional, had it been considered that the
best chance of acquittal lay in postponement.

And so the trial was forced forward, and Sir Gregory himself was to
appear on behalf of the prosecuting House of Commons. There could be
no doubt that the sympathies of the public generally were with Mr.
Browborough, though there was as little doubt that he was guilty.
When the evidence taken by the Commissioners had just appeared in
the newspapers,--when first the facts of this and other elections at
Tankerville were made public, and the world was shown how common it
had been for Mr. Browborough to buy votes,--how clearly the knowledge
of the corruption had been brought home to himself,--there had for
a short week or so been a feeling against him. Two or three London
papers had printed leading articles, giving in detail the salient
points of the old sinner's criminality, and expressing a conviction
that now, at least, would the real criminal be punished. But this
had died away, and the anger against Mr. Browborough, even on the
part of the most virtuous of the public press, had become no more
than lukewarm. Some papers boldly defended him, ridiculed the
Commissioners, and declared that the trial was altogether an
absurdity. The _People's Banner_, setting at defiance with an
admirable audacity all the facts as given in the Commissioners'
report, declared that there was not one tittle of evidence against
Mr. Browborough, and hinted that the trial had been got up by the
malign influence of that doer of all evil, Phineas Finn. But men
who knew better what was going on in the world than did Mr. Quintus
Slide, were well aware that such assertions as these were both
unavailing and unnecessary. Mr. Browborough was believed to
be quite safe; but his safety lay in the indifference of his
prosecutors,--certainly not in his innocence. Any one prominent in
affairs can always see when a man may steal a horse and when a man
may not look over a hedge. Mr. Browborough had stolen his horse, and
had repeated the theft over and over again. The evidence of it all
was forthcoming,--had, indeed, been already sifted. But Sir Gregory
Grogram, who was prominent in affairs, knew that the theft might be
condoned.

Nevertheless, the case came on at the Durham Assizes. Within the last
two months Browborough had become quite a hero at Tankerville. The
Church party had forgotten his broken pledges, and the Radicals
remembered only his generosity. Could he have stood for the seat
again on the day on which the judges entered Durham, he might have
been returned without bribery. Throughout the whole county the
prosecution was unpopular. During no portion of his Parliamentary
career had Mr. Browborough's name been treated with so much respect
in the grandly ecclesiastical city as now. He dined with the Dean on
the day before the trial, and on the Sunday was shown by the head
verger into the stall next to the Chancellor of the Diocese, with a
reverence which seemed to imply that he was almost as graceful as
a martyr. When he took his seat in the Court next to his attorney,
everybody shook hands with him. When Sir Gregory got up to open his
case, not one of the listeners then supposed that Mr. Browborough
was about to suffer any punishment. He was arraigned before Mr.
Baron Boultby, who had himself sat for a borough in his younger
days, and who knew well how things were done. We are all aware how
impassionately grand are the minds of judges, when men accused of
crimes are brought before them for trial; but judges after all are
men, and Mr. Baron Boultby, as he looked at Mr. Browborough, could
not but have thought of the old days.

It was nevertheless necessary that the prosecution should be
conducted in a properly formal manner, and that all the evidence
should be given. There was a cloud of witnesses over from
Tankerville,--miners, colliers, and the like,--having a very good
turn of it at the expense of the poor borough. All these men must be
examined, and their evidence would no doubt be the same now as when
it was given with so damnable an effect before those clean-sweeping
Commissioners. Sir Gregory's opening speech was quite worthy of Sir
Gregory. It was essentially necessary, he said, that the atmosphere
of our boroughs should be cleansed and purified from the taint of
corruption. The voice of the country had spoken very plainly on the
subject, and a verdict had gone forth that there should be no more
bribery at elections. At the last election at Tankerville, and, as he
feared, at some former elections, there had been manifest bribery. It
would be for the jury to decide whether Mr. Browborough himself had
been so connected with the acts of his agents as to be himself within
the reach of the law. If it were found that he had brought himself
within the reach of the law, the jury would no doubt say so, and in
such case would do great service to the cause of purity; but if Mr.
Browborough had not been personally cognisant of what his agents
had done, then the jury would be bound to acquit him. A man was not
necessarily guilty of bribery in the eye of the law because bribery
had been committed, even though the bribery so committed had been
sufficiently proved to deprive him of the seat which he would
otherwise have enjoyed. Nothing could be clearer than the manner in
which Sir Gregory explained it all to the jury; nothing more eloquent
than his denunciations against bribery in general; nothing more mild
than his allegations against Mr. Browborough individually.

In regard to the evidence Sir Gregory, with his two assistants, went
through his work manfully. The evidence was given,--not to the same
length as at Tankerville before the Commissioners,--but really to
the same effect. But yet the record of the evidence as given in the
newspapers seemed to be altogether different. At Tankerville there
had been an indignant and sometimes an indiscreet zeal which had
communicated itself to the whole proceedings. The general flavour
of the trial at Durham was one of good-humoured raillery. Mr.
Browborough's counsel in cross-examining the witnesses for the
prosecution displayed none of that righteous wrath,--wrath righteous
on behalf of injured innocence,--which is so common with gentlemen
employed in the defence of criminals; but bowed and simpered, and
nodded at Sir Gregory in a manner that was quite pleasant to behold.
Nobody scolded anybody. There was no roaring of barristers, no
clenching of fists and kicking up of dust, no threats, no allusions
to witnesses' oaths. A considerable amount of gentle fun was poked
at the witnesses by the defending counsel, but not in a manner to
give any pain. Gentlemen who acknowledged to have received seventeen
shillings and sixpence for their votes at the last election were
asked how they had invested their money. Allusions were made to their
wives, and a large amount of good-humoured sparring was allowed, in
which the witnesses thought that they had the best of it. The men
of Tankerville long remembered this trial, and hoped anxiously that
there might soon be another. The only man treated with severity was
poor Phineas Finn, and luckily for himself he was not present. His
qualifications as member of Parliament for Tankerville were somewhat
roughly treated. Each witness there, when he was asked what candidate
would probably be returned for Tankerville at the next election,
readily answered that Mr. Browborough would certainly carry the seat.
Mr. Browborough sat in the Court throughout it all, and was the hero
of the day.

The judge's summing up was very short, and seemed to have been given
almost with indolence. The one point on which he insisted was the
difference between such evidence of bribery as would deprive a man
of his seat, and that which would make him subject to the criminal
law. By the criminal law a man could not be punished for the acts
of another. Punishment must follow a man's own act. If a man were
to instigate another to murder he would be punished, not for the
murder, but for the instigation. They were now administering the
criminal law, and they were bound to give their verdict for an
acquittal unless they were convinced that the man on his trial had
himself,--wilfully and wittingly,--been guilty of the crime imputed.
He went through the evidence, which was in itself clear against the
old sinner, and which had been in no instance validly contradicted,
and then left the matter to the jury. The men in the box put their
heads together, and returned a verdict of acquittal without one
moment's delay. Sir Gregory Grogram and his assistants collected
their papers together. The judge addressed three or four words almost
of compliment to Mr. Browborough, and the affair was over, to the
manifest contentment of every one there present. Sir Gregory Grogram
was by no means disappointed, and everybody, on his own side in
Parliament and on the other, thought that he had done his duty very
well. The clean-sweeping Commissioners, who had been animated with
wonderful zeal by the nature and novelty of their work, probably felt
that they had been betrayed, but it may be doubted whether any one
else was disconcerted by the result of the trial, unless it might be
some poor innocents here and there about the country who had been
induced to believe that bribery and corruption were in truth to be
banished from the purlieus of Westminster.

Mr. Roby and Mr. Ratler, who filled the same office each for his own
party, in and out, were both acquainted with each other, and apt to
discuss parliamentary questions in the library and smoking-room of
the House, where such discussions could be held on most matters.
"I was very glad that the case went as it did at Durham," said Mr.
Ratler.

"And so am I," said Mr. Roby. "Browborough was always a good fellow."

"Not a doubt about it; and no good could have come from a conviction.
I suppose there has been a little money spent at Tankerville."

"And at other places one could mention," said Mr. Roby.

"Of course there has;--and money will be spent again. Nobody dislikes
bribery more than I do. The House, of course, dislikes it. But if a
man loses his seat, surely that is punishment enough."

"It's better to have to draw a cheque sometimes than to be out in the
cold."

"Nevertheless, members would prefer that their seats should not cost
them so much," continued Mr. Ratler. "But the thing can't be done all
at once. That idea of pouncing upon one man and making a victim of
him is very disagreeable to me. I should have been sorry to have seen
a verdict against Browborough. You must acknowledge that there was no
bitterness in the way in which Grogram did it."

"We all feel that," said Mr. Roby,--who was, perhaps, by nature a
little more candid than his rival,--"and when the time comes no doubt
we shall return the compliment."

The matter was discussed in quite a different spirit between two
other politicians. "So Sir Gregory has failed at Durham," said Lord
Cantrip to his friend, Mr. Gresham.

"I was sure he would."

"And why?"

"Ah;--why? How am I to answer such a question? Did you think that Mr.
Browborough would be convicted of bribery by a jury?"

"No, indeed," answered Lord Cantrip.

"And can you tell me why?"

"Because there was no earnestness in the matter,--either with the
Attorney-General or with any one else."

"And yet," said Mr. Gresham, "Grogram is a very earnest man when he
believes in his case. No member of Parliament will ever be punished
for bribery as for a crime till members of Parliament generally look
upon bribery as a crime. We are very far from that as yet. I should
have thought a conviction to be a great misfortune."

"Why so?"

"Because it would have created ill blood, and our own hands in this
matter are not a bit cleaner than those of our adversaries. We
can't afford to pull their houses to pieces before we have put our
own in order. The thing will be done; but it must, I fear, be done
slowly,--as is the case with all reforms from within."

Phineas Finn, who was very sore and unhappy at this time, and who
consequently was much in love with purity and anxious for severity,
felt himself personally aggrieved by the acquittal. It was almost
tantamount to a verdict against himself. And then he knew so well
that bribery had been committed, and was so confident that such a one
as Mr. Browborough could have been returned to Parliament by none
other than corrupt means! In his present mood he would have been
almost glad to see Mr. Browborough at the treadmill, and would have
thought six months' solitary confinement quite inadequate to the
offence. "I never read anything in my life that disgusted me so
much," he said to his friend, Mr. Monk.

"I can't go along with you there."

"If any man ever was guilty of bribery, he was guilty!"

"I don't doubt it for a moment."

"And yet Grogram did not try to get a verdict."

"Had he tried ever so much he would have failed. In a matter such as
that,--political and not social in its nature,--a jury is sure to
be guided by what it has, perhaps unconsciously, learned to be the
feeling of the country. No disgrace is attached to their verdict, and
yet everybody knows that Mr. Browborough had bribed, and all those
who have looked into it know, too, that the evidence was conclusive."

"Then are the jury all perjured," said Phineas.

"I have nothing to say to that. No stain of perjury clings to them.
They are better received in Durham to-day than they would have been
had they found Mr. Browborough guilty. In business, as in private
life, they will be held to be as trustworthy as before;--and they
will be, for aught that we know, quite trustworthy. There are still
circumstances in which a man, though on his oath, may be untrue with
no more stain of falsehood than falls upon him when he denies himself
at his front door though he happen to be at home."

"What must we think of such a condition of things, Mr. Monk?"

"That it's capable of improvement. I do not know that we can think
anything else. As for Sir Gregory Grogram and Baron Boultby and the
jury, it would be waste of power to execrate them. In political
matters it is very hard for a man in office to be purer than his
neighbours,--and, when he is so, he becomes troublesome. I have found
that out before to-day."

With Lady Laura Kennedy, Phineas did find some sympathy;--but then
she would have sympathised with him on any subject under the sun. If
he would only come to her and sit with her she would fool him to the
top of his bent. He had resolved that he would go to Portman Square
as little as possible, and had been confirmed in that resolution
by the scandal which had now spread everywhere about the town in
reference to himself and herself. But still he went. He never left
her till some promise of returning at some stated time had been
extracted from him. He had even told her of his own scruples and of
her danger,--and they had discussed together that last thunderbolt
which had fallen from the Jove of _The People's Banner_. But she had
laughed his caution to scorn. Did she not know herself and her own
innocence? Was she not living in her father's house, and with her
father? Should she quail beneath the stings and venom of such a
reptile as Quintus Slide? "Oh, Phineas," she said, "let us be braver
than that." He would much prefer to have stayed away,--but still he
went to her. He was conscious of her dangerous love for him. He knew
well that it was not returned. He was aware that it would be best for
both that he should be apart. But yet he could not bring himself to
wound her by his absence. "I do not see why you should feel it so
much," she said, speaking of the trial at Durham.

"We were both on our trial,--he and I."

"Everybody knows that he bribed and that you did not."

"Yes;--and everybody despises me and pats him on the back. I am sick
of the whole thing. There is no honesty in the life we lead."

"You got your seat at any rate."

"I wish with all my heart that I had never seen the dirty wretched
place," said he.

"Oh, Phineas, do not say that."

"But I do say it. Of what use is the seat to me? If I could only feel
that any one knew--"

"Knew what, Phineas?"

"It doesn't matter."

"I understand. I know that you have meant to be honest, while this
man has always meant to be dishonest. I know that you have intended
to serve your country, and have wished to work for it. But you cannot
expect that it should all be roses."

"Roses! The nosegays which are worn down at Westminster are made of
garlick and dandelions!"



CHAPTER XLV

Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Emilius


The writer of this chronicle is not allowed to imagine that any of
his readers have read the wonderful and vexatious adventures of Lady
Eustace, a lady of good birth, of high rank, and of large fortune,
who, but a year or two since, became almost a martyr to a diamond
necklace which was stolen from her. With her history the present
reader has but small concern, but it may be necessary that he should
know that the lady in question, who had been a widow with many
suitors, at last gave her hand and her fortune to a clergyman whose
name was Joseph Emilius. Mr. Emilius, though not an Englishman by
birth,--and, as was supposed, a Bohemian Jew in the earlier days of
his career,--had obtained some reputation as a preacher in London,
and had moved,--if not in fashionable circles,--at any rate in
circles so near to fashion as to be brought within the reach of Lady
Eustace's charms. They were married, and for some few months Mr.
Emilius enjoyed a halcyon existence, the delights of which were,
perhaps, not materially marred by the necessity which he felt of
subjecting his young wife to marital authority. "My dear," he would
say, "you will know me better soon, and then things will be smooth."
In the meantime he drew more largely upon her money than was pleasing
to her and to her friends, and appeared to have requirements for
cash which were both secret and unlimited. At the end of twelve
months Lady Eustace had run away from him, and Mr. Emilius had made
overtures, by accepting which his wife would be enabled to purchase
his absence at the cost of half her income. The arrangement was not
regarded as being in every respect satisfactory, but Lady Eustace
declared passionately that any possible sacrifice would be preferable
to the company of Mr. Emilius. There had, however, been a rumour
before her marriage that there was still living in his old country a
Mrs. Emilius when he married Lady Eustace; and, though it had been
supposed by those who were most nearly concerned with Lady Eustace
that this report had been unfounded and malicious, nevertheless, when
the man's claims became so exorbitant, reference was again made to
the charge of bigamy. If it could be proved that Mr. Emilius had a
wife living in Bohemia, a cheaper mode of escape would be found for
the persecuted lady than that which he himself had suggested.

It had happened that, since her marriage with Mr. Emilius, Lady
Eustace had become intimate with our Mr. Bonteen and his wife. She
had been at one time engaged to marry Lord Fawn, one of Mr. Bonteen's
colleagues, and during the various circumstances which had led to the
disruption of that engagement, this friendship had been formed. It
must be understood that Lady Eustace had a most desirable residence
of her own in the country,--Portray Castle in Scotland,--and that
it was thought expedient by many to cultivate her acquaintance.
She was rich, beautiful, and clever; and, though her marriage with
Mr. Emilius had never been looked upon as a success, still, in the
estimation of some people, it added an interest to her career. The
Bonteens had taken her up, and now both Mr. and Mrs. Bonteen were hot
in pursuit of evidence which might prove Mr. Emilius to be a
bigamist.

When the disruption of conjugal relations was commenced, Lady Eustace
succeeded in obtaining refuge at Portray Castle without the presence
of her husband. She fled from London during a visit he made to
Brighton with the object of preaching to a congregation by which his
eloquence was held in great esteem. He left London in one direction
by the 5 P.M. express train on Saturday, and she in the other by the
limited mail at 8.45. A telegram, informing him of what had taken
place, reached him the next morning at Brighton while he was at
breakfast. He preached his sermon, charming the congregation by the
graces of his extempore eloquence,--moving every woman there to
tears,--and then was after his wife before the ladies had taken their
first glass of sherry at luncheon. But her ladyship had twenty-four
hours' start of him,--although he did his best; and when he reached
Portray Castle the door was shut in his face. He endeavoured to
obtain the aid of blacksmiths to open, as he said, his own hall
door,--to obtain the aid of constables to compel the blacksmiths, of
magistrates to compel the constables,--and even of a judge to compel
the magistrates; but he was met on every side by a statement that
the lady of the castle declared that she was not his wife, and that
therefore he had no right whatever to demand that the door should
be opened. Some other woman,--so he was informed that the lady
said,--out in a strange country was really his wife. It was her
intention to prove him to be a bigamist, and to have him locked up.
In the meantime she chose to lock herself up in her own mansion. Such
was the nature of the message that was delivered to him through the
bars of the lady's castle.

How poor Lady Eustace was protected, and, at the same time, made
miserable by the energy and unrestrained language of one of her
own servants, Andrew Gowran by name, it hardly concerns us now to
inquire. Mr. Emilius did not succeed in effecting an entrance; but he
remained for some time in the neighbourhood, and had notices served
on the tenants in regard to the rents, which puzzled the poor folk
round Portray Castle very much. After a while Lady Eustace, finding
that her peace and comfort imperatively demanded that she should
prove the allegations which she had made, fled again from Portray
Castle to London, and threw herself into the hands of the Bonteens.
This took place just as Mr. Bonteen's hopes in regard to the
Chancellorship of the Exchequer were beginning to soar high, and when
his hands were very full of business. But with that energy for which
he was so conspicuous, Mr. Bonteen had made a visit to Bohemia during
his short Christmas holidays, and had there set people to work. When
at Prague he had, he thought, very nearly unravelled the secret
himself. He had found the woman whom he believed to be Mrs. Emilius,
and who was now living somewhat merrily in Prague under another name.
She acknowledged that in old days, when they were both young, she
had been acquainted with a certain Yosef Mealyus, at a time in
which he had been in the employment of a Jewish moneylender in the
city; but,--as she declared,--she had never been married to him.
Mr. Bonteen learned also that the gentleman now known as Mr. Joseph
Emilius of the London Chapel had been known in his own country as
Yosef Mealyus, the name which had been borne by the very respectable
Jew who was his father. Then Mr. Bonteen had returned home, and, as
we all know, had become engaged in matters of deeper import than even
the deliverance of Lady Eustace from her thraldom.

Mr. Emilius made no attempt to obtain the person of his wife while
she was under Mr. Bonteen's custody, but he did renew his offer
to compromise. If the estate could not afford to give him the two
thousand a year which he had first demanded, he would take fifteen
hundred. He explained all this personally to Mr. Bonteen, who
condescended to see him. He was very eager to make Mr. Bonteen
understand how bad even then would be his condition. Mr. Bonteen was,
of course, aware that he would have to pay very heavily for insuring
his wife's life. He was piteous, argumentative, and at first gentle;
but when Mr. Bonteen somewhat rashly told him that the evidence
of a former marriage and of the present existence of the former
wife would certainly be forthcoming, he defied Mr. Bonteen and his
evidence,--and swore that if his claims were not satisfied, he would
make use of the power which the English law gave him for the recovery
of his wife's person. And as to her property,--it was his, not hers.
From this time forward if she wanted to separate herself from him she
must ask him for an allowance. Now, it certainly was the case that
Lady Eustace had married the man without any sufficient precaution as
to keeping her money in her own hands, and Mr. Emilius had insisted
that the rents of the property which was hers for her life should
be paid to him, and on his receipt only. The poor tenants had been
noticed this way and noticed that till they had begun to doubt
whether their safest course would not be to keep their rents in their
own hands. But lately the lawyers of the Eustace family,--who were
not, indeed, very fond of Lady Eustace personally,--came forward for
the sake of the property, and guaranteed the tenants against all
proceedings until the question of the legality of the marriage should
be settled. So Mr. Emilius,--or the Reverend Mealyus, as everybody
now called him,--went to law; and Lady Eustace went to law; and the
Eustace family went to law;--but still, as yet, no evidence was
forthcoming sufficient to enable Mr. Bonteen, as the lady's friend,
to put the gentleman into prison.

It was said for a while that Mealyus had absconded. After his
interview with Mr. Bonteen he certainly did leave England and made a
journey to Prague. It was thought that he would not return, and that
Lady Eustace would be obliged to carry on the trial, which was to
liberate her and her property, in his absence. She was told that
the very fact of his absence would go far with a jury, and she was
glad to be freed from his presence in England. But he did return,
declaring aloud that he would have his rights. His wife should be
made to put herself into his hands, and he would obtain possession
of the income which was his own. People then began to doubt. It was
known that a very clever lawyer's clerk had been sent to Prague to
complete the work there which Mr. Bonteen had commenced. But the
clerk did not come back as soon as was expected, and news arrived
that he had been taken ill. There was a rumour that he had been
poisoned at his hotel; but, as the man was not said to be dead,
people hardly believed the rumour. It became necessary, however, to
send another lawyer's clerk, and the matter was gradually progressing
to a very interesting complication.

Mr. Bonteen, to tell the truth, was becoming sick of it. When
Emilius, or Mealyus, was supposed to have absconded, Lady Eustace
left Mr. Bonteen's house, and located herself at one of the large
London hotels; but when the man came back, bolder than ever, she
again betook herself to the shelter of Mr. Bonteen's roof. She
expressed the most lavish affection for Mrs. Bonteen, and professed
to regard Mr. Bonteen as almost a political god, declaring her
conviction that he, and he alone, as Prime Minister, could save the
country, and became very loud in her wrath when he was robbed of his
seat in the Cabinet. Lizzie Eustace, as her ladyship had always been
called, was a clever, pretty, coaxing little woman, who knew how to
make the most of her advantages. She had not been very wise in her
life, having lost the friends who would have been truest to her, and
confided in persons who had greatly injured her. She was neither
true of heart or tongue, nor affectionate, nor even honest. But she
was engaging; she could flatter; and could assume a reverential
admiration which was very foreign to her real character. In these
days she almost worshipped Mr. Bonteen, and could never be happy
except in the presence of her dearest darling friend Mrs. Bonteen.
Mr. Bonteen was tired of her, and Mrs. Bonteen was becoming almost
sick of the constant kisses with which she was greeted; but Lizzie
Eustace had got hold of them, and they could not turn her off.

"You saw _The People's Banner_, Mrs. Bonteen, on Monday?" Lady
Eustace had been reading the paper in her friend's drawing-room.
"They seem to think that Mr. Bonteen must be Prime Minister before
long."

"I don't think he expects that, my dear."

"Why not? Everybody says _The People's Banner_ is the cleverest paper
we have now. I always hated the very name of that Phineas Finn."

"Did you know him?"

"Not exactly. He was gone before my time; but poor Lord Fawn used to
talk of him. He was one of those conceited Irish upstarts that are
never good for anything."

"Very handsome, you know," said Mrs. Bonteen.

"Was he? I have heard it said that a good many ladies admired him."

"It was quite absurd; with Lady Laura Kennedy it was worse than
absurd. And there was Lady Glencora, and Violet Effingham, who
married Lady Laura's brother, and that Madame Goesler, whom I
hate,--and ever so many others."

"And is it true that it was he who got Mr. Bonteen so shamefully
used?"

"It was his faction."

"I do so hate that kind of thing," said Lady Eustace, with righteous
indignation; "I used to hear a great deal about Government and all
that when the affair was on between me and poor Lord Fawn, and that
kind of dishonesty always disgusted me. I don't know that I think so
much of Mr. Gresham after all."

"He is a very weak man."

"His conduct to Mr. Bonteen has been outrageous; and if he has done
it just because that Duchess of Omnium has told him, I really do
think that he is not fit to rule the nation. As for Mr. Phineas Finn,
it is dreadful to think that a creature like that should be able to
interfere with such a man as Mr. Bonteen."

This was on Wednesday afternoon,--the day on which members of
Parliament dine out,--and at that moment Mr. Bonteen entered the
drawing-room, having left the House for his half-holiday at six
o'clock. Lady Eustace got up, and gave him her hand, and smiled upon
him as though he were indeed her god. "You look so tired and so
worried, Mr. Bonteen."

"Worried;--I should think so."

"Is there anything fresh?" asked his wife.

"That fellow Finn is spreading all manner of lies about me."

"What lies, Mr. Bonteen?" asked Lady Eustace. "Not new lies, I hope."

"It all comes from Carlton Terrace." The reader may perhaps remember
that the young Duchess of Omnium lived in Carlton Terrace. "I can
trace it all there. I won't stand it if it goes on like this. A
clique of stupid women to take up the cudgels for a coal-heaving sort
of fellow like that, and sting one like a lot of hornets! Would you
believe it?--the Duke almost refused to speak to me just now--a
man for whom I have been working like a slave for the last twelve
months!"

"I would not stand it," said Lady Eustace.

"By the bye, Lady Eustace, we have had news from Prague."

"What news?" said she, clasping her hands.

"That fellow Pratt we sent out is dead."

"No!"

"Not a doubt but what he was poisoned; but they seem to think that
nothing can be proved. Coulson is on his way out, and I shouldn't
wonder if they served him the same."

"And it might have been you!" said Lady Eustace, taking hold of her
friend's arm with almost frantic affection.

Yes, indeed. It might have been the lot of Mr. Bonteen to have died
at Prague--to have been poisoned by the machinations of the former
Mrs. Mealyus, if such really had been the fortune of the unfortunate
Mr. Pratt. For he had been quite as busy at Prague as his successor
in the work. He had found out much, though not everything. It
certainly had been believed that Yosef Mealyus was a married man,
but he had brought the woman with him to Prague, and had certainly
not married her in the city. She was believed to have come from
Cracow, and Mr. Bonteen's zeal on behalf of his friend had not been
sufficient to carry him so far East. But he had learned from various
sources that the man and woman had been supposed to be married,--that
she had borne the man's name, and that he had taken upon himself
authority as her husband. There had been written communications with
Cracow, and information was received that a man of the name of Yosef
Mealyus had been married to a Jewess in that town. But this had
been twenty years ago, and Mr. Emilius professed himself to be only
thirty-five years old, and had in his possession a document from his
synagogue professing to give a record of his birth, proving such to
be his age. It was also ascertained that Mealyus was a name common
at Cracow, and that there were very many of the family in Galicia.
Altogether the case was full of difficulty, but it was thought that
Mr. Bonteen's evidence would be sufficient to save the property from
the hands of the cormorant, at any rate till such time as better
evidence of the first marriage could be obtained. It had been hoped
that when the man went away he would not return; but he had returned,
and it was now resolved that no terms should be kept with him and no
payment offered to him. The house at Portray was kept barred, and the
servants were ordered not to admit him. No money was to be paid to
him, and he was to be left to take any proceedings at law which he
might please,--while his adversaries were proceeding against him with
all the weapons at their disposal. In the meantime his chapel was of
course deserted, and the unfortunate man was left penniless in the
world.

Various opinions prevailed as to Mr. Bonteen's conduct in the matter.
Some people remembered that during the last autumn he and his wife
had stayed three months at Portray Castle, and declared that the
friendship between them and Lady Eustace had been very useful. Of
these malicious people it seemed to be, moreover, the opinion that
the connection might become even more useful if Mr. Emilius could be
discharged. It was true that Mrs. Bonteen had borrowed a little money
from Lady Eustace, but of this her husband knew nothing till the Jew
in his wrath made the thing public. After all it had only been a
poor £25, and the money had been repaid before Mr. Bonteen took his
journey to Prague. Mr. Bonteen was, however, unable to deny that the
cost of that journey was defrayed by Lady Eustace, and it was thought
mean in a man aspiring to be Chancellor of the Exchequer to have his
travelling expenses paid for him by a lady. Many, however, were of
opinion that Mr. Bonteen had been almost romantic in his friendship,
and that the bright eyes of Lady Eustace had produced upon this
dragon of business the wonderful effect that was noticed. Be that as
it may, now, in the terrible distress of his mind at the political
aspect of the times, he had become almost sick of Lady Eustace, and
would gladly have sent her away from his house had he known how to do
so without incurring censure.



CHAPTER XLVI

The Quarrel


On that Wednesday evening Phineas Finn was at The Universe. He dined
at the house of Madame Goesler, and went from thence to the club in
better spirits than he had known for some weeks past. The Duke and
Duchess had been at Madame Goesler's, and Lord and Lady Chiltern,
who were now up in town, with Barrington Erle, and,--as it had
happened,--old Mr. Maule. The dinner had been very pleasant, and two
or three words had been spoken which had tended to raise the heart of
our hero. In the first place Barrington Erle had expressed a regret
that Phineas was not at his old post at the Colonies, and the young
Duke had re-echoed it. Phineas thought that the manner of his old
friend Erle was more cordial to him than it had been lately, and
even that comforted him. Then it was a delight to him to meet the
Chilterns, who were always gracious to him. But perhaps his greatest
pleasure came from the reception which was accorded by his hostess to
Mr. Maule, which was of a nature not easy to describe. It had become
evident to Phineas that Mr. Maule was constant in his attentions to
Madame Goesler; and, though he had no purpose of his own in reference
to the lady,--though he was aware that former circumstances,
circumstances of that previous life to which he was accustomed to
look back as to another existence, made it impossible that he should
have any such purpose,--still he viewed Mr. Maule with dislike. He
had once ventured to ask her whether she really liked "that old
padded dandy." She had answered that she did like the old dandy. Old
dandies, she thought, were preferable to old men who did not care how
they looked;--and as for the padding, that was his affair, not hers.
She did not know why a man should not have a pad in his coat, as well
as a woman one at the back of her head. But Phineas had known that
this was her gentle raillery, and now he was delighted to find that
she continued it, after a still more gentle fashion, before the man's
face. Mr. Maule's manner was certainly peculiar. He was more than
ordinarily polite,--and was afterwards declared by the Duchess to
have made love like an old gander. But Madame Goesler, who knew
exactly how to receive such attentions, turned a glance now and then
upon Phineas Finn, which he could now read with absolute precision.
"You see how I can dispose of a padded old dandy directly he goes an
inch too far." No words could have said that to him more plainly than
did these one or two glances;--and, as he had learned to dislike Mr.
Maule, he was gratified.

Of course they all talked about Lady Eustace and Mr. Emilius. "Do
you remember how intensely interested the dear old Duke used to be
when we none of us knew what had become of the diamonds?" said the
Duchess.

"And how you took her part," said Madame Goesler.

"So did you,--just as much as I; and why not? She was a most
interesting young woman, and I sincerely hope we have not got to the
end of her yet. The worst of it is that she has got into such--very
bad hands. The Bonteens have taken her up altogether. Do you know
her, Mr. Finn?"

"No, Duchess;--and am hardly likely to make her acquaintance while
she remains where she is now." The Duchess laughed and nodded her
head. All the world knew by this time that she had declared herself
to be the sworn enemy of the Bonteens.

And there had been some conversation on that terribly difficult
question respecting the foxes in Trumpeton Wood. "The fact is, Lord
Chiltern," said the Duke, "I'm as ignorant as a child. I would do
right if I knew how. What ought I to do? Shall I import some foxes?"

"I don't suppose, Duke, that in all England there is a spot in which
foxes are more prone to breed."

"Indeed. I'm very glad of that. But something goes wrong afterwards,
I fear."

"The nurseries are not well managed, perhaps," said the Duchess.

"Gipsy kidnappers are allowed about the place," said Madame Goesler.

"Gipsies!" exclaimed the Duke.

"Poachers!" said Lord Chiltern. "But it isn't that we mind. We could
deal with that ourselves if the woods were properly managed. A head
of game and foxes can be reared together very well, if--"

"I don't care a straw for a head of game, Lord Chiltern. As far as
my own tastes go, I would wish that there was neither a pheasant
nor a partridge nor a hare on any property that I own. I think that
sheep and barn-door fowls do better for everybody in the long run,
and that men who cannot live without shooting should go beyond
thickly-populated regions to find it. And, indeed, for myself, I must
say the same about foxes. They do not interest me, and I fancy that
they will gradually be exterminated."

"God forbid!" exclaimed Lord Chiltern.

"But I do not find myself called upon to exterminate them myself,"
continued the Duke. "The number of men who amuse themselves by riding
after one fox is too great for me to wish to interfere with them. And
I know that my neighbours in the country conceive it to be my duty to
have foxes for them. I will oblige them, Lord Chiltern, as far as I
can without detriment to other duties."

"You leave it to me," said the Duchess to her neighbour, Lord
Chiltern. "I'll speak to Mr. Fothergill myself, and have it put
right." It unfortunately happened, however, that Lord Chiltern got
a letter the very next morning from old Doggett telling him that a
litter of young cubs had been destroyed that week in Trumpeton Wood.

Barrington Erle and Phineas went off to The Universe together, and
as they went the old terms of intimacy seemed to be re-established
between them. "Nobody can be so sorry as I am," said Barrington, "at
the manner in which things have gone. When I wrote to you, of course,
I thought it certain that, if we came in, you would come with us."

"Do not let that fret you."

"But it does fret me,--very much. There are so many slips that of
course no one can answer for anything."

"Of course not. I know who has been my friend."

"The joke of it is, that he himself is at present so utterly
friendless. The Duke will hardly speak to him. I know that as a fact.
And Gresham has begun to find something is wrong. We all hoped that
he would refuse to come in without a seat in the Cabinet;--but that
was too good to be true. They say he talks of resigning. I shall
believe it when I see it. He'd better not play any tricks, for if he
did resign, it would be accepted at once." Phineas, when he heard
this, could not help thinking how glorious it would be if Mr. Bonteen
were to resign, and if the place so vacated, or some vacancy so
occasioned, were to be filled by him!

They reached the club together, and as they went up the stairs, they
heard the hum of many voices in the room. "All the world and his wife
are here to-night," said Phineas. They overtook a couple of men at
the door, so that there was something of the bustle of a crowd as
they entered. There was a difficulty in finding places in which to
put their coats and hats,--for the accommodation of The Universe is
not great. There was a knot of men talking not far from them, and
among the voices Phineas could clearly hear that of Mr. Bonteen.
Ratler's he had heard before, and also Fitzgibbon's, though he had
not distinguished any words from them. But those spoken by Mr.
Bonteen he did distinguish very plainly. "Mr. Phineas Finn, or some
such fellow as that, would be after her at once," said Mr. Bonteen.
Then Phineas walked immediately among the knot of men and showed
himself. As soon as he heard his name mentioned, he doubted for a
moment what he would do. Mr. Bonteen when speaking had not known of
his presence, and it might be his duty not to seem to have listened.
But the speech had been made aloud, in the open room,--so that those
who chose might listen;--and Phineas could not but have heard it. In
that moment he resolved that he was bound to take notice of what he
had heard. "What is it, Mr. Bonteen, that Phineas Finn will do?" he
asked.

Mr. Bonteen had been--dining. He was not a man by any means
habitually intemperate, and now any one saying that he was tipsy
would have maligned him. But he was flushed with much wine, and
he was a man whose arrogance in that condition was apt to become
extreme. _"In vino veritas!"_ The sober devil can hide his cloven
hoof; but when the devil drinks he loses his cunning and grows
honest. Mr. Bonteen looked Phineas full in the face a second or two
before he answered, and then said,--quite aloud--"You have crept upon
us unawares, sir."

"What do you mean by that, sir?" said Phineas. "I have come in as any
other man comes."

"Listeners at any rate never hear any good of themselves."

Then there were present among those assembled clear indications of
disapproval of Bonteen's conduct. In these days,--when no palpable
and immediate punishment is at hand for personal insolence from man
to man,--personal insolence to one man in a company seems almost
to constitute an insult to every one present. When men could fight
readily, an arrogant word or two between two known to be hostile to
each other was only an invitation to a duel, and the angry man was
doing that for which it was known that he could be made to pay. There
was, or it was often thought that there was, a real spirit in the
angry man's conduct, and they who were his friends before became
perhaps more his friends when he had thus shown that he had an enemy.
But a different feeling prevails at present;--a feeling so different,
that we may almost say that a man in general society cannot speak
even roughly to any but his intimate comrades without giving offence
to all around him. Men have learned to hate the nuisance of a row,
and to feel that their comfort is endangered if a man prone to rows
gets among them. Of all candidates at a club a known quarreller is
more sure of blackballs now than even in the times when such a one
provoked duels. Of all bores he is the worst; and there is always
an unexpressed feeling that such a one exacts more from his company
than his share of attention. This is so strong, that too often the
man quarrelled with, though he be as innocent as was Phineas on the
present occasion, is made subject to the general aversion which is
felt for men who misbehave themselves.

"I wish to hear no good of myself from you," said Phineas, following
him to his seat. "Who is it that you said,--I should be after?" The
room was full, and every one there, even they who had come in with
Phineas, knew that Lady Eustace was the woman. Everybody at present
was talking about Lady Eustace.

"Never mind," said Barrington Erle, taking him by the arm. "What's
the use of a row?"

"No use at all;--but if you heard your name mentioned in such a
manner you would find it impossible to pass it over. There is Mr.
Monk;--ask him."

Mr. Monk was sitting very quietly in a corner of the room with
another gentleman of his own age by him,--one devoted to literary
pursuits and a constant attendant at The Universe. As he said
afterwards, he had never known any unpleasantness of that sort in
the club before. There were many men of note in the room. There was
a foreign minister, a member of the Cabinet, two ex-members of the
Cabinet, a great poet, an exceedingly able editor, two earls, two
members of the Royal Academy, the president of a learned society, a
celebrated professor,--and it was expected that Royalty might come
in at any minute, speak a few benign words, and blow a few clouds of
smoke. It was abominable that the harmony of such a meeting should be
interrupted by the vinous insolence of Mr. Bonteen, and the useless
wrath of Phineas Finn. "Really, Mr. Finn, if I were you I would let
it drop," said the gentleman devoted to literary pursuits.

Phineas did not much affect the literary gentleman, but in such a
matter would prefer the advice of Mr. Monk to that of any man living.
He again appealed to his friend. "You heard what was said?"

"I heard Mr. Bonteen remark that you or somebody like you would in
certain circumstances be after a certain lady. I thought it to be
an ill-judged speech, and as your particular friend I heard it with
great regret."

"What a row about nothing!" said Mr. Bonteen, rising from his seat.
"We were speaking of a very pretty woman, and I was saying that some
young fellow generally supposed to be fond of pretty women would soon
be after her. If that offends your morals you must have become very
strict of late."

There was something in the explanation which, though very bad and
vulgar, it was almost impossible not to accept. Such at least was the
feeling of those who stood around Phineas Finn. He himself knew that
Mr. Bonteen had intended to assert that he would be after the woman's
money and not her beauty; but he had taste enough to perceive that he
could not descend to any such detail as that. "There are reasons, Mr.
Bonteen," he said, "why I think you should abstain from mentioning
my name in public. Your playful references should be made to your
friends, and not to those who, to say the least of it, are not your
friends."

When the matter was discussed afterwards it was thought that Phineas
Finn should have abstained from making the last speech. It was
certainly evidence of great anger on his part. And he was very angry.
He knew that he had been insulted,--and insulted by the man whom of
all men he would feel most disposed to punish for any offence. He
could not allow Mr. Bonteen to have the last word, especially as a
certain amount of success had seemed to attend them. Fate at the
moment was so far propitious to Phineas that outward circumstances
saved him from any immediate reply, and thus left him in some degree
triumphant. Expected Royalty arrived, and cast its salutary oil
upon the troubled waters. The Prince, with some well-known popular
attendant, entered the room, and for a moment every gentleman rose
from his chair. It was but for a moment, and then the Prince became
as any other gentleman, talking to his friends. One or two there
present, who had perhaps peculiarly royal instincts, had crept up
towards him so as to make him the centre of a little knot, but,
otherwise, conversation went on much as it had done before the
unfortunate arrival of Phineas. That quarrel, however, had been very
distinctly trodden under foot by the Prince, for Mr. Bonteen had
found himself quite incapacitated from throwing back any missile in
reply to the last that had been hurled at him.

Phineas took a vacant seat next to Mr. Monk,--who was deficient
perhaps in royal instincts,--and asked him in a whisper his opinion
of what had taken place. "Do not think any more of it," said Mr.
Monk.

"That is so much more easily said than done. How am I not to think of
it?"

"Of course I mean that you are to act as though you had forgotten
it."

"Did you ever know a more gratuitous insult? Of course he was talking
of that Lady Eustace."

"I had not been listening to him before, but no doubt he was. I need
not tell you now what I think of Mr. Bonteen. He is not more gracious
in my eyes than he is in yours. To-night I fancy he has been
drinking, which has not improved him. You may be sure of this,
Phineas,--that the less of resentful anger you show in such a
wretched affair as took place just now, the more will be the blame
attached to him and the less to you."

"Why should any blame be attached to me?"

"I don't say that any will unless you allow yourself to become loud
and resentful. The thing is not worth your anger."

"I am angry."

"Then go to bed at once, and sleep it off. Come with me, and we'll
walk home together."

"It isn't the proper thing, I fancy, to leave the room while the
Prince is here."

"Then I must do the improper thing," said Mr. Monk. "I haven't a key,
and I mustn't keep my servant up any longer. A quiet man like me can
creep out without notice. Good night, Phineas, and take my advice
about this. If you can't forget it, act and speak and look as though
you had forgotten it." Then Mr. Monk, without much creeping, left the
room.

The club was very full, and there was a clatter of voices, and the
clatter round the Prince was the noisiest and merriest. Mr. Bonteen
was there, of course, and Phineas as he sat alone could hear him as
he edged his words in upon the royal ears. Every now and again there
was a royal joke, and then Mr. Bonteen's laughter was conspicuous. As
far as Phineas could distinguish the sounds no special amount of the
royal attention was devoted to Mr. Bonteen. That very able editor,
and one of the Academicians, and the poet, seemed to be the most
honoured, and when the Prince went,--which he did when his cigar was
finished,--Phineas observed with inward satisfaction that the royal
hand, which was given to the poet, to the editor, and to the painter,
was not extended to the President of the Board of Trade. And then,
having taken delight in this, he accused himself of meanness in
having even observed a matter so trivial. Soon after this a ruck of
men left the club, and then Phineas rose to go. As he went down the
stairs Barrington Erle followed him with Laurence Fitzgibbon, and the
three stood for a moment at the door in the street talking to each
other. Finn's way lay eastward from the club, whereas both Erle and
Fitzgibbon would go westwards towards their homes. "How well the
Prince behaves at these sort of places!" said Erle.

"Princes ought to behave well," said Phineas.

"Somebody else didn't behave very well,--eh, Finn, my boy?" said
Laurence.

"Somebody else, as you call him," replied Phineas, "is very unlike a
Prince, and never does behave well. To-night, however, he surpassed
himself."

"Don't bother your mind about it, old fellow," said Barrington.

"I tell you what it is, Erle," said Phineas. "I don't think that I'm
a vindictive man by nature, but with that man I mean to make it even
some of these days. You know as well as I do what it is he has done
to me, and you know also whether I have deserved it. Wretched reptile
that he is! He has pretty nearly been able to ruin me,--and all from
some petty feeling of jealousy."

"Finn, me boy, don't talk like that," said Laurence.

"You shouldn't show your hand," said Barrington.

"I know what you mean, and it's all very well. After your different
fashions you two have been true to me, and I don't care how much you
see of my hand. That man's insolence angers me to such an extent that
I cannot refrain from speaking out. He hasn't spirit enough to go out
with me, or I would shoot him."

"Blankenberg, eh!" said Laurence, alluding to the now notorious duel
which had once been fought in that place between Phineas and Lord
Chiltern.

"I would," continued the angry man. "There are times in which one is
driven to regret that there has come an end to duelling, and there is
left to one no immediate means of resenting an injury."

As they were speaking Mr. Bonteen came out from the front door
alone, and seeing the three men standing, passed on towards the left,
eastwards. "Good night, Erle," he said. "Good night, Fitzgibbon."
The two men answered him, and Phineas stood back in the gloom. It
was about one o'clock and the night was very dark. "By George, I
do dislike that man," said Phineas. Then, with a laugh, he took a
life-preserver out of his pocket, and made an action with it as
though he were striking some enemy over the head. In those days there
had been much garotting in the streets, and writers in the Press had
advised those who walked about at night to go armed with sticks.
Phineas Finn had himself been once engaged with garotters,--as has
been told in a former chronicle,--and had since armed himself,
thinking more probably of the thing which he had happened to see
than men do who had only heard of it. As soon as he had spoken, he
followed Mr. Bonteen down the street, at the distance of perhaps a
couple of hundred yards.

"They won't have a row,--will they?" said Erle.

"Oh, dear, no; Finn won't think of speaking to him; and you may be
sure that Bonteen won't say a word to Finn. Between you and me,
Barrington, I wish Master Phineas would give him a thorough good
hiding."



CHAPTER XLVII

What Came of the Quarrel


On the next morning at seven o'clock a superintendent of police
called at the house of Mr. Gresham and informed the Prime Minister
that Mr. Bonteen, the President of the Board of Trade, had been
murdered during the night. There was no doubt of the fact. The
body had been recognised, and information had been taken to the
unfortunate widow at the house Mr. Bonteen had occupied in St.
James's Place. The superintendent had already found out that Mr.
Bonteen had been attacked as he was returning from his club late at
night,--or rather, early in the morning, and expressed no doubt that
he had been murdered close to the spot on which his body was found.
There is a dark, uncanny-looking passage running from the end of
Bolton Row, in May Fair, between the gardens of two great noblemen,
coming out among the mews in Berkeley Street, at the corner of
Berkeley Square, just opposite to the bottom of Hay Hill. It was on
the steps leading up from the passage to the level of the ground
above that the body was found. The passage was almost as near a way
as any from the club to Mr. Bonteen's house in St. James's Place;
but the superintendent declared that gentlemen but seldom used the
passage after dark, and he was disposed to think that the unfortunate
man must have been forced down the steps by the ruffian who had
attacked him from the level above. The murderer, so thought the
superintendent, must have been cognizant of the way usually taken
by Mr. Bonteen, and must have lain in wait for him in the darkness
of the mouth of the passage. The superintendent had been at work on
his inquiries since four in the morning, and had heard from Lady
Eustace,--and from Mrs. Bonteen, as far as that poor distracted
woman had been able to tell her story,--some account of the cause
of quarrel between the respective husbands of those two ladies. The
officer, who had not as yet heard a word of the late disturbance
between Mr. Bonteen and Phineas Finn, was strongly of opinion that
the Reverend Mr. Emilius had been the murderer. Mr. Gresham, of
course, coincided in that opinion. What steps had been taken as to
the arrest of Mr. Emilius? The superintendent was of opinion that Mr.
Emilius was already in custody. He was known to be lodging close to
the Marylebone Workhouse, in Northumberland Street, having removed to
that somewhat obscure neighbourhood as soon as his house in Lowndes
Square had been broken up by the running away of his wife and his
consequent want of means. Such was the story as told to the Prime
Minister at seven o'clock in the morning.

At eleven o'clock, at his private room at the Treasury Chambers, Mr.
Gresham heard much more. At that time there were present with him two
officers of the police force, his colleagues in the Cabinet, Lord
Cantrip and the Duke of Omnium, three of his junior colleagues in the
Government, Lord Fawn, Barrington Erle, and Laurence Fitzgibbon,--and
Major Mackintosh, the chief of the London police. It was not exactly
part of the duty of Mr. Gresham to investigate the circumstances of
this murder; but there was so much in it that brought it closely home
to him and his Government, that it became impossible for him not to
concern himself in the business. There had been so much talk about
Mr. Bonteen lately, his name had been so common in the newspapers,
the ill-usage which he had been supposed by some to have suffered
had been so freely discussed, and his quarrel, not only with Phineas
Finn, but subsequently with the Duke of Omnium, had been so widely
known,--that his sudden death created more momentary excitement than
might probably have followed that of a greater man. And now, too, the
facts of the past night, as they became known, seemed to make the
crime more wonderful, more exciting, more momentous than it would
have been had it been brought clearly home to such a wretch as the
Bohemian Jew, Yosef Mealyus, who had contrived to cheat that wretched
Lizzie Eustace into marrying him.

As regarded Yosef Mealyus the story now told respecting him was this.
He was already in custody. He had been found in bed at his lodgings
between seven and eight, and had, of course, given himself up without
difficulty. He had seemed to be horror-struck when he heard of the
man's death,--but had openly expressed his joy. "He has endeavoured
to ruin me, and has done me a world of harm. Why should I sorrow for
him?"--he said to the policeman when rebuked for his inhumanity. But
nothing had been found tending to implicate him in the crime. The
servant declared that he had gone to bed before eleven o'clock, to
her knowledge,--for she had seen him there,--and that he had not
left the house afterwards. Was he in possession of a latch-key? It
appeared that he did usually carry a latch-key, but that it was often
borrowed from him by members of the family when it was known that
he would not want it himself,--and that it had been so lent on this
night. It was considered certain by those in the house that he had
not gone out after he went to bed. Nobody in fact had left the house
after ten; but in accordance with his usual custom Mr. Emilius had
sent down the key as soon as he had found that he would not want
it, and it had been all night in the custody of the mistress of the
establishment. Nevertheless his clothes were examined minutely, but
without affording any evidence against him. That Mr. Bonteen had been
killed with some blunt weapon, such as a life-preserver, was assumed
by the police, but no such weapon was in the possession of Mr.
Emilius, nor had any such weapon yet been found. He was, however, in
custody, with no evidence against him except that which was afforded
by his known and acknowledged enmity to Mr. Bonteen.

So far, Major Mackintosh and the two officers had told their story.
Then came the united story of the other gentlemen assembled,--from
hearing which, however, the two police officers were debarred. The
Duke and Barrington Erle had both dined in company with Phineas
Finn at Madame Goesler's, and the Duke was undoubtedly aware that
ill blood had existed between Finn and Mr. Bonteen. Both Erle and
Fitzgibbon described the quarrel at the club, and described also the
anger which Finn had expressed against the wretched man as he stood
talking at the club door. His gesture of vengeance was remembered and
repeated, though both the men who heard it expressed their strongest
conviction that the murder had not been committed by him. As Erle
remarked, the very expression of such a threat was almost proof that
he had not at that moment any intention on his mind of doing such a
deed as had been done. But they told also of the life-preserver which
Finn had shown them, as he took it from the pocket of his outside
coat, and they marvelled at the coincidences of the night. Then Lord
Fawn gave further evidence, which seemed to tell very hardly upon
Phineas Finn. He also had been at the club, and had left it just
before Finn and the two other men had clustered at the door. He had
walked very slowly, having turned down to Curzon Street and Bolton
Row, from whence he made his way into Piccadilly by Clarges Street.
He had seen nothing of Mr. Bonteen; but as he crossed over to Clarges
Street he was passed at a very rapid pace by a man muffled in a top
coat, who made his way straight along Bolton Row towards the passage
which has been described. At the moment he had not connected the
person of the man who passed him with any acquaintance of his own;
but he now felt sure,--after what he had heard,--that the man was Mr.
Finn. As he passed out of the club Finn was putting on his overcoat,
and Lord Fawn had observed the peculiarity of the grey colour. It was
exactly a similar coat, only with its collar raised, that had passed
him in the street. The man, too, was of Mr. Finn's height and build.
He had known Mr. Finn well, and the man stepped with Mr. Finn's step.
Major Mackintosh thought that Lord Fawn's evidence was--"very
unfortunate as regarded Mr. Finn."

"I'm d---- if that idiot won't hang poor Phinny," said Fitzgibbon
afterwards to Erle. "And yet I don't believe a word of it."

"Fawn wouldn't lie for the sake of hanging Phineas Finn," said Erle.

"No;--I don't suppose he's given to lying at all. He believes it
all. But he's such a muddle-headed fellow that he can get himself
to believe anything. He's one of those men who always unconsciously
exaggerate what they have to say for the sake of the importance it
gives them." It might be possible that a jury would look at Lord
Fawn's evidence in this light; otherwise it would bear very heavily,
indeed, against Phineas Finn.

Then a question arose as to the road which Mr. Bonteen usually took
from the club. All the members who were there present had walked home
with him at various times,--and by various routes, but never by the
way through the passage. It was supposed that on this occasion he
must have gone by Berkeley Square, because he had certainly not
turned down by the first street to the right, which he would have
taken had he intended to avoid the square. He had been seen by
Barrington Erle and Fitzgibbon to pass that turning. Otherwise they
would have made no remark as to the possibility of a renewed quarrel
between him and Phineas, should Phineas chance to overtake him;--for
Phineas would certainly go by the square unless taken out of his way
by some special purpose. The most direct way of all for Mr. Bonteen
would have been that followed by Lord Fawn; but as he had not turned
down this street, and had not been seen by Lord Fawn, who was known
to walk very slowly, and had often been seen to go by Berkeley
Square,--it was presumed that he had now taken that road. In this
case he would certainly pass the end of the passage towards which
Lord Fawn declared that he had seen the man hurrying whom he now
supposed to have been Phineas Finn. Finn's direct road home would,
as has been already said, have been through the square, cutting off
the corner of the square, towards Bruton Street, and thence across
Bond Street by Conduit Street to Regent Street, and so to Great
Marlborough Street, where he lived. But it had been, no doubt,
possible for him to have been on the spot on which Lord Fawn had seen
the man; for, although in his natural course thither from the club he
would have at once gone down the street to the right,--a course which
both Erle and Fitzgibbon were able to say that he did not take, as
they had seen him go beyond the turning,--nevertheless there had been
ample time for him to have retraced his steps to it in time to have
caught Lord Fawn, and thus to have deceived Fitzgibbon and Erle as to
the route he had taken.

When they had got thus far Lord Cantrip was standing close to the
window of the room at Mr. Gresham's elbow. "Don't allow yourself to
be hurried into believing it," said Lord Cantrip.

"I do not know that we need believe it, or the reverse. It is a case
for the police."

"Of course it is;--but your belief and mine will have a weight.
Nothing that I have heard makes me for a moment think it possible. I
know the man."

"He was very angry."

"Had he struck him in the club I should not have been much surprised;
but he never attacked his enemy with a bludgeon in a dark alley. I
know him well."

"What do you think of Fawn's story?"

"He was mistaken in his man. Remember;--it was a dark night."

"I do not see that you and I can do anything," said Mr. Gresham. "I
shall have to say something in the House as to the poor fellow's
death, but I certainly shall not express a suspicion. Why should I?"

Up to this moment nothing had been done as to Phineas Finn. It was
known that he would in his natural course of business be in his place
in Parliament at four, and Major Mackintosh was of opinion that he
certainly should be taken before a magistrate in time to prevent the
necessity of arresting him in the House. It was decided that Lord
Fawn, with Fitzgibbon and Erle, should accompany the police officer
to Bow Street, and that a magistrate should be applied to for a
warrant if he thought the evidence was sufficient. Major Mackintosh
was of opinion that, although by no possibility could the two
men suspected have been jointly guilty of the murder, still the
circumstances were such as to justify the immediate arrest of both.
Were Yosef Mealyus really guilty and to be allowed to slip from their
hands, no doubt it might be very difficult to catch him. Facts
did not at present seem to prevail against him; but, as the Major
observed, facts are apt to alter considerably when they are minutely
sifted. His character was half sufficient to condemn him;--and then
with him there was an adequate motive, and what Lord Cantrip regarded
as "a possibility." It was not to be conceived that from mere rage
Phineas Finn would lay a plot for murdering a man in the street. "It
is on the cards, my lord," said the Major, "that he may have chosen
to attack Mr. Bonteen without intending to murder him. The murder may
afterwards have been an accident."

It was impossible after this for even a Prime Minister and two
Cabinet Ministers to go about their work calmly. The men concerned
had been too well known to them to allow their minds to become clear
of the subject. When Major Mackintosh went off to Bow Street with
Erle and Laurence, it was certainly the opinion of the majority of
those who had been present that the blow had been struck by the hand
of Phineas Finn. And perhaps the worst aspect of it all was that
there had been not simply a blow,--but blows. The constables had
declared that the murdered man had been struck thrice about the head,
and that the fatal stroke had been given on the side of his head
after the man's hat had been knocked off. That Finn should have
followed his enemy through the street, after such words as he had
spoken, with the view of having the quarrel out in some shape,
did not seem to be very improbable to any of them except Lord
Cantrip;--and then had there been a scuffle, out in the open path, at
the spot at which the angry man might have overtaken his adversary,
it was not incredible to them that he should have drawn even such a
weapon as a life-preserver from his pocket. But, in the case as it
had occurred, a spot peculiarly traitorous had been selected, and the
attack had too probably been made from behind. As yet there was no
evidence that the murderer had himself encountered any ill-usage. And
Finn, if he was the murderer, must, from the time he was standing at
the club door, have contemplated a traitorous, dastardly attack. He
must have counted his moments;--have returned slyly in the dark to
the corner of the street which he had once passed;--have muffled his
face in his coat;--and have then laid wait in a spot to which an
honest man at night would hardly trust himself with honest purposes.
"I look upon it as quite out of the question," said Lord Cantrip,
when the three Ministers were left alone. Now Lord Cantrip had served
for many months in the same office as Phineas Finn.

"You are simply putting your own opinion of the man against the
facts," said Mr. Gresham. "But facts always convince, and another
man's opinion rarely convinces."

"I'm not sure that we know the facts yet," said the Duke.

"Of course we are speaking of them as far as they have been told to
us. As far as they go,--unless they can be upset and shown not to be
facts,--I fear they would be conclusive to me on a jury."

"Do you mean that you have heard enough to condemn him?" asked Lord
Cantrip.

"Remember what we have heard. The murdered man had two enemies."

"He may have had a third."

"Or ten; but we have heard of but two."

"He may have been attacked for his money," said the Duke. "But
neither his money nor his watch were touched," continued Mr. Gresham.
"Anger, or the desire of putting the man out of the way, has caused
the murder. Of the two enemies one,--according to the facts as we now
have them,--could not have been there. Nor is it probable that he
could have known that his enemy would be on that spot. The other not
only could have been there, but was certainly near the place at the
moment,--so near that did he not do the deed himself, it is almost
wonderful that it should not have been interrupted in its doing by
his nearness. He certainly knew that the victim would be there.
He was burning with anger against him at the moment. He had just
threatened him. He had with him such an instrument as was afterwards
used. A man believed to be him is seen hurrying to the spot by a
witness whose credibility is beyond doubt. These are the facts such
as we have them at present. Unless they can be upset, I fear they
would convince a jury,--as they have already convinced those officers
of the police."

"Officers of the police always believe men to be guilty," said Lord
Cantrip.

"They don't believe the Jew clergyman to be guilty," said Mr.
Gresham.

"I fear that there will be enough to send Mr. Finn to a trial," said
the Duke.

"Not a doubt of it," said Mr. Gresham.

"And yet I feel as convinced of his innocence as I do of my own,"
said Lord Cantrip.



CHAPTER XLVIII

Mr. Maule's Attempt


About three o'clock in the day the first tidings of what had taken
place reached Madame Goesler in the following perturbed note from her
friend the Duchess:--"Have you heard what took place last night? Good
God! Mr. Bonteen was murdered as he came home from his club, and they
say that it was done by Phineas Finn. Plantagenet has just come in
from Downing Street, where everybody is talking about it. I can't get
from him what he believes. One never can get anything from him. But
I never will believe it;--nor will you, I'm sure. I vote we stick to
him to the last. He is to be put in prison and tried. I can hardly
believe that Mr. Bonteen has been murdered, though I don't know why
he shouldn't as well as anybody else. Plantagenet talks about the
great loss; I know which would be the greatest loss, and so do you.
I'm going out now to try and find out something. Barrington Erle was
there, and if I can find him he will tell me. I shall be home by
half-past five. Do come, there's a dear woman; there is no one else I
can talk to about it. If I'm not back, go in all the same, and tell
them to bring you tea.

"Only think of Lady Laura,--with one mad and the other in Newgate!
G.P."

This letter gave Madame Goesler such a blow that for a few minutes
it altogether knocked her down. After reading it once she hardly
knew what it contained beyond a statement that Phineas Finn was in
Newgate. She sat for a while with it in her hands, almost swooning;
and then with an effort she recovered herself, and read the letter
again. Mr. Bonteen murdered, and Phineas Finn,--who had dined with
her only yesterday evening, with whom she had been talking of all the
sins of the murdered man, who was her special friend, of whom she
thought more than of any other human being, of whom she could not
bring herself to cease to think,--accused of the murder! Believe
it! The Duchess had declared with that sort of enthusiasm which was
common to her, that she never would believe it. No, indeed! What
judge of character would any one be who could believe that Phineas
Finn could be guilty of a midnight murder? "I vote we stick to him."
"Stick to him!" Madame Goesler said, repeating the words to herself.
"What is the use of sticking to a man who does not want you?" How
can a woman cling to a man who, having said that he did not want her,
yet comes again within her influence, but does not unsay what he had
said before? Nevertheless, if it should be that the man was in real
distress,--in absolutely dire sorrow,--she would cling to him with a
constancy which, as she thought, her friend the Duchess would hardly
understand. Though they should hang him, she would bathe his body
with her tears, and live as a woman should live who had loved a
murderer to the last.

But she swore to herself that she would not believe it. Nay, she did
not believe it. Believe it, indeed! It was simply impossible. That he
might have killed the wretch in some struggle brought on by the man's
own fault was possible. Had the man attacked Phineas Finn it was only
too probable that there might have been such result. But murder,
secret midnight murder, could not have been committed by the man
she had chosen as her friend. And yet, through it all, there was a
resolve that even though he should have committed murder she would
be true to him. If it should come to the very worst, then would she
declare the intensity of the affection with which she regarded the
murderer. As to Mr. Bonteen, what the Duchess said was true enough;
why should not he be killed as well as another? In her present frame
of mind she felt very little pity for Mr. Bonteen. After a fashion a
verdict of "served him right" crossed her mind, as it had doubtless
crossed that of the Duchess when she was writing her letter. The man
had made himself so obnoxious that it was well that he should be out
of the way. But not on that account would she believe that Phineas
Finn had murdered him.

Could it be true that the man after all was dead? Marvellous reports,
and reports marvellously false, do spread themselves about the world
every day. But this report had come from the Duke, and he was not
a man given to absurd rumours. He had heard the story in Downing
Street, and if so it must be true. Of course she would go down to the
Duchess at the hour fixed. It was now a little after three, and she
ordered the carriage to be ready for her at a quarter past five. Then
she told the servant, at first to admit no one who might call, and
then to come up and let her know, if any one should come, without
sending the visitor away. It might be that some one would come to her
expressly from Phineas, or at least with tidings about this affair.

Then she read the letter again, and those few last words in it stuck
to her thoughts like a burr. "Think of Lady Laura, with one mad and
the other in Newgate." Was this man,--the only man whom she had ever
loved,--more to Lady Laura Kennedy than to her; or rather, was Lady
Laura more to him than was she herself? If so, why should she fret
herself for his sake? She was ready enough to own that she could
sacrifice everything for him, even though he should be standing as a
murderer in the dock, if such sacrifice would be valued by him. He
had himself told her that his feelings towards Lady Laura were simply
those of an affectionate friend; but how could she believe that
statement when all the world were saying the reverse? Lady Laura was
a married woman,--a woman whose husband was still living,--and of
course he was bound to make such an assertion when he and she were
named together. And then it was certain,--Madame Goesler believed it
to be certain,--that there had been a time in which Phineas had asked
for the love of Lady Laura Standish. But he had never asked for her
love. It had been tendered to him, and he had rejected it! And now
the Duchess,--who, with all her inaccuracies, had that sharpness of
vision which enables some men and women to see into facts,--spoke as
though Lady Laura were to be pitied more than all others, because of
the evil that had befallen Phineas Finn! Had not Lady Laura chosen
her own husband; and was not the man, let him be ever so mad, still
her husband? Madame Goesler was sore of heart, as well as broken down
with sorrow, till at last, hiding her face on the pillow of the sofa,
still holding the Duchess's letter in her hand, she burst into a fit
of hysteric sobs.

Few of those who knew Madame Max Goesler well, as she lived in town
and in country, would have believed that such could have been the
effect upon her of the news which she had heard. Credit was given to
her everywhere for good nature, discretion, affability, and a certain
grace of demeanour which always made her charming. She was known to
be generous, wise, and of high spirit. Something of her conduct to
the old Duke had crept into general notice, and had been told, here
and there, to her honour. She had conquered the good opinion of many,
and was a popular woman. But there was not one among her friends who
supposed her capable of becoming a victim to a strong passion, or
would have suspected her of reckless weeping for any sorrow. The
Duchess, who thought that she knew Madame Goesler well, would not
have believed it to be true, even if she had seen it. "You like
people, but I don't think you ever love any one," the Duchess had
once said to her. Madame Goesler had smiled, and had seemed to
assent. To enjoy the world,--and to know that the best enjoyment must
come from witnessing the satisfaction of others, had apparently been
her philosophy. But now she was prostrate because this man was in
trouble, and because she had been told that his trouble was more than
another woman could bear!

She was still sobbing and crushing the letter in her hand when the
servant came up to tell her that Mr. Maule had called. He was below,
waiting to know whether she would see him. She remembered at once
that Mr. Maule had met Phineas at her table on the previous evening,
and, thinking that he must have come with tidings respecting this
great event, desired that he might be shown up to her. But, as it
happened, Mr. Maule had not yet heard of the death of Mr. Bonteen. He
had remained at home till nearly four, having a great object in view,
which made him deem it expedient that he should go direct from his
own rooms to Madame Goesler's house, and had not even looked in at
his club. The reader will, perhaps, divine the great object. On this
day he proposed to ask Madame Goesler to make him the happiest of
men,--as he certainly would have thought himself for a time, had
she consented to put him in possession of her large income. He had
therefore padded himself with more than ordinary care,--reduced but
not obliterated the greyness of his locks,--looked carefully to the
fitting of his trousers, and spared himself those ordinary labours of
the morning which might have robbed him of any remaining spark of his
juvenility.

Madame Goesler met him more than half across the room as he entered
it. "What have you heard?" said she. Mr. Maule wore his sweetest
smile, but he had heard nothing. He could only press her hand, and
look blank,--understanding that there was something which he ought to
have heard. She thought nothing of the pressure of her hand. Apt as
she was to be conscious at an instant of all that was going on around
her, she thought of nothing now but that man's peril, and of the
truth or falsehood of the story that had been sent to her. "You have
heard nothing of Mr. Finn?"

"Not a word," said Mr. Maule, withdrawing his hand. "What has
happened to Mr. Finn?" Had Mr. Finn broken his neck it would have
been nothing to Mr. Maule. But the lady's solicitude was something to
him.

"Mr. Bonteen has been--murdered!"

"Mr. Bonteen!"

"So I hear. I thought you had come to tell me of it."

"Mr. Bonteen murdered! No;--I have heard nothing. I do not know the
gentleman. I thought you said--Mr. Finn."

"It is not known about London, then?"

"I cannot say, Madame Goesler. I have just come from home, and have
not been out all the morning. Who has--murdered him?"

"Ah! I do not know. That is what I wanted you to tell me."

"But what of Mr. Finn?"

"I also have not been out, Mr. Maule, and can give you no
information. I thought you had called because you knew that Mr. Finn
had dined here."

"Has Mr. Finn been murdered?"

"Mr. Bonteen! I said that the report was that Mr. Bonteen had been
murdered." Madame Goesler was now waxing angry,--most unreasonably.
"But I know nothing about it, and am just going out to make inquiry.
The carriage is ordered." Then she stood, expecting him to go; and
he knew that he was expected to go. It was at any rate clear to him
that he could not carry out his great design on the present occasion.
"This has so upset me that I can think of nothing else at present,
and you must, if you please, excuse me. I would not have let you take
the trouble of coming up, had not I thought that you were the bearer
of some news." Then she bowed, and Mr. Maule bowed; and as he left
the room she forgot to ring the bell.

"What the deuce can she have meant about that fellow Finn?" he said
to himself. "They cannot both have been murdered." He went to his
club, and there he soon learned the truth. The information was given
to him with clear and undoubting words. Phineas Finn and Mr. Bonteen
had quarrelled at The Universe. Mr. Bonteen, as far as words went,
had got the best of his adversary. This had taken place in the
presence of the Prince, who had expressed himself as greatly annoyed
by Mr. Finn's conduct. And afterwards Phineas Finn had waylaid Mr.
Bonteen in the passage between Bolton Row and Berkeley Street, and
had there--murdered him. As it happened, no one who had been at The
Universe was at that moment present; but the whole affair was now
quite well known, and was spoken of without a doubt.

"I hope he'll be hung, with all my heart," said Mr. Maule, who
thought that he could read the riddle which had been so
unintelligible in Park Lane.

When Madame Goesler reached Carlton Terrace, which she did before the
time named by the Duchess, her friend had not yet returned. But she
went upstairs, as she had been desired, and they brought her tea. But
the teapot remained untouched till past six o'clock, and then the
Duchess returned. "Oh, my dear, I am so sorry for being late. Why
haven't you had tea?"

"What is the truth of it all?" said Madame Goesler, standing up with
her fists clenched as they hung by her side.

"I don't seem to know nearly as much as I did when I wrote to you."

"Has the man been--murdered?"

"Oh dear, yes. There's no doubt about that. I was quite sure of that
when I sent the letter. I have had such a hunt. But at last I went up
to the door of the House of Commons, and got Barrington Erle to come
out to me."

"Well?"

"Two men have been arrested."

"Not Phineas Finn?"

"Yes; Mr. Finn is one of them. Is it not awful? So much more dreadful
to me than the other poor man's death! One oughtn't to say so, of
course."

"And who is the other man? Of course he did it."

"That horrid Jew preaching man that married Lizzie Eustace. Mr.
Bonteen had been persecuting him, and making out that he had another
wife at home in Hungary, or Bohemia, or somewhere."

"Of course he did it."

"That's what I say. Of course the Jew did it. But then all the
evidence goes to show that he didn't do it. He was in bed at the
time; and the door of the house was locked up so that he couldn't get
out; and the man who did the murder hadn't got on his coat, but had
got on Phineas Finn's coat."

"Was there--blood?" asked Madame Goesler, shaking from head to foot.

"Not that I know. I don't suppose they've looked yet. But Lord Fawn
saw the man, and swears to the coat."

"Lord Fawn! How I have always hated that man! I wouldn't believe a
word he would say."

"Barrington doesn't think so much of the coat. But Phineas had a club
in his pocket, and the man was killed by a club. There hasn't been
any other club found, but Phineas Finn took his home with him."

"A murderer would not have done that."

"Barrington says that the head policeman says that it is just what a
very clever murderer would do."

"Do you believe it, Duchess?"

"Certainly not;--not though Lord Fawn swore that he had seen it. I
never will believe what I don't like to believe, and nothing shall
ever make me."

"He couldn't have done it."

"Well;--for the matter of that, I suppose he could."

"No, Duchess, he could not have done it."

"He is strong enough,--and brave enough."

"But not enough of a coward. There is nothing cowardly about him.
If Phineas Finn could have struck an enemy with a club, in a dark
passage, behind his back, I will never care to speak to any man
again. Nothing shall make me believe it. If I did, I could never
again believe in any one. If they told you that your husband had
murdered a man, what would you say?"

"But he isn't your husband, Madame Max."

"No;--certainly not. I cannot fly at them, when they say so, as you
would do. But I can be just as sure. If twenty Lord Fawns swore that
they had seen it, I would not believe them. Oh, God, what will they
do with him!"

The Duchess behaved very well to her friend, saying not a single word
to twit her with the love which she betrayed. She seemed to take
it as a matter of course that Madame Goesler's interest in Phineas
Finn should be as it was. The Duke, she said, could not come home
to dinner, and Madame Goesler should stay with her. Both Houses
were in such a ferment about the murder, that nobody liked to be
away. Everybody had been struck with amazement, not simply,--not
chiefly,--by the fact of the murder, but by the double destruction of
the two men whose ill-will to each other had been of late so often
the subject of conversation. So Madame Goesler remained at Carlton
Terrace till late in the evening, and during the whole visit there
was nothing mentioned but the murder of Mr. Bonteen and the peril of
Phineas Finn. "Some one will go and see him, I suppose," said Madame
Goesler.

"Lord Cantrip has been already,--and Mr. Monk."

"Could not I go?"

"Well, it would be rather strong."

"If we both went together?" suggested Madame Goesler. And before she
left Carlton Terrace she had almost extracted a promise from the
Duchess that they would together proceed to the prison and endeavour
to see Phineas Finn.



CHAPTER XLIX

Showing What Mrs. Bunce Said to the Policeman


"We have left Adelaide Palliser down at the Hall. We are up here
only for a couple of days to see Laura, and try to find out what had
better be done about Kennedy." This was said to Phineas Finn in his
own room in Great Marlborough Street by Lord Chiltern, on the morning
after the murder, between ten and eleven o'clock. Phineas had not
as yet heard of the death of the man with whom he had quarrelled.
Lord Chiltern had now come to him with some proposition which he as
yet did not understand, and which Lord Chiltern certainly did not
know how to explain. Looked at simply, the proposition was one for
providing Phineas Finn with an income out of the wealth belonging,
or that would belong, to the Standish family. Lady Laura's fortune
would, it was thought, soon be at her own disposal. They who acted
for her husband had assured the Earl that the yearly interest of the
money should be at her ladyship's command as soon as the law would
allow them so to plan it. Of Robert Kennedy's inability to act for
himself there was no longer any doubt whatever, and there was, they
said, no desire to embarrass the estate with so small a disputed
matter as the income derived from £40,000. There was great pride
of purse in the manner in which the information was conveyed;--but
not the less on that account was it satisfactory to the Earl. Lady
Laura's first thought about it referred to the imminent wants of
Phineas Finn. How might it be possible for her to place a portion of
her income at the command of the man she loved so that he should not
feel disgraced by receiving it from her hand? She conceived some plan
as to a loan to be made nominally by her brother,--a plan as to which
it may at once be said that it could not be made to hold water for a
minute. But she did succeed in inducing her brother to undertake the
embassy, with the view of explaining to Phineas that there would be
money for him when he wanted it. "If I make it over to Papa, Papa can
leave it him in his will; and if he wants it at once there can be no
harm in your advancing to him what he must have at Papa's death."
Her brother had frowned angrily and had shaken his head. "Think how
he has been thrown over by all the party," said Lady Laura. Lord
Chiltern had disliked the whole affair,--had felt with dismay that
his sister's name would become subject to reproach if it should be
known that this young man was supported by her bounty. She, however,
had persisted, and he had consented to see the young man, feeling
sure that Phineas would refuse to bear the burden of the obligation.

But he had not touched the disagreeable subject when they were
interrupted. A knocking of the door had been heard, and now Mrs.
Bunce came upstairs, bringing Mr. Low with her. Mrs. Bunce had
not heard of the tragedy, but she had at once perceived from the
barrister's manner that there was some serious matter forward,--some
matter that was probably not only serious, but also calamitous. The
expression of her countenance announced as much to the two men, and
the countenance of Mr. Low when he followed her into the room told
the same story still more plainly. "Is anything the matter?" said
Phineas, jumping up.

"Indeed, yes," said Mr. Low, who then looked at Lord Chiltern and was
silent.

"Shall I go?" said Lord Chiltern. Mr. Low did not know him, and of
course was still silent.

"This is my friend, Mr. Low. This is my friend, Lord Chiltern," said
Phineas, aware that each was well acquainted with the other's name.
"I do not know of any reason why you should go. What is it, Low?"

Lord Chiltern had come there about money, and it occurred to him
that the impecunious young barrister might already be in some scrape
on that head. In nineteen cases out of twenty, when a man is in a
scrape, he simply wants money. "Perhaps I can be of help," he said.

"Have you heard, my Lord, what happened last night?" said Mr. Low,
with his eyes fixed on Phineas Finn.

"I have heard nothing," said Lord Chiltern.

"What has happened?" asked Phineas, looking aghast. He knew Mr. Low
well enough to be sure that the thing referred to was of great and
distressing moment.

"You, too, have heard nothing?"

"Not a word--that I know of."

"You were at The Universe last night?"

"Certainly I was."

"Did anything occur?"

"The Prince was there."

"Nothing has happened to the Prince?" said Chiltern.

"His name has not been mentioned to me," said Mr. Low. "Was there not
a quarrel?"

"Yes;"--said Phineas. "I quarrelled with Mr. Bonteen."

"What then?"

"He behaved like a brute;--as he always does. Thrashing a brute
hardly answers nowadays, but if ever a man deserved a thrashing he
does."

"He has been murdered," said Mr. Low.

The reader need hardly be told that, as regards this great offence,
Phineas Finn was as white as snow. The maintenance of any doubt on
that matter,--were it even desirable to maintain a doubt,--would be
altogether beyond the power of the present writer. The reader has
probably perceived, from the first moment of the discovery of the
body on the steps at the end of the passage, that Mr. Bonteen had
been killed by that ingenious gentleman, the Rev. Mr. Emilius, who
found it to be worth his while to take the step with the view of
suppressing his enemy's evidence as to his former marriage. But Mr.
Low, when he entered the room, had been inclined to think that his
friend had done the deed. Laurence Fitzgibbon, who had been one of
the first to hear the story, and who had summoned Erle to go with him
and Major Mackintosh to Downing Street, had, in the first place, gone
to the house in Carey Street, in which Bunce was wont to work, and
had sent him to Mr. Low. He, Fitzgibbon, had not thought it safe that
he himself should warn his countryman, but he could not bear to think
that the hare should be knocked over on its form, or that his friend
should be taken by policemen without notice. So he had sent Bunce to
Mr. Low, and Mr. Low had now come with his tidings.

"Murdered!" exclaimed Phineas.

"Who has murdered him?" said Lord Chiltern, looking first at Mr. Low
and then at Phineas.

"That is what the police are now endeavouring to find out." Then
there was a pause, and Phineas stood up with his hand on his
forehead, looking savagely from one to the other. A glimmer of an
idea of the truth was beginning to cross his brain. Mr. Low was there
with the object of asking him whether he had murdered the man! "Mr.
Fitzgibbon was with you last night," continued Mr. Low.

"Of course he was."

"It was he who has sent me to you."

"What does it all mean?" asked Lord Chiltern. "I suppose they do not
intend to say that--our friend, here--murdered the man."

"I begin to suppose that is what they intend to say," rejoined
Phineas, scornfully.

Mr. Low had entered the room, doubting indeed, but still inclined
to believe,--as Bunce had very clearly believed,--that the hands of
Phineas Finn were red with the blood of this man who had been killed.
And, had he been questioned on such a matter, when no special case
was before his mind, he would have declared of himself that a few
tones from the voice, or a few glances from the eye, of a suspected
man would certainly not suffice to eradicate suspicion. But now he
was quite sure,--almost quite sure,--that Phineas was as innocent as
himself. To Lord Chiltern, who had heard none of the details, the
suspicion was so monstrous as to fill him with wrath. "You don't mean
to tell us, Mr. Low, that any one says that Finn killed the man?"

"I have come as his friend," said Low, "to put him on his guard. The
accusation will be made against him."

To Phineas, not clearly looking at it, not knowing very accurately
what had happened, not being in truth quite sure that Mr. Bonteen was
actually dead, this seemed to be a continuation of the persecution
which he believed himself to have suffered from that man's hand. "I
can believe anything from that quarter," he said.

"From what quarter?" asked Lord Chiltern. "We had better let Mr. Low
tell us what really has happened."

Then Mr. Low told the story, as well as he knew it, describing the
spot on which the body had been found. "Often as I go to the club,"
said Phineas, "I never was through that passage in my life." Mr. Low
went on with his tale, telling how the man had been killed with some
short bludgeon. "I had that in my pocket," said Finn, producing the
life-preserver. "I have almost always had something of the kind when
I have been in London, since that affair of Kennedy's." Mr. Low cast
one glance at it,--to see whether it had been washed or scraped, or
in any way cleansed. Phineas saw the glance, and was angry. "There it
is, as it is. You can make the most of it. I shall not touch it again
till the policeman comes. Don't put your hand on it, Chiltern. Leave
it there." And the instrument was left lying on the table, untouched.
Mr. Low went on with his story. He had heard nothing of Yosef Mealyus
as connected with the murder, but some indistinct reference to Lord
Fawn and the top-coat had been made to him. "There is the coat, too,"
said Phineas, taking it from the sofa on which he had flung it when
he came home the previous night. It was a very light coat,--fitted
for May use,--lined with silk, and by no means suited for enveloping
the face or person. But it had a collar which might be made to stand
up. "That at any rate was the coat I wore," said Finn, in answer to
some observation from the barrister. "The man that Lord Fawn saw,"
said Mr. Low, "was, as I understand, enveloped in a heavy great
coat." "So Fawn has got his finger in the pie!" said Lord Chiltern.

Mr. Low had been there an hour, Lord Chiltern remaining also in
the room, when there came three men belonging to the police,--a
superintendent and with him two constables. When the men were shown
up into the room neither the bludgeon or the coat had been moved
from the small table as Phineas had himself placed them there. Both
Phineas and Chiltern had lit cigars, and they were all there sitting
in silence. Phineas had entertained the idea that Mr. Low believed
the charge, and that the barrister was therefore an enemy. Mr. Low
had perceived this, but had not felt it to be his duty to declare his
opinion of his friend's innocence. What he could do for his friend
he would do; but, as he thought, he could serve him better now by
silent observation than by protestation. Lord Chiltern, who had
been implored by Phineas not to leave him, continued to pour forth
unabating execrations on the monstrous malignity of the accusers. "I
do not know that there are any accusers," said Mr. Low, "except the
circumstances which the police must, of course, investigate." Then
the men came, and the nature of their duty was soon explained. They
must request Mr. Finn to go with them to Bow Street. They took
possession of many articles besides the two which had been prepared
for them,--the dress coat and shirt which Phineas had worn, and the
boots. He had gone out to dinner with a Gibus hat, and they took
that. They took his umbrella and his latch-key. They asked, even, as
to his purse and money;--but abstained from taking the purse when
Mr. Low suggested that they could have no concern with that. As it
happened, Phineas was at the moment wearing the shirt in which he
had dined out on the previous day, and the men asked him whether
he had any objection to change it in their presence,--as it might
be necessary, after the examination, that it should be detained
as evidence. He did so, in the presence of all the men assembled;
but the humiliation of doing it almost broke his heart. Then they
searched among his linen, clean and dirty, and asked questions of
Mrs. Bunce in audible whispers behind the door. Whatever Mrs. Bunce
could do to injure the cause of her favourite lodger by severity
of manner, snubbing the policeman, and determination to give no
information, she did do. "Had a shirt washed? How do you suppose a
gentleman's shirts are washed? You were brought up near enough to
a washtub yourself to know more than I can tell you!" But the very
respectable constable did not seem to be in the least annoyed by the
landlady's amenities.

He was taken to Bow Street, going thither in a cab with the two
policemen, and the superintendent followed them with Lord Chiltern
and Mr. Low. "You don't mean to say that you believe it?" said Lord
Chiltern to the officer. "We never believe and we never disbelieve
anything, my Lord," replied the man. Nevertheless, the superintendent
did most firmly believe that Phineas Finn had murdered Mr. Bonteen.

At the police-office Phineas was met by Lord Cantrip and Barrington
Erle, and soon became aware that both Lord Fawn and Fitzgibbon were
present. It seemed that everything else was made to give way to this
inquiry, as he was at once confronted by the magistrate. Everybody
was personally very civil to him, and he was asked whether he would
not wish to have professional advice while the charge was being made
against him. But this he declined. He would tell the magistrate,
he said, all he knew, but, at any rate for the present, he would
have no need of advice. He was, at last, allowed to tell his own
story,--after repeated cautions. There had been some words between
him and Mr. Bonteen in the club; after which, standing at the door of
the club with his friends, Mr. Erle and Mr. Fitzgibbon, who were now
in court, he had seen Mr. Bonteen walk away towards Berkeley Square.
He had soon followed, but had never overtaken Mr. Bonteen. When
reaching the Square he had crossed over to the fountain standing
there on the south side, and from thence had taken the shortest way
up Bruton Street. He had seen Mr. Bonteen for the last time dimly,
by the gaslight, at the corner of the Square. As far as he could
remember, he himself had at the moment passed the fountain. He had
not heard the sound of any struggle, or of words, round the corner
towards Piccadilly. By the time that Mr. Bonteen would have reached
the head of the steps leading into the passage, he would have been
near Bruton Street, with his back completely turned to the scene of
the murder. He had walked faster than Mr. Bonteen, having gradually
drawn near to him; but he had determined in his own mind that he
would not pass the man, or get so near him as to attract attention.
Nor had he done so. He had certainly worn the grey coat which was
now produced. The collar of it had not been turned up. The coat was
nearly new, and to the best of his belief the collar had never been
turned up. He had carried the life-preserver now produced with him
because it had once before been necessary for him to attack garotters
in the street. The life-preserver had never been used, and, as it
happened, was quite new. It had been bought about a month since,--in
consequence of some commotion about garotters which had just then
taken place. But before the purchase of the life-preserver he had
been accustomed to carry some stick or bludgeon at night. Undoubtedly
he had quarrelled with Mr. Bonteen before this occasion, and had
bought this instrument since the commencement of the quarrel. He had
not seen any one on his way from the Square to his own house with
sufficient observation to enable him to describe such person. He
could not remember that he had passed a policeman on his way home.

This took place after the hearing of such evidence as was then given.
The statements made both by Erle and Fitzgibbon as to what had taken
place in the club, and afterwards at the door, tallied exactly with
that afterwards given by Phineas. An accurate measurement of the
streets and ways concerned was already furnished. Taking the duration
of time as surmised by Erle and Fitzgibbon to have passed after they
had turned their back upon Phineas, a constable proved that the
prisoner would have had time to hurry back to the corner of the
street he had passed, and to be in the place where Lord Fawn saw the
man,--supposing that Lord Fawn had walked at the rate of three miles
an hour, and that Phineas had walked or run at twice that pace. Lord
Fawn stated that he was walking very slow,--less he thought than
three miles an hour, and that the man was hurrying very fast,--not
absolutely running, but going as he thought at quite double his own
pace. The two coats were shown to his lordship. Finn knew nothing
of the other coat,--which had, in truth, been taken from the Rev.
Mr. Emilius,--a rough, thick, brown coat, which had belonged to the
preacher for the last two years. Finn's coat was grey in colour. Lord
Fawn looked at the coats very attentively, and then said that the man
he had seen had certainly not worn the brown coat. The night had been
dark, but still he was sure that the coat had been grey. The collar
had certainly been turned up. Then a tailor was produced who gave it
as his opinion that Finn's coat had been lately worn with the collar
raised.

It was considered that the evidence given was sufficient to make a
remand imperative, and Phineas Finn was committed to Newgate. He was
assured that every attention should be paid to his comfort, and was
treated with great consideration. Lord Cantrip, who still believed in
him, discussed the subject both with the magistrate and with Major
Mackintosh. Of course the strictest search would be made for a second
life-preserver, or any such weapon as might have been used. Search
had already been made, and no such weapon had been as yet found.
Emilius had never been seen with any such weapon. No one about Curzon
Street or Mayfair could be found who had seen the man with the quick
step and raised collar, who doubtless had been the murderer, except
Lord Fawn,--so that no evidence was forthcoming tending to show that
Phineas Finn could not have been that man. The evidence adduced
to prove that Mr. Emilius,--or Mealyus, as he was henceforth
called,--could not have been on the spot was so very strong, that the
magistrate told the constables that that man must be released on the
next examination unless something could be adduced against him.

The magistrate, with the profoundest regret, was unable to agree with
Lord Cantrip in his opinion that the evidence adduced was not
sufficient to demand the temporary committal of Mr. Finn.



CHAPTER L

What the Lords and Commons Said about the Murder


When the House met on that Thursday at four o'clock everybody was
talking about the murder, and certainly four-fifths of the members
had made up their minds that Phineas Finn was the murderer. To have
known a murdered man is something, but to have been intimate with
a murderer is certainly much more. There were many there who were
really sorry for poor Bonteen,--of whom without a doubt the end had
come in a very horrible manner; and there were more there who were
personally fond of Phineas Finn,--to whom the future of the young
member was very sad, and the fact that he should have become a
murderer very awful. But, nevertheless, the occasion was not without
its consolations. The business of the House is not always exciting,
or even interesting. On this afternoon there was not a member who
did not feel that something had occurred which added an interest to
Parliamentary life.

Very soon after prayers Mr. Gresham entered the House, and men who
had hitherto been behaving themselves after a most unparliamentary
fashion, standing about in knots, talking by no means in whispers,
moving in and out of the House rapidly, all crowded into their
places. Whatever pretence of business had been going on was stopped
in a moment, and Mr. Gresham rose to make his statement. "It was with
the deepest regret,--nay, with the most profound sorrow,--that he was
called upon to inform the House that his right honourable friend and
colleague, Mr. Bonteen, had been basely and cruelly murdered during
the past night." It was odd then to see how the name of the man, who,
while he was alive and a member of that House, could not have been
pronounced in that assembly without disorder, struck the members
almost with dismay. "Yes, his friend Mr. Bonteen, who had so lately
filled the office of President of the Board of Trade, and whose
loss the country and that House could so ill bear, had been beaten
to death in one of the streets of the metropolis by the arm of a
dastardly ruffian during the silent watches of the night." Then Mr.
Gresham paused, and every one expected that some further statement
would be made. "He did not know that he had any further communication
to make on the subject. Some little time must elapse before he could
fill the office. As for adequately supplying the loss, that would
be impossible. Mr. Bonteen's services to the country, especially in
reference to decimal coinage, were too well known to the House to
allow of his holding out any such hope." Then he sat down without
having as yet made an allusion to Phineas Finn.

But the allusion was soon made. Mr. Daubeny rose, and with much
graceful and mysterious circumlocution asked the Prime Minister
whether it was true that a member of the House had been arrested, and
was now in confinement on the charge of having been concerned in the
murder of the late much-lamented President of the Board of Trade.
He--Mr. Daubeny--had been given to understand that such a charge had
been made against an honourable member of that House, who had once
been a colleague of Mr. Bonteen's, and who had always supported the
right honourable gentleman opposite. Then Mr. Gresham rose again.
"He regretted to say that the honourable member for Tankerville was
in custody on that charge. The House would of course understand that
he only made that statement as a fact, and that he was offering no
opinion as to who was the perpetrator of the murder. The case seemed
to be shrouded in great mystery. The two gentlemen had unfortunately
differed, but he did not at all think that the House would on that
account be disposed to attribute guilt so black and damning to a
gentleman they had all known so well as the honourable member for
Tankerville." So much and no more was spoken publicly, to the
reporters; but members continued to talk about the affair the whole
evening.

There was nothing, perhaps, more astonishing than the absence of
rancour or abhorrence with which the name of Phineas was mentioned,
even by those who felt most certain of his guilt. All those who had
been present at the club acknowledged that Bonteen had been the
sinner in reference to the transaction there; and it was acknowledged
to have been almost a public misfortune that such a man as Bonteen
should have been able to prevail against such a one as Phineas Finn
in regard to the presence of the latter in the Government. Stories
which were exaggerated, accounts worse even than the truth, were
bandied about as to the perseverance with which the murdered man
had destroyed the prospects of the supposed murderer, and robbed
the country of the services of a good workman. Mr. Gresham, in the
official statement which he had made, had, as a matter of course,
said many fine things about Mr. Bonteen. A man can always have fine
things said about him for a few hours after his death. But in the
small private conferences which were held the fine things said all
referred to Phineas Finn. Mr. Gresham had spoken of a "dastardly
ruffian in the silent watches," but one would have almost thought
from overhearing what was said by various gentlemen in different
parts of the House that upon the whole Phineas Finn was thought to
have done rather a good thing in putting poor Mr. Bonteen out of the
way.

And another pleasant feature of excitement was added by the prevalent
idea that the Prince had seen and heard the row. Those who had been
at the club at the time of course knew that this was not the case;
but the presence of the Prince at The Universe between the row and
the murder had really been a fact, and therefore it was only natural
that men should allow themselves the delight of mixing the Prince
with the whole concern. In remote circles the Prince was undoubtedly
supposed to have had a great deal to do with the matter, though
whether as abettor of the murdered or of the murderer was never
plainly declared. A great deal was said about the Prince that evening
in the House, so that many members were able to enjoy themselves
thoroughly.

"What a godsend for Gresham," said one gentleman to Mr. Ratler very
shortly after the strong eulogium which had been uttered on poor Mr.
Bonteen by the Prime Minister.

"Well,--yes; I was afraid that the poor fellow would never have got
on with us."

"Got on! He'd have been a thorn in Gresham's side as long as he
held office. If Finn should be acquitted, you ought to do something
handsome for him." Whereupon Mr. Ratler laughed heartily.

"It will pretty nearly break them up," said Sir Orlando Drought, one
of Mr. Daubeny's late Secretaries of State to Mr. Roby, Mr. Daubeny's
late patronage secretary.

"I don't quite see that. They'll be able to drop their decimal
coinage with a good excuse, and that will be a great comfort. They
are talking of getting Monk to go back to the Board of Trade."

"Will that strengthen them?"

"Bonteen would have weakened them. The man had got beyond himself,
and lost his head. They are better without him."

"I suppose Finn did it?" asked Sir Orlando.

"Not a doubt about it, I'm told. The queer thing is that he should
have declared his purpose beforehand to Erle. Gresham says that
all that must have been part of his plan,--so as to make men think
afterwards that he couldn't have done it. Grogram's idea is that he
had planned the murder before he went to the club."

"Will the Prince have to give evidence?"

"No, no," said Mr. Roby. "That's all wrong. The Prince had left the
club before the row commenced. Confucius Putt says that the Prince
didn't hear a word of it. He was talking to the Prince all the time."
Confucius Putt was the distinguished artist with whom the Prince had
shaken hands on leaving the club.

Lord Drummond was in the Peers' Gallery, and Mr. Boffin was talking
to him over the railings. It may be remembered that those two
gentlemen had conscientiously left Mr. Daubeny's Cabinet because they
had been unable to support him in his views about the Church. After
such sacrifice on their parts their minds were of course intent on
Church matters. "There doesn't seem to be a doubt about it," said Mr.
Boffin.

"Cantrip won't believe it," said the peer.

"He was at the Colonies with Cantrip, and Cantrip found him very
agreeable. Everybody says that he was one of the pleasantest fellows
going. This makes it out of the question that they should bring in
any Church bill this Session."

"Do you think so?"

"Oh yes;--certainly. There will be nothing else thought of now till
the trial."

"So much the better," said his Lordship. "It's an ill wind that blows
no one any good. Will they have evidence for a conviction?"

"Oh dear yes; not a doubt about it. Fawn can swear to him," said Mr.
Boffin.

Barrington Erle was telling his story for the tenth time when he was
summoned out of the Library to the Duchess of Omnium, who had made
her way up into the lobby. "Oh, Mr. Erle, do tell me what you really
think," said the Duchess.

"That is just what I can't do."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't know what to think."

"He can't have done it, Mr. Erle."

"That's just what I say to myself, Duchess."

"But they do say that the evidence is so very strong against him."

"Very strong."

"I wish we could get that Lord Fawn out of the way."

"Ah;--but we can't."

"And will they--hang him?"

"If they convict him, they will."

"A man we all knew so well! And just when we had made up our minds to
do everything for him. Do you know I'm not a bit surprised. I've felt
before now as though I should like to have done it myself."

"He could be very nasty, Duchess!"

"I did so hate that man. But I'd give,--oh, I don't know what I'd
give to bring him to life again this minute. What will Lady Laura
do?" In answer to this, Barrington Erle only shrugged his shoulders.
Lady Laura was his cousin. "We mustn't give him up, you know, Mr.
Erle."

"What can we do?"

"Surely we can do something. Can't we get it in the papers that he
must be innocent,--so that everybody should be made to think so? And
if we could get hold of the lawyers, and make them not want to--to
destroy him! There's nothing I wouldn't do. There's no getting hold
of a judge, I know."

"No, Duchess. The judges are stone."

"Not that they are a bit better than anybody else,--only they like to
be safe."

"They do like to be safe."

"I'm sure we could do it if we put our shoulders to the wheel. I
don't believe, you know, for a moment that he murdered him. It was
done by Lizzie Eustace's Jew."

"It will be sifted, of course."

"But what's the use of sifting if Mr. Finn is to be hung while it's
being done? I don't think anything of the police. Do you remember how
they bungled about that woman's necklace? I don't mean to give him
up, Mr. Erle; and I expect you to help me." Then the Duchess returned
home, and, as we know, found Madame Goesler at her house.

Nothing whatever was done that night, either in the Lords or Commons.
A "statement" about Mr. Bonteen was made in the Upper as well as
in the Lower House, and after that statement any real work was out
of the question. Had Mr. Bonteen absolutely been Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and in the Cabinet when he was murdered, and had Phineas
Finn been once more an Under-Secretary of State, the commotion
and excitement could hardly have been greater. Even the Duke of
St. Bungay had visited the spot,--well known to him, as there the
urban domains meet of two great Whig peers, with whom and whose
predecessors he had long been familiar. He also had known Phineas
Finn, and not long since had said civil words to him and of him. He,
too, had, of late days, especially disliked Mr. Bonteen, and had
almost insisted that the man now murdered should not be admitted into
the Cabinet. He had heard what was the nature of the evidence;--had
heard of the quarrel, the life-preserver, and the grey coat. "I
suppose he must have done it," said the Duke of St. Bungay to himself
as he walked away up Hay Hill.



CHAPTER LI

"You think it shameful"


The tidings of what had taken place first reached Lady Laura Kennedy
from her brother on his return to Portman Square after the scene in
the police court. The object of his visit to Finn's lodgings has been
explained, but the nature of Lady Laura's vehemence in urging upon
her brother the performance of a very disagreeable task has not been
sufficiently described. No brother would willingly go on such a
mission from a married sister to a man who had been publicly named
as that sister's lover;--and no brother could be less likely to do
so than Lord Chiltern. But Lady Laura had been very stout in her
arguments, and very strong-willed in her purpose. The income arising
from this money,--which had been absolutely her own,--would again be
exclusively her own should the claim to it on behalf of her husband's
estate be abandoned. Surely she might do what she liked with her own.
If her brother would not assist her in making this arrangement, it
must be done by other means. She was quite willing that it should
appear to come to Mr. Finn from her father and not from herself. Did
her brother think any ill of her? Did he believe in the calumnies of
the newspapers? Did he or his wife for a moment conceive that she
had a lover? When he looked at her, worn out, withered, an old woman
before her time, was it possible that he should so believe? She
herself asked him these questions. Lord Chiltern of course declared
that he had no suspicion of the kind, "No;--indeed," said Lady Laura.
"I defy any one to suspect me who knows me. And if so, why am not I
as much entitled to help a friend as you might be? You need not even
mention my name." He endeavoured to make her understand that her
name would be mentioned, and others would believe and would say evil
things. "They cannot say worse than they have said," she continued.
"And yet what harm have they done to me,--or you?" Then he demanded
why she desired to go so far out of her way with the view of spending
her money upon one who was in no way connected with her. "Because
I like him better than any one else," she answered, boldly. "There
is very little left for which I care at all;--but I do care for his
prosperity. He was once in love with me and told me so,--but I had
chosen to give my hand to Mr. Kennedy. He is not in love with me
now,--nor I with him; but I choose to regard him as my friend." He
assured her over and over again that Phineas Finn would certainly
refuse to touch her money;--but this she declined to believe. At any
rate the trial might be made. He would not refuse money left to him
by will, and why should he not now enjoy that which was intended for
him? Then she explained how certain it was that he must speedily
vanish out of the world altogether, unless some assurance of an
income were made to him. So Lord Chiltern went on his mission, hardly
meaning to make the offer, and confident that it would be refused
if made. We know the nature of the new trouble in which he found
Phineas Finn enveloped. It was such that Lord Chiltern did not open
his mouth about money, and now, having witnessed the scene at the
police-office, he had come back to tell his tale to his sister. She
was sitting with his wife when he entered the room.

"Have you heard anything?" he asked at once.

"Heard what?" said his wife.

"Then you have not heard it. A man has been murdered."

"What man?" said Lady Laura, jumping suddenly from her seat. "Not
Robert!" Lord Chiltern shook his head. "You do not mean that Mr. Finn
has been--killed!". Again he shook his head; and then she sat down as
though the asking of the two questions had exhausted her.

"Speak, Oswald," said his wife. "Why do you not tell us? Is it one
whom we knew?"

"I think that Laura used to know him. Mr. Bonteen was murdered last
night in the streets."

"Mr. Bonteen! The man who was Mr. Finn's enemy," said Lady Chiltern.

"Mr. Bonteen!" said Lady Laura, as though the murder of twenty Mr.
Bonteens were nothing to her.

"Yes;--the man whom you talk of as Finn's enemy. It would be better
if there were no such talk."

"And who killed him?" said Lady Laura, again getting up and coming
close to her brother.

"Who was it, Oswald?" asked his wife; and she also was now too deeply
interested to keep her seat.

"They have arrested two men," said Lord Chiltern;--"that Jew who
married Lady Eustace, and--" But there he paused. He had determined
beforehand that he would tell his sister the double arrest that the
doubt this implied might lessen the weight of the blow; but now he
found it almost impossible to mention the name.

"Who is the other, Oswald?" said his wife.

"Not Phineas," screamed Lady Laura.

"Yes, indeed; they have arrested him, and I have just come from
the court." He had no time to go on, for his sister was crouching
prostrate on the floor before him. She had not fainted. Women do
not faint under such shocks. But in her agony she had crouched down
rather than fallen, as though it were vain to attempt to stand
upright with so crushing a weight of sorrow on her back. She uttered
one loud shriek, and then covering her face with her hands burst out
into a wail of sobs. Lady Chiltern and her brother both tried to
raise her, but she would not be lifted. "Why will you not hear me
through, Laura?" said he.

"You do not think he did it?" said his wife.

"I'm sure he did not," replied Lord Chiltern.

The poor woman, half-lying, half-seated, on the floor, still hiding
her face with her hands, still bursting with half suppressed sobs,
heard and understood both the question and the answer. But the fact
was not altered to her,--nor the condition of the man she loved.
She had not yet begun to think whether it were possible that he
should have been guilty of such a crime. She had heard none of the
circumstances, and knew nothing of the manner of the man's death. It
might be that Phineas had killed the man, bringing himself within the
reach of the law, and that yet he should have done nothing to merit
her reproaches;--hardly even her reprobation! Hitherto she felt only
the sorrow, the annihilation of the blow;--but not the shame with
which it would overwhelm the man for whom she so much coveted the
good opinion of the world.

"You hear what he says, Laura."

"They are determined to destroy him," she sobbed out, through her
tears.

"They are not determined to destroy him at all," said Lord Chiltern.
"It will have to go by evidence. You had better sit up and let me
tell you all. I will tell you nothing till you are seated again. You
disgrace yourself by sprawling there."

"Do not be hard to her, Oswald."

"I am disgraced," said Lady Laura, slowly rising and placing herself
again on the sofa. "If there is anything more to tell, you can tell
it. I do not care what happens to me now, or who knows it. They
cannot make my life worse than it is."

Then he told all the story,--of the quarrel, and the position of the
streets, of the coat, and the bludgeon, and the three blows, each on
the head, by which the man had been killed. And he told them also how
the Jew was said never to have been out of his bed, and how the Jew's
coat was not the coat Lord Fawn had seen, and how no stain of blood
had been found about the raiment of either of the men. "It was the
Jew who did it, Oswald, surely," said Lady Chiltern.

"It was not Phineas Finn who did it," he replied.

"And they will let him go again?"

"They will let him go when they find out the truth, I suppose. But
those fellows blunder so, I would never trust them. He will get some
sharp lawyer to look into it; and then perhaps everything will come
out. I shall go and see him to-morrow. But there is nothing further
to be done."

"And I must see him," said Lady Laura slowly.

Lady Chiltern looked at her husband, and his face became redder than
usual with an angry flush. When his sister had pressed him to take
her message about the money, he had assured her that he suspected her
of no evil. Nor had he ever thought evil of her. Since her marriage
with Mr. Kennedy, he had seen but little of her or of her ways of
life. When she had separated herself from her husband he had approved
of the separation, and had even offered to assist her should she
be in difficulty. While she had been living a sad lonely life at
Dresden, he had simply pitied her, declaring to himself and his wife
that her lot in life had been very hard. When these calumnies about
her and Phineas Finn had reached his ears,--or his eyes,--as such
calumnies always will reach the ears and eyes of those whom they are
most capable of hurting, he had simply felt a desire to crush some
Quintus Slide, or the like, into powder for the offence. He had
received Phineas in his own house with all his old friendship. He had
even this morning been with the accused man as almost his closest
friend. But, nevertheless, there was creeping into his heart a sense
of the shame with which he would be afflicted, should the world
really be taught to believe that the man had been his sister's lover.
Lady Laura's distress on the present occasion was such as a wife
might show, or a girl weeping for her lover, or a mother for her son,
or a sister for a brother; but was extravagant and exaggerated in
regard to such friendship as might be presumed to exist between the
wife of Mr. Robert Kennedy and the member for Tankerville. He could
see that his wife felt this as he did, and he thought it necessary to
say something at once, that might force his sister to moderate at any
rate her language, if not her feelings. Two expressions of face were
natural to him; one eloquent of good humour, in which the reader
of countenances would find some promise of coming frolic;--and
the other, replete with anger, sometimes to the extent almost of
savagery. All those who were dependent on him were wont to watch his
face with care and sometimes with fear. When he was angry it would
almost seem that he was about to use personal violence on the object
of his wrath. At the present moment he was rather grieved than
enraged; but there came over his face that look of wrath with which
all who knew him were so well acquainted. "You cannot see him," he
said.

"Why not I, as well as you?"

"If you do not understand, I cannot tell you. But you must not see
him;--and you shall not."

"Who will hinder me?"

"If you put me to it, I will see that you are hindered. What is the
man to you that you should run the risk of evil tongues, for the sake
of visiting him in gaol? You cannot save his life,--though it may be
that you might endanger it."

"Oswald," she said very slowly, "I do not know that I am in any way
under your charge, or bound to submit to your orders."

"You are my sister."

"And I have loved you as a sister. How should it be possible that my
seeing him should endanger his life?"

"It will make people think that the things are true which have been
said."

"And will they hang him because I love him? I do love him. Violet
knows how well I have always loved him." Lord Chiltern turned his
angry face upon his wife. Lady Chiltern put her arm round her
sister-in-law's waist, and whispered some words into her ear. "What
is that to me?" continued the half-frantic woman. "I do love him. I
have always loved him. I shall love him to the end. He is all my life
to me."

"Shame should prevent your telling it," said Lord Chiltern.

"I feel no shame. There is no disgrace in love. I did disgrace
myself when I gave the hand for which he asked to another man,
because,--because--" But she was too noble to tell her brother even
then that at the moment of her life to which she was alluding she had
married the rich man, rejecting the poor man's hand, because she had
given up all her fortune to the payment of her brother's debts. And
he, though he had well known what he had owed to her, and had never
been easy till he had paid the debt, remembered nothing of all this
now. No lending and paying back of money could alter the nature
either of his feelings or his duty in such an emergency as this.
"And, mind you," she continued, turning to her sister-in-law, "there
is no place for the shame of which he is thinking," and she pointed
her finger out at her brother. "I love him,--as a mother might love
her child, I fancy; but he has no love for me; none;--none. When I am
with him, I am only a trouble to him. He comes to me, because he is
good; but he would sooner be with you. He did love me once;--but then
I could not afford to be so loved."

"You can do no good by seeing him," said her brother.

"But I will see him. You need not scowl at me as though you wished
to strike me. I have gone through that which makes me different from
other women, and I care not what they say of me. Violet understands
it all;--but you understand nothing."

"Be calm, Laura," said her sister-in-law, "and Oswald will do all
that can be done."

"But they will hang him."

"Nonsense!" said her brother. "He has not been as yet committed for
his trial. Heaven knows how much has to be done. It is as likely as
not that in three days' time he will be out at large, and all the
world will be running after him just because he has been in Newgate."

"But who will look after him?"

"He has plenty of friends. I will see that he is not left without
everything that he wants."

"But he will want money."

"He has plenty of money for that. Do you take it quietly, and not
make a fool of yourself. If the worst comes to the worst--"

"Oh, heavens!"

"Listen to me, if you can listen. Should the worst come to the worst,
which I believe to be altogether impossible,--mind, I think it next
to impossible, for I have never for a moment believed him to be
guilty,--we will,--visit him,--together. Good-bye now. I am going
to see that friend of his, Mr. Low." So saying Lord Chiltern went,
leaving the two women together.

"Why should he be so savage with me?" said Lady Laura.

"He does not mean to be savage."

"Does he speak to you like that? What right has he to tell me of
shame? Has my life been so bad, and his so good? Do you think it
shameful that I should love this man?" She sat looking into her
friend's face, but her friend for a while hesitated to answer. "You
shall tell me, Violet. We have known each other so well that I can
bear to be told by you. Do not you love him?"

"I love him!--certainly not."

"But you did."

"Not as you mean. Who can define love, and say what it is? There are
so many kinds of love. We say that we love the Queen."

"Psha!"

"And we are to love all our neighbours. But as men and women talk of
love, I never at any moment of my life loved any man but my husband.
Mr. Finn was a great favourite with me,--always."

"Indeed he was."

"As any other man might be,--or any woman. He is so still, and with
all my heart I hope that this may be untrue."

"It is false as the Devil. It must be false. Can you think of the
man,--his sweetness, the gentle nature of him, his open, free speech,
and courage, and believe that he would go behind his enemy and knock
his brains out in the dark? I can conceive it of myself, that I
should do it, much easier than of him."

"Oswald says it is false."

"But he says it as partly believing that it is true. If it be true I
will hang myself. There will be nothing left among men or women fit
to live for. You think it shameful that I should love him."

"I have not said so."

"But you do."

"I think there is cause for shame in your confessing it."

"I do confess it."

"You ask me, and press me, and because we have loved one another so
well I must answer you. If a woman, a married woman,--be oppressed by
such a feeling, she should lay it down at the bottom of her heart,
out of sight, never mentioning it, even to herself."

"You talk of the heart as though we could control it."

"The heart will follow the thoughts, and they may be controlled. I
am not passionate, perhaps, as you are, and I think I can control
my heart. But my fortune has been kind to me, and I have never been
tempted. Laura, do not think I am preaching to you."

"Oh no;--but your husband; think of him, and think of mine! You have
babies."

"May God make me thankful. I have every good thing on earth that God
can give."

"And what have I? To see that man prosper in life, who they tell me
is a murderer; that man who is now in a felon's gaol,--whom they
will hang for ought we know,--to see him go forward and justify
my thoughts of him! that yesterday was all I had. To-day I have
nothing,--except the shame with which you and Oswald say that I have
covered myself."

"Laura, I have never said so."

"I saw it in your eye when he accused me. And I know that it is
shameful. I do know that I am covered with shame. But I can bear my
own disgrace better than his danger." After a long pause,--a silence
of probably some fifteen minutes,--she spoke again. "If Robert should
die,--what would happen then?"

"It would be--a release, I suppose," said Lady Chiltern in a voice so
low, that it was almost a whisper.

"A release indeed;--and I would become that man's wife the next day,
at the foot of the gallows;--if he would have me. But he would not
have me."



CHAPTER LII

Mr. Kennedy's Will


Mr. Kennedy had fired a pistol at Phineas Finn in Macpherson's Hotel
with the manifest intention of blowing out the brains of his presumed
enemy, and no public notice had been taken of the occurrence. Phineas
himself had been only too willing to pass the thing by as a trifling
accident, if he might be allowed to do so, and the Macphersons had
been by far too true to their great friend to think of giving him in
charge to the police. The affair had been talked about, and had come
to the knowledge of reporters and editors. Most of the newspapers had
contained paragraphs giving various accounts of the matter; and one
or two had followed the example of _The People's Banner_ in demanding
that the police should investigate the matter. But the matter had not
been investigated. The police were supposed to know nothing about
it,--as how should they, no one having seen or heard the shot but
they who were determined to be silent? Mr. Quintus Slide had been
indignant all in vain, so far as Mr. Kennedy and his offence had
been concerned. As soon as the pistol had been fired and Phineas
had escaped from the room, the unfortunate man had sunk back in
his chair, conscious of what he had done, knowing that he had
made himself subject to the law, and expecting every minute that
constables would enter the room to seize him. He had seen his enemy's
hat lying on the floor, and, when nobody would come to fetch it, had
thrown it down the stairs. After that he had sat waiting for the
police, with the pistol, still loaded in every barrel but one, lying
by his side,--hardly repenting the attempt, but trembling for the
result,--till Macpherson, the landlord, who had been brought home
from chapel, knocked at his door. There was very little said between
them; and no positive allusion was made to the shot that had been
fired; but Macpherson succeeded in getting the pistol into his
possession,--as to which the unfortunate man put no impediment in his
way, and he managed to have it understood that Mr. Kennedy's cousin
should be summoned on the following morning. "Is anybody else
coming?" Robert Kennedy asked, when the landlord was about to leave
the room. "Naebody as I ken o', yet, laird," said Macpherson, "but
likes they will." Nobody, however, did come, and the "laird" had
spent the evening by himself in very wretched solitude.

On the following day the cousin had come, and to him the whole story
was told. After that, no difficulty was found in taking the miserable
man back to Loughlinter, and there he had been for the last two
months in the custody of his more wretched mother and of his cousin.
No legal steps had been taken to deprive him of the management either
of himself or of his property,--so that he was in truth his own
master. And he exercised his mastery in acts of petty tyranny about
his domain, becoming more and more close-fisted in regard to money,
and desirous, as it appeared, of starving all living things about the
place,--cattle, sheep, and horses, so that the value of their food
might be saved. But every member of the establishment knew that the
laird was "nae just himself", and consequently his orders were not
obeyed. And the laird knew the same of himself, and, though he would
give the orders not only resolutely, but with imperious threats of
penalties to follow disobedience, still he did not seem to expect
compliance. While he was in this state, letters addressed to him came
for a while into his own hands, and thus more than one reached him
from Lord Brentford's lawyer, demanding that restitution should be
made of the interest arising from Lady Laura's fortune. Then he would
fly out into bitter wrath, calling his wife foul names, and swearing
that she should never have a farthing of his money to spend upon her
paramour. Of course it was his money, and his only. All the world
knew that. Had she not left his roof, breaking her marriage vows,
throwing aside every duty, and bringing him down to his present state
of abject misery? Her own fortune! If she wanted the interest of her
wretched money, let her come to Loughlinter and receive it there. In
spite of all her wickedness, her cruelty, her misconduct, which had
brought him,--as he now said,--to the verge of the grave, he would
still give her shelter and room for repentance. He recognised his
vows, though she did not. She should still be his wife, though she
had utterly disgraced both herself and him. She should still be his
wife, though she had so lived as to make it impossible that there
should be any happiness in their household.

It was thus he spoke when first one and then another letter came
from the Earl's lawyer, pointing out to him the injustice to which
Lady Laura was subjected by the loss of her fortune. No doubt these
letters would not have been written in the line assumed had not Mr.
Kennedy proved himself to be unfit to have the custody of his wife
by attempting to shoot the man whom he accused of being his wife's
lover. An act had been done, said the lawyer, which made it quite out
of the question that Lady Laura should return to her husband. To
this, when speaking of the matter to those around him,--which he did
with an energy which seemed to be foreign to his character,--Mr.
Kennedy made no direct allusion; but he swore most positively that
not a shilling should be given up. The fear of policemen coming down
to Loughlinter to take account of that angry shot had passed away;
and, though he knew, with an uncertain knowledge, that he was not in
all respects obeyed as he used to be,--that his orders were disobeyed
by stewards and servants, in spite of his threats of dismissal,--he
still felt that he was sufficiently his own master to defy the Earl's
attorney and to maintain his claim upon his wife's person. Let her
return to him first of all!

But after a while the cousin interfered still further; and Robert
Kennedy, who so short a time since had been a member of the
Government, graced by permission to sit in the Cabinet, was not
allowed to open his own post-bag. He had written a letter to one
person, and then again to another, which had induced those who
received them to return answers to the cousin. To Lord Brentford's
lawyer he had used a few very strong words. Mr. Forster had replied
to the cousin, stating how grieved Lord Brentford would be, how much
grieved would be Lady Laura, to find themselves driven to take steps
in reference to what they conceived to be the unfortunate condition
of Mr. Robert Kennedy; but that such steps must be taken unless some
arrangement could be made which should be at any rate reasonable.
Then Mr. Kennedy's post-bag was taken from him; the letters which
he wrote were not sent;--and he took to his bed. It was during this
condition of affairs that the cousin took upon himself to intimate
to Mr. Forster that the managers of Mr. Kennedy's estate were by
no means anxious of embarrassing their charge by so trumpery an
additional matter as the income derived from Lady Laura's forty
thousand pounds.

But things were in a terrible confusion at Loughlinter. Rents were
paid as heretofore on receipts given by Robert Kennedy's agent; but
the agent could only pay the money to Robert Kennedy's credit at his
bank. Robert Kennedy's cheques would, no doubt, have drawn the money
out again;--but it was almost impossible to induce Robert Kennedy
to sign a cheque. Even in bed he inquired daily about his money,
and knew accurately the sum lying at his banker's; but he could be
persuaded to disgorge nothing. He postponed from day to day the
signing of certain cheques that were brought to him, and alleged very
freely that an attempt was being made to rob him. During all his life
he had been very generous in subscribing to public charities; but now
he stopped all his subscriptions. The cousin had to provide even for
the payment of wages, and things went very badly at Loughlinter. Then
there arose the question whether legal steps should be taken for
placing the management of the estate in other hands, on the ground
of the owner's insanity. But the wretched old mother begged that
this might not be done;--and Dr. Macnuthrie, from Callender, was of
opinion that no steps should be taken at present. Mr. Kennedy was
very ill,--very ill indeed; would take no nourishment, and seemed to
be sinking under the pressure of his misfortunes. Any steps such as
those suggested would probably send their friend out of the world at
once.

In fact Robert Kennedy was dying;--and in the first week of May, when
the beauty of the spring was beginning to show itself on the braes of
Loughlinter, he did die. The old woman, his mother, was seated by his
bedside, and into her ears he murmured his last wailing complaint.
"If she had the fear of God before her eyes, she would come back to
me." "Let us pray that He may soften her heart," said the old lady.
"Eh, mother;--nothing can soften the heart Satan has hardened, till
it be hard as the nether millstone." And in that faith he died
believing, as he had ever believed, that the spirit of evil was
stronger than the spirit of good.

For some time past there had been perturbation in the mind of that
cousin, and of all other Kennedys of that ilk, as to the nature of
the will of the head of the family. It was feared lest he should have
been generous to the wife who was believed by them all to have been
so wicked and treacherous to her husband;--and so it was found to be
when the will was read. During the last few months no one near him
had dared to speak to him of his will, for it had been known that
his condition of mind rendered him unfit to alter it; nor had he
ever alluded to it himself. As a matter of course there had been a
settlement, and it was supposed that Lady Laura's own money would
revert to her; but when it was found that in addition to this the
Loughlinter estate became hers for life, in the event of Mr. Kennedy
dying without a child, there was great consternation among the
Kennedys generally. There were but two or three of them concerned,
and for those there was money enough; but it seemed to them now that
the bad wife, who had utterly refused to acclimatise herself to the
soil to which she had been transplanted, was to be rewarded for her
wicked stubbornness. Lady Laura would become mistress of her own
fortune and of all Loughlinter, and would be once more a free woman,
with all the power that wealth and fashion can give. Alas, alas! it
was too late now for the taking of any steps to sever her from her
rich inheritance! "And the false harlot will come and play havoc
here, in my son's mansion," said the old woman with extremest
bitterness.

The tidings were conveyed to Lady Laura through her lawyer, but did
not reach her in full till some eight or ten days after the news of
her husband's death. The telegram announcing that event had come to
her at her father's house in Portman Square, on the day after that
on which Phineas had been arrested, and the Earl had of course known
that his great longing for the recovery of his wife's fortune had
been now realised. To him there was no sorrow in the news. He had
only known Robert Kennedy as one who had been thoroughly disagreeable
to himself, and who had persecuted his daughter throughout
their married life. There had come no happiness,--not even
prosperity,--through the marriage. His daughter had been forced to
leave the man's house,--and had been forced also to leave her money
behind her. Then she had been driven abroad, fearing persecution, and
had only dared to return when the man's madness became so notorious
as to annul his power of annoying her. Now by his death, a portion
of the injury which he had inflicted on the great family of Standish
would be remedied. The money would come back,--together with the
stipulated jointure,--and there could no longer be any question of
return. The news delighted the old Lord,--and he was almost angry
with his daughter because she also would not confess her delight.

"Oh, Papa, he was my husband."

"Yes, yes, no doubt. I was always against it, you will remember."

"Pray do not talk in that way now, Papa. I know that I was not to him
what I should have been."

"You used to say it was all his fault."

"We will not talk of it now, Papa. He is gone, and I remember his
past goodness to me."

She clothed herself in the deepest of mourning, and made herself a
thing of sorrow by the sacrificial uncouthness of her garments. And
she tried to think of him;--to think of him, and not to think of
Phineas Finn. She remembered with real sorrow the words she had
spoken to her sister-in-law, in which she had declared, while still
the wife of another man, that she would willingly marry Phineas at
the foot even of the gallows if she were free. She was free now; but
she did not repeat her assertion. It was impossible not to think of
Phineas in his present strait, but she abstained from speaking of him
as far as she could, and for the present never alluded to her former
purpose of visiting him in his prison.

From day to day, for the first few days of her widowhood, she heard
what was going on. The evidence against him became stronger and
stronger, whereas the other man, Yosef Mealyus, had been already
liberated. There were still many who felt sure that Mealyus had been
the murderer, among whom were all those who had been ranked among
the staunch friends of our hero. The Chilterns so believed, and Lady
Laura; the Duchess so believed, and Madame Goesler. Mr. Low felt sure
of it, and Mr. Monk and Lord Cantrip; and nobody was more sure than
Mrs. Bunce. There were many who professed that they doubted; men such
as Barrington Erle, Laurence Fitzgibbon, the two Dukes,--though the
younger Duke never expressed such doubt at home,--and Mr. Gresham
himself. Indeed, the feeling of Parliament in general was one of
great doubt. Mr. Daubeny never expressed an opinion one way or the
other, feeling that the fate of two second-class Liberals could
not be matter of concern to him;--but Sir Orlando Drought, and Mr.
Roby, and Mr. Boffin, were as eager as though they had not been
Conservatives, and were full of doubt. Surely, if Phineas Finn were
not the murderer, he had been more ill-used by Fate than had been any
man since Fate first began to be unjust. But there was also a very
strong party by whom no doubt whatever was entertained as to his
guilt,--at the head of which, as in duty bound, was the poor widow,
Mrs. Bonteen. She had no doubt as to the hand by which her husband
had fallen, and clamoured loudly for the vengeance of the law. All
the world, she said, knew how bitter against her husband had been
this wretch, whose villainy had been exposed by her dear, gracious
lord; and now the evidence against him was, to her thinking,
complete. She was supported strongly by Lady Eustace, who, much as
she wished not to be the wife of the Bohemian Jew, thought even that
preferable to being known as the widow of a murderer who had been
hung. Mr. Ratler, with one or two others in the House, was certain
of Finn's guilt. The _People's Banner_, though it prefaced each
one of its daily paragraphs on the subject with a statement as to
the manifest duty of an influential newspaper to abstain from the
expression of any opinion on such a subject till the question had
been decided by a jury, nevertheless from day to day recapitulated
the evidence against the Member for Tankerville, and showed how
strong were the motives which had existed for such a deed. But, among
those who were sure of Finn's guilt, there was no one more sure than
Lord Fawn, who had seen the coat and the height of the man,--and the
step. He declared among his intimate friends that of course he could
not swear to the person. He could not venture, when upon his oath, to
give an opinion. But the man who had passed him at so quick a pace
had been half a foot higher than Mealyus;--of that there could be no
doubt. Nor could there be any doubt as to the grey coat. Of course
there might be other men with grey coats besides Mr. Phineas
Finn,--and other men half a foot taller than Yosef Mealyus. And there
might be other men with that peculiarly energetic step. And the man
who hurried by him might not have been the man who murdered Mr.
Bonteen. Of all that Lord Fawn could say nothing. But what he did
say,--of that he was sure. And all those who knew him were well aware
that in his own mind he was convinced of the guilt of Phineas Finn.
And there was another man equally convinced. Mr. Maule, Senior,
remembered well the manner in which Madame Goesler spoke of Phineas
Finn in reference to the murder, and was quite sure that Phineas was
the murderer.

For a couple of days Lord Chiltern was constantly with the poor
prisoner, but after that he was obliged to return to Harrington
Hall. This he did a day after the news arrived of the death of his
brother-in-law. Both he and Lady Chiltern had promised to return
home, having left Adelaide Palliser alone in the house, and already
they had overstayed their time. "Of course I will remain with you,"
Lady Chiltern had said to her sister-in-law; but the widow had
preferred to be left alone. For these first few days,--when she must
make pretence of sorrow because her husband had died; and had such
real cause for sorrow in the miserable condition of the man she
loved,--she preferred to be alone. Who could sympathise with her now,
or with whom could she speak of her grief? Her father was talking to
her always of her money;--but from him she could endure it. She was
used to him, and could remember when he spoke to her of her forty
thousand pounds, and of her twelve hundred a year of jointure, that
it had not always been with him like that. As yet nothing had been
heard of the will, and the Earl did not in the least anticipate any
further accession of wealth from the estate of the man whom they had
all hated. But his daughter would now be a rich woman; and was yet
young, and there might still be splendour. "I suppose you won't care
to buy land," he said.

"Oh, Papa, do not talk of buying anything yet."

"But, my dear Laura, you must put your money into something. You can
get very nearly 5 per cent. from Indian Stock."

"Not yet, Papa," she said. But he proceeded to explain to her how
very important an affair money is, and that persons who have got
money cannot be excused for not considering what they had better do
with it. No doubt she could get 4 per cent. on her money by buying up
certain existing mortgages on the Saulsby property,--which would no
doubt be very convenient if, hereafter, the money should go to her
brother's child. "Not yet, Papa," she said again, having, however,
already made up her mind that her money should have a different
destination.

She could not interest her father at all in the fate of Phineas Finn.
When the story of the murder had first been told to him, he had been
amazed,--and, no doubt, somewhat gratified, as we all are, at tragic
occurrences which do not concern ourselves. But he could not be made
to tremble for the fate of Phineas Finn. And yet he had known the man
during the last few years most intimately, and had had much in common
with him. He had trusted Phineas in respect to his son, and had
trusted him also in respect to his daughter. Phineas had been his
guest at Dresden; and, on his return to London, had been the first
friend he had seen, with the exception of his lawyer. And yet he
could hardly be induced to express the slightest interest as to
the fate of this friend who was to be tried for murder. "Oh;--he's
committed, is he? I think I remember that Protheroe once told me
that, in thirty-nine cases out of forty, men committed for serious
offences have been guilty of them." The Protheroe here spoken of as
an authority in criminal matters was at present Lord Weazeling, the
Lord Chancellor.

"But Mr. Finn has not been guilty, Papa."

"There is always the one chance out of forty. But, as I was saying,
if you like to take up the Saulsby mortgages, Mr. Forster can't be
told too soon."

"Papa, I shall do nothing of the kind," said Lady Laura. And then she
rose and walked out of the room.

At the end of ten days from the death of Mr. Kennedy, there came the
tidings of the will. Lady Laura had written to Mrs. Kennedy a letter
which had taken her much time in composition, expressing her deep
sorrow, and condoling with the old woman. And the old woman had
answered. "Madam, I am too old now to express either grief or anger.
My dear son's death, caused by domestic wrong, has robbed me of any
remaining comfort which the undeserved sorrows of his latter years
had not already dispelled. Your obedient servant, Sarah Kennedy."
From which it may be inferred that she had also taken considerable
trouble in the composition of her letter. Other communications
between Loughlinter and Portman Square there were none, but there
came through the lawyers a statement of Mr. Kennedy's will, as far as
the interests of Lady Laura were concerned. This reached Mr. Forster
first, and he brought it personally to Portman Square. He asked for
Lady Laura, and saw her alone. "He has bequeathed to you the use of
Loughlinter for your life, Lady Laura."

"To me!"

"Yes, Lady Laura. The will is dated in the first year of his
marriage, and has not been altered since."

"What can I do with Loughlinter? I will give it back to them." Then
Mr. Forster explained that the legacy referred not only to the house
and immediate grounds,--but to the whole estate known as the domain
of Loughlinter. There could be no reason why she should give it up,
but very many why she should not do so. Circumstanced as Mr. Kennedy
had been, with no one nearer to him than a first cousin, with a
property purchased with money saved by his father,--a property to
which no cousin could by inheritance have any claim,--he could not
have done better with it than to leave it to his widow in fault of
any issue of his own. Then the lawyer explained that were she to give
it up, the world would of course say that she had done so from a
feeling of her own unworthiness. "Why should I feel myself to be
unworthy?" she asked. The lawyer smiled, and told her that of course
she would retain Loughlinter.

Then, at her request, he was taken to the Earl's room and there
repeated the good news. Lady Laura preferred not to hear her father's
first exultations. But while this was being done she also exulted.
Might it not still be possible that there should be before her a
happy evening to her days; and that she might stand once more beside
the falls of Linter, contented, hopeful, nay, almost glorious, with
her hand in his to whom she had once refused her own on that very
spot?



CHAPTER LIII

None But the Brave Deserve the Fair


Though Mr. Robert Kennedy was lying dead at Loughlinter, and though
Phineas Finn, a member of Parliament, was in prison, accused of
murdering another member of Parliament, still the world went on with
its old ways, down in the neighbourhood of Harrington Hall and Spoon
Hall as at other places. The hunting with the Brake hounds was now
over for the season,--had indeed been brought to an auspicious end
three weeks since,--and such gentlemen as Thomas Spooner had time on
their hands to look about their other concerns. When a man hunts five
days a week, regardless of distances, and devotes a due proportion
of his energies to the necessary circumstances of hunting, the
preservation of foxes, the maintenance of good humour with the
farmers, the proper compensation for poultry really killed by
four-legged favourites, the growth and arrangement of coverts, the
lying-in of vixens, and the subsequent guardianship of nurseries, the
persecution of enemies, and the warm protection of friends,--when
he follows the sport, accomplishing all the concomitant duties of a
true sportsman, he has not much time left for anything. Such a one
as Mr. Spooner of Spoon Hall finds that his off day is occupied from
breakfast to dinner with grooms, keepers, old women with turkeys'
heads, and gentlemen in velveteens with information about wires and
unknown earths, His letters fall naturally to the Sunday afternoon,
and are hardly written before sleep overpowers him. Many a large
fortune has been made with less of true devotion to the work than is
given to hunting by so genuine a sportsman as Mr. Spooner.

Our friend had some inkling of this himself, and felt that many of
the less important affairs of his life were neglected because he
was so true to the one great object of his existence. He had wisely
endeavoured to prevent wrack and ruin among the affairs of Spoon
Hall,--and had thoroughly succeeded by joining his cousin Ned with
himself in the administration of his estate,--but there were things
which Ned with all his zeal and all his cleverness could not do for
him. He was conscious that had he been as remiss in the matter of
hunting, as that hard-riding but otherwise idle young scamp, Gerard
Maule, he might have succeeded much better than he had hitherto done
with Adelaide Palliser. "Hanging about and philandering, that's what
they want," he said to his cousin Ned.

"I suppose it is," said Ned. "I was fond of a girl once myself, and I
hung about a good deal. But we hadn't sixpence between us."

"That was Polly Maxwell. I remember. You behaved very badly then."

"Very badly, Tom; about as bad as a man could behave,--and she was as
bad. I loved her with all my heart, and I told her so. And she told
me the same. There never was anything worse. We had just nothing
between us, and nobody to give us anything."

"It doesn't pay; does it, Ned, that kind of thing?"

"It doesn't pay at all. I wouldn't give her up,--nor she me. She was
about as pretty a girl as I remember to have seen."

"I suppose you were a decent-looking fellow in those days yourself.
They say so, but I never quite believed it."

"There wasn't much in that," said Ned. "Girls don't want a man to be
good-looking, but that he should speak up and not be afraid of them.
There were lots of fellows came after her. You remember Blinks, of
the Carabineers. He was full of money, and he asked her three times.
She is an old maid to this day, and is living as companion to some
crusty crochetty countess."

"I think you did behave badly, Ned. Why didn't you set her free?"

"Of course, I behaved badly. And why didn't she set me free, if you
come to that? I might have found a female Blinks of my own,--only
for her. I wonder whether it will come against us when we die, and
whether we shall be brought up together to receive punishment."

"Not if you repent, I suppose," said Tom Spooner, very seriously.

"I sometimes ask myself whether she has repented. I made her swear
that she'd never give me up. She might have broken her word a score
of times, and I wish she had."

"I think she was a fool, Ned."

"Of course she was a fool. She knows that now, I dare say. And
perhaps she has repented. Do you mean to try it again with that girl
at Harrington Hall?"

Mr. Thomas Spooner did mean to try it again with the girl at
Harrington Hall. He had never quite trusted the note which he had
got from his friend Chiltern, and had made up his mind that, to say
the least of it, there had been very little friendship shown in the
letter. Had Chiltern meant to have stood to him "like a brick," as he
ought to have stood by his right hand man in the Brake country, at
any rate a fair chance might have been given him. "Where the devil
would he be in such a country as this without me,"--Tom had said
to his cousin,--"not knowing a soul, and with all the shooting men
against him? I might have had the hounds myself,--and might have 'em
now if I cared to take them. It's not standing by a fellow as he
ought to do. He writes to me, by George, just as he might do to some
fellow who never had a fox about his place."

"I suppose he didn't put the two things together," said Ned Spooner.

"I hate a fellow that can't put two things together. If I stand to
you you've a right to stand to me. That's what you mean by putting
two things together. I mean to have another shy at her. She has
quarrelled with that fellow Maule altogether. I've learned that from
the gardener's girl at Harrington."

Yes,--he would make another attempt. All history, all romance, all
poetry and all prose, taught him that perseverance in love was
generally crowned with success,--that true love rarely was crowned
with success except by perseverance. Such a simple little tale of
boy's passion as that told him by his cousin had no attraction for
him. A wife would hardly be worth having, and worth keeping, so won.
And all proverbs were on his side. "None but the brave deserve the
fair," said his cousin. "I shall stick to it," said Tom Spooner.
"_Labor omnia vincit_," said his cousin. But what should be his next
step? Gerard Maule had been sent away with a flea in his ear,--so, at
least, Mr. Spooner asserted, and expressed an undoubting opinion that
this imperative dismissal had come from the fact that Gerard Maule,
when "put through his facings" about income was not able to "show the
money." "She's not one of your Polly Maxwells, Ned." Ned said that he
supposed she was not one of that sort. "Heaven knows I couldn't show
the money," said Ned, "but that didn't make her any wiser." Then Tom
gave it as his opinion that Miss Palliser was one of those young
women who won't go anywhere without having everything about them.
"She could have her own carriage with me, and her own horses, and her
own maid, and everything."

"Her own way into the bargain," said Ned. Whereupon Tom Spooner
winked, and suggested that that might be as things turned out after
the marriage. He was quite willing to run his chance for that.

But how was he to get at her to prosecute his suit? As to writing to
her direct,--he didn't much believe in that. "It looks as though one
were afraid of her, you know;--which I ain't the least. I stood up to
her before, and I wasn't a bit more nervous than I am at this moment.
Were you nervous in that affair with Miss Maxwell?"

"Ah;--it's a long time ago. There wasn't much nervousness there."

"A sort of milkmaid affair?"

"Just that."

"That is different, you know. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll just
drive slap over to Harrington and chance it. I'll take the two bays
in the phaeton. Who's afraid?"

"There's nothing to be afraid of," said Ned.

"Old Chiltern is such a d---- cantankerous fellow, and perhaps Lady
C. may say that I oughtn't to have taken advantage of her absence.
But, what's the odds? If she takes me there'll be an end of it. If
she don't, they can't eat me."

"The only thing is whether they'll let you in."

"I'll try at any rate," said Tom, "and you shall go over with me.
You won't mind trotting about the grounds while I'm carrying on the
war inside? I'll take the two bays, and Dick Farren behind, and I
don't think there's a prettier got-up trap in the county. We'll go
to-morrow."

And on the morrow they did start, having heard on that very morning
of the arrest of Phineas Finn. "By George, don't it feel odd," said
Tom just as they started,--"a fellow that we used to know down here,
having him out hunting and all that, and now he's--a murderer! Isn't
it a coincidence?"

"It startles one," said Ned.

"That's what I mean. It's such a strange thing that it should be the
man we know ourselves. These things always are happening to me. Do
you remember when poor Fred Fellows got his bad fall and died the
next year? You weren't here then."

"I've heard you speak of it."

"I was in the very same field, and should have been the man to pick
him up, only the hounds had just turned to the left. It's very odd
that these coincidences always are happening to some men and never do
happen to others. It makes one feel that he's marked out, you know."

"I hope you'll be marked out by victory to-day."

"Well;--yes. That's more important just now than Mr. Bonteen's
murder. Do you know, I wish you'd drive. These horses are pulling,
and I don't want to be all in a flurry when I get to Harrington."
Now it was a fact very well known to all concerned with Spoon Hall,
that there was nothing as to which the Squire was so jealous as
the driving of his own horses. He would never trust the reins to a
friend, and even Ned had hardly ever been allowed the honour of the
whip when sitting with his cousin. "I'm apt to get red in the face
when I'm overheated," said Tom as he made himself comfortable and
easy in the left hand seat.

There were not many more words spoken during the journey. The lover
was probably justified in feeling some trepidation. He had been quite
correct in suggesting that the matter between him and Miss Palliser
bore no resemblance at all to that old affair between his cousin Ned
and Polly Maxwell. There had been as little trepidation as money in
that case,--simply love and kisses, parting, despair, and a broken
heart. Here things were more august. There was plenty of money, and,
let affairs go as they might, there would be no broken heart. But
that perseverance in love of which Mr. Spooner intended to make
himself so bright an example does require some courage. The Adelaide
Pallisers of the world have a way of making themselves uncommonly
unpleasant to a man when they refuse him for the third or fourth
time. They allow themselves sometimes to express a contempt which is
almost akin to disgust, and to speak to a lover as though he were no
better than a footman. And then the lover is bound to bear it all,
and when he has borne it, finds it so very difficult to get out of
the room. Mr. Spooner had some idea of all this as his cousin drove
him up to the door, at what he then thought a very fast pace. "D----
it all," he said, "you needn't have brought them up so confoundedly
hot." But it was not of the horses that he was really thinking, but
of the colour of his own nose. There was something working within
him which had flurried him, in spite of the tranquillity of his idle
seat.

Not the less did he spring out of the phaeton with a quite youthful
jump. It was well that every one about Harrington Hall should know
how alert he was on his legs; a little weather-beaten about the face
he might be; but he could get in and out of his saddle as quickly
as Gerard Maule even yet; and for a short distance would run Gerard
Maule for a ten-pound note. He dashed briskly up to the door, and
rang the bell as though he feared neither Adelaide nor Lord Chiltern
any more than he did his own servants at Spoon Hall. "Was Miss
Palliser at home?" The maid-servant who opened the door told him that
Miss Palliser was at home, with a celerity which he certainly had
not expected. The male members of the establishment were probably
disporting themselves in the absence of their master and mistress,
and Adelaide Palliser was thus left to the insufficient guardianship
of young women who were altogether without discretion. "Yes, sir;
Miss Palliser is at home." So said the indiscreet female, and Mr.
Spooner was for the moment confounded by his own success. He had
hardly told himself what reception he had expected, or whether, in
the event of the servant informing him at the front door that the
young lady was not at home he would make any further immediate effort
to prolong the siege so as to force an entry; but now, when he had
carried the very fortress by surprise, his heart almost misgave him.
He certainly had not thought, when he descended from his chariot like
a young Bacchus in quest of his Ariadne, that he should so soon be
enabled to repeat the tale of his love. But there he was, confronted
with Ariadne before he had had a moment to shake his godlike locks or
arrange the divinity of his thoughts. "Mr. Spooner," said the maid,
opening the door.

"Oh dear!" exclaimed Ariadne, feeling the vainness of her wish to fly
from the god. "You know, Mary, that Lady Chiltern is up in London."

"But he didn't ask for Lady Chiltern, Miss." Then there was a pause,
during which the maid-servant managed to shut the door and to escape.

"Lord Chiltern is up in London," said Miss Palliser, rising from her
chair, "and Lady Chiltern is with him. They will be at home, I think,
to-morrow, but I am not quite sure." She looked at him rather as
Diana might have looked at poor Orion than as any Ariadne at any
Bacchus; and for a moment Mr. Spooner felt that the pale chillness of
the moon was entering in upon his very heart and freezing the blood
in his veins.

"Miss Palliser--" he began.

But Adelaide was for the moment an unmitigated Diana. "Mr. Spooner,"
she said, "I cannot for an instant suppose that you wish to say
anything to me."

"But I do," said he, laying his hand upon his heart.

"Then I must declare that--that--that you ought not to. And I hope
you won't. Lady Chiltern is not in the house, and I think that--that
you ought to go away. I do, indeed."

But Mr. Spooner, though the interview had been commenced with
unexpected and almost painful suddenness, was too much a man to be
driven off by the first angry word. He remembered that this Diana was
but mortal; and he remembered, too, that though he had entered in
upon her privacy he had done so in a manner recognised by the world
as lawful. There was no reason why he should allow himself to be
congealed,--or even banished out of the grotto of the nymph,--without
speaking a word on his own behalf. Were he to fly now, he must
fly for ever; whereas, if he fought now,--fought well, even though
not successfully at the moment,--he might fight again. While Miss
Palliser was scowling at him he resolved upon fighting. "Miss
Palliser," he said, "I did not come to see Lady Chiltern; I came to
see you. And now that I have been happy enough to find you I hope you
will listen to me for a minute. I shan't do you any harm."

"I'm not afraid of any harm, but I cannot think that you have
anything to say that can do anybody any good." She sat down, however,
and so far yielded. "Of course I cannot make you go away, Mr.
Spooner; but I should have thought, when I asked you--"

Mr. Spooner also seated himself, and uttered a sigh. Making love to
a sweet, soft, blushing, willing, though silent girl is a pleasant
employment; but the task of declaring love to a stony-hearted,
obdurate, ill-conditioned Diana is very disagreeable for any
gentleman. And it is the more so when the gentleman really loves,--or
thinks that he loves,--his Diana. Mr. Spooner did believe himself
to be verily in love. Having sighed, he began: "Miss Palliser, this
opportunity of declaring to you the state of my heart is too valuable
to allow me to give it up without--without using it."

"It can't be of any use."

"Oh, Miss Palliser,--if you knew my feelings!"

"But I know my own."

"They may change, Miss Palliser."

"No, they can't."

"Don't say that, Miss Palliser."

"But I do say it. I say it over and over again. I don't know what any
gentleman can gain by persecuting a lady. You oughtn't to have been
shown up here at all."

Mr. Spooner knew well that women have been won even at the tenth time
of asking, and this with him was only the third. "I think if you knew
my heart--" he commenced.

"I don't want to know your heart."

"You might listen to a man, at any rate."

"I don't want to listen. It can't do any good. I only want you to
leave me alone, and go away."

"I don't know what you take me for," said Mr. Spooner, beginning to
wax angry.

"I haven't taken you for anything at all. This is very disagreeable
and very foolish. A lady has a right to know her own mind, and she
has a right not to be persecuted." She would have referred to Lord
Chiltern's letter had not all the hopes of her heart been so terribly
crushed since that letter had been written. In it he had openly
declared that she was already engaged to be married to Mr. Maule,
thinking that he would thus put an end to Mr. Spooner's little
adventure. But since the writing of Lord Chiltern's letter that
unfortunate reference had been made to Boulogne, and every particle
of her happiness had been destroyed. She was a miserable, blighted
young woman, who had quarrelled irretrievably with her lover, feeling
greatly angry with herself because she had made the quarrel, and yet
conscious that her own self-respect had demanded the quarrel. She was
full of regret, declaring to herself from morning to night that, in
spite of all his manifest wickedness in having talked of Boulogne,
she never could care at all for any other man. And now there was this
aggravation to her misery,--this horrid suitor, who disgraced her by
making those around her suppose it to be possible that she should
ever accept him; who had probably heard of her quarrel, and had been
mean enough to suppose that therefore there might be a chance for
himself! She did despise him, and wanted him to understand that she
despised him.

"I believe I am in a condition to offer my hand and fortune to any
young lady without impropriety," said Mr. Spooner.

"I don't know anything about your condition."

"But I will tell you everything."

"I don't want to know anything about it."

"I have an estate of--"

"I don't want to know about your estate. I won't hear about your
estate. It can be nothing to me."

"It is generally considered to be a matter of some importance."

"It is of no importance to me, at all, Mr. Spooner; and I won't hear
anything about it. If all the parish belonged to you, it would not
make any difference."

"All the parish does belong to me, and nearly all the next," replied
Mr. Spooner, with great dignity.

"Then you'd better find some lady who would like to have two
parishes. They haven't any weight with me at all." At that moment she
told herself how much she would prefer even Boulogne, to Mr.
Spooner's two parishes.

"What is it that you find so wrong about me?" asked the unhappy
suitor.

Adelaide looked at him, and longed to tell him that his nose was red.
And, though she would not quite do that, she could not bring herself
to spare him. What right had he to come to her,--a nasty, red-nosed
old man, who knew nothing about anything but foxes and horses,--to
her, who had never given him the encouragement of a single smile? She
could not allude to his nose, but in regard to his other defects she
would not spare him. "Our tastes are not the same, Mr. Spooner."

"You are very fond of hunting."

"And our ages are not the same."

"I always thought that there should be a difference of age," said Mr.
Spooner, becoming very red.

"And,--and,--and,--it's altogether quite preposterous. I don't
believe that you can really think it yourself."

"But I do."

"Then you must unthink it. And, indeed, Mr. Spooner, since you drive
me to say so,--I consider it to be very unmanly of you, after what
Lord Chiltern told you in his letter."

"But I believe that is all over."

Then her anger flashed up very high. "And if you do believe it, what
a mean man you must be to come to me when you must know how miserable
I am, and to think that I should be driven to accept you after losing
him! You never could have been anything to me. If you wanted to get
married at all, you should have done it before I was born." This
was hard upon the man, as at that time he could not have been much
more than twenty. "But you don't know anything of the difference in
people if you think that any girl would look at you, after having
been--loved by Mr. Maule. Now, as you do not seem inclined to go
away, I shall leave you." So saying, she walked off with stately
step, out of the room, leaving the door open behind her to facilitate
her escape.

She had certainly been very rude to him, and had treated him very
badly. Of that he was sure. He had conferred upon her what is
commonly called the highest compliment which a gentleman can pay to
a lady, and she had insulted him;--had doubly insulted him. She had
referred to his age, greatly exaggerating his misfortune in that
respect; and she had compared him to that poor beggar Maule in
language most offensive. When she left him, he put his hand beneath
his waistcoat, and turned with an air almost majestic towards the
window. But in an instant he remembered that there was nobody there
to see how he bore his punishment, and he sank down into human
nature. "Damnation!" he said, as he put his hands into his trousers
pockets.

Slowly he made his way down into the hall, and slowly he opened for
himself the front door, and escaped from the house on to the gravel
drive. There he found his cousin Ned still seated in the phaeton, and
slowly driving round the circle in front of the hall door. The squire
succeeded in gaining such command over his own gait and countenance
that his cousin divined nothing of the truth as he clambered up into
his seat. But he soon showed his temper. "What the devil have you got
the reins in this way for?"

"The reins are all right," said Ned.

"No they ain't;--they're all wrong." And then he drove down the
avenue to Spoon Hall as quickly as he could make the horses trot.

"Did you see her?" said Ned, as soon as they were beyond the gates.

"See your grandmother."

"Do you mean to say that I'm not to ask?"

"There's nothing I hate so much as a fellow that's always asking
questions," said Tom Spooner. "There are some men so d----d
thick-headed that they never know when they ought to hold their
tongue."

For a minute or two Ned bore the reproof in silence, and then he
spoke. "If you are unhappy, Tom, I can bear a good deal; but don't
overdo it,--unless you want me to leave you."

"She's the d----t vixen that ever had a tongue in her head," said
Tom Spooner, lifting his whip and striking the poor off-horse in his
agony. Then Ned forgave him.



CHAPTER LIV

The Duchess Takes Counsel


Phineas Finn, when he had been thrice remanded before the Bow Street
magistrate, and four times examined, was at last committed to be
tried for the murder of Mr. Bonteen. This took place on Wednesday,
May 19th, a fortnight after the murder. But during those fourteen
days little was learned, or even surmised, by the police, in addition
to the circumstances which had transpired at once. Indeed the delay,
slight as it was, had arisen from a desire to find evidence that
might affect Mr. Emilius, rather than with a view to strengthen that
which did affect Phineas Finn. But no circumstance could be found
tending in any way to add to the suspicion to which the converted Jew
was made subject by his own character, and by the supposition that
he would have been glad to get rid of Mr. Bonteen. He did not even
attempt to run away,--for which attempt certain pseudo-facilities
were put in his way by police ingenuity. But Mr. Emilius stood his
ground and courted inquiry. Mr. Bonteen had been to him, he said, a
very bitter, unjust, and cruel enemy. Mr. Bonteen had endeavoured to
rob him of his dearest wife;--had charged him with bigamy;--had got
up false evidence in the hope of ruining him. He had undoubtedly
hated Mr. Bonteen, and might probably have said so. But, as it
happened, through God's mercy, he was enabled to prove that he could
not possibly have been at the scene of the murder when the murder was
committed. During that hour of the night he had been in his own bed;
and, had he been out, could not have re-entered the house without
calling up the inmates. But, independently of his alibi, Mealyus was
able to rely on the absolute absence of any evidence against him. No
grey coat could be traced to his hands, even for an hour. His height
was very much less than that attributed by Lord Fawn to the man
whom he had seen hurrying to the spot. No weapon was found in his
possession by which the deed could have been done. Inquiry was made
as to the purchase of life-preservers, and the reverend gentleman was
taken to half-a-dozen shops at which such instruments had lately been
sold. But there had been a run upon life preservers, in consequence
of recommendations as to their use given by certain newspapers;--and
it was found as impossible to trace one particular purchase as it
would be that of a loaf of bread. At none of the half-dozen shops to
which he was taken was Mr. Emilius remembered; and then all further
inquiry in that direction was abandoned, and Mr. Emilius was set at
liberty. "I forgive my persecutors from the bottom of my heart," he
said,--"but God will requite it to them."

In the meantime Phineas was taken to Newgate, and was there confined,
almost with the glory and attendance of a State prisoner. This was no
common murder, and no common murderer. Nor were they who interested
themselves in the matter the ordinary rag, tag, and bobtail of the
people,--the mere wives and children, or perhaps fathers and mothers,
or brothers and sisters of the slayer or the slain. Dukes and Earls,
Duchesses and Countesses, Members of the Cabinet, great statesmen,
Judges, Bishops, and Queen's Counsellors, beautiful women, and
women of highest fashion, seemed for a while to think of but little
else than the fate of Mr. Bonteen and the fate of Phineas Finn.
People became intimately acquainted with each other through similar
sympathies in this matter, who had never before spoken to or seen
each other. On the day after the full committal of the man, Mr. Low
received a most courteous letter from the Duchess of Omnium, begging
him to call in Carlton Terrace if his engagements would permit him
to do so. The Duchess had heard that Mr. Low was devoting all his
energies to the protection of Phineas Finn; and, as a certain friend
of hers,--a lady,--was doing the same, she was anxious to bring them
together. Indeed, she herself was equally prepared to devote her
energies for the present to the same object. She had declared to
all her friends,--especially to her husband and to the Duke of St.
Bungay,--her absolute conviction of the innocence of the accused man,
and had called upon them to defend him. "My dear," said the elder
Duke, "I do not think that in my time any innocent man has ever lost
his life upon the scaffold."

"Is that a reason why our friend should be the first instance?" said
the Duchess.

"He must be tried according to the laws of his country," said the
younger Duke.

"Plantagenet, you always speak as if everything were perfect, whereas
you know very well that everything is imperfect. If that man is--is
hung, I--"

"Glencora," said her husband, "do not connect yourself with the fate
of a stranger from any misdirected enthusiasm."

"I do connect myself. If that man be hung--I shall go into mourning
for him. You had better look to it."

Mr. Low obeyed the summons, and called on the Duchess. But, in truth,
the invitation had been planned by Madame Goesler, who was present
when the lawyer, about five o'clock in the afternoon, was shown into
the presence of the Duchess. Tea was immediately ordered, and Mr. Low
was almost embraced. He was introduced to Madame Goesler, of whom he
did not before remember that he had heard the name, and was at once
given to understand that the fate of Phineas was now in question. "We
know so well," said the Duchess, "how true you are to him."

"He is an old friend of mine," said the lawyer, "and I cannot believe
him to have been guilty of a murder."

"Guilty!--he is no more guilty than I am. We are as sure of that as
we are of the sun. We know that he is innocent;--do we not, Madame
Goesler? And we, too, are very dear friends of his;--that is, I am."

"And so am I," said Madame Goesler, in a voice very low and sweet,
but yet so energetic as to make Mr. Low almost rivet his attention
upon her.

"You must understand, Mr. Low, that Mr. Finn is a man horribly hated
by certain enemies. That wretched Mr. Bonteen hated his very name.
But there are other people who think very differently of him. He must
be saved."

"Indeed I hope he may," said Mr. Low.

"We wanted to see you for ever so many reasons. Of course you
understand that--that any sum of money can be spent that the case may
want."

"Nothing will be spared on that account certainly," said the lawyer.

"But money will do a great many things. We would send all round
the world if we could get evidence against that other man,--Lady
Eustace's husband, you know."

"Can any good be done by sending all round the world?"

"He went back to his own home not long ago,--in Poland, I think,"
said Madame Goesler. "Perhaps he got the instrument there, and
brought it with him." Mr. Low shook his head. "Of course we are very
ignorant;--but it would be a pity that everything should not be
tried."

"He might have got in and out of the window, you know," said the
Duchess. Still Mr. Low shook his head. "I believe things can always
be found out, if only you take trouble enough. And trouble means
money;--does it not? We wouldn't mind how many thousand pounds it
cost; would we, Marie?"

"I fear that the spending of thousands can do no good," said Mr. Low.

"But something must be done. You don't mean to say that Mr. Finn is
to be hung because Lord Fawn says that he saw a man running along the
street in a grey coat."

"Certainly not."

"There is nothing else against him;--nobody else saw him."

"If there be nothing else against him he will be acquitted."

"You think then," said Madame Goesler, "that there will be no use in
tracing what the man Mealyus did when he was out of England. He might
have bought a grey coat then, and have hidden it till this night,
and then have thrown it away." Mr. Low listened to her with close
attention, but again shook his head. "If it could be shown that the
man had a grey coat at that time it would certainly weaken the effect
of Mr. Finn's grey coat."

"And if he bought a bludgeon there, it would weaken the effect of Mr.
Finn's bludgeon. And if he bought rope to make a ladder it would show
that he had got out. It was a dark night, you know, and nobody would
have seen it. We have been talking it all over, Mr. Low, and we
really think you ought to send somebody."

"I will mention what you say to the gentlemen who are employed on Mr.
Finn's defence."

"But will not you be employed?" Then Mr. Low explained that the
gentlemen to whom he referred were the attorneys who would get up the
case on their friend's behalf, and that as he himself practised in
the Courts of Equity only, he could not defend Mr. Finn on his trial.

"He must have the very best men," said the Duchess.

"He must have good men, certainly."

"And a great many. Couldn't we get Sir Gregory Grogram?" Mr. Low
shook his head. "I know very well that if you get men who are
really,--really swells, for that is what it is, Mr. Low,--and pay
them well enough, and so make it really an important thing, they
can browbeat any judge and hoodwink any jury. I daresay it is very
dreadful to say so, Mr. Low; but, nevertheless, I believe it, and as
this man is certainly innocent it ought to be done. I daresay it's
very shocking, but I do think that twenty thousand pounds spent among
the lawyers would get him off."

"I hope we can get him off without expending twenty thousand pounds,
Duchess."

"But you can have the money and welcome;--cannot he, Madame Goesler?"

"He could have double that, if double were necessary."

"I would fill the court with lawyers for him," continued the Duchess.
"I would cross-examine the witnesses off their legs. I would rake
up every wicked thing that horrid Jew has done since he was born.
I would make witnesses speak. I would give a carriage and pair of
horses to every one of the jurors' wives, if that would do any good.
You may shake your head, Mr. Low; but I would. And I'd carry Lord
Fawn off to the Antipodes, too;--and I shouldn't care if you left him
there. I know that this man is innocent, and I'd do anything to save
him. A woman, I know, can't do much;--but she has this privilege,
that she can speak out what men only think. I'd give them two
carriages and two pairs of horses a-piece if I could do it that way."

Mr. Low did his best to explain to the Duchess that the desired
object could hardly be effected after the fashion she proposed, and
he endeavoured to persuade her that justice was sure to be done in
an English court of law. "Then why are people so very anxious to get
this lawyer or that to bamboozle the witnesses?" said the Duchess.
Mr. Low declared it to be his opinion that the poorest man in England
was not more likely to be hung for a murder he had not committed than
the richest. "Then why would you, if you were accused, have ever so
many lawyers to defend you?" Mr. Low went on to explain. "The more
money you spend," said the Duchess, "the more fuss you make. And the
longer a trial is about and the greater the interest, the more chance
a man has to escape. If a man is tried for three days you always
think he'll get off, but if it lasts ten minutes he is sure to be
convicted and hung. I'd have Mr. Finn's trial made so long that they
never could convict him. I'd tire out all the judges and juries in
London. If you get lawyers enough they may speak for ever." Mr.
Low endeavoured to explain that this might prejudice the prisoner.
"And I'd examine every member of the House of Commons, and all the
Cabinet, and all their wives. I'd ask them all what Mr. Bonteen
had been saying. I'd do it in such a way as a trial was never done
before;--and I'd take care that they should know what was coming."

"And if he were convicted afterwards?"

"I'd buy up the Home Secretary. It's very horrid to say so, of
course, Mr. Low; and I dare say there is nothing wrong ever done in
Chancery. But I know what Cabinet Ministers are. If they could get a
majority by granting a pardon they'd do it quick enough."

"You are speaking of a liberal Government, of course, Duchess."

"There isn't twopence to choose between them in that respect. Just
at this moment I believe Mr. Finn is the most popular member of the
House of Commons; and I'd bring all that to bear. You can't but know
that if everything of that kind is done it will have an effect. I
believe you could make him so popular that the people would pull down
the prison rather than have him hung;--so that a jury would not dare
to say he was guilty."

"Would that be justice, ladies?" asked the just man.

"It would be success, Mr. Low,--which is a great deal the better
thing of the two."

"If Mr. Finn were found guilty, I could not in my heart believe that
that would be justice," said Madame Goesler.

Mr. Low did his best to make them understand that the plan of pulling
down Newgate by the instrumentality of Phineas Finn's popularity,
or of buying up the Home Secretary by threats of Parliamentary
defection, would hardly answer their purpose. He would, he assured
them, suggest to the attorneys employed the idea of searching for
evidence against the man Mealyus in his own country, and would
certainly take care that nothing was omitted from want of means. "You
had better let us put a cheque in your hands," said the Duchess. But
to this he would not assent. He did admit that it would be well to
leave no stone unturned, and that the turning of such stones must
cost money;--but the money, he said, would be forthcoming. "He's not
a rich man himself," said the Duchess. Mr. Low assured her that if
money were really wanting he would ask for it. "And now," said the
Duchess, "there is one other thing that we want. Can we see him?"

"You, yourself?"

"Yes;--I myself, and Madame Goesler. You look as if it would be very
wicked." Mr. Low thought that it would be wicked;--that the Duke
would not like it; and that such a visit would occasion ill-natured
remarks. "People do visit him, I suppose. He's not locked up like a
criminal."

"I visit him," said Mr. Low, "and one or two other friends have done
so. Lord Chiltern has been with him, and Mr. Erle."

"Has no lady seen him?" asked the Duchess.

"Not to my knowledge."

"Then it's time some lady should do so. I suppose we could be
admitted. If we were his sisters they'd let us in."

"You must excuse me, Duchess, but--"

"Of course I will excuse you. But what?"

"You are not his sisters."

"If I were engaged to him, to be his wife?--" said Madame Goesler,
standing up. "I am not so. There is nothing of that kind. You must
not misunderstand me. But if I were?"

"On that plea I presume you could be admitted."

"Why not as a friend? Lord Chiltern is admitted as his friend."

"Because of the prudery of a prison," said the Duchess. "All things
are wrong to the lookers after wickedness, my dear. If it would
comfort him to see us, why should he not have that comfort?"

"Would you have gone to him in his own lodgings?" asked Mr. Low.

"I would,--if he'd been ill," said Madame Goesler.

"Madam," said Mr. Low, speaking with a gravity which for a moment had
its effect even upon the Duchess of Omnium, "I think, at any rate,
that if you visit Mr. Finn in prison, you should do so through the
instrumentality of his Grace, your husband."

"Of course you suspect me of all manner of evil."

"I suspect nothing;--but I am sure that it should be so."

"It shall be so," said the Duchess. "Thank you, sir. We are much
obliged to you for your wise counsel."

"I am obliged to you," said Madame Goesler, "because I know that you
have his safety at heart."

"And so am I," said the Duchess, relenting, and giving him her
hand. "We are really ever so much obliged to you. You don't quite
understand about the Duke; and how should you? I never do anything
without telling him, but he hasn't time to attend to things."

"I hope I have not offended you."

"Oh dear, no. You can't offend me unless you mean it. Good-bye,--and
remember to have a great many lawyers, and all with new wigs; and let
them all get in a great rage that anybody should suppose it possible
that Mr. Finn is a murderer. I'm sure I am. Good-bye, Mr. Low."

"You'll never be able to get to him," said the Duchess, as soon as
they were alone.

"I suppose not."

"And what good could you do? Of course I'd go with you if we could
get in;--but what would be the use?"

"To let him know that people do not think him guilty."

"Mr. Low will tell him that. I suppose, too, we can write to him.
Would you mind writing?"

"I would rather go."

"You might as well tell the truth when you are about it. You are
breaking your heart for him."

"If he were to be condemned, and--executed, I should break my heart.
I could never appear bright before the world again."

"That is just what I told Plantagenet. I said I would go into
mourning."

"And I should really mourn. And yet were he free to-morrow he would
be no more to me than any other friend."

"Do you mean you would not marry him?"

"No;--I would not. Nor would he ask me. I will tell you what will be
his lot in life,--if he escapes from the present danger."

"Of course he will escape. They don't really hang innocent men."

"Then he will become the husband of Lady Laura Kennedy."

"Poor fellow! If I believed that, I should think it cruel to help him
escape from Newgate."



CHAPTER LV

Phineas in Prison


Phineas Finn himself, during the fortnight in which he was carried
backwards and forwards between his prison and the Bow Street
Police-office, was able to maintain some outward show of manly
dignity,--as though he felt that the terrible accusation and great
material inconvenience to which he was subjected were only, and
could only be, temporary in their nature, and that the truth would
soon prevail. During this period he had friends constantly with
him,--either Mr. Low, or Lord Chiltern, or Barrington Erle, or his
landlord, Mr. Bunce, who, in these days, was very true to him. And he
was very frequently visited by the attorney, Mr. Wickerby, who had
been expressly recommended to him for this occasion. If anybody could
be counted upon to see him through his difficulty it was Wickerby.
But the company of Mr. Wickerby was not pleasant to him, because, as
far as he could judge, Mr. Wickerby did not believe in his innocence.
Mr. Wickerby was willing to do his best for him; was, so to speak,
moving heaven and earth on his behalf; was fully conscious that this
case was a great affair, and in no respect similar to those which
were constantly placed in his hands; but there never fell from him a
sympathetic expression of assurance of his client's absolute freedom
from all taint of guilt in the matter. From day to day, and ten times
a day, Phineas would express his indignant surprise that any one
should think it possible that he had done this deed, but to all these
expressions Mr. Wickerby would make no answer whatever. At last
Phineas asked him the direct question. "I never suspect anybody of
anything," said Mr. Wickerby. "Do you believe in my innocence?"
demanded Phineas. "Everybody is entitled to be believed innocent till
he has been proved to be guilty," said Mr. Wickerby. Then Phineas
appealed to his friend Mr. Low, asking whether he might not be
allowed to employ some lawyer whose feelings would be more in unison
with his own. But Mr. Low adjured him to make no change. Mr. Wickerby
understood the work and was a most zealous man. His client was
entitled to his services, but to nothing more than his services. And
so Mr. Wickerby carried on the work, fully believing that Phineas
Finn had in truth murdered Mr. Bonteen.

But the prisoner was not without sympathy and confidence. Mr. Low,
Lord Chiltern, and Lady Chiltern, who, on one occasion, came to
visit him with her husband, entertained no doubts prejudicial to his
honour. They told him perhaps almost more than was quite true of the
feelings of the world in his favour. He heard of the friendship and
faith of the Duchess of Omnium, of Madame Goesler, and of Lady Laura
Kennedy,--hearing also that Lady Laura was now a widow. And then at
length his two sisters came over to him from Ireland, and wept and
sobbed, and fell into hysterics in his presence. They were sure that
he was innocent, as was every one, they said, throughout the length
and breadth of Ireland. And Mrs. Bunce, who came to see Phineas in
his prison, swore that she would tear the judge from his bench if he
did not at once pronounce a verdict in favour of her darling without
waiting for any nonsense of a jury. And Bunce, her husband, having
convinced himself that his lodger had not committed the murder, was
zealous in another way, taking delight in the case, and proving that
no jury could find a verdict of guilty.

During that week Phineas, buoyed up by the sympathy of his friends,
and in some measure supported by the excitement of the occasion,
carried himself well, and bore bravely the terrible misfortune to
which he had been subjected by untoward circumstances. But when the
magistrate fully committed him, giving the first public decision on
the matter from the bench, declaring to the world at large that on
the evidence as given, _prima facie_, he; Phineas Finn, must be
regarded as the murderer of Mr. Bonteen, our hero's courage almost
gave way. If such was now the judicial opinion of the magistrate, how
could he expect a different verdict from a jury in two months' time,
when he would be tried before a final court? As far as he could
understand, nothing more could be learned on the matter. All the
facts were known that could be known,--as far as he, or rather his
friends on his behalf, were able to search for facts. It seemed to
him that there was no tittle whatever of evidence against him. He had
walked straight home from his club with the life-preserver in his
pocket, and had never turned to the right or to the left. Till he
found himself committed, he would not believe that any serious and
prolonged impediment could be thrown in the way of his liberty. He
would not believe that a man altogether innocent could be in danger
of the gallows on a false accusation. It had seemed to him that the
police had kept their hold on him with a rabid ferocity, straining
every point with the view of showing that it was possible that he
should have been the murderer. Every policeman who had been near him,
carrying him backward and forward from his prison, or giving evidence
as to the circumstances of the locality and of his walk home on that
fatal night, had seemed to him to be an enemy. But he had looked for
impartiality from the magistrate,--and now the magistrate had failed
him. He had seen in court the faces of men well known to him,--men
known in the world,--with whom he had been on pleasant terms in
Parliament, who had sat upon the bench while he was standing as a
culprit between two constables; and they who had been his familiar
friends had appeared at once to have been removed from him by some
unmeasurable distance. But all that he had, as it were, discounted,
believing that a few hours,--at the very longest a few days,--would
remove the distance; but now he was sent back to his prison, there to
await his trial for the murder.

And it seemed to him that his committal startled no one but himself.
Could it be that even his dearest friends thought it possible that he
had been guilty? When that day came, and he was taken back to Newgate
on his last journey there from Bow Street, Lord Chiltern had returned
for a while to Harrington Hall, having promised that he would be back
in London as soon as his business would permit; but Mr. Low came to
him almost immediately to his prison room. "This is a pleasant state
of things," said Phineas, with a forced laugh. But as he laughed he
also sobbed, with a low, irrepressible, convulsive movement in his
throat.

"Phineas, the time has come in which you must show yourself to be a
man."

"A man! Oh, yes, I can be a man. A murderer you mean. I shall have to
be--hung, I suppose."

"May God, in His mercy, forbid."

"No;--not in His mercy; in His justice. There can be no need for
mercy here,--not even from Heaven. When they take my life may He
forgive my sins through the merits of my Saviour. But for this there
can be no mercy. Why do you not speak? Do you mean to say that I am
guilty?"

"I am sure that you are innocent."

"And yet, look here. What more can be done to prove it than has been
done? That blundering fool will swear my life away." Then he threw
himself on his bed, and gave way to his sobs.

That evening he was alone,--as, indeed, most of his evenings had been
spent, and the minutes were minutes of agony to him. The external
circumstances of his position were as comfortable as circumstances
would allow. He had a room to himself looking out through heavy iron
bars into one of the courts of the prison. The chamber was carpeted,
and was furnished with bed and chairs and two tables. Books were
allowed him as he pleased, and pen and ink. It was May, and no fire
was necessary. At certain periods of the day he could walk alone
in the court below,--the restriction on such liberty being that at
other certain hours the place was wanted for other prisoners. As far
as he knew no friend who called was denied to him, though he was
by no means certain that his privilege in that respect would not be
curtailed now that he had been committed for trial. His food had been
plentiful and well cooked, and even luxuries, such as fish and wine
and fruit, had been supplied to him. That the fruit had come from
the hot-houses of the Duchess of Omnium, and the wine from Mr. Low's
cellar, and the fish and lamb and spring vegetables, the cream and
coffee and fresh butter from the unrestricted orders of another
friend, that Lord Chiltern had sent him champagne and cigars,
and that Lady Chiltern had given directions about the books and
stationery, he did not know. But as far as he could be consoled by
such comforts, there had been the consolation. If lamb and salad
could make him happy he might have enjoyed his sojourn in Newgate.
Now, this evening, he was past all enjoyment. It was impossible that
he should read. How could a man fix his attention on any book, with a
charge of murder against himself affirmed by the deliberate decision
of a judge? And he knew himself to be as innocent as the magistrate
himself. Every now and then he would rise from his bed, and almost
rush across the room as though he would dash his head against the
wall. Murder! They really believed that he had deliberately murdered
the man;--he, Phineas Finn, who had served his country with repute,
who had sat in Parliament, who had prided himself on living with the
best of his fellow-creatures, who had been the friend of Mr. Monk and
of Lord Cantrip, the trusted intimate of such women as Lady Laura
and Lady Chiltern, who had never put his hand to a mean action, or
allowed his tongue to speak a mean word! He laughed in his wrath, and
then almost howled in his agony. He thought of the young loving wife
who had lived with him little more than for one fleeting year, and
wondered whether she was looking down upon him from Heaven, and how
her spirit would bear this accusation against the man upon whose
bosom she had slept, and in whose arms she had gone to her long rest.
"They can't believe it," he said aloud. "It is impossible. Why should
I have murdered him?" And then he remembered an example in Latin
from some rule of grammar, and repeated it to himself over and over
again.--"No one at an instant,--of a sudden,--becomes most base." It
seemed to him that there was such a want of knowledge of human nature
in the supposition that it was possible that he should have committed
such a crime. And yet--there he was, committed to take his trial for
the murder of Mr. Bonteen.

The days were long, and it was daylight till nearly nine. Indeed the
twilight lingered, even through those iron bars, till after nine. He
had once asked for candles, but had been told that they could not be
allowed him without an attendant in the room,--and he had dispensed
with them. He had been treated doubtless with great respect, but
nevertheless he had been treated as a prisoner. They hardly denied
him anything that he asked, but when he asked for that which they did
not choose to grant they would annex conditions which induced him to
withdraw his request. He understood their ways now, and did not rebel
against them.

On a sudden he heard the key in the door, and the man who attended
him entered the room with a candle in his hand. A lady had come to
call, and the governor had given permission for her entrance. He
would return for the light,--and for the lady, in half an hour. He
had said all this before Phineas could see who the lady was. And when
he did see the form of her who followed the gaoler, and who stood
with hesitating steps behind him in the doorway, he knew her by her
sombre solemn raiment, and not by her countenance. She was dressed
from head to foot in the deepest weeds of widowhood, and a heavy veil
fell from her bonnet over her face. "Lady Laura, is it you?" said
Phineas, putting out his hand. Of course it was Lady Laura. While the
Duchess of Omnium and Madame Goesler were talking about such a visit,
allowing themselves to be deterred by the wisdom of Mr. Low, she had
made her way through bolts and bars, and was now with him in his
prison.

"Oh, Phineas!" She slowly raised her veil, and stood gazing at him.
"Of all my troubles this,--to see you here,--is the heaviest."

"And of all my consolations to see you here is the greatest." He
should not have so spoken. Could he have thought of things as they
were, and have restrained himself, he should not have uttered words
to her which were pleasant but not true. There came a gleam of
sunshine across her face as she listened to him, and then she threw
herself into his arms, and wept upon his shoulder. "I did not expect
that you would have found me," he said.

She took the chair opposite to that on which he usually sat, and then
began her tale. Her cousin, Barrington Erle, had brought her there,
and was below, waiting for her in the Governor's house. He had
procured an order for her admission that evening, direct from Sir
Harry Coldfoot, the Home Secretary,--which, however, as she admitted,
had been given under the idea that she and Erle were to see him
together. "But I would not let him come with me," she said. "I could
not have spoken to you, had he been here;--could I?"

"It would not have been the same, Lady Laura." He had thought much of
his mode of addressing her on occasions before this, at Dresden and
at Portman Square, and had determined that he would always give her
her title. Once or twice he had lacked the courage to be so hard to
her. Now as she heard the name the gleam of sunshine passed from her
altogether. "We hardly expected that we should ever meet in such a
place as this?" he said.

"I cannot understand it. They cannot really think you killed him." He
smiled, and shook his head. Then she spoke of her own condition. "You
have heard what has happened? You know that I am--a widow?"

"Yes;--I had heard," And then he smiled again. "You will have
understood why I could not come to you,--as I should have done but
for this little accident."

"He died on the day that they arrested you. Was it not strange that
such a double blow should fall together? Oswald, no doubt, told you
all."

"He told me of your husband's death."

"But not of his will? Perhaps he has not seen you since he heard it."
Lord Chiltern had heard of the will before his last visit to Phineas
in Newgate, but had not chosen then to speak of his sister's wealth.

"I have heard nothing of Mr. Kennedy's will."

"It was made immediately after our marriage,--and he never changed
it, though he had so much cause of anger against me."

"He has not injured you, then,--as regards money."

"Injured me! No, indeed. I am a rich woman,--very rich. All
Loughlinter is my own,--for life. But of what use can it be to
me?" He in his present state could tell her of no uses for such a
property. "I suppose, Phineas, it cannot be that you are really in
danger?"

"In the greatest danger, I fancy."

"Do you mean that they will say--you are guilty?"

"The magistrates have said so already."

"But surely that is nothing. If I thought so, I should die. If I
believed it, they should never take me out of the prison while you
are here. Barrington says that it cannot be. Oswald and Violet are
sure that such a thing can never happen. It was that Jew who did it."

"I cannot say who did it. I did not."

"You! Oh, Phineas! The world must be mad when any can believe it!"

"But they do believe it?" This, he said, meaning to ask a question as
to that outside world.

"We do not. Barrington says--"

"What does Barrington say?"

"That there are some who do;--just a few, who were Mr. Bonteen's
special friends."

"The police believe it. That is what I cannot understand;--men who
ought to be keen-eyed and quick-witted. That magistrate believes it.
I saw men in the Court who used to know me well, and I could see that
they believed it. Mr. Monk was here yesterday."

"Does he believe it?"

"I asked him, and he told me--no. But I did not quite trust him as he
told me. There are two or three who believe me innocent."

"Who are they?"

"Low, and Chiltern, and his wife;--and that man Bunce, and his wife.
If I escape from this,--if they do not hang me,--I will remember
them. And there are two other women who know me well enough not to
think me a murderer."

"Who are they, Phineas?"

"Madame Goesler, and the Duchess of Omnium."

"Have they been here?" she asked, with jealous eagerness.

"Oh, no. But I hear that it is so,--and I know it. One learns to feel
even from hearsay what is in the minds of people."

"And what do I believe, Phineas? Can you read my thoughts?"

"I know them of old, without reading them now." Then he put forth his
hand and took hers. "Had I murdered him in real truth, you would not
have believed it."

"Because I love you, Phineas."

Then the key was again heard in the door, and Barrington Erle
appeared with the gaolers. The time was up, he said, and he had come
to redeem his promise. He spoke cordially to his old friend, and
grasped the prisoner's hand cordially,--but not the less did he
believe that there was blood on it, and Phineas knew that such was
his belief. It appeared on his arrival that Lady Laura had not at
all accomplished the chief object of her visit. She had brought
with her various cheques, all drawn by Barrington Erle on his
banker,--amounting altogether to many hundreds of pounds,--which
it was intended that Phineas should use from time to time for the
necessities of his trial. Barrington Erle explained that the money
was in fact to be a loan from Lady Laura's father, and was simply
passed through his banker's account. But Phineas knew that the loan
must come from Lady Laura, and he positively refused to touch it.
His friend, Mr. Low, was managing all that for him, and he would not
embarrass the matter by a fresh account. He was very obstinate, and
at last the cheques were taken away in Barrington Erle's pocket.

"Good-night, old fellow," said Erle, affectionately. "I'll see you
again before long. May God send you through it all."

"Good-night, Barrington. It was kind of you to come to me." Then Lady
Laura, watching to see whether her cousin would leave her alone for
a moment with the object of her idolatry, paused before she gave him
her hand. "Good-night, Lady Laura," he said.

"Good-night!" Barrington Erle was now just outside the door.

"I shall not forget your coming here to me."

"How should we, either of us, forget it?"

"Come, Laura," said Barrington Erle, "we had better make an end of
it."

"But if I should never see him again!"

"Of course you will see him again."

"When! and where! Oh, God,--if they should murder him!" Then she
threw herself into his arms, and covered him with kisses, though her
cousin had returned into the room and stood over her as she embraced
him.

"Laura," said he, "you are doing him an injury. How should he support
himself if you behave like this! Come away."

"Oh, my God, if they should kill him!" she exclaimed. But she allowed
her cousin to take her in his arms, and Phineas Finn was left alone
without having spoken another word to either of them.



CHAPTER LVI

The Meager Family


On the day after the committal a lady, who had got out of a cab at
the corner of Northumberland Street, in the Marylebone Road, walked
up that very uninviting street, and knocked at a door just opposite
to the deadest part of the dead wall of the Marylebone Workhouse.
Here lived Mrs. and Miss Meager,--and also on occasions Mr. Meager,
who, however, was simply a trouble and annoyance in the world,
going about to race-courses, and occasionally, perhaps, to worse
places, and being of no slightest use to the two poor hard-worked
women,--mother and daughter,--who endeavoured to get their living by
letting lodgings. The task was difficult, for it is not everybody who
likes to look out upon the dead wall of a workhouse, and they who
do are disposed to think that their willingness that way should be
considered in the rent. But Mr. Emilius, when the cruelty of his
wife's friends deprived him of the short-lived luxury of his mansion
in Lowndes Square, had found in Northumberland Street a congenial
retreat, and had for a while trusted to Mrs. and Miss Meager for all
his domestic comforts. Mr. Emilius was always a favourite with new
friends, and had not as yet had his Northumberland Street gloss
rubbed altogether off him when Mr. Bonteen was murdered. As it
happened, on that night, or rather early in the day, for Meager
had returned to the bosom of his family after a somewhat prolonged
absence in the provinces, and therefore the date had become specially
remarkable in the Meager family from the double event,--Mr. Meager
had declared that unless his wife could supply him with a five-pound
note he must cut his throat instantly. His wife and daughter had
regretted the necessity, but had declared the alternative to be out
of the question. Whereupon Mr. Meager had endeavoured to force the
lock of an old bureau with a carving-knife, and there had been some
slight personal encounter,--after which he had had some gin and had
gone to bed. Mrs. Meager remembered the day very well indeed, and
Miss Meager, when the police came the next morning, had accounted for
her black eye by a tragical account of a fall she had had against
the bed-post in the dark. Up to that period Mr. Emilius had been
everything that was sweet and good,--an excellent, eloquent
clergyman, who was being ill-treated by his wife's wealthy relations,
who was soft in his manners and civil in his words, and never gave
more trouble than was necessary. The period, too, would have been
one of comparative prosperity to the Meager ladies,--but for that
inopportune return of the head of the family,--as two other lodgers
had been inclined to look out upon the dead wall, or else into the
cheerful back-yard; which circumstance came to have some bearing
upon our story, as Mrs. Meager had been driven by the press of her
increased household to let that good-natured Mr. Emilius know that
if "he didn't mind it" the latch-key might be an accommodation on
occasions. To give him his due, indeed, he had, when first taking the
rooms, offered to give up the key when not intending to be out at
night.

After the murder Mr. Emilius had been arrested, and had been kept in
durance for a week. Miss Meager had been sure that he was innocent;
Mrs. Meager had trusted the policemen, who evidently thought that
the clergyman was guilty. Of the policemen who were concerned on the
occasion, it may be said in a general way that they believed that
both the gentlemen had committed the murder,--so anxious were they
not to be foiled in the attempts at discovery which their duty called
upon them to make. Mr. Meager had left the house on the morning of
the arrest, having arranged that little matter of the five-pound note
by a compromise. When the policeman came for Mr. Emilius, Mr. Meager
was gone. For a day or two the lodger's rooms were kept vacant for
the clergyman till Mrs. Meager became quite convinced that he had
committed the murder, and then all his things were packed up and
placed in the passage. When he was liberated he returned to the
house, and expressed unbounded anger at what had been done. He took
his two boxes away in a cab, and was seen no more by the ladies of
Northumberland Street.

But a further gleam of prosperity fell upon them in consequence of
the tragedy which had been so interesting to them. Hitherto the
inquiries made at their house had had reference solely to the habits
and doings of their lodger during the last few days; but now there
came to them a visitor who made a more extended investigation; and
this was one of their own sex. It was Madame Goesler who got out
of the cab at the workhouse corner, and walked from thence to Mrs.
Meager's house. This was her third appearance in Northumberland
Street, and at each coming she had spoken kind words, and had left
behind her liberal recompense for the trouble which she gave. She
had no scruples as to paying for the evidence which she desired to
obtain,--no fear of any questions which might afterwards be asked
in cross-examination. She dealt out sovereigns--womanfully, and had
had Mrs. and Miss Meager at her feet. Before the second visit was
completed they were both certain that the Bohemian converted Jew had
murdered Mr. Bonteen, and were quite willing to assist in hanging
him.

"Yes, Ma'am," said Mrs. Meager, "he did take the key with him. Amelia
remembers we were a key short at the time he was away." The absence
here alluded to was that occasioned by the journey which Mr. Emilius
took to Prague, when he heard that evidence of his former marriage
was being sought against him in his own country.

"That he did," said Amelia, "because we were put out ever so. And he
had no business, for he was not paying for the room."

"You have only one key."

"There is three, Ma'am. The front attic has one regular because he's
on a daily paper, and of course he doesn't get to bed till morning.
Meager always takes another, and we can't get it from him ever so."

"And Mr. Emilius took the other away with him?" asked Madame Goesler.

"That he did, Ma'am. When he came back he said it had been in a
drawer,--but it wasn't in the drawer. We always knows what's in the
drawers."

"The drawer wasn't left locked, then?"

"Yes, it was, Ma'am, and he took that key--unbeknownst to us," said
Mrs. Meager. "But there is other keys that open the drawers. We are
obliged in our line to know about the lodgers, Ma'am."

This was certainly no time for Madame Goesler to express
disapprobation of the practices which were thus divulged. She smiled,
and nodded her head, and was quite sympathetic with Mrs. Meager. She
had learned that Mr. Emilius had taken the latch-key with him to
Bohemia, and was convinced that a dozen other latch-keys might have
been made after the pattern without any apparent detection by the
London police. "And now about the coat, Mrs. Meager."

"Well, Ma'am?"

"Mr. Meager has not been here since?"

"No, Ma'am. Mr. Meager, Ma'am, isn't what he ought to be. I never do
own it up, only when I'm driven. He hasn't been home."

"I suppose he still has the coat."

"Well, Ma'am, no. We sent a young man after him, as you said, and the
young man found him at the Newmarket Spring."

"Some water cure?" asked Madame Goesler.

"No, Ma'am. It ain't a water cure, but the races. He hadn't got the
coat. He does always manage a tidy great coat when November is coming
on, because it covers everything, and is respectable, but he mostly
parts with it in April. He gets short, and then he--just pawns it."

"But he had it the night of the murder?"

"Yes, Ma'am, he had. Amelia and I remembered it especial. When we
went to bed, which we did soon after ten, it was left in this room,
lying there on the sofa." They were now sitting in the little back
parlour, in which Mrs. and Miss Meager were accustomed to live.

"And it was there in the morning?"

"Father had it on when he went out," said Amelia.

"If we paid him he would get it out of the pawnshop, and bring it to
us, would he not?" asked the lady.

To this Mrs. Meager suggested that it was quite on the cards that Mr.
Meager might have been able to do better with his coat by selling it,
and if so, it certainly would have been sold, as no prudent idea of
redeeming his garment for the next winter's wear would ever enter his
mind. And Mrs. Meager seemed to think that such a sale would not have
taken place between her husband and any old friend. "He wouldn't know
where he sold it," said Mrs. Meager.

"Anyways he'd tell us so," said Amelia.

"But if we paid him to be more accurate?" said Madame Goesler.

"They is so afraid of being took up themselves," said Mrs. Meager.
There was, however, ample evidence that Mr. Meager had possessed a
grey great coat, which during the night of the murder had been left
in the little sitting-room, and which they had supposed to have lain
there all night. To this coat Mr. Emilius might have had easy access.
"But then it was a big man that was seen, and Emilius isn't no ways a
big man. Meager's coat would be too long for him, ever so much."

"Nevertheless we must try and get the coat," said Madame Goesler.
"I'll speak to a friend about it. I suppose we can find your husband
when we want him?"

"I don't know, Ma'am. We never can find him; but then we never do
want him,--not now. The police know him at the races, no doubt. You
won't go and get him into trouble, Ma'am, worse than he is? He's
always been in trouble, but I wouldn't like to be means of making it
worse on him than it is."

Madame Goesler, as she again paid the woman for her services, assured
her that she would do no injury to Mr. Meager. All that she wanted of
Mr. Meager was his grey coat, and that not with any view that could
be detrimental either to his honour or to his safety, and she was
willing to pay any reasonable price,--or almost any unreasonable
price,--for the coat. But the coat must be made to be forthcoming if
it were still in existence, and had not been as yet torn to pieces by
the shoddy makers.

"It ain't near come to that yet," said Amelia. "I don't know that I
ever see father more respectable,--that is, in the way of a great
coat."



CHAPTER LVII

The Beginning of the Search for the Key and the Coat


When Madame Goesler revealed her plans and ideas to Mr. Wickerby,
the attorney, who had been employed to bring Phineas Finn through
his troubles, that gentleman evidently did not think much of the
unprofessional assistance which the lady proposed to give him. "I'm
afraid it is far-fetched, Ma'am,--if you understand what I mean,"
said Mr. Wickerby. Madame Goesler declared that she understood very
well what Mr. Wickerby meant, but that she could hardly agree with
him. "According to that the gentleman must have plotted the murder
more than a month before he committed it," said Mr. Wickerby.

"And why not?"

"Murder plots are generally the work of a few hours at the
longest, Madame Goesler. Anger, combined with an indifference to
self-sacrifice, does not endure the wear of many days. And the object
here was insufficient. I don't think we can ask to have the trial put
off in order to find out whether a false key may have been made in
Prague."

"And you will not look for the coat?"

"We can look for it, and probably get it, if the woman has not lied
to you; but I don't think it will do us any good. The woman probably
is lying. You have been paying her very liberally, so that she has
been making an excellent livelihood out of the murder. No jury would
believe her. And a grey coat is a very common thing. After all, it
would prove nothing. It would only let the jury know that Mr. Meager
had a grey coat as well as Mr. Finn. That Mr. Finn wore a grey coat
on that night is a fact which we can't upset. If you got hold of
Meager's coat you wouldn't be a bit nearer to proof that Emilius had
worn it."

"There would be the fact that he might have worn it."

"Madame Goesler, indeed it would not help our client. You see what
are the difficulties in our way. Mr. Finn was on the spot at the
moment, or so near it as to make it certainly possible that he might
have been there. There is no such evidence as to Emilius, even if he
could be shown to have had a latch-key. The man was killed by such an
instrument as Mr. Finn had about him. There is no evidence that Mr.
Emilius had such an instrument in his hand. A tall man in a grey coat
was seen hurrying to the spot at the exact hour. Mr. Finn is a tall
man and wore a grey coat at the time. Emilius is not a tall man, and,
even though Meager had a grey coat, there is no evidence to show
that Emilius ever wore it. Mr. Finn had quarrelled violently with
Mr. Bonteen within the hour. It does not appear that Emilius ever
quarrelled with Mr. Bonteen, though Mr. Bonteen had exerted himself
in opposition to Emilius."

"Is there to be no defence, then?"

"Certainly there will be a defence, and such a defence as I think
will prevent any jury from being unanimous in convicting my client.
Though there is a great deal of evidence against him, it is all--what
we call circumstantial."

"I understand, Mr. Wickerby."

"Nobody saw him commit the murder."

"Indeed no," said Madame Goesler.

"Although there is personal similarity, there is no personal
identity. There is no positive proof of anything illegal on his
part, or of anything that would have been suspicious had no murder
been committed,--such as the purchase of poison, or carrying
of a revolver. The life-preserver, had no such instrument been
unfortunately used, might have been regarded as a thing of custom."

"But I am sure that that Bohemian did murder Mr. Bonteen," said
Madame Goesler, with enthusiasm.

"Madame," said Mr. Wickerby, holding up both his hands, "I can only
wish that you could be upon the jury."

"And you won't try to show that the other man might have done it?"

"I think not. Next to an alibi that breaks down;--you know what an
alibi is, Madame Goesler?"

"Yes, Mr. Wickerby; I know what an alibi is."

"Next to an alibi that breaks down, an unsuccessful attempt to affix
the fault on another party is the most fatal blow which a prisoner's
counsel can inflict upon him. It is always taken by the jury as so
much evidence against him. We must depend altogether on a different
line of defence."

"What line, Mr. Wickerby?"

"Juries are always unwilling to hang,"--Madame Goesler shuddered
as the horrid word was broadly pronounced,--"and are apt to think
that simply circumstantial evidence cannot be suffered to demand
so disagreeable a duty. They are peculiarly averse to hanging a
gentleman, and will hardly be induced to hang a member of Parliament.
Then Mr. Finn is very good-looking, and has been popular,--which
is all in his favour. And we shall have such evidence on the score
of character as was never before brought into one of our courts.
We shall have half the Cabinet. There will be two dukes." Madame
Goesler, as she listened to the admiring enthusiasm of the attorney
while he went on with his list, acknowledged to herself that her
dear friend, the Duchess, had not been idle. "There will be three
Secretaries of State. The Secretary of State for the Home Department
himself will be examined. I am not quite sure that we mayn't get the
Lord Chancellor. There will be Mr. Monk,--about the most popular man
in England,--who will speak of the prisoner as his particular friend.
I don't think any jury would hang a particular friend of Mr. Monk's.
And there will be ever so many ladies. That has never been done
before, but we mean to try it." Madame Goesler had heard all this,
and had herself assisted in the work. "I rather think we shall get
four or five leading members of the Opposition, for they all disliked
Mr. Bonteen. If we could manage Mr. Daubeny and Mr. Gresham, I think
we might reckon ourselves quite safe. I forgot to say that the Bishop
of Barchester has promised."

"All that won't prove his innocence, Mr. Wickerby." Mr. Wickerby
shrugged his shoulders. "If he be acquitted after that fashion men
then will say--that he was guilty."

"We must think of his life first, Madame Goesler," said the attorney.

Madame Goesler when she left the attorney's room was very
ill-satisfied with him. She desired some adherent to her cause who
would with affectionate zeal resolve upon washing Phineas Finn white
as snow in reference to the charge now made against him. But no man
would so resolve who did not believe in his innocence,--as Madame
Goesler believed herself. She herself knew that her own belief was
romantic and unpractical. Nevertheless, the conviction of the guilt
of that other man, towards which she still thought that much could
be done if that coat were found and the making of a secret key were
proved, was so strong upon her that she would not allow herself to
drop it. It would not be sufficient for her that Phineas Finn should
be acquitted. She desired that the real murderer should be hung
for the murder, so that all the world might be sure,--as she was
sure,--that her hero had been wrongfully accused.

"Do you mean that you are going to start yourself?" the Duchess said
to her that same afternoon.

"Yes, I am."

"Then you must be very far gone in love, indeed."

"You would do as much, Duchess, if you were free as I am. It isn't a
matter of love at all. It's womanly enthusiasm for the cause one has
taken up."

"I'm quite as enthusiastic,--only I shouldn't like to go to Prague in
June."

"I'd go to Siberia in January if I could find out that that horrid
man really committed the murder."

"Who are going with you?"

"We shall be quite a company. We have got a detective policeman, and
an interpreter who understands Czech and German to go about with the
policeman, and a lawyer's clerk, and there will be my own maid."

"Everybody will know all about it before you get there."

"We are not to go quite together. The policeman and the interpreter
are to form one party, and I and my maid another. The poor clerk is
to be alone. If they get the coat, of course you'll telegraph to me."

"Who is to have the coat?"

"I suppose they'll take it to Mr. Wickerby. He says he doesn't want
it,--that it would do no good. But I think that if we could show that
the man might very easily have been out of the house,--that he had
certainly provided himself with means of getting out of the house
secretly,--the coat would be of service. I am going at any rate; and
shall be in Paris to-morrow morning."

"I think it very grand of you, my dear; and for your sake I hope
he may live to be Prime Minister. Perhaps, after all, he may give
Plantagenet his 'Garter.'"

When the old Duke died, a Garter became vacant, and had of course
fallen to the gift of Mr. Gresham. The Duchess had expected that it
would be continued in the family, as had been the Lieutenancy of
Barsetshire, which also had been held by the old Duke. But the Garter
had been given to Lord Cantrip, and the Duchess was sore. With all
her Radical propensities and inclination to laugh at dukes and
marquises, she thought very much of Garters and Lieutenancies;--but
her husband would not think of them at all, and hence there were
words between them. The Duchess had declared that the Duke should
insist on having the Garter. "These are things that men do not ask
for," the Duke had said.

"Don't tell me, Plantagenet, about not asking. Everybody asks for
everything nowadays."

"Your everybody is not correct, Glencora. I never yet asked for
anything,--and never shall. No honour has any value in my eyes unless
it comes unasked." Thereupon it was that the Duchess now suggested
that Phineas Finn, when Prime Minister, might perhaps bestow a Garter
upon her husband.

And so Madame Goesler started for Prague with the determination
of being back, if possible, before the trial began. It was to be
commenced at the Old Bailey towards the end of June, and people
already began to foretell that it would extend over a very long
period. The circumstances seemed to be simple; but they who
understood such matters declared that the duration of a trial
depended a great deal more on the public interest felt in the matter
than upon its own nature. Now it was already perceived that no
trial of modern days had ever been so interesting as would be this
trial. It was already known that the Attorney-General, Sir Gregory
Grogram, was to lead the case for the prosecution, and that the
Solicitor-General, Sir Simon Slope, was to act with him. It had been
thought to be due to the memory and character of Mr. Bonteen, who
when he was murdered had held the office of President of the Board of
Trade, and who had very nearly been Chancellor of the Exchequer, that
so unusual a task should be imposed on these two high legal officers
of the Government. No doubt there would be a crowd of juniors with
them, but it was understood that Sir Gregory Grogram would himself
take the burden of the task upon his own shoulders. It was declared
everywhere that Sir Gregory did believe Phineas Finn to be guilty,
but it was also declared that Sir Simon Slope was convinced he was
innocent. The defence was to be entrusted to the well-practised
but now aged hands of that most experienced practitioner Mr.
Chaffanbrass, than whom no barrister living or dead ever rescued more
culprits from the fangs of the law. With Mr. Chaffanbrass, who quite
late in life had consented to take a silk gown, was to be associated
Mr. Serjeant Birdbolt,--who was said to be employed in order that the
case might be in safe hands should the strength of Mr. Chaffanbrass
fail him at the last moment; and Mr. Snow, who was supposed to handle
a witness more judiciously than any of the rising men, and that
subtle, courageous, eloquent, and painstaking youth, Mr. Golightly,
who now, with no more than ten or fifteen years' practice, was
already known to be earning his bread and supporting a wife and
family.

But the glory of this trial would not depend chiefly on the array of
counsel, nor on the fact that the Lord Chief Justice himself would be
the judge, so much as on the social position of the murdered man and
of the murderer. Noble lords and great statesmen would throng the
bench of the court to see Phineas Finn tried, and all the world who
could find an entrance would do the same to see the great statesmen
and the noble lords. The importance of such an affair increases
like a snowball as it is rolled on. Many people talk much, and then
very many people talk very much more. The under-sheriffs of the
City, praiseworthy gentlemen not hitherto widely known to fame,
became suddenly conspicuous and popular, as being the dispensers of
admissions to seats in the court. It had been already admitted by
judges and counsel that sundry other cases must be postponed, because
it was known that the Bonteen murder would occupy at least a week. It
was supposed that Mr. Chaffanbrass would consume a whole day at the
beginning of the trial in getting a jury to his mind,--a matter on
which he was known to be very particular,--and another whole day at
the end of the trial in submitting to the jury the particulars of all
the great cases on record in which circumstantial evidence was known
to have led to improper verdicts. It was therefore understood that
the last week in June would be devoted to the trial, to the exclusion
of all other matters of interest. When Mr. Gresham, hard pressed by
Mr. Turnbull for a convenient day, offered that gentleman Thursday,
the 24th of June, for suggesting to the House a little proposition
of his own with reference to the English Church establishment, Mr.
Turnbull openly repudiated the offer, because on that day the trial
of Phineas Finn would be commenced. "I hope," said Mr. Gresham, "that
the work of the country will not be impeded by that unfortunate
affair." "I am afraid," said Mr. Turnbull, "that the right honourable
gentleman will find that the member for Tankerville will on that day
monopolise the attention of this House." The remark was thought to
have been made in very bad taste, but nobody doubted its truth.
Perhaps the interest was enhanced among politicians by the existence
very generally of an opinion that though Phineas Finn had murdered
Mr. Bonteen, he would certainly be acquitted. Nothing could then
prevent the acquitted murderer from resuming his seat in the House,
and gentlemen were already beginning to ask themselves after what
fashion it would become them to treat him. Would the Speaker catch
his eye when he rose to speak? Would he still be "Phineas" to the
very large number of men with whom his general popularity had made
him intimate? Would he be cold-shouldered at the clubs, and treated
as one whose hands were red with blood? or would he become more
popular than ever, and receive an ovation after his acquittal?

In the meantime Madame Goesler started on her journey for Prague.



CHAPTER LVIII

The Two Dukes


It was necessary that the country should be governed, even though
Mr. Bonteen had been murdered;--and in order that it should be duly
governed it was necessary that Mr. Bonteen's late place at the Board
of Trade should be filled. There was some hesitation as to the
filling it, and when the arrangement was completed people were very
much surprised indeed. Mr. Bonteen had been appointed chiefly because
it was thought that he might in that office act as a quasi House of
Commons deputy to the Duke of Omnium in carrying out his great scheme
of a five-farthinged penny and a ten-pennied shilling. The Duke, in
spite of his wealth and rank and honour, was determined to go on with
his great task. Life would be nothing to him now unless he could at
least hope to arrange the five farthings. When his wife had bullied
him about the Garter he had declared to her, and with perfect truth,
that he had never asked for anything. He had gone on to say that he
never would ask for anything; and he certainly did not think that
he was betraying himself with reference to that assurance when he
suggested to Mr. Gresham that he would himself take the place left
vacant by Mr. Bonteen--of course retaining his seat in the Cabinet.

"I should hardly have ventured to suggest such an arrangement to your
Grace," said the Prime Minister.

"Feeling that it might be so, I thought that I would venture to
ask," said the Duke. "I am sure you know that I am the last man to
interfere as to place or the disposition of power."

"Quite the last man," said Mr. Gresham.

"But it has always been held that the Board of Trade is not
incompatible with the Peerage."

"Oh dear, yes."

"And I can feel myself nearer to this affair of mine there than I can
elsewhere."

Mr. Gresham of course had no obje