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Title: The Bertrams
Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Bertrams" ***

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THE BERTRAMS.

A Novel.

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

Author of "Barchester Towers," "Doctor Thorne," etc.

In Three Volumes

VOL. I.



London:
Chapman & Hall, 193 Piccadilly.
1859.

[The right of Translation is reserved.]

London: Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.

      I. VÆ VICTIS!
     II. BREAKFAST AND LUNCH.
    III. THE NEW VICAR.
     IV. OUR PRIMA DONNA.
      V. THE CHOICE OF A PROFESSION.
     VI. JERUSALEM.
    VII. THE MOUNT OF OLIVES.
   VIII. SIR LIONEL BERTRAM.
     IX. MISS TODD'S PICNIC.
      X. THE EFFECTS OF MISS TODD'S PICNIC.
     XI. VALE VALETE.
    XII. GEORGE BERTRAM DECIDES IN FAVOUR OF THE BAR.
   XIII. LITTLEBATH.
    XIV. WAYS AND MEANS.
     XV. MR. HARCOURT'S VISIT TO LITTLEBATH.



THE BERTRAMS.


CHAPTER I.

VÆ VICTIS!


This is undoubtedly the age of humanity--as far, at least, as England
is concerned. A man who beats his wife is shocking to us, and a
colonel who cannot manage his soldiers without having them beaten is
nearly equally so. We are not very fond of hanging; and some of us
go so far as to recoil under any circumstances from taking the blood
of life. We perform our operations under chloroform; and it has even
been suggested that those schoolmasters who insist on adhering in
some sort to the doctrines of Solomon should perform their operations
in the same guarded manner. If the disgrace be absolutely necessary,
let it be inflicted; but not the bodily pain.

So far as regards the low externals of humanity, this is doubtless a
humane age. Let men, women, and children have bread; let them have if
possible no blows, or, at least, as few as may be; let them also be
decently clothed; and let the pestilence be kept out of their way.
In venturing to call these low, I have done so in no contemptuous
spirit; they are comparatively low if the body be lower than the
mind. The humanity of the age is doubtless suited to its material
wants, and such wants are those which demand the promptest remedy.
But in the inner feelings of men to men, and of one man's mind to
another man's mind, is it not an age of extremest cruelty?

There is sympathy for the hungry man; but there is no sympathy for
the unsuccessful man who is not hungry. If a fellow mortal be ragged,
humanity will subscribe to mend his clothes; but humanity will
subscribe nothing to mend his ragged hopes so long as his outside
coat shall be whole and decent.

To him that hath shall be given; and from him that hath not shall
be taken even that which he hath. This is the special text that we
delight to follow, and success is the god that we delight to worship.
"Ah! pity me. I have struggled and fallen--struggled so manfully, yet
fallen so utterly--help me up this time that I may yet push forward
once again!" Who listens to such a plea as this? "Fallen! do you want
bread?" "Not bread, but a kind heart and a kind hand." "My friend, I
cannot stay by you; I myself am in a hurry; there is that fiend of
a rival there even now gaining a step on me. I beg your pardon; but
I will put my foot on your shoulder--only for one moment. _Occupet
extremum scabies._"

Yes. Let the devil take the hindmost; the three or four hindmost if
you will; nay, all but those strong-running horses who can force
themselves into noticeable places under the judge's eye. This is the
noble shibboleth with which the English youth are now spurred on
to deeds of--what shall we say?--money-making activity. Let every
place in which a man can hold up his head be the reward of some
antagonistic struggle, of some grand competitive examination. Let us
get rid of the fault of past ages. With us, let the race be ever to
the swift; the victory always to the strong. And let us always be
racing, so that the swift and strong shall ever be known among us.
But what, then, for those who are not swift, not strong? _Væ victis!_
Let them go to the wall. They can hew wood probably; or, at any rate,
draw water.

Were we to ask Lord Derby, or Lord Palmerston, or to consult the
shade of Lord George Bentinck--or to go to those greater authorities
on the subject, Mr. Scott, for instance, and the family of the
Days--we should, I believe, be informed that the race-horse requires
a very peculiar condition. It is not to be obtained quickly, and,
when obtained, will fit the beast for no other than that one purpose
of running races. Crucifix was never good at going in a cab; Ilione
never took her noble owner down to the house of Parliament; nor has
Toxopholite been useful in Leicestershire.

But, nevertheless, let all our work be done by race-horses; all, at
least, that shall be considered honourable. Let us have strength and
speed. And how shall we know who are strong and swift if we do not
train our horses to run against each other? But this early racing
will hardly produce that humanity of spirit of which we now deplore
the want. "The devil take the hindmost" is the very essence of the
young man's book of proverbs. The devil assuredly will take all the
hindmost. None but the very foremost can enter the present heaven of
good things. Therefore, oh my brother, my friend, thou companion of
my youth! may the devil take thee; thee quickly, since it needs must
be thee or me.

_Væ victis_--alas! for these hindmost ones; there are so many of
them! The skim-milk will always be so much more in quantity than the
cream. With us at present cream is required for everything; nothing
can be well done now unless it be done by cream of some sort. That
milk has been skimmed; the cream has been taken away. No matter; skim
it again. There shall be something yet which we will call cream.
Competitive examination will produce something that shall look to
be strong; that shall be swift, if it be only for a start of twenty
yards.

This is the experiment of the present day. Wise men say that when
nothing but cream is accepted, all mankind, all boykind rather, will
prepare itself for a skimming of some sort; and that the quantity of
cream produced will be immense. It is only done as an instigation to
education. Much may be said in opposition to this; but nothing shall
be said here. It is merely of the cruelty of spirit that is thus
engendered that we now speak. Success is the only test of merit.
Words have lost their old significance, and to deserve only is not
meritorious. _Væ victis!_ there are so many of them!

"Thompson," says Johnson, the young poet, when he has at last
succeeded in getting the bosomest of his friends alone into his
chamber with him, "have you happened to look at my Iphigenia yet?"

Thompson can't say that he has. He has been busy; has had so many
water-parties; and then, somehow, he doesn't think that he is very
partial to modern poetry on subjects of old mythology. Of course,
however, he means to read it--some of these days.

"I wish you would," says Johnson, tendering a copy of the thin
volume. "I really wish you would; and let me have your candid
opinion. The press certainly have not noticed it much, and what they
have said has been very luke-warm."

"I am sorry for that," says Thompson, looking grave.

"And I did my best with it too. You would hardly believe how hard
I worked at it. There is not a line that has not been weighed and
written, perhaps, three times over. I do not think I am conceited;
but I cannot but believe that there is something in it. The reviewers
are so jealous! if a man has not a name, they will give him credit
for nothing; and it is so hard to begin."

"I am sure it is," says Thompson.

"I don't expect fame; and as for money, of course I don't think of
that. But I should like to know that it had been read by one or two
persons who could understand it. I have given to it the best of
my time, the best of my labour. I cannot but think that there is
something in it." Thus pleads the unsuccessful one for mercy.

And thus answers to him the successful one, with no grain of mercy in
his composition:--"My dear Johnson, my maxim is this, that in this
world every man gets in the long run exactly what he deserves--"

"Did Milton get what he deserved?"

"These are not the days of Milton. I don't want to hurt your
feelings; but old friends as we are, I should not forgive myself if I
didn't tell you what I really think. Poetry is all very well; but you
can't create a taste for it if it doesn't exist. Nobody that I know
of cares a d---- for Iphigenia."

"You think I should change my subject, then?"

"To tell you the truth, I think you should change your trade. This is
the third attempt, you know. I dare say they are very good in their
way; but if the world liked them, the world would have found it out
by this time. '_Vox populi, vox Dei_'--that is my motto--I don't
trust my own judgment; I trust that of the public. If you will take
my advice, you will give up Iphigenia and the rest of them. You see
you are doing nothing whatever at the bar," &c., &c.

And thus Johnson is left, without a scrap of comfort, a word of
consolation, a spark of sympathy; and yet he had given to that
Iphigenia of his the best that was in him to give. Had his publisher
sold ten thousand copies of it, how Thompson would have admired it!
how he would have pressed the poet in his arms, and have given him
champagne up at Richmond! But who now has sympathy for failure? To
fail is to be disgraced. _Væ victis!_

There is something very painful in these races, which we English are
always running, to one who has tenderness enough to think of the nine
beaten horses instead of the one who has conquered. Look at that
list which has just come out after our grand national struggle at
Cambridge. How many wranglers are there? Thirty, shall we say? and
it is always glorious to be a wrangler. Out of that thirty there is
probably but one who has not failed, who is not called on to submit
to the inward grief of having been beaten. The youth who is second,
who has thus shown himself to be possessed of a mass of erudition
sufficient to crush an ordinary mind to the earth, is ready to eat
his heart with true bitterness of spirit. After all his labour, his
midnight oil, his many sleepless nights, his deserted pleasures, his
racking headaches, Amaryllis abandoned, and Neæra seen in the arms of
another--! After all this, to be beaten by Jones! Had it been Green
or Smith he could have borne it. Would it not have been better to do
as others had done? he could have been contented to have gone out in
the crowd; but there is nothing so base as to be second--and then
second to Jones!

Out of the whole lot, Jones alone is contented; and he is told by
his physician that he must spend his next two winters at Cairo. The
intensity of his application has put his lungs into very serious
jeopardy.

It was at Oxford, in the year 184--, that a young man sat in
his college-rooms at Balliol a wretched victim to unsuccessful
competition. It had been everything to him to come out as a first in
classics, and he had dared to dream even of a double-first. But he
had failed in both. The lists had just appeared, and he was only a
second-class man. Now, a second-class man is not much thought of at
Balliol, and he had lost his chance of an immediate fellowship.

But this was perhaps hardly the worst of it. Arthur Wilkinson, for
such was this gentleman's name, had hitherto run his race in life
alongside a friend and rival named George Bertram; and in almost
every phase of life had hitherto been beaten. The same moment that
had told Wilkinson of his failure had told him also that Bertram
had obtained the place he had so desired. Bertram was the only
double-first man of his year.

As these two young men will play the foremost parts in the following
pages, I will endeavour to explain, in as few words as possible, who
each of them was. As Bertram seems to have been the favourite with
fortune, I will begin with him.

His father at the time alluded to was still alive, but his son George
had seen but little of him. Sir Lionel Bertram had been a soldier
of fortune, which generally, I believe, means a soldier without a
fortune, and in that capacity he was still in some sort fighting his
country's battles. At the present moment he held a quasi-military
position in Persia, where he had been for the last five years, and
previously to that he had served in Canada, India, the Cape of Good
Hope, and on some special mission at Monte Video. He had, therefore,
seen a good deal of the world; but very little of his only child.
Mrs. Bertram, George's mother, had died early in life, and Mr.
(afterwards Sir Lionel) Bertram had roamed the world free from all
encumbrances.

The Rev. Arthur Wilkinson, vicar of Hurst Staple, on the borders
of Hampshire and Berkshire, had married a first-cousin of Mrs.
Bertram's; and when young George Bertram, at the age of nine, was
tossing about the world rather in want of a fixed home, Mr. Wilkinson
undertook to give him that home, and to educate him with his own
eldest child till they should both be sent to some school. For
three years George Bertram lived at Hurst Staple, and was educated
accordingly. During these years he used to go annually for one month
to the house of an uncle, who in due time will also be introduced to
the reader; and therefore, not unnaturally, this month was regarded
by the boy as his holidays.

Now, it may as well be explained in this place that Sir Lionel
Bertram, though a very gallant man, and peculiarly well adapted to
do business with outlandish people, had never succumbed to a habit
of punctuality in pecuniary matters. An arrangement had been perhaps
rather named than made, that one hundred and thirty pounds per annum
should be paid for young Bertram's needs; and as this was to include
pocket-money, clothing, and washing, as well as such trifles as the
boy's maintenance and education, perhaps the bargain was not a very
hard one as regarded Sir Lionel. The first seventy-five pounds were
paid; but after that, up to the end of the second year, Mr. Wilkinson
had received no more. As he was a poor man, with six children of his
own, and little besides his living, he then thought it better to
mention the matter to Sir Lionel's brother in London. The balance
was instantly paid, and Mr. Wilkinson had no further trouble on that
head. Nor had he much trouble on any other head as regarded young
Bertram. The lad was perhaps not fit to be sainted, and gave Mrs.
Wilkinson the usual amount of trouble as regarded his jackets and
pantaloons; but, on the whole, he was a good boy, free and generous
in his temper, quick in his parts, affectionate in disposition, and
full of humour. Those who examined him most closely (among whom,
perhaps, Mr. Wilkinson was not included) might have observed that
he was hardly as steady as he might have been in his likings and
dislikings; that he made too little of the tasks which he learnt
without trouble; and that, in fact, he was not sufficiently
solicitous about anything. He was, however, undoubtedly a lad of
great promise, and one of whom any father might have been proud.

He was not a handsome boy, nor did he become a handsome man. His face
was too solid, his cheeks too square, and his forehead too heavy; but
his eyes, though small, were bright, and his mouth was wonderfully
marked by intelligence. When he grew to be a man, he wore no beard,
not even the slightest apology for a whisker, and this perhaps
added to the apparent heaviness of his face; but he probably best
understood his own appearance, for in those days no face bore on it
more legible marks of an acute mind.

At the age of twelve, he was sent to Winchester, and as his holidays
were still passed with his uncle, he then ceased to regard Hurst
Staple as his home. Twice a year, as he went up to town, he stayed
there for a couple of days; but he was soon looked on as a visitor,
and the little Wilkinsons no longer regarded him as half a brother in
reality and quite a brother in love.

Arthur Wilkinson was very nearly of the same age. He was just older
than young Bertram--by three months or so; just sufficiently to
give to Wilkinson a feeling of seniority when they first met, and
a consciousness that as he was the senior in age, he should be the
senior in scholastic lore. But this consciousness Wilkinson was not
able to attain; and during all the early years of his life, he was
making a vain struggle to be as good a man as his cousin; that is,
as good in scholarship, as good in fighting, as good in play, and as
good in spirit.

In looks, at any rate, Arthur was superior to George; and much
consolation did his mother receive from this conviction. Young
Wilkinson was a very handsome lad, and grew up to be a handsome man;
but his beauty was of that regular sort which is more pleasing in a
boy than in a man. He also was an excellent lad, and no parent could
be so thankless as to be other than proud of him. All men said all
good things of him, so that Mr. Wilkinson could not but be contented.
Nevertheless, one would always wish to see one's own son not less
bright than one's friend's son.

Arthur Wilkinson was also sent to Winchester. Perhaps it would have
been better for the cousins that they should have gone to different
schools. The matter, however, had been left to Mr. Wilkinson, and
as he thought Winchester good for his own son, he naturally thought
the same school good for Sir Lionel's son. But Bertram was entered
as a commoner, whereas Wilkinson was in the college. Those who know
Winchester will understand, that though, as regarded school business
and school hours, they were at the same establishment, they were not
together at the much more important hours of eating, sleeping, and
playing. They did not cease to be friends, but they did cease to
live together as friends generally do live when educated at the same
school.

At Winchester they both did fairly well; but Bertram did much the
best. He got the prizes, whereas his cousin did but nearly get them.
He went up from class to class above the other, and when the last
tussle for pride of place came on at the close of their boyish
career, Bertram was the victor. He stood forth to spout out Latin
hexameters, and to receive the golden medal, while Wilkinson had no
other privilege but to sit still and listen to them.

I believe masters but seldom recognize the agony of spirit with which
boys endure being beaten in these contests. Boys on such subjects
are very reticent; they hardly understand their own feelings enough
to speak of them, and are too much accustomed both to ridicule and
censure to look anywhere for sympathy. A favourite sister may perhaps
be told of the hard struggle and the bitter failure, but not a word
is said to any one else. His father, so thinks the boy, is angry at
his failure; and even his mother's kisses will hardly be warmed by
such a subject. We are too apt to think that if our children eat
pudding and make a noise they require no sympathy. A boy may fail at
school, and afterwards eat much pudding, and make much noise; but,
ah! how his young heart may sigh for some one to grieve with him over
his failures!

Wilkinson was unfortunate at school. It was a great object with his
father that he should get a scholarship at New College, to which, as
all the world knows, his path lay through the college of Winchester.
When his time came, he was all but successful--but he was not
successful. The vacancies in his year were few in number, only three,
and of these two were preoccupied, according to the then rule of the
place, by those heaven-born Wykamists, called founder's kin He was
only the second best on the list, and lost the prize.

Bertram, having been a commoner, had had no right to think of New
College; but at the time when he was to be removed to Oxford, his
uncle gave him to understand that money was a great object to him.
His father's mind was still too fully absorbed in the affairs of his
country to enable him to think much of his son's expenditure, and his
uncle at this period took a fit of disgust on the subject.

"Very well," said George, "I will give up Oxford if I cannot do
something for myself."

He went up, however, to Trinity, and became a candidate for a
scholarship there. This he obtained to the great surprise of all the
Wilkinsons and of himself. In those days, a lad of eighteen who could
get a scholarship at Trinity was considered to be nearly safe in his
career. I do not know how far this may be altered now. The uncle,
when he heard of his nephew's success, immediately allowed him what
would have been amply sufficient for him had he been in possession of
no income from his scholarship. Bertram, therefore, had been almost a
rich man during his residence at Oxford.

Young Wilkinson, though he lost New College, received a small
scholarship from Winchester, and he also was sent by his father to
Oxford. To enable him to do this, Mr. Wilkinson was forced to make a
great struggle. He had five other children--four daughters, and one
younger son, and it was with difficulty that he could make up the
necessary allowance to carry Arthur through the University. But he
did do so, and the disappointed Wykamist went up to Balliol with an
income amounting to about half that which his cousin enjoyed.

We need not follow them very accurately through their college
careers. They both became prizemen--one by force of intellect, and
the other by force of industry. They both went through their little
goes and other goes with sufficient zeal, up to that important day
on which the great go of all was to be undergone. They both belonged
to the same debating society at Oxford, and though they thought very
differently on most important subjects, they remained, with some few
temporary interruptions, fast friends through their four years of
Oxford residence.

There were periods when the Balliol man was considered by his friends
to run a better chance of academical success than his brighter cousin
at Trinity. Wilkinson worked hard during his three first years, and
Bertram did not. The style of mind, too, of the former was the more
adapted to win friends at Oxford. In those days the Tracts were new,
and read by everybody, and what has since been called Puseyism was in
its robust infancy. Wilkinson proclaimed himself, while yet little
more than a boy, to be an admirer of poor Froude and a follower of
Newman. Bertram, on the other hand, was unsparing in his ridicule
of the "Remains," set himself in full opposition to the Sewells,
and came out as a poet--successfully, as far as the Newdegate was
concerned--in direct opposition to Keble and Faber.

For three years Wilkinson worked hard and regularly; but the _éclat_
attending on his success somewhat injured him. In his fourth year,
or, at any rate, in the earlier part of it, he talked more than he
read, and gave way too much to the delights of society--too much, at
least, for one who was so poor, and to whom work was so necessary. He
could not keep his position by dint of genius, as Bertram might do;
consequently, though he was held to have taken honours in taking his
degree, he missed the high position at which he had aimed; and on the
day which enabled him to write himself bachelor of arts, he was in
debt to the amount of a couple of hundred pounds, a sum which it was
of course utterly out of his power to pay, and nearly as far out of
the power of his father.

It had always been Bertram's delight to study in such a manner that
men should think he did not study. There was an affectation in this,
perhaps not uncommon to men of genius, but which was deleterious to
his character--as all affectations are. It was, however, the fact,
that during the last year before his examination, he did study hard.
There was a set round him at his college among whom he was esteemed
as a great man--a little sect of worshippers, who looked for their
idol to do great things; and it was a point of honour with them to
assist this pretence of his. They gloried in Bertram's idleness; told
stories, not quite veracious, of his doings at wine-parties; and
proved, to the satisfaction of admiring freshmen, that he thought of
nothing but his horse and his boating. He could do without study more
than any other man could do with it; and as for that plodding Balliol
hero, he might look to be beaten out of the field without an effort.

The Balliol men had been very confident in their hero up to the last
half-year; but then they began to doubt. Poor Wilkinson was beaten by
his rival out of the field, though, probably, not without an effort.
We may say that no man ever gets a double-first in anything without
an effort. But be that as it may, Wilkinson was sitting alone, a very
unhappy man, in his rooms at Balliol, while Bertram was being fêted
to his heart's content at Trinity.

It is a grievous thing to have to write home to one's father, and to
say that one has failed when that father has so anxiously longed for
success. Arthur Wilkinson would have been a made man for life--made
according to the making which both his father and himself at that
time thought the most desirable--if his name had but appeared in
that first-class list. A double-first his father had not hoped for;
but, in resolving not to hope for it, he had consoled himself with
thinking that the hopes which he did form were the more certain of
success;--and then there would always be that further chance of
happiness in store. But now Arthur Wilkinson had to tell his father
that he was neither first nor double-first. His degree was very
respectable for a man who had not looked for much, for one who had
not been talked of in high places; but it was not respectable for
Wilkinson of Balliol.

Væ victis! He was indeed unhappy as he sat there alone, meditating
how he would frame his letter. There were no telegraphs or telegrams
in those days, and it behoved him to write. If he did not, his father
would be at Oxford before the next night was over. How should he
write? Would it not be better to write to his mother? And then what
should he do, or what should he say, about that accursed debt?

His pen and ink and paper were on the table, and he had got into his
chair for the purpose. There he had been for some half-hour, but
still not a word was written; and his chair had somehow got itself
dragged round to the fire. He was thus sitting when he heard a loud
knock at his outer door.

"Come; open the door," said Bertram's voice, "I know you are there."

Wilkinson still sat silent. He had not seen Bertram since the lists
had come out, and he could hardly make up his mind whether he could
speak to him or no.

"I know you're there, and I'll have the door down if you don't
open it. There's nobody with me," shouted the manly voice of his
triumphant friend.

Slowly Wilkinson got up and undid the lock. He tried to smile as he
opened the door; but the attempt was a failure. However, he could
still speak a few words, heavy as his heart was.

"I have to congratulate you," said he to Bertram, "and I do it with
all my heart."

There was very little heart in the tone in which this was spoken; but
then, what could be expected?

"Thank'ee, old fellow, I'm sure you do. Come, Wilkinson, give us your
hand. It's better to have it all out at once. I wish you'd had more
luck, and there's an end of it. It's all luck, you know."

"No, it's not," said Wilkinson, barely able to suppress the tears.

"Every bit of it. If a chap gets a headache, or a fit of the colic,
it's all up with him. Or if he happens to have been loose as to some
pet point of the examiners, it's all up with him. Or if he has taken
a fad into his head, and had a pet point of his own, it's all up with
him then, too, generally. But it will never do, Wilkinson, to boody
over these things. Come, let you and I be seen walking together;
you'll get over it best in that way. We'll go over to Parker's, and
I'll stand a lunch. We'll find Gerard, and Madden, and Twisleton
there. Twisleton's so disgusted at getting a fourth. He says he won't
take it, and swears he'll make them let him go out in the ruck."

"He's got as much as he thought he'd get, at any rate, and therefore
he can't be unhappy."

"Unhappy! who's unhappy? Nonsense, my dear fellow. Shy all that to
the dogs. Come, let's go over to Parker's; we shall find Harcourt
there. You know he's up, don't you?"

"No; and I had rather not meet him just at present."

"My dear fellow, you must get over that."

"That's all very well for you, who have got nothing to get over."

"And have I never had anything to get over? I'll tell you what it is;
I've come here to prevent you from moping, and I don't mean to leave
you. So, you see, you may as well come with me at first."

With some little hesitation, Wilkinson made his friend understand
that he had not yet written home, and that he could not go out till
he had done so.

"Then I'll give you ten minutes to write your letter; it can't
possibly take you more, not even if you put into it my love to my
aunt and cousins."

"I cannot do it while you are here."

"Nonsense! gammon! You shall do it while I'm here. I'll not allow you
to make yourself a miserable ass all for nothing. Come, write. If
it's not written in ten minutes, I'll write it;" and so saying, he
took up a play of Aristophanes wherewith to amuse himself, by way of
light reading, after the heavy work of the week.

Poor Wilkinson again drew his chair to the table, but his heart was
very heavy. Væ victis!



CHAPTER II.

BREAKFAST AND LUNCH.


Wilkinson took the pen in his hand and bent himself over the paper
as though he were going to write; but not an ink-mark fell upon the
paper. How should he write it? The task might have been comparatively
light to him but for that dreadful debt. Bertram in the meantime
tossed over the pages of his book, looking every now and then at his
watch; and then turning sharply round, he exclaimed, "Well!"

"I wish you'd leave me," said Wilkinson; "I'd rather be alone."

"May I be doomed to live and die a don if I do; which style of life,
next to that of an English bishop, I look on as the most contemptible
in the world. The Queen's royal beef-eaters come next; but that, I
think, I could endure, as their state of do-nothingness is not so
absolute a quantity. Come; how far have you got? Give me the paper,
and I'll write you a letter in no time."

"Thank you; I'd rather write my own letter."

"That's just what I want you to do, but you won't;" and then again
he turned for two minutes to the "Frogs." "Well--you see you don't
write. Come, we'll both have a try at it, and see who'll have done
first. I wonder whether my father is expecting a letter from me?"
And, so saying, he seized hold of pen and paper and began to write.


   My dearest Father,

   This weary affair is over at last. You will be sorry to
   hear that the event is not quite as well as it might have
   been as far as I am concerned. I had intended to be a
   first, and, lo! I am only a second. If my ambition had
   been confined to the second class, probably I might have
   come out a first. I am very sorry for it, chiefly for your
   sake; but in these days no man can count on the highest
   honours as a certainty. As I shall be home on Tuesday, I
   won't say any more. I can't give you any tidings about the
   fellowships yet. Bertram has had his old luck again. He
   sends his love to mamma and the girls.

   Your very affectionate son,

   ARTHUR WILKINSON.


"There, scribble that off; it will do just as well as anything else."

Poor Wilkinson took the paper, and having read it, to see that it
contained no absurdity, mechanically copied the writing. He merely
added one phrase, to say that his friend's "better luck" consisted
in his being the only double-first of his year, and one short
postscript, which he took good care that Bertram should not see; and
then he fastened his letter and sent it to the post.

"Tell mamma not to be very unhappy." That was the postscript which he
added.

That letter was very anxiously expected at the vicarage of Hurst
Staple. The father was prepared to be proud of his successful son;
and the mother, who had over and over again cautioned him not to
overwork himself, was anxious to know that his health was good. She
had but little fear as to his success; her fear was that he should
come home thin, pale, and wan.

Just at breakfast-time the postman brought the letter, and the
youngest girl running out on to the gravel brought it up to her
expectant father.

"It is from Arthur," said she; "isn't it, papa? I'm sure I know his
handwriting."

The vicar, with a little nervousness, opened it, and in half a minute
the mother knew that all was not right.

"Is he ill?" said she; "do tell me at once."

"Ill! no; he's not ill."

"Well, what is it? He has not lost his degree?"

"He has not been plucked, papa, has he?" said Sophia.

"Oh, no; he has got his degree--a second in classics!--that's all;"
and he threw the letter over to his wife as he went on buttering his
toast.

"He'll be home on Tuesday," said Mary, the eldest girl, looking over
her mother's shoulder.

"And so George is a double-first," said Mrs. Wilkinson.

"Yes," said the vicar, with his mouth full of toast; not evincing any
great satisfaction at the success of his late pupil.

When the mother read the short postscript her heart was touched, and
she put her handkerchief up to her face.

"Poor Arthur! I am sure it has not been his own fault."

"Mamma, has George done better than Arthur?" said one of the younger
girls. "George always does do better, I think; doesn't he?"

"He has made himself too sure of it," said the father, in almost
an angry tone. Not that he was angry; he was vexed, rather, as he
would be if his wheat crop failed, or his potatoes did not come up
properly.

But he felt no sympathy with his son. It never occurred to him to
think of the agony with which those few lines had been written; of
the wretchedness of the young heart which had hoped so much and
failed so greatly; of the misery which the son felt in disappointing
the father. He was a good, kind parent, who spent his long days and
longer nights in thinking of his family and their welfare; he would,
too, have greatly triumphed in the triumph of his son; but it went
beyond his power of heart to sympathize with him in his misery.

"Do not seem to be vexed with him when he comes home," said the
mother.

"Vexed with him! you mean angry. Of course, I'm not angry. He has
done his best, I suppose. It's unlucky, that's all."

And then the breakfast was continued in silence.

"I don't know what he's to do," said the father, after awhile; "he'll
have to take a curacy, I suppose."

"I thought he meant to stop up at Oxford and take pupils," said Mary.

"I don't know that he can get pupils now. Besides, he'll not have a
fellowship to help him."

"Won't he get a fellowship at all, papa?"

"Very probably not, I should think." And then the family finished
their meal in silence.

It certainly is not pleasant to have one's hopes disappointed; but
Mr. Wilkinson was hardly just in allowing himself to be so extremely
put about by his son's failure in getting the highest honours. Did
he remember what other fathers feel when their sons are plucked? or,
did he reflect that Arthur had, at any rate, done much better than
nineteen out of every twenty young men that go up to Oxford? But then
Mr. Wilkinson had a double cause for grief. Had George Bertram failed
also, he might perhaps have borne it better.

As soon as the letter had been written and made up, Wilkinson
suffered himself to be led out of the room.

"And now for Parker's," said Bertram; "you will be glad to see
Harcourt."

"Indeed, I shall not. Harcourt's all very well; but just at present,
I would much rather see nobody."

"Well, then, he'll be glad to see you; and that will be quite the
same thing. Come along."

Mr. Harcourt was a young barrister but lately called to the bar, who
had been at Oxford spending his last year when Bertram and Wilkinson
were freshmen; and having been at Bertram's college, he had been
intimate with both of them. He was now beginning to practise, and men
said that he was to rise in the world. In London he was still a very
young man; but at Oxford he was held to be one who, from his three
years' life in town, had become well versed in the world's ways. He
was much in the habit of coming to Oxford, and when there usually
spent a good deal of his time with George Bertram.

And so Wilkinson walked forth into the street arm and arm with his
cousin. It was a grievous trial to him; but he had a feeling within
him that the sooner the sorrow was encountered the sooner it would
be over. They turned into the High Street, and as they went they met
crowds of men who knew them both. Of course it was to be expected
that Bertram's friends should congratulate him. But this was not the
worst; some of them were so ill advised as to condole with Wilkinson.

"Get it over at once," whispered Bertram to him, "and then it will be
over, now and for ever."

And then they arrived at Parker's, and there found all those whom
Bertram had named, and many others. Mr. Parker was, it is believed,
a pastrycook by trade; but he very commonly dabbled in more piquant
luxuries than jam tarts or Bath buns. Men who knew what was what, and
who were willing to pay--or to promise to pay--for their knowledge,
were in the habit of breakfasting there, and lunching. Now a
breakfast or a lunch at Parker's generally meant champagne.

Harcourt was seated on the table when they got into the back room,
and the other men were standing.


   "Sound the timbrels, beat the drums;
    See the conqu'ring hero comes,"


he sung out as Bertram entered the room. "Make way for the
double-first--the hero of the age, gentlemen! I am told that they
mean to put up an alabaster statue to him in the Common Room at
Trinity. However, I will vote for nothing more expensive than
marble."

"Make it in pie-crust," said Bertram, "and let Parker be the artist."

"Yes; and we'll celebrate the installation with champagne and _paté
de foie gras_," said Twisleton.

"And afterwards devour the object of our idolatry, to show how
short-lived is the fame for which we work so hard," said Madden.

"I should be delighted at such tokens of your regard, gentlemen.
Harcourt, you haven't seen Wilkinson."

Harcourt turned round and shook hands warmly with his other friend.
"Upon my word, I did not see you, Master Wilkinson. You have such a
habit of hiding yourself under a bushel that one always misses you.
Well; so the great day is over, and the great deed done. It's a bore
out of the way, trampled under foot and got rid of; that's my idea of
a degree."

Wilkinson merely smiled; but Harcourt saw at once that he was a
deeply-disappointed man. The barrister, however, was too much a man
of the world either to congratulate him or condole with him.

"There are fewer firsts this year than there have been for the
last nine years," said Gerard, thinking to soften the asperity of
Wilkinson's position.

"That may be because the examiners required more, or because the men
had less to give," said Madden, forgetting all about Wilkinson.

"Why, what noodles you are," said Bertram, "not to know that it's all
settled by chance at roulette the night before the lists come down!
If it's not, it ought to be. The average result would be just as
fair. Come, Harcourt, I know that you, with your Temple experiences,
won't drink Oxford wine; but your good nature will condescend to
see the children feeding. Wilkinson, sit opposite there and give
Twisleton some of that pie that he was talking of." And so they sat
down to their banquet; and Harcourt, in spite of the refinement which
London had doubtless given to his taste, seemed perfectly able to
appreciate the flavour of the University vintage.

"Gentlemen, silence for one moment," said Harcourt, when the graver
work of eating began to lull, and men torpidly peeled their pears,
and then cut them up into shapes instead of eating them. "It is
always said at all the breakfasts I go to--"

"This is not a breakfast," said Bertram, "it's a lunch."

"Well, all the lunches, then; and God bless you. It's always said at
these matutinal meals--which, by-the-by, would be the nicest things
in the world, only one doesn't know what on earth to do when they're
over."

"It's time to go to dinner then," said Twisleton.

"That may do for the '_dura ilia_' of a freshman, but now that you're
a B.A., you'll find that that power fails you greatly. But, for
heaven's sake, let me go on with my speech, or you'll not get away
either to dinner or to supper. It is commonly declared, I say,
that there should be no speaking at these delicious little morning
repasts."

"Do you call that a little repast?" said Madden, who was lying back
in his chair with a cigar in his mouth, of which he hardly had
strength enough left to puff out the smoke.

"I mean no offence to the feed, which, of its kind, has been only
too good. If I'm to be allowed to go on, I'll say, that this rule,
which is always laid down, is always broken; and therefore I feel
no hesitation in breaking it on this occasion. A long speech is a
long bore, and a little speech is a little bore; but bores must
be endured. We can't do very well without them. Now my bore shall
be a very short bore if I'm allowed to make an end of it without
interruption."

"All right, Harcourt," said Bertram. "Go ahead; we're only too
delighted to hear you. It isn't every day we have a London barrister
here."

"No; and it isn't every day that we have a double-first at old
Trinity. Gentlemen, there are, I think, five, six Trinity men here
including myself. It will be a point of honour with you to drink
health and prosperity to our friend Bertram with all the honours.
We have many men of whom we can boast at Trinity; but if I have any
insight into character, any power of judging what a man will do"--it
must be remembered that Mr. Harcourt, though a very young man in
London, was by no means a young man at Oxford--"there have been very
few before him who have achieved a higher place than will fall to his
lot, or whose name will be more in men's mouths than his. There are
also here four gentlemen of other colleges; they will not, I am sure,
begrudge us our triumph; they are his old friends, and will be as
proud of the Oxford man as we are of the Trinity man. Gentlemen, here
is prosperity to our friend the double-first, and health to enjoy the
fruits of his labour."

Whereupon the toast was drunk with a great deal of fervour. It was
astonishing that ten men should make so much uproar; even Wilkinson,
whose heart the wine had just touched sufficiently to raise it a
little from the depth to which it had fallen--even he cheered; and
Madden, overcoming by degrees his not unnatural repugnance to rise,
produced from certain vast depths a double-bass hurrah.

"Bertram," said he, when the voices and glasses were once more
silent, "you're a credit to your college, and I've a regard for you;
so I don't mind running the risk for once. But I must beg that I may
not be asked to repeat it."

Bertram of course returned thanks to his guests with all the mawkish
modesty which usually marks such speeches--or, rather, with modesty
which would be mawkish were it not so completely a matter of course.
And then he sat down; and then, with a face rather heightened in
colour, he got upon his legs again.

"In spite of Madden's difficulty of utterance," said he, "and his
very visible disinclination to move--"

"I'm not going to do any more shouting," said Madden, "even though
you propose the health of the chancellor, vice-chancellor, and two
members."

"Not even though he throws the proctor's into the bargain," said
Twisleton.

"You may shout or not as you like; but at the risk of giving some
temporary pain to as good a friend as I have in the world, I will ask
you to drink the health of one whom on this occasion fortune has not
favoured--I mean my cousin, Arthur Wilkinson. The lists as they come
down are, I dare say, made out with tolerable fairness. It is not at
any rate for me to grumble at them. But of this I am quite sure, that
did there exist some infallible test for finding out the best man,
no man's name in this year would have been placed before his. He is
not so jovial as the rest of us now, because he has partly failed;
but the time will come when he will not fail." And then Arthur
Wilkinson's health was toasted with a somewhat bated enthusiasm, but
still with sufficient _éclat_ to make every glass in Mr. Parker's
house ring on its shelf.

Poor Wilkinson's ears tingled when he heard his name pronounced; and
he would at the moment have given anything to be allowed to be quiet.
But it may be doubted whether he would not have been more hurt had he
been left there without any notice. It is very hard to tune oneself
aright to a disappointed man. "I'll break the ice for him, at any
rate," said Bertram to himself. "When he's used to talk about it, he
will suffer less."

Wilkinson had been accounted a good hand at speaking in the debating
society, and though rather more prolix than Bertram, and not quite
so vivacious, had been considered almost more than a match for his
cousin on account of his superior erudition and more practised
delivery; but now his voluble gift of words deserted him. "He was
much obliged to them," he said; "though perhaps, on the whole, it was
better that men who placed themselves in a mediocre condition should
be left to their mediocrity. He had no doubt himself of the justness
of the lists. It would be useless for him to say that he had not
aspired; all the world"--it was all the world to him--"knew too
well that he had aspired. But he had received a lesson which might
probably be useful to him for the rest of his life. As for failing,
or not failing, that depended on the hopes which a man might form for
himself. He trusted that his would henceforth be so moderate in their
nature as to admit of a probability of their being realized." Having
uttered these very lugubrious words, and almost succeeded in throwing
a wet blanket over the party, he sat down.

"Now, you're not going to do anybody else, are you?" said Madden.

"Only Twisleton, and Gerard, and Hopgood," answered Bertram; "and
Fortescue looks as if he expected it. Perhaps, however, he'll let us
off till the day after to-morrow."

And then, with a round of milk punch, another cigar apiece, and a
little more chat, the party broke up.

Bertram and Harcourt remained together, and Bertram endeavoured to
induce Wilkinson to stay with them. He, however, wished to be alone,
and got home to his college by himself.

"You always overrated that man," said Harcourt.

"I think not; but time will show. After all, a good degree is not
everything in the world. Who in London cares about senior wranglers
and double-firsts? When all is done, I don't see the use of it."

"Nobody cares much about wranglers and double-firsts; but these are
the men, nevertheless, who get the best of what's going. Wood that
will swim in one water will swim in all waters."

"You'll find Wilkinson will swim yet."

"That is, he won't sink. I don't say he will. Nine-tenths of the men
in the world neither swim nor sink; they just go along with their
bows above the wave, but dreadfully water-logged, barely able to
carry the burdens thrown on them; but yet not absolutely sinking;
fighting a hard fight for little more than mere bread, and forgetting
all other desires in their great desire to get that. When such a man
does get bread, he can't be said to sink."

"Ah! Wilkinson will do more than that."

"Something more, or something less, as the case may be. But, believe
me, he is not the man to make other men fall before him. Industry
alone never does that, and certainly not that sort of industry
which breaks down once in every six months. But come, Mr. Parker's
champagne makes my head buzz: let us take a walk up the river;
Twisleton's idea of going to dinner requires far too much pluck for
me."

And so they walked out along the towing-path, discussing many things
of much importance to them.


   "There is a tide in the affairs of men
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."


In nine cases out of ten, this flood-tide comes _but_ once in life,
and then in early years. A man may have a second or a third chance
for decent maintenance, but hardly a second chance for fortune's
brighter favours. The horse that is to win the race needs not make
all his best running at once; but he that starts badly will rarely do
so. When a young man discusses what shall be his future walk in life,
he is talking of all that concerns his success as far as this world
is concerned. And it is so hard for a youth to know, to make even
a fair guess, as to what his own capacities are! The right man is
wanted in the right place; but how is a lad of two and twenty to
surmise what place will be right for him? And yet, if he surmises
wrong, he fails in taking his tide at its single flood. How many
lawyers are there who should have been soldiers! how many clergymen
who should have been lawyers! how many unsuccessful doctors who might
have done well on 'Change, or in Capel Court!

Bertram had an inkling of this; and Harcourt had more than an
inkling. His path in life was chosen, and he had much self-confidence
that he had chosen it well. He had never doubted much, and since he
had once determined had never doubted at all. He had worked hard, and
was prepared to work hard; not trusting over much in his own talents,
but trusting greatly in his own industry. But Bertram, with double
his friend's genius, had, at any rate as yet, but little of his
friend's stability. To him the world was all before him where to
choose; but he was sadly in want of something that should guide his
choice. He had a high, but at the same time a vague ambition. The
law, the church, letters, art, and politics all enticed him; but
he could not decide of which mistress the blandishments were the
sweetest.

"Well, when shall we have you up in London?" said Harcourt.

"In London! I don't know that I shall go to London. I shall go down
to Hadley for a few weeks of course"--Bertram's uncle lived at the
village of that name, in the close vicinity of Barnet--"but what I
shall do then, I don't in the least know."

"But I know you'll come to London and begin to keep your terms."

"What, at the Middle Temple?"

"At some Temple or some Inn: of course you won't go where anybody
else goes; so probably it will be Gray's Inn."

"No, I shall probably do a much more commonplace thing; come back
here and take orders."

"Take orders! You! You can no more swallow the thirty-nine articles
than I can eat Twisleton's dinner."

"A man never knows what he can do till he tries. A great deal of
good may be done by a clergyman if he be in earnest and not too much
wedded to the Church of England. I should have no doubt about it if
the voluntary principle were in vogue."

"A voluntary fiddlestick!"

"Well, even a voluntary fiddlestick--if it be voluntary and well
used."

"Of course you'll be a barrister. It is what you are cut out for, and
what you always intended."

"It is the most alluring trade going, I own;--but then they are all
such rogues. Of course you will be an exception."

"I shall do at Rome as Romans do--I hope always. My doctrine is, that
we have no immutable law of right and wrong."

"A very comfortable code. I wish I could share it."

"Well, you will some of these days; indeed, you do now practically.
But the subject is too long to talk of here. But as I know you won't
go into the church, I expect to see you settled in London before
Christmas."

"What am I to live on, my dear fellow?"

"Like all good nephews, live on your uncle. Besides, you will have
your fellowship; live on that, as I do."

"You have more than your fellowship; and as for my uncle, to tell you
the truth, I have no fancy for living on him. I am not quite sure
that he doesn't mean me to think that it's charity. However, I shall
have the matter out with him now."

"Have the matter out with him!--and charity! What an ass you are! An
uncle is just the same as a father."

"My uncle is not the same to me as my father."

"No; and by all accounts it's lucky for you that he is not. Stick to
your uncle, my dear fellow, and come up to London. The ball will be
at your foot."

"Did you ever read Marryat's novel, Harcourt?"

"What, Peter Simple?"

"No, that other one: I think of going out as another Japhet in search
of a father. I have a great anxiety to know what mine's like. It's
fourteen years now since I saw him."

"He is at Teheran, isn't he?"

"At Hong Kong, I think, just at present; but I might probably catch
him at Panama; he has something to do with the isthmus there."

"You wouldn't have half the chance that Japhet had, and would only
lose a great deal of time. Besides, if you talk of means, that would
want money."

They were now walking back towards Oxford, and had been talking about
fifty indifferent subjects, when Bertram again began.

"After all, there's only one decent career for a man in England."

"And what is the one decent career?"

"Politics and Parliament. It's all very well belonging to a free
nation, and ruling oneself, if one can be one of the rulers.
Otherwise, as far as I can see, a man will suffer less from the
stings of pride under an absolute monarch. There, only one man has
beaten you in life; here, some seven hundred and fifty do so,--not to
talk of the peers."

"Yes, but then a fellow has some chance of being one of the seven
hundred and fifty."

"I shall go in for that, I think; only who the deuce will return me?
How does a man begin? Shall I send my compliments to the electors of
Marylebone, and tell them that I am a very clever fellow?"

"Exactly; only do something first to show that you are so. I mean
also to look to that; but I shall be well contented if I find myself
in the house in twenty years' time,--or perhaps in thirty."

"Ah, you mean as a lawyer."

"How else should a man without property get into Parliament?"

"That's just what I want to know. But I have no idea, Harcourt, of
waiting twenty years before I make my start in life. A man at any
rate may write a book without any electors."

"Yes, but not have it read. The author who does any good must be
elected by suffrages at least as honestly obtained as those of a
member of Parliament."



CHAPTER III.

THE NEW VICAR.


Poor Arthur Wilkinson was in a very unhappy frame of mind when he
left the party at Parker's, and, indeed, as he went to bed that night
he was in a state not to be envied; but, nevertheless, when the end
of the week came, he was able to enter the parsonage with a cheerful
step, and to receive his mother's embrace with a smiling face. God
is good to us, and heals those wounds with a rapidity which seems to
us impossible when we look forward, but which is regarded with very
insufficient wonder when we look backward.

Before he left Oxford he had seen the head of his college and the
tutor; and had also felt himself bound to visit the tradesmen in
whose black books he was written down as a debtor. None of these
august persons made themselves so dreadful to him as he had expected.
The master, indeed, was more than civil--was almost paternally kind,
and gave him all manner of hope, which came as balm poured into
his sick heart. Though he had failed, his reputation and known
acquirements would undoubtedly get him pupils; and then, if he
resided, he might probably even yet have a college fellowship,
though, no doubt, not quite immediately. The master advised him to
take orders, and to remain within the college as long as the rules
permitted. If he should get his fellowship, they would all be
delighted to have him as one of their body; there could--so thought
the master--be no doubt that he might in the meantime maintain
himself at the University by his pupils. The tutor was perhaps not
quite so encouraging. He was a working man himself, and of a harder
temperament than his head. He thought that Wilkinson should have
got a first, that he had owed it to his college to do so, and that,
having failed to pay his debt, he should not be received with open
arms--at any rate just at first. He was therefore cool, but not
generous. "Yes; I am sorry too; it is a pity," was all he said when
Wilkinson expressed his own grief. But even this was not so bad as
Arthur had expected, and on the whole he left his college with a
lightened heart.

Nor were his creditors very obdurate. They did not smile so sweetly
on him as they would have done had his name been bruited down the
High Street as that of a successful University pet. Had such been his
condition, they would have begged him not to distress their ears by
anything so unnecessarily mundane as the mention of his very small
account. All that they would have wanted of him would have been the
continuation of his favours. As it was, they were very civil. Six
months would do very well. Oh! he could not quite undertake to pay it
in six months, but would certainly do so by instalments in two years.
Two years was a long time, certainly; would not Mr. Wilkinson senior
prefer some quicker arrangement? Oh! Mr. Wilkinson senior could do
nothing! Ah! that was unfortunate! And so the arrangement for two
years--with interest, of course--was accepted. And thus Mr. Wilkinson
junior began the swimming-match of life, as so many others do, with a
slight millstone round his neck. Well; it may be questioned whether
even that is not better than an air-puffed swimming-belt.

When he got home, his mother and sisters hung about him as they
always had done, and protected him in some measure from the cold
serenity of the vicar. To his father he said little on the subject,
and his father said as little to him. They talked, indeed, by the
hour as to the future; and Arthur, in spite of his having resolved
not to do so, told the whole story of his debts, and of his
arrangement for their payment.

"Perhaps I could do something in the spring," said Mr. Wilkinson.

"Indeed, father, you shall do nothing," said the son. "I had enough,
and should have lived on it; as I did not, I must live the closer
now." And so that matter was settled.

In a very few days Arthur found himself going into society with quite
a gay heart. His sisters laughed at him because he would not dance;
but he had now made up his mind for the church, and it would, he
thought, be well for him to begin to look to those amusements which
would be befitting his future sacerdotal life. He practised singing,
therefore, fasted on Fridays, and learnt to make chessmen with a
lathe.

But though his sisters laughed at him, Adela Gauntlet, the daughter
of the neighbouring vicar at West Putford, did not laugh. She so
far approved that by degrees she almost gave over dancing herself.
Waltzes and polkas she utterly abandoned; and though she did
occasionally stand up for a quadrille, she did it in a very
lack-a-daisical way, as though she would have refused that also had
she dared to make herself so peculiar. And thus on the whole Arthur
Wilkinson enjoyed himself that winter, in spite of his blighted
prospects, almost as well as he had on any previous winter that he
remembered.

Now and again, as he walked along the little river bank that ran with
so many turnings from Hurst Staple down to West Putford, he would
think of his past hopes, and lament that he could talk of them to
no one. His father was very good to him; but he was too cold for
sympathy. His mother was all affection, and kindly suggested that,
perhaps, what had happened was for the best: she kindly suggested
this more than once, but her imagination carried her no further. Had
she not four daughters, hitherto without husbands, and also, alas!
without portions? Was it not enough for her to sympathize with them?
As for his sisters--his sisters were well enough--excellent girls;
but they were so gay, so light-hearted, so full of fun and laughter,
that he could not talk to them of his sorrows. They were never
pensive, nor given to that sober sadness which is prone to sympathy.
If, indeed, Adela Gauntlet had been his sister--! And so he walked
along the river to West Putford.

He had now fully made up his mind to go into the church. While yet
thinking of high academical honours, and the brighter paths of
ambition, he also had dreamed of the bar. All young men I believe
do, who have high abilities, a taste for labour, and scanty fortune.
Senior wranglers and double-firsts, when not possessed of means for
political life, usually find their way to the bar. It is on the bench
of judges, not on the bench of bishops, that we must look for them in
after life. Arthur, therefore, had thought of the joys of a Chancery
wig, and had looked forward eagerly to fourteen hours' daily labour
in the purlieus of Lincoln's Inn. But when, like many another, he
found himself disappointed in his earliest hopes, he consoled himself
by thinking that after all the church was the safer haven. And when
he walked down to West Putford there was one there who told him that
it was so.

But we cannot follow him too closely in these early days. He did go
into the church. He did take pupils at Oxford, and went abroad with
two of them in the long vacation. After the lapse of the year, he did
get his fellowship; and had by that time, with great exertion, paid
half of that moiety of his debt which he had promised to liquidate.
This lapse in his purposed performance sat heavy on his clerical
conscience; but now that he had his fellowship he would do better.

And so somewhat more than a year passed away, during which he was but
little at Hurst Staple, and very little at West Putford. But still he
remembered the sweetly-pensive brow that had suited so well with his
own feelings; and ever and again, he heard from one of the girls at
home, that that little fool, Adela Gauntlet, was as bad as a parson
herself, and that now she had gone so far that nothing would induce
her to dance at all.

So matters stood when young Wilkinson received at Oxford a letter
desiring his instant presence at home. His father had been stricken
by paralysis, and the house was in despair. He rushed off, of course,
and arrived only in time to see his father alive. Within twenty-four
hours after his return he found himself the head of a wailing family,
of whom it would be difficult to say whether their wants or their
griefs were most heartrending. Mr. Wilkinson's life had been insured
for six hundred pounds; and that, with one hundred a year which
had been settled on the widow, was now the sole means left for the
maintenance of her and her five children;--the sole means excepting
such aid as Arthur might give.

"Let us thank God that I have got the fellowship," said he to his
mother. "It is not much, but it will keep us from starving."

But it was not destined that the Wilkinsons should be reduced even to
such poverty as this. The vicarage of Hurst Staple was in the gift of
the noble family of Stapledean. The late vicar had been first tutor
and then chaplain to the marquis, and the vicarage had been conferred
on him by his patron. In late years none of the Wilkinsons had seen
anything of the Stapledean family. The marquis, though not an old
man, was reported to be very eccentric, and very cross. Though he had
a beautiful seat in the neighbourhood--not in the parish of Hurst
Staple, but in that of Deans Staple, which adjoins, and which was
chiefly his property--he never came to it, but lived at a much less
inviting mansion in the north of Yorkshire. Here he was said to
reside quite alone, having been separated from his wife; whereas,
his children had separated themselves from him. His daughters were
married, and his son, Lord Stanmore, might more probably be found
under any roof in the country than that of his father.

The living had now to be given away by the marquis, and the Wilkinson
family, who of late years had had no communication with him, did
not even think of thinking of it. But a fortnight after the funeral,
Arthur received a letter with the postmark of Bowes on it, which, on
being opened, was found to be from Lord Stapledean, and which very
curtly requested his attendance at Bowes Lodge. Now Bowes Lodge was
some three hundred miles from Hurst Staple, and a journey thither
at the present moment would be both expensive and troublesome. But
marquises are usually obeyed; especially when they have livings to
give away, and when their orders are given to young clergymen. So
Arthur Wilkinson went off to the north of England. It was the middle
of March, and the east wind was blowing bitterly. But at twenty-four
the east wind does not penetrate deep, the trachea is all but
invulnerable, and the left shoulder knows no twinges.

Arthur arrived at the cold, cheerless village of Bowes with a red
nose, but with eager hopes. He found a little inn there, but he
hardly knew whether to leave his bag or no. Lord Stapledean had said
nothing of entertaining him at the Lodge--had only begged him, if it
were not too much trouble, to do him the honour of calling on him.
He, living on the northern borders of Westmoreland, had asked a man
in Hampshire to call on him, as though their houses were in adjacent
streets; but he had said nothing about a dinner, a bed, or given any
of those comfortable hints which seem to betoken hospitality.

"It will do no harm if I put my bag into the gig," said Arthur; and
so, having wisely provided for contingencies, he started for Bowes
Lodge.

Wisely, as regarded probabilities, but quite uselessly as regarded
the event! Hardy as he was, that drive in the gig from Bowes did
affect him unpleasantly. That Appleby road has few sheltered spots,
and when about three miles from Bowes he turned off to the right, the
country did not improve. Bowes Lodge he found to be six miles from
the village, and when he drove in at the gate he was colder than he
had been since he left Hurst Staple.

There was very little that was attractive about the house or grounds.
They were dark and sombre, and dull and dingy. The trees were all
stunted, and the house, of which half the windows were closed, was
green with the effects of damp. It was large enough for the residence
of a nobleman of moderate pretensions; but it had about it none of
that spruce, clean, well-cared-for appearance which is common to the
country-houses of the wealthy in England.

When he descended from the gig he thought that he might as well leave
his bag there. The sombre-looking servant in black clothes who opened
the door made no inquiry on the subject; and, therefore, he merely
told his Jehu to drive into the yard and wait for further orders.

His lordship was at home, said the sombre, dingy servant, and in
half a minute Arthur found himself in the marquis's study and in the
marquis's presence, with his nose all red and moist, his feet in an
agony of cold, his fingers benumbed, and his teeth chattering. He was
barely allowed time to take off his greatcoat, and, as he did so, he
felt almost disinclined to part with so good a friend.

"How do you do, Mr. Wilkinson?" said the marquis, rising from his
chair behind the study table, and putting out the ends of his fingers
so as to touch the young clergyman's hand. "Pray take a seat." And
Arthur seated himself--as, indeed, he had no alternative--on a
straight-backed old horsehair-bottomed chair which stood immediately
under a tall black book-case. He was miles asunder from the fire; and
had he been nearer to it, it would have availed him but little; for
the grate was one of those which our grandfathers cleverly invented
for transmitting all the heat up the chimney.

The marquis was tall, thin, and gray-haired. He was, in fact, about
fifty; but he looked to be at least fifteen years older. It was
evident from his face that he was a discontented, moody, unhappy
man. He was one who had not used the world over well; but who was
quite self-assured that the world had used him shamefully. He was
not without good instincts, and had been just and honest in his
dealings--except in those with his wife and children. But he believed
in the justness and honesty of no one else, and regarded all men as
his enemies--especially those of his own flesh and blood. For the
last ten years he had shut himself up, and rarely appeared in the
world, unless to make some statement, generally personal to himself,
in the House of Lords, or to proffer, in a plaintive whine to his
brother peers, some complaint as to his neighbour magistrates,
to which no one cared to listen, and which in latter years the
newspapers had declined to publish.

Arthur, who had always heard of the marquis as his father's old
pupil, was astonished to see before him a man so aged. His father had
been only fifty-five when he died, and had appeared to be a hale,
strong man. The marquis seemed to be worn out with care and years,
and to be one whose death might be yearly expected. His father,
however, was gone; but the marquis was destined to undergo yet many
more days of misery.

"I was very sorry to hear of your father's sudden death," said Lord
Stapledean, in his cold, thin voice.

"It was very sudden, my lord," said Arthur, shuddering.

"Ah--yes; he was not a prudent man;--always too fond of strong wine."

"He was always a temperate man," said the son, rather disgusted.

"That is, he never got drunk. I dare say not. As a parish clergyman,
it was not likely that he should. But he was an imprudent man in his
manner of living--very."

Arthur remained silent, thinking it better to say nothing further on
the subject.

"I suppose he has not left his family well provided for?"

"Not very well, my lord. There is something--and I have a
fellowship."

"Something!" said the marquis, with almost a sneer. "How much is this
something?" Whereupon Arthur told his lordship exactly the extent of
his mother's means.

"Ah, I thought as much. That is beggary, you know. Your father was a
very imprudent man. And you have a fellowship? I thought you broke
down in your degree." Whereupon Arthur again had to explain the facts
of the case.

"Well, well, well. Now, Mr. Wilkinson, you must be aware that your
family have not the slightest claim upon me."

"Your lordship is also aware that we have made none."

"Of course you have not. It would have been very improper on your
part, or on your mother's, had you done so--very. People make claims
upon me who have been my enemies through life, who have injured me
to the utmost of their power, who have never ceased striving to make
me wretched. Yes, these very people make claims on me. Here--here is
a clergyman asking for this living because he is a friend of Lord
Stanmore--because he went up the Pyramids with him, and encouraged
him in all manner of stupidity. I'd sooner--well, never mind. I
shan't trouble myself to answer this letter." Now, as it happened
that Lord Stanmore was a promising young nobleman, already much
thought of in Parliament, and as the clergyman alluded to was known
by Arthur to be a gentleman very highly reputed, he considered it
best to hold his tongue.

"No one has a claim on me; I allow no one to have such claims. What I
want I pay for, and am indebted for nothing. But I must put some one
into this living."

"Yes; your lordship must of course nominate some one." Wilkinson said
so much, as the marquis had stopped, expecting an answer.

"I can only say this: if the clergymen in Hampshire do their duty
as badly as they do here, the parish would be better off without a
parson."

"I think my father did his duty well."

"Perhaps so. He had very little to do; and as it never suited me to
reside there, there was never any one to look after him. However,
I make no complaint. Here they are intolerable--intolerable,
self-sufficient, impertinent upstarts, full of crotchets of their
own; and the bishop is a weak, timid fool; as for me, I never go
inside a church. I can't; I should be insulted if I did. It has
however gone so far now that I shall take permission to bring the
matter before the House of Lords."

What could Wilkinson say? Nothing. So he sat still and tried to drive
the cold out of his toes by pressing them against the floor.

"Your father certainly ought to have made some better provision,"
continued Lord Stapledean. "But he has not done so; and it seems to
me, that unless something is arranged, your mother and her children
will starve. Now, you are a clergyman?"

"Yes, I am in orders."

"And can hold a living? You distinctly understand that your mother
has no claim on me."

"Surely none has been put forward, Lord Stapledean?"

"I don't say it has; but you may perhaps fancy by what I say that I
myself admit that there is a claim. Mind; I do no such thing. Not in
the least."

"I quite understand what you mean."

"It is well that you should. Under these circumstances, if I had the
power, I would put in a curate, and pay over the extra proceeds of
the living for your mother's maintenance. But I have no such power."

Arthur could not but think that it was very well his lordship had no
such power. If patrons in general were so privileged there would be,
he thought, but little chance for clergymen.

"As the law stands I cannot do that. But as you are luckily in
orders, I can put you in--on this understanding, that you shall
regard the income as belonging rather to your mother and to your
sisters than to yourself."

"If your lordship shall see fit to present me to the living, my
mother and sisters will of course want nothing that I can give them."

"Ah--h--h--h, my young friend! but that will not be sufficient for
me. I must have a pledge from you--your word as a gentleman and a
clergyman, that you take the living on an understanding that the
income is to go to your father's widow. Why should I give you five
hundred pounds a year? Eh? Tell me that. Why should I nominate a
young man like you to such a living? you, whom I never saw in my
life? Tell me that."

Arthur Wilkinson was a man sufficiently meek in spirit, as ordinary
meekness goes--the ordinary meekness, that is, of a young clergyman
of the Church of England--but he was not quite inclined to put up
with this.

"I am obliged, my lord, to say again that I have not asked for so
great a favour from you. Indeed, till I received your letter desiring
me to come here, I had no other thought of the living than that of
vacating the house whenever your nominee should present himself."

"That's all very well," said Lord Stapledean; "but you must be a
very unnatural son if on that account you refuse to be the means of
providing for your unfortunate mother and sisters."

"I refuse! why, my lord, I regard it as much my duty to keep my
mother and sisters from want as my father did. Whether I am to have
this living or no, we shall live together; and whatever I have will
be theirs."

"That's all very well, Mr. Wilkinson; but the question I ask you is
this: if I make you vicar of Hurst Staple, will you, after deducting
a fair stipend for yourself as curate--say one hundred and fifty
pounds a year if you will--will you make over the rest of the income
to your mother as long as she lives?"

This was a question to which Wilkinson found it very difficult to
give a direct answer. He hardly knew whether he would not be guilty
of simony in making such a promise, and he felt that at any rate the
arrangement would be an improper one.

"If you knew," said he, at last, "the terms on which my mother and I
live together, you would perceive that such a promise is not needed."

"I shall not the less think it necessary to exact it. I am putting
great trust in you as it is, very great trust; more so perhaps than
I am justified in doing." His lordship here alluded merely to the
disposition of the vicarial tithes, and not at all to the care of
souls which he was going to put into the young man's hands.

Arthur Wilkinson again sat silent for awhile.

"One would think," said his lordship, "that you would be glad to
have the means of securing your mother from beggary. I imagined that
you would have been in some measure gratified by my--my--my good
intentions towards your family."

"So I am, my lord; so I am. But I doubt whether I should be justified
in giving such a pledge."

"Justified! you will make me almost doubt, Mr. Wilkinson, whether I
shall be justified in putting the living into your hands; but, at any
rate, I must have an answer."

"What time can you allow me to consider my answer?"

"What time! It never struck me that you could require time. Well;
you can let me have your decision to-morrow morning. Send it me in
writing, so that I may have it before ten. The post goes out at
twelve. If I do not hear from you before ten, I shall conclude that
you have refused my offer." And so speaking the marquis got up from
his chair.

Arthur also got up, and promised that he would send a letter over
from Bowes the first thing on the following morning.

"And tell the messenger to wait for an answer," said his lordship;
"and pray express yourself definitely, so that there may be no
doubt." And then, muttering something as to his hope that the inn was
comfortable, and saying that the state of his health prohibited him
from entertaining visitors, the marquis again put out his fingers,
and Arthur soon found himself in the gig on his journey to Bowes.

He intended returning to town on the following day by the
twelve-o'clock mail, of which Lord Stapledean had spoken. But before
that he had a difficult task to perform. He had no friend to consult,
no one of whom he could ask advice, nothing to rely on but his own
head and his own heart. That suggestion as to simony perplexed him.
Had he the right, or could he have it, to appropriate the income of
the living according to terms laid down by the lay impropriator? At
one time he thought of calling on the old clergyman of the parish and
asking him; but then he remembered what the marquis had said of the
neighbouring parsons, and felt that he could not well consult one of
them on any matter in which his lordship was concerned.

In the evening he considered the matter long and painfully, sitting
over a cup of some exquisitely detestable concoction called tea by
the Bowesian landlady. "If he had only left me to myself," thought
Arthur, "I should do at least as much as that for them. It is for
them that I want it; as for myself, I should be more comfortable at
Oxford." And then he thought of West Putford, and Adela Gauntlet.
This arrangement of Lord Stapledean's would entirely prevent the
possibility of his marrying; but then, the burden of his mother and
sisters would prevent that equally under any circumstances.

It would be a great thing for his mother to be left in her old house,
among her old friends, in possession of her old income. As regarded
money, they would all be sufficiently well provided for. For himself,
his fellowship and his prescribed stipend would be more than enough.
But there was something in the proposition that was very distasteful
to him. He did not begrudge the money to his mother; but he did
begrudge her the right of having it from any one but himself.

But yet the matter was of such vital moment. Where else was he to
look for a living? From his college in the course of years he might
get one; but he could get none that would be equal in value to this
of Hurst Staple, and to his fellowship combined. If he should refuse
it, all those whom he loved would in truth suffer great privation;
and that privation would not be rendered more endurable by the
knowledge that such an offer had been refused.

Thus turning the matter over painfully in his mind, he resolved at
last to accept the offer of the marquis. The payment after all was
to be made to his own mother. The funds of the living were not to be
alienated--were not, in truth, to be appropriated otherwise than they
would have been had no such conditions as these been insisted on.
And how would he be able to endure his mother's poverty if he should
throw away on her behalf so comfortable a provision? He determined,
therefore, to accept the goods the gods had provided him, clogged
though they were with alloy, like so many other gifts of fortune;
and accordingly he wrote a letter to Lord Stapledean, in which he
stated "that he would accept the living, subject to the stipulations
named--namely, the payment to his mother, during her life, of three
hundred and fifty pounds per annum out of the tithes." To this he
received an answer from the marquis, very short and very cold, but
nevertheless satisfactory.

The presentation to the living was, in fact, made in his favour, and
he returned home to his family laden with good news. The dear old
vicarage would still be their own; the trees which they had planted,
the flower-beds which they had shaped, the hives which they had put
up, would not go into the hands of strangers. And more than this,
want no longer stared them in the face. Arthur was welcomed back
with a thousand fond caresses, as one is welcomed who bringeth glad
tidings. But yet his heart was sad. What should he now say to Adela
Gauntlet?



CHAPTER IV.

OUR PRIMA DONNA.


When Arthur first explained to his mother the terms on which the
living had been given to him, she refused to receive the income.
No such promise with reference to money matters between mother and
son could be binding. Were they not, moreover, one and the same
household? Would it not be in the end the same if Arthur should keep
the money himself? If it were paid to her, she should only pay it
back again; and so on. But the vicar declared that he would adhere
strictly to his promised engagement; and the mother soon fell into
the way of thinking the arrangement not altogether a bad one. She had
received intimation through the lord's man of business of the exact
steps which had been taken for the relief of her great pecuniary
distress--so the letter was worded--and it was not long before she
regarded the income as fairly her own.

We are so apt to be generous in the hot moments of impulse; but so
equally apt to be only coldly just, even if coldly just, in the long
years of our ordinary existence.

And so the family again settled down; the commenced packings were
again unpacked; the preliminary arrangements for living on a very
small income were thrown to the winds; the pony that was to have been
sold, and which with that object was being fattened up on boiled
barley, was put on his accustomed rations; the old housekeeper's
warning was revoked, as was also that of the old gardener. It was
astonishing how soon the new vicar seemed to fill the old vicar's
shoes in the eyes and minds of the people of Hurst Staple. Had Mr.
Wilkinson come up from his grave at the end of three months, he would
hardly have found that he was missed. A very elegant little tablet
had been placed to his memory; and there apparently was an end of
him. The widow's cap did make some change in the appearance of the
family circle; but it is astonishing how soon we get used even to a
widow's cap!

There had of course been visits of condolence between West Putford
and Hurst Staple, and the Hurst Staple girls and Adela had been as
much, or perhaps more, together than usual. But Arthur's walks along
the river had not been frequent. This, however, was not thought of
by any one. He had had new duties to assume, and old duties to put
off. He had been a fortnight up at Oxford; and when at home, had
been calling on all his parishioners. He had been attending to the
dilapidations of the vicarage, and rearranging the books in the
book-room. The dingy volumes of thirty years since had been made to
give way to the new and brighter bindings which he had brought from
college.

And therefore no one had remarked that he had but once been at West
Putford. But he thought of it himself. He often longed to go thither,
and as often feared to do so. When he next went, it must be to tell
Adela, not that he loved her, but that such love was forbidden to
him.

The family at West Putford consisted only of the vicar and his
daughter. Mrs. Gauntlet had been long dead, and there had been no
other child. A maiden sister of Mr. Gauntlet's occasionally visited
them, and had, indeed, lived there altogether while Adela's education
had required it; but this lady preferred her own lodgings at
Littlebath, and Adela, therefore, was in general the sole mistress of
the parsonage.

I beg my reader not to imagine that there had been love-passages
between Arthur Wilkinson and Adela Gauntlet: nothing of the sort had
occurred. They had known and loved each other as children together,
and now that they were no longer children, they still knew and loved
each other--that was all. It is true that Arthur, when he had wished
to talk of his own disappointments, had found a better listener at
West Putford than any that he could find at Hurst Staple. It is true
that Adela had always been glad to listen to him; that she had had
pleasure in cheering his fainting heart, and telling him that the
work of a soldier of Christ was worthier of a man than the bickerings
of a statesman or the quibbles of a lawyer; that she had gravely, yet
withal so sweetly, spoken to him of the comforts of a rural life, and
made him almost in love with his own failure. Such passages there had
been between them; but Arthur had never taken her hand and sworn that
it must be his own, nor had Adela ever blushed while half refusing to
give him all he asked.

Why then need he trouble himself about West Putford? Why not let
matters rest as they were? Miss Gauntlet would still be his friend;
though seeing that she could never be more, it might not be well
for him to walk so often along that river. As there had been no
love-passages, one would say that nothing else was necessary.

But he could not content himself that this should be so. Adela would
think him strange if he should say nothing to her of his future
prospects. True, he had spoken no word of love, but had he not
looked at her as though it was in his mind to speak such? Was it not
incumbent on him to make her understand why he threw from him such
golden hopes? And then, as to her, he did not flatter himself that
she loved him--at least, not much; but yet it might be well to let
her know that she was now at liberty to love any other swain. So at
last he once more went his way to West Putford.

Adela Gauntlet was-- No; for once I will venture to have a heroine
without describing her. Let each reader make what he will of her;
fancy her of any outward shape and colour that he please, and endow
her with any amount of divine beauty. But for her inner character,
let him take that from me as I go on, if so be that I can succeed in
making clear to others that which is clear enough to my own mind's
eye. I have called her a heroine; it is the novelist's customary name
for his prima donna, and so I use it. But many opera companies have
more than one prima donna. There is the donna prima, and if one may
so say, the donna primissima. Now Adela Guantlet is no more than my
donna prima. My donna primissima will be another guess sort of lady
altogether.

Arthur, as he walked along, communed with himself as to what he
was going to say. "At any rate, she shall know it all; we shall be
more comfortable when we meet afterwards. Not that it will make any
difference to her;" and then he sighed deeply, and cut at the river
rushes with his walking-stick.

He found her as usual alone in the drawing-room, and, as usual, she
smiled sweetly when she saw him. Since the day on which he had first
gone up to Oxford, she had always called him "Mr. Wilkinson"--so
instructed by Aunt Penelope; but in other respects her manner to
him was almost that of a sister, only that it was softer, and more
gracious.

"I declare, I thought we were never to see you again, Mr. Wilkinson."
Ah, Adela! whom did the _we_ mean? But is it possible that any girl
should live fairly before the world without some little
insincerities?

"I have been so occupied, Adela. There is so much to do in taking up
a parish. Even though I know all the people so well, there has been
so much to do."

"Yes, yes, I am sure of it. But now that you are settled, I do so
hope that you will be comfortable. I saw Mary the other day, and she
told me that your mother was quite well again."

"Yes, she is pretty well. We are all very well now, I think."

"I do so love that old lord for giving you the living, though they
say he is such a Turk. It was such a good thing in him to do; so
considerate to everybody."

"Yes; it has made my mother and the girls comfortable; that, of
course, is what I had first to think of."

"As for yourself, I have no doubt you would have done better at
Oxford. But you could have got no home for them like their old home;
could you?"

"No, of course not," said Arthur, answering almost at random, and
thinking how best he might explain the sacrifice which he had made
without taking too much credit to himself.

"And then, if you had remained up there, you would only have become a
musty old don. I don't think you would have been happy, not so happy
as in a parish. And when a man is a clergyman"--this she said in
a lower and somewhat a solemn voice--"surely he cannot be so well
placed as in charge of a parish. Don't you think so, Mr. Wilkinson?"

"Certainly. It is the life for which he is intended; for which he
should have intended himself."

"And I am sure it is a happy life: look at papa; I do not know any
happier man--only that poor mamma died."

And upon this hint he spake. "Yes, your father I am sure has been a
happy man, and he is an excellent clergyman."

"Is he not? even still so active! And he is so glad now to have you
near him."

"I wish I had received my living as he did his; not that it would
make any real difference."

"He got his, you know, from the bishop. But do you dislike being Lord
Stapledean's nominee?"

"It would be ungrateful to say that; but I certainly do not like
Lord Stapledean. However, I have taken his living, and should not
complain."

"I did not know that there was anything disagreeable."

"There is this, Adela. I had rather tell you; and I came over to-day
in part to do so: but you will see that the matter is one that should
not be talked about," and he looked down on the floor, poking about
on the carpet pattern with his stick, being unable any longer to meet
the clear gaze of her soft eye.

"Oh, I am sorry if there is anything to distress you."

"Not exactly to distress me, perhaps; but I will tell you. When the
marquis offered me the living, he did it on the stipulation that I
should pay over to my mother three hundred and fifty pounds a year
during her life. I doubt whether it was right to accept it on these
conditions; but I did so. The living, therefore, is rather hers than
mine."

"Oh, Arthur, how good of you!" In spite of all Aunt Penelope's
lessons, old habits would sometimes get the better of her.

"I don't know; I am afraid that it was not good."

"Why? I can't understand? Surely it must be good to give up your
time, your labour, your hopes"--Adela did not say his heart--"for
your mother and sisters' good! Why, how can it be else than good? I
think it good, and shall think so."

"At any rate, Adela, I could not withstand the offer when it was made
to me."

"I am sure you could not."

"So I am little more than a curate in the parish as far as the income
is concerned; with this difference, that I can't change my curacy for
a living should a chance offer."

Adela had never before known him to be solicitous about money for
himself, and now she felt that she did not understand him. "But you
have got your fellowship," said she.

"Yes, I have got my fellowship: oh, as far as that is concerned, I am
better off than I could ever have expected to be. But, nevertheless,
one feels--feels crippled by such an arrangement. It is quite
impossible, you know, for instance, that--that--that I should do a
great many things." His courage failed him as he was about to make
the fatal announcement.

"What things?" said Adela, with all the boldness of innocence.

It was necessary that he should say it. "Why, for instance," he
continued, "it is quite impossible, though perhaps that does not make
much matter; but it is quite impossible--that I should ever marry."
And still looking down upon the ground, he poked sedulously among the
patterns with his stick.

"Oh!" said Adela, with a tremour in her voice, and her eye was no
longer able to rest upon his face.

There was a pause during which neither of them said a word, or saw
each other. As far as Adela was concerned, immediate speech was
impossible. She neither cried, nor sighed, nor sobbed, nor became
hysterical. She was simply dumb. She could not answer this little
announcement of her neighbour's. Heretofore, when he had come to her
with his sorrows, she had sympathized with him, and poured balm into
his wounds. But she had no balm for him now--and no sympathy. There
they sat, mute; he poking the while at the carpet, while she did not
even move a limb.

And then it gradually came home to both of them that this utter
silence, this prostration of all power of self-management, told
to each the secret of the other. Each felt that every moment of
prolonged silence committed both of them the deeper. Why should not
Adela be able to speak when thus informed of her neighbour's intended
celibacy? Why should he sit like a fool before her merely because he
had told her that on which he had long decided?

But it was clearly Wilkinson's duty to have disembarrassed the lady
as soon as possible. It was almost unmanly in him to be put thus
beyond the power of speech or action. But still he poked the carpet
and said nothing. It was Adela who first broke that tell-tale
silence; and grievous was the effort which it cost her to do so.

"But you will have your mother and sisters with you, Mr. Wilkinson;
and so, perhaps, you won't mind that."

"Yes, I shall have them," said he; and then there was another
silence, which seemed about to be equally dangerous and equally
difficult. But Adela, who was fully aware of the error which she had
already committed, strove hard to save herself from repeating it.

"You will have a family round you; and if, as you say"--but the
ground that she approached was so hot that she could not walk on it.
She could not get further in that direction, and therefore merely
added: "I am sure I hope you will always be happy."

At length Arthur shook himself, positively shook himself, as though
that were the only mode by which he could collect his faculties; and
then getting up from his chair, and standing with his back against
the wall, he spoke out as follows:--

"Perhaps, Adela, there was no necessity for me to have mentioned this
subject. At least, I am sure there was no necessity. But you have
ever been such a friend to me, have so understood my feelings when
no one else seemed to do so, that I could not but tell you this as I
have told you everything else. I hope I have not annoyed you by doing
so."

"Oh, no; not at all."

"It does make me a little sad to think that I shall never be my own
master."

"Never, Mr. Wilkinson!" Had Arthur but known it, there was balm,
there was sympathy in this word. Had his intellect been as sharp as
his feelings, he would have known it. But it passed him unperceived,
as it had fallen from her unawares: and she said no other word that
could encourage him. If he was cold, she at least would be equally
so.

"Certainly not during my mother's life; and you know how good ground
we have for hoping that her life will be long. And then there are
my sisters. My duty to them will be the same as to my mother, even
though, as regards them, I may not be tied down as I am with regard
to her."

"We cannot have everything here," said Adela, trying to smile. "But I
am sure I need not teach you that."

"No, we cannot have everything." And Arthur thought that, in spite of
the clerical austerity which he was about to assume, he should very
much like to have Adela Gauntlet.

"It will make you happy to know that you are making your mother
happy, and the dear girls--and--and I have no doubt you will very
soon get used to it. Many clergymen, you know, think that they ought
not to marry."

"Yes; but I never made up my mind to that."

"No, perhaps not; but now perhaps you will think of it more
seriously."

"Indeed, I used to have an idea that a parish clergyman should be a
married man. There are so many things which he can do better when he
has a woman to assist him who thinks exactly as he thinks."

"You will have your sisters, you know. Both Mary and Sophia were
always active in the parish, and Jane and Fanny have their school."

"Yes;" and he uttered a gentle sigh as he paused before he answered
her. "But it is not quite the same thing, Adela. I love my sisters
dearly; but one always longs to have one heart that shall be entirely
one's own."

And had he come over to tell her this in the same breath with which
he informed her that marriage was a privilege quite beyond his reach?
What did he think of her, or of what did he imagine that she was
made? There was cruelty in it, of which Adela became immediately
conscious, and which she could hardly help wishing to resent. He had
performed the object of his visit; why did he not leave her? He had
made himself thoroughly understood; why did he not go? His former
many sweet visits had created hopes which were all but certain.
He had said nothing of love; but coming there as he had come, and
gazing at her as he had gazed, Adela could not doubt but that she was
loved. That was all now set at rest; but why should he remain there,
breaking her heart with allusions to his own past tenderness?

"You must put up with the world as you find it, Mr. Wilkinson."

"Oh, yes; of course. But when one has had such happy dreams, the
waking reality, you know, does make one sad."

"You are too happy in your friends and your position to be an object
of pity. How many clergymen are there of your age who would look upon
your lot as almost beyond their ambition! How many men are there
with mothers and sisters for whom they cannot provide! How many who
have made rash marriages which have led to no happiness! Surely,
Mr. Wilkinson, with you there is more cause for thankfulness than
for complaint!" And thus, as it was necessary that she should say
something, she moralized to him--very wisely.

"It is all true," said he; "and perhaps it is for the best. I might
probably have been made more wretched in another way."

"Yes; very likely." Oh, Adela, Adela!

"I begin to know that a man should not be sanguine. I have always
hoped for more than I have had a right to expect, and, therefore, I
have always been disappointed. It was so at school, and at Oxford,
and it is so now: it shows how true it is that a man should not look
for his happiness here. Well; good-bye, Adela. I see that you think I
am wrong to have any regrets."

"Useless regrets are always foolish: we laugh at children who cry for
what is quite out of their reach."

"Yes; and you laugh at me. I dare say you are right."

"No; do not say that, Mr. Wilkinson. I have never laughed at you.
But--" She did not wish to be actually unkind to him, though he had
been so cruel to her.

At last he went. They shook hands with each other in their accustomed
manner, but Wilkinson felt that he missed something from her touch,
some warmth from the soft pressure, some scintillation of sympathy
which such last moments of his visits had usually communicated to
him. Yes; there was much to miss.

As he went back along the river his heart was sad within him. He
had made up his mind to give up Adela Gauntlet, but he had not made
up his mind to discover that she did not care for him--that she was
indifferent to his happiness, and unable to sympathize with his
feelings. The fact was, that though he had resolved that duty and his
circumstances required him to remain single, nevertheless, he had at
the bottom of his heart a sort of wish that Adela should be in love
with him. He had his wish; but he was not sharp enough to discover
that he had it. "I never thought her unfeeling before," said he to
himself. "But all the world is alike. Well; as it is, it does not
signify; but it might have been that I should have half broken my
heart to find her so unfeeling.--More cause for thankfulness than
complaint! Yes; that is true of us all. But it was unfriendly, nay
unfeminine in her to say so when she must have known how much I was
giving up." And so he walked on complaining; understanding perhaps
accurately the wants of his own heart, but being quite in the dark as
to the wants of that other heart.

But his grief, his discontent was mild in comparison with hers. She
shook hands with him when he went, and endeavoured to say her last
word of farewell in her usual tone; nay, for a few minutes after his
departure she retained her seat calmly, fearing that he possibly
might return; but then, when the door had closed on him, and she had
seen him from her window passing across the lawn, then her spirits
gave way, and bitterly she made her moan.

What was this that he had said to her? He would not marry because
he had his mother and sisters to support. Would not she have helped
to support them? Would not she have thrown in her lot with his for
better or for worse, let that lot have been ever so poor? And could
it be possible that he had not known this--had not read her heart
as she had read his? Could it be that he had come there day after
day, looking to her for love, and sympathy, and kindness--that sort
of kindness which a man demands from no one but her he loves, and
which no one can give him unless she loves him? Could it be that he
had done this and then thought that it all meant nothing? that the
interchange of such feelings had no further signification?

Money! Had she asked about his money in those days when his father
still lived, when there was no question of this living belonging
to him? She would have waited for him for years had years been
necessary, even though they should be counted by tens and tens. Nay,
she would have been contented to wait, even though that waiting
should never have been rewarded, had he given her the privilege of
regarding herself as his. Money! She would have been contented to
live on potato-parings could he have been contented to live with her
on potatoes.

She had over and over again questioned herself as to her love, and
reminded herself that as yet he had said nothing to her to justify
it: but as often she had answered herself that with him she could
have no doubt. It was impossible that he should so look into her eyes
and so speak to her if he did not love her. And so she had resolved
to risk all her happiness upon her conviction of his faithfulness.
She had so risked it all; and now he came to her, telling her coldly
that he could not afford to marry.

He, to tell her of his happy dreams and his waking reality! he who
had not the courage to realize the bliss of his dreams when that
bliss was within his reach! He, to talk of sympathy, of a woman
thinking with him exactly as he thought! he who was so timid of the
world that he feared to love less perchance his supplies of bread and
meat should fail him! What could heart wounds signify to him, or hurt
feelings? Had he not his arms sound and his head clear? If, having
them, he would not venture for his love's sake to meet the world and
its burdens, he could hardly have heart enough to know what love
really meant.

Flinging herself on her sofa with outstretched arms, thus Adela made
her moan; not in these words, for she spake none: but such were the
thoughts which ran through her mind as she bewailed all that she had
risked and all that she had lost.

"What would I not have done for him!" she suddenly exclaimed aloud,
as, rising from the sofa, she stood erect upon the ground, pressing
her hand upon her heart. "Fool that I have been--fool, fool, fool!"

And then, with her hand still close to her side, she walked up and
down the room with quick step.

And she had been a fool according to the world's wisdom. Of what
use had been Aunt Penelope's teaching, strictly enacting as it did
all the nice proprieties of young-lady life, seeing that it had not
sufficed to guard her heart against the first comer? Unasked she had
given it all away, had poured it out to the last drop of its warm
flood; and now she was told that it was not wanted, that the article
was one not exactly in the gentleman's walk of life! She might well
call herself a fool:--but what was she to call him?

"It is quite impossible, you know, that I should ever marry!" Why had
he not asked her whether or no it were possible; if not now, then
in ten years' time--if not in ten years, then in twenty? Had he not
been as faithless to her, was he not as much man-sworn, as though a
thousand oaths had passed between them? Oaths between lovers are but
Cupid's phrases, made to enable them to talk of love. They are the
playthings of love, as kisses are. When lovers trust each other they
are sweet bonds; but they will never bind those who do not trust.
When he had told her that she, and she only, understood his feelings,
that she, and she only, knew his moods, and when she had answered
him by the encouragement of her soft smile, could it be that more
was necessary between them? Ah! yes, Adela, much more! Never know a
gentleman's moods, never understand his feelings till, in the plain
language of his mother-tongue, he has asked you to be mistress of
them.

When her father came in before dinner, she was still pacing up and
down the room. But she had not spent the two hours since Arthur had
left her in vain sorrow or in vainer anger. She had felt that it
behoved her to resolve how she would act, and what she would do; and
in those two hours she had resolved. A great misfortune, a stunning
blow had fallen on her; but the fault had been with her rather than
with him. She would school herself to bear the punishment, to see him
occasionally, and bear with him as she would have done had he never
taken those walks along the river; she would still love his sisters;
still go when needs was to the Hurst Staple parsonage. As for him,
she would wish him no evil, rather every good. As for herself, she
would check her rebel heart if she could; but, at any rate, she would
learn to check the rising blood which would otherwise tell her tale.

"Arthur Wilkinson has been here to-day, papa," she was able to say,
with composed voice; "they are quite settled again at the parsonage."

"Ah! he is a lucky fellow," said the old vicar; "he'll be wanting a
wife now before the year's out."



CHAPTER V.

THE CHOICE OF A PROFESSION.


We must now go back to our other hero, or, rather, to another of our
heroes. Arthur Wilkinson is our melancholy love-lorn tenor, George
Bertram our eager, excitable barytone, and Mr. Harcourt--Henry
Harcourt--our bass, wide awake to the world's good things, impervious
to sentimentality, and not over-scrupulous--as is always the case
with your true deep-mouthed opera bass.

Our present business is with the excitable barytone, whom we left
some year and a half ago in not a very clear state of mind as to
the walk in life which would be best suited for his peculiar legs.
Harcourt, who was himself a lawyer, recommended the law. Selfish as
was the general tone of Harcourt's heart, still he had within him a
high, if not a generous feeling, which made him wish to have near
him in his coming life a friend of such promise as George Bertram.
Bertram might beat him in his career; nay, probably would do so; but,
nevertheless, Harcourt wished to see him keeping his terms in London.
He was convinced that he should gain more than he should lose by such
a friend.

But Bertram's own mind was not so easily made up. His personal
possessions in life may be thus catalogued. He had come of a good
family; he had received the best education which England could
give him; he was quick in speech and ready in thought; he had a
double-first degree, and would at once have a fellowship; he had also
an uncle who was very rich and occasionally very disagreeable, and a
father who was very poor, and of whom he heard all men say that he
was one of the most agreeable fellows that ever lived. Such being his
stock in trade, how was he to take it to the best market? and what
market would be the best?

In thinking over his markets, it must not be supposed that his
only object, or his chief object, was the making of money. That was
a rock, rather, of which it behoved him to be very careful. The
money-making part of every profession was, according to his present
views, a necessary incidental evil. To enable a poor man like him to
carry on his work some money must be made; for some sorts of work,
perhaps for that very sort which he would most willingly choose, much
money must be made. But the making of it should never be his triumph.
It could be but a disagreeable means to a desirable end. At the age
of twenty-two so thought our excitable barytone hero on that point.

Two ends appeared to him to be desirable. But which of the two was
the most desirable--that to him was the difficult question. To do
good to others, and to have his own name in men's mouths--these were
the fitting objects of a man's life. But whether he would attempt the
former in order to achieve the latter; or obtain, if he did obtain,
the latter by seeking success in the former: on this point his
character was not sufficiently fixed, nor his principles sufficiently
high to enable him fitly to resolve.

But the necessity of seeing his uncle before he took any actual steps
secured him from the necessity of coming to any absolutely immediate
decision. He and Harcourt were together for three or four days, and
he listened not unmoved to his friend's eloquence in favour of public
life in London. Not unmoved, indeed, but always with a spirit of
antagonism. When Harcourt told of forensic triumphs, Bertram spoke of
the joy of some rustic soul saved to heaven in the quiet nook of a
distant parish. When his friend promised to him Parliament, and the
later glories of the ermine, he sighed after literary fame, to be
enjoyed among the beauties of nature. But Harcourt understood all
this: he did not wish to convince his friend, but only to lead him.

Mr. George Bertram senior was a notable man in the city of London. I
am not prepared to say what was his trade, or even whether he had one
properly so called. But there was no doubt about his being a moneyed
man, and one well thought of on 'Change. At the time of which I
write, he was a director of the Bank of England, chairman of a
large insurance company, was deep in water, far gone in gas, and an
illustrious potentate in railway interests. I imagine that he had
neither counting-house, shop, nor ware-rooms: but he was not on that
account at a loss whither to direct his steps; and those who knew
city ways knew very well where to meet Mr. George Bertram senior
between the hours of eleven and five.

He was ten years older than his brother, Sir Lionel, and at the time
of which I write might be about seventy. He was still unmarried, and
in this respect had always been regarded by Sir Lionel as a fountain
from whence his own son might fairly expect such waters as were
necessary for his present maintenance and future well-being. But Mr.
George Bertram senior had regarded the matter in a different light.
He had paid no shilling on account of his nephew, or on other
accounts appertaining to his brother, which he had not scored down
as so much debt against Sir Lionel, duly debiting the amount with
current interest; and statements of this account were periodically
sent to Sir Lionel by Mr. Bertram's man of business,--and
periodically thrown aside by Sir Lionel, as being of no moment
whatsoever.

When Mr. Bertram had paid the bill due by his brother to Mr.
Wilkinson, there was outstanding some family unsettled claim from
which the two brothers might, or might not, obtain some small sums
of money. Sir Lionel, when much pressed by the city Croesus, had
begged him to look to this claim, and pay himself from the funds
which would be therefrom accruing. The city Croesus had done so: a
trifle of two or three hundred pounds had fallen to Sir Lionel's lot,
and had of course been duly credited to his account. But it went a
very little way towards squaring matters, and the old man of business
went on sending his half-yearly statements, which became anything but
"small by degrees."

Mr. Bertram had never absolutely told George of this debt, or
complained of his not being repaid the advances which he had made;
but little hints dropped from him, which were sometimes understood
for more than they were worth, and which made the young Oxonian feel
that he would rather not be quite so much in his uncle's hands. The
old man gave him to understand that he must not look on himself as
an heir to wealth, or imagine that another lot was his than that
ordinary to mortals--the necessity, namely, of eating his bread in
the sweat of his brow.

Old Mr. Bertram ordinarily lived at Hadley, a village about a mile
beyond Barnet, just on the border of what used to be called Enfield
Chase. Here he had an establishment very fit for a quiet old
gentleman, but perhaps not quite adequate to his reputed wealth. By
my use of the word reputed, the reader must not be led to think that
Mr. Bertram's money-bags were unreal. They were solid, and true as
the coffers of the Bank of England. He was no Colonel Waugh, rich
only by means of his rich impudence. It is not destined that he shall
fall brilliantly, bringing down with him a world of ruins. He will
not levant to Spain or elsewhere. His wealth is of the old-fashioned
sort, and will abide at any rate such touch of time as it may
encounter in our pages. But none of the Hadleyites, or, indeed, any
other ites--not even, probably, the Bank-of-Englandites, or the
City-of-London-Widows'-Fundites--knew very well what his means were;
and when, therefore, people at Hadley spoke of his modest household,
they were apt to speak of it as being very insufficient for such a
millionaire.

Hitherto George had always passed some part of his vacations at
Hadley. The amusements there were not of a very exciting nature;
but London was close, and even at Hadley there were pretty girls
with whom he could walk and flirt, and the means of keeping a horse
and a couple of pointers, even if the hunting and shooting were not
conveniently to be had.

A few days after the glories of his degree, when his name was still
great on the High Street of Oxford, and had even been touched by
true fame in a very flattering manner in the columns of the "Daily
Jupiter," he came home to Hadley. His uncle never encouraged visits
from him in the city, and they met, therefore, for the first time in
the old man's drawing-room just before dinner.

"How are you, George?" said the uncle, putting out his hand to his
nephew, and then instantly turning round and poking the fire. "What
sort of a journey have you had from Oxford? Yes, these railways make
it all easy. Which line do you use? Didcot, eh? That's wrong. You'll
have a smash some of these days with one of those Great Western
express trains"--Mr. Bertram held shares in the opposition line by
which Oxford may be reached, and never omitted an opportunity of
doing a little business. "I'm ready for dinner; I don't know whether
you are. You eat lunch, I suppose. John, it's two minutes past the
half-hour. Why don't we have dinner?"

Not a word was said about the degree--at least, not then. Indeed Mr.
Bertram did not think very much about degrees. He had taken no degree
himself, except a high degree in wealth, and could not understand
that he ought to congratulate a young man of twenty-two as to a
successful termination of his school-lessons. He himself at that
age had been, if not on 'Change, at any rate seated on the steps of
'Change. He had been then doing a man's work; beginning to harden
together the nucleus of that snowball of money which he had since
rolled onwards till it had become so huge a lump--destined, probably,
to be thawed and to run away into muddy water in some much shorter
space of time. He could not blame his nephew: he could not call him
idle, as he would have delighted to do had occasion permitted; but he
would not condescend to congratulate him on being great in Greek or
mighty in abstract mathematics.

"Well, George," said he, pushing him the bottle as soon as the cloth
was gone, "I suppose you have done with Oxford now?"

"Not quite, sir; I have my fellowship to receive."

"Some beggarly two hundred pounds a year, I suppose. Not that I mean
to say you should not be glad to have it," he added, thus correcting
the impression which his words might otherwise have made. "As you
have been so long getting it, it will be better to have that than
nothing. But your fellowship won't make it necessary for you to live
at Oxford, will it?"

"Oh, no. But then I may perhaps go into the church."

"Oh, the church, eh? Well, it is a respectable profession; only men
have to work for nothing in it."

"I wish they did, sir. If we had the voluntary system--"

"You can have that if you like. I know that the Independent
ministers--"

"I should not think of leaving the Church of England on any account."

"You have decided, then, to be a clergyman?"

"Oh, no; not decided. Indeed, I really think that if a man will work,
he may do better at the bar."

"Very well, indeed--if he have the peculiar kind of talent
necessary."

"But then, I doubt whether a practising barrister can ever really be
an honest man."

"What?"

"They have such dirty work to do. They spend their days in making out
that black is white; or, worse still, that white is black."

"Pshaw! Have a little more charity, master George, and do not be so
over-righteous. Some of the greatest men of your country have been
lawyers."

"But their being great men won't alter the fact; nor will my being
charitable. When two clear-headed men take money to advocate the
different sides of a case, each cannot think that his side is true."

"Fiddlestick! But mind, I do not want you to be a lawyer. You must
choose for yourself. If you don't like that way of earning your
bread, there are others."

"A man may be a doctor, to be sure; but I have no taste that way."

"And is that the end of the list?"

"There is literature. But literature, though the grandest occupation
in the world for a man's leisure, is, I take it, a slavish
profession."

"Grub Street, eh? Yes, I should think so. You never heard of
commerce, I suppose?"

"Commerce. Yes, I have heard of it. But I doubt whether I have the
necessary genius."

The old man looked at him as though he doubted whether or no he were
being laughed at.

"The necessary kind of genius, I mean," continued George.

"Very likely not. Your genius is adapted to dispersing, perhaps,
rather than collecting."

"I dare say it is, sir."

"And I suppose you never heard of a man with a--what is it you call
your degree? a double-first--going behind a counter. What sort of men
are the double-lasts, I wonder!"

"It is they, I rather think, who go behind the counters," said
George, who had no idea of allowing his uncle to have all the
raillery on his side.

"Is it, sir? But I rather think they don't come out last when the
pudding is to be proved by the eating. Success in life is not to be
won by writing Greek verses; not though you write ever so many. A
ship-load of them would not fetch you the value of this glass of wine
at any market in the world."

"Commerce is a grand thing," said George, with an air of conviction.

"It is the proper work for men," said his uncle, proudly.

"But I have always heard," replied the nephew, "that a man in this
country has no right to look to commerce as a profession unless he
possesses capital." Mr. Bertram, feeling that the tables had been
turned against him, finished his glass of wine and poked the fire.

A few days afterwards the same subject was again raised between them.
"You must choose for yourself, George," said the old man; "and you
should choose quickly."

"If I could choose for myself--which I am aware that I cannot do; for
circumstances, after all, will have the decision--but, if I could
choose, I would go into Parliament."

"Go where?" said Mr. Bertram, who would have thought it as reasonable
if his nephew had proposed to take a house in Belgrave Square with
the view of earning a livelihood.

"Into Parliament, sir."

"Is Parliament a profession? I never knew it before."

"Perhaps not, ordinarily, a money-making profession; nor would I wish
to make it so."

"And what county, or what borough do you intend to honour by
representing it? Perhaps the University will return you."

"Perhaps it may some of these days."

"And, in the meantime, you mean to live on your fellowship, I
suppose?"

"On that and anything else that I can get."

Mr. Bertram sat quiet for some time without speaking, and George also
seemed inclined to muse awhile upon the subject. "George," said the
uncle, at last, "I think it will be better that we should thoroughly
understand each other. You are a good fellow in your way, and I like
you well enough. But you must not get into your head any idea that
you are to be my heir."

"No, sir; I won't."

"Because it would only ruin you. My idea is that a man should make
his own way in the world as I made mine. If you were my son, it may
be presumed that I should do as other men do, and give you my money.
And, most probably, you would make no better use of it than the sons
of other men who, like me, have made money. But you are not my son."

"Quite true, sir; and therefore I shall be saved the danger. At any
rate, I shall not be the victim of disappointment."

"I am very glad to hear it," said Mr. Bertram, who, however, did not
give any proof of his gladness, seeing that he evinced some little
addition of acerbity in his temper and asperity in his manner. It was
hard to have to deal with a nephew with whom he could find so little
ground for complaint.

"But I have thought it right to warn you," he continued, "You are
aware that up to the present moment the expense of your education has
been borne by me."

"No, sir; not my education."

"Not your education! How, then, has it been borne?"

"I speak of my residence at Oxford. I have had a great many
indulgences there, and you have paid for them. The expenses of my
education I could have paid myself." This was fair on George's part.
He had not asked his uncle for a liberal allowance, and was hardly
open to blame for having taken it.

"I only know I have paid regularly one hundred and fifty pounds a
year to your order, and I find from Pritchett"--Pritchett was his man
of business--"that I am paying it still."

"He sent me the last quarter the other day; but I have not touched
it."

"Never mind; let that pass. I don't know what your father's views are
about you, and never could find out."

"I'll ask him. I mean to go and see him."

"Go and see him! Why, he's at Bagdad."

"Yes. If I start at once I shall just catch him there, or perhaps
meet him at Damascus."

"Then you'll be a great fool for your pains--a greater fool almost
than I take you to be. What do you expect your father can do for you?
My belief is, that if four hundred pounds would take him to heaven,
he couldn't make up the money. I don't think he could raise it either
in Europe or Asia. I'm sure of this; I wouldn't lend it him."

"In such a case as that, sir, his personal security would go for so
little."

"His personal security has always gone for little. But, as I was
saying, I have consented ever since you went to Wilkinson's to allow
your father to throw the burthen of your expenses on my shoulders.
I thought it a pity that you should not have the chance of a decent
education. Mind, I claim no gratitude, as I shall expect your father
to pay me what I have advanced."

"How on earth can he do that, sir? But perhaps I can."

"Can you? very well; then you can settle it with him. But listen to
me."

"Listen to me for a moment, uncle George. I think you are hard on my
father, and certainly hard on me. When I went to Wilkinson's, what
did I know of who paid the bill?"

"Who says you knew anything, sir?"

"And, counting on from that time, at what period ought I to have
begun to know it? When should I have first learnt to feel that I was
a burden to any one?"

"Who has talked about a burden?"

"You say I am not to be your heir?"

"Certainly not."

"I never thought of being your heir. I don't care a straw about being
anybody's heir. What you have given freely, I have taken freely. As
for my father, if you felt so harshly towards him, why did you let
him incur this debt?"

"I was to see you kicked out of Wilkinson's house and starve in the
ditch, I suppose? But now, if you can control your fine feelings for
one moment, will you listen to me? I have never blamed you in the
matter at all, and don't blame you now--at least not yet."

"I hope you never will--that is about money matters."

"Now do listen to me. It seems to me that you are quite astray about
a profession. You don't like commerce, and what you said the other
day about capital is quite true. I count a man a knave who goes into
trade without capital. In a small way we might, perhaps, have managed
it. But in a very small way you would not have liked it."

"Neither small nor great, sir."

"Very well. You need not be afraid that anything very great will be
thrust upon you. But it seems to me that what you are most fitted for
is a lawyer."

Young Bertram paused a moment. "Uncle, I really hardly know.
Sometimes I have a strange desire to go into orders."

"Very strange indeed! But now, if you will listen to me--I have been
speaking to Mr. Dry. Messrs. Dry and Stickatit have done business for
me for the last forty years. Now, George, I will advance you three
thousand pounds at four per cent.--"

"What should I want with three thousand pounds?"

"You don't suppose you can get into a house like that without money,
do you?"

"And be an attorney?" said George, with a look of horror which almost
penetrated the thick skin of the old man's feelings. What! had he
taken a double-first, been the leading man of his year, spouted at
the debating club, and driven himself nearly dizzy with Aristotle
for this--for a desk in the office of Messrs. Dry and Stickatit,
attorneys of old Bucklersbury! No, not for all the uncles! not for
any uncle!

"They net four thousand pounds a year," said Mr. Bertram; "and in
process of time you would be the working partner, and have, at any
rate, a full half of the business."

But, no! George was not to be talked into such a scheme as that by
the offer of any loan, by the mention of any number of thousands. He
positively refused to consider the proposition; and his uncle, with
equal positiveness, refused to hold any further converse with him on
the subject of a profession. "Pritchett will pay you your present
allowance," said he, "for two years longer--that is, if I live."

"I can do without it, sir," said George.

"Pritchett will pay that amount for two years," said the uncle, with
great positiveness; "after that it will be discontinued. And for the
next three months I shall be happy to see you here as my guest."

It will be readily believed that George Bertram did not overstay the
three months.



CHAPTER VI.

JERUSALEM.


But there was no quarrel between George Bertram uncle and George
Bertram nephew: though in such conversations as they had about
business they were not over civil to each other, still they went on
together as good friends, at any rate as they ever had been. Indeed,
after the last scene which has been reported, the old man became more
courteous to his nephew, and before the three months were over was
almost cordial.

There was that about George the younger which made the old uncle
respect him, despite himself. The London merchant had a thorough
contempt for his brother, the soldier of fortune: he had acted as
he had done on behalf of that brother's son almost more with the
view of showing his contempt, and getting thereby an opportunity for
expressing it, than with any fixed idea of doing a kindness. He had
counted also on despising the son as he had despised the father; but
here he found himself foiled. George had taken all that he had given,
as any youth would take what an uncle gave; but he had never asked
for more: he had done as well as it was possible for him to do in
that line of education which had been tendered to him; and now,
though he would not become an attorney or a merchant, was prepared to
earn his own bread, and professed that he was able to support himself
without further assistance from any one.

Before the three months were over, his uncle had more than once asked
him to prolong his visit; but George had made up his mind to leave
Hadley. His purpose was to spend three or four months in going out
to his father, and then to settle in London. In the meantime, he
employed himself with studying the law of nations, and amused his
leisure hours with Coke and Blackstone.

"You'll never find your father," said Mr. Bertram.

"At any rate, I'll try; and if I miss him, I shall see something of
the world."

"You'll see more in London in three months than you will there in
twelve; and, moreover, you would not lose your time."

But George was inexorable, and before the three months were over he
had started on his trip.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. George," said Mr. Pritchett to him the day
before he went (his uncle had requested him to call on Pritchett in
the city)--"I beg your pardon, Mr. George, but if I may be allowed to
speak a word or so, I do hope you'll write a line now and then to the
old gentleman while you are away."

Now George had never written a line to his uncle in his life; all his
communications as to his journeys and proposed arrivals had, by his
uncle's special direction, been made to the housekeeper, and he had
no present intention of commencing a correspondence.

"Write to him, Mr. Pritchett! No, I don't suppose I shall. I take it,
my uncle does not much care for such letters as I should write."

"Ah! but he would, Mr. George. You shouldn't be too quick to take
persons by their appearances. It's half a million of money, you know,
Mr. George; half--a--million--of--money!" And Mr. Pritchett put great
stress on the numeration of his patron's presumed wealth.

"Half a million, is it? Well, that's a great deal, no doubt; and I
fully see the force of your excellent argument. But I fear there is
nothing to be done in that line: I'm not born to be the heir to half
a million of money; you might see that in my face."

Mr. Pritchett stared at him very hard. "Well, I can't say that I do,
Mr. George; but take my word for it, the old gentleman is very fond
of you."

"Very fond! That's a little too strong, isn't it?"

"That is, if he's very fond of anything. Now, he said to me
yesterday, 'Pritchett,' says he, 'that boy's going to Bagdad.'
'What! Mr. George?' says I. 'Yes,' says he; 'and to Hong Kong too, I
suppose, before he comes back: he's going after his father;' and then
he gave one of those bitter looks, you know. 'That's a pity,' says
I, for you know one must humour him. 'He is a fool,' says your uncle,
'and always will be.'"

"I'm sure, Mr. Pritchett, I'm very much obliged for the trouble you
are at in telling me."

"Oh! I think nothing of the trouble. 'And he knows no more about
money,' says your uncle, 'than an ostrich. He can't go to Bagdad out
of his allowance.' 'Of course he can't,' said I. 'You had better put
three hundred pounds to his credit,' said the old gentleman; and so,
Mr. George, I have."

"I could have done very well without it, Mr. Pritchett."

"Perhaps so; but three hundred pounds never hurt anybody--never, Mr.
George; and I can tell you this: if you play your cards well, you
may be the old gentleman's heir, in spite of all he says to the
contrary."

"At any rate, Mr. Pritchett, I'm very much obliged to you:" and so
they parted.

"He'll throw that three hundred pounds in my teeth the next time I
see him," said George to himself.

Good as Mr. Pritchett's advice undoubtedly was, Bertram did not take
it; and his uncle received no line from him during the whole period
of his absence. Our hero's search after his father was not quite of
so intricate a nature as was supposed by his uncle, nor so difficult
as that made by Japhet under similar circumstances. His route was to
be by Paris, Marseilles, Malta, Alexandria, Jaffa, Jerusalem, and
Damascus, and he had written to Sir Lionel, requesting him to write
to either or all of those addresses. Neither in France, nor Malta,
nor Egypt did he receive any letters; but in the little town of
Jaffa, where he first put his foot on Asiatic soil, a despatch from
his father was awaiting him. Sir Lionel was about to leave Persia,
and was proceeding to Constantinople on public service; but he would
go out of his course to meet his son at Jerusalem.

The tone of Sir Lionel's letter was very unlike that of Mr. Bertram's
conversation. He heartily congratulated his son on the splendid
success of his degree; predicted for him a future career both
brilliant and rich; declared that it was the dearest wish of his
heart to embrace his son, and spoke of their spending a few weeks
together at Jerusalem almost with rapture.

This letter very much delighted George. He had a natural anxiety to
think well of his father, and had not altogether believed the evil
that had been rather hinted than spoken of him by Mr. Bertram. The
colonel had certainly not hitherto paid him very much parental
attention, and had generally omitted to answer the few letters
which George had written to him. But a son is not ill inclined to
accept acts of new grace from a father; and there was something so
delightful in the tone and manner of Sir Lionel's letter, it was so
friendly as well as affectionate, so perfectly devoid of the dull,
monotonous, lecture-giving asperity with which ordinary fathers too
often season their ordinary epistles, that he was in raptures with
his newly-found correspondent.

"I would not miss seeing you for worlds," wrote Sir Lionel; "and
although I have been ordered to Constantinople with all the
_immediate haste_ which your civil-service grandees always use
in addressing us military slaves, it shall go hard with me but I
will steal a fortnight from them in order to pass it with you at
Jerusalem. I suppose I shall scarce know you, or you me; but when
you see an old gentleman in a military frock, with a bald head, a
hook nose, and a rather short allowance of teeth, you may then be
sure that you look upon your father. However, I will be at Z----'s
Hotel--I believe they honour the caravansary with that name--as soon
as possible after the 14th."

His uncle had at any rate been quite wrong in predicting that his
father would keep out of his way. So far was this from being the
case, that Sir Lionel was going to put himself to considerable
inconvenience to meet him. It might be, and no doubt was the case,
that Mr. Bertram the merchant had put together a great deal more
money than Colonel Bertram the soldier; but the putting together
of money was no virtue in George's eyes; and if Sir Lionel had not
remitted a portion of his pay as regularly as he perhaps should have
done, that should not now be counted as a vice. It may perhaps be
surmised that had George Bertram suffered much in consequence of his
father's negligence in remitting, he might have been disposed to look
at the matter in a different light.

He had brought but one servant with him, a dragoman whom he had
picked up at Malta, and with him he started on his ride from the city
of oranges. Oranges grow plentifully enough in Spain, in Malta, in
Egypt, in Jamaica, and other places, but within five miles of Jaffa
nothing else is grown--if we except the hedges of prickly pear which
divide the gardens. Orange garden succeeds to orange garden till one
finds oneself on the broad open desert that leads away to Jerusalem.

There is something enticing to an Englishman in the idea of riding
off through the desert with a pistol girt about his waist, a
portmanteau strapped on one horse before him, and an only attendant
seated on another behind him. There is a _soupçon_ of danger in the
journey just sufficient to give it excitement; and then it is so
un-English, oriental, and inconvenient; so opposed to the accustomed
haste and comfort of a railway; so out of his hitherto beaten way of
life, that he is delighted to get into the saddle. But it may be a
question whether he is not generally more delighted to get out of it;
particularly if that saddle be a Turkish one.

George had heard of Arab horses, and the clouds of dust which rise
from their winged feet. When first he got beyond the hedges of the
orange gardens, he expected to gallop forth till he found himself
beneath the walls of Jerusalem. But he had before him many an hour
of tedious labour ere those walls were seen. His pace was about four
miles an hour. During the early day he strove frequently to mend it;
but as the sun became hot in the heavens, his efforts after speed
were gradually reduced, and long before evening he had begun to think
that Jerusalem was a myth, his dragoman an impostor, and his Arab
steed the sorriest of jades.

"It is the longest journey I ever took in my life," said George.

"Longest; yes. A top of two mountain more, and two go-down, and then
there; yes," said the dragoman, among whose various accomplishments
that of speaking English could hardly be reckoned as the most
prominent.

At last the two mountains more and the two go-downs were performed,
and George was informed that the wall he saw rising sharp from the
rocky ground was Jerusalem. There is something very peculiar in the
first appearance of a walled city that has no suburbs or extramural
adjuncts. It is like that of a fortress of cards built craftily on
a table. With us in England it is always difficult to say where the
country ends and where the town begins; and even with the walled
towns of the Continent, one rarely comes upon them so as to see the
sharp angles of a gray stone wall shining in the sun, as they do in
the old pictures of the cities in "Pilgrim's Progress."

But so it is with Jerusalem. One rides up to the gate feeling
that one is still in the desert; and yet a moment more, with the
permission of those very dirty-looking Turkish soldiers at the gate,
will place one in the city. One rides up to the gate, and as every
one now has a matured opinion as to the taking of casemated batteries
and the inefficiency of granite bastions, one's first idea is how
delightfully easy it would be to take Jerusalem. It is at any rate
easy enough to enter it, for the dirty Turkish soldiers do not even
look at you, and you soon become pleasantly aware that you are beyond
the region of passports.

George Bertram had promised himself that the moment in which he first
saw Jerusalem should be one of intense mental interest; and when,
riding away from the orange gardens at Jaffa, he had endeavoured to
urge his Arab steed into that enduring gallop which was to carry him
up to the city of the sepulchre, his heart was ready to melt into
ecstatic pathos as soon as that gallop should have been achieved.
But the time for ecstatic pathos had altogether passed away before
he rode in at that portal. He was then swearing vehemently at his
floundering jade, and giving up to all the fiends of Tartarus the
accursed saddle which had been specially contrived with the view of
lacerating the nether Christian man.

"Where on earth is this d---- hotel?" said he, when he and his
dragoman and portmanteau had been floundering for about five minutes
down a steep, narrow, ill-paved lane, with a half-formed gully in
the middle, very slippery with orange-peel and old vegetables, and
crowded with the turbans of all the Eastern races. "Do you call this
a street?" After all his sentiment, all his emotions, all his pious
resolves, it was thus that our hero entered Jerusalem! But what piety
can withstand the wear and tear of twelve hours in a Turkish saddle?

"Is this a street?" said he. It was the main street in Jerusalem. The
first, or among the first in grandeur of those sacred ways which he
had intended hardly to venture to pass with shoes on his feet. His
horse turning a corner as he followed the dragoman again slipped and
almost fell. Whereupon Bertram again cursed. But then he was not
only tired and sore, but very hungry also. Our finer emotions should
always be encouraged with a stomach moderately full.

At last they stopped at a door in a wall, which the dragoman
pronounced to be the entrance of Z----'s hotel. In fact they had not
yet been full ten minutes within the town; but the streets certainly
were not well paved. In five minutes more, George was in his room,
strewing sofas and chairs with the contents of his portmanteau, and
inquiring with much energy what was the hour fixed for the table
d'hôte. He found, with much inward satisfaction, that he had just
twenty minutes to prepare himself. At Jerusalem, as elsewhere, these
after all are the traveller's first main questions. When is the table
d'hôte? Where is the cathedral? At what hour does the train start
to-morrow morning? It will be some years yet, but not very many,
before the latter question is asked at Jerusalem.

Bertram had arrived about a fortnight before Easter, and the town
was already full of pilgrims, congregated for that ceremony, and of
English and Americans who had come to look at the pilgrims.

The inn was nearly full, and George, when he entered the public room,
heard such a Babel of English voices, and such a clatter of English
spoons that he might have fancied himself at the top of the _Righi_
or in a Rhine steamboat. But the subjects under discussion all
savoured of the Holy Land.

"Mrs. Rose, we are going to have a picnic on Monday in the Valley of
Jehoshaphat; will you and your young ladies join us? We shall send
the hampers to the tomb of Zachariah."

"Thank you, Miss Todd; we should have been so happy; but we have only
three days to do Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and Jericho. We must be off
to-morrow."

"Mamma, I lost my parasol somewhere coming down the Mount of Offence.
Those nasty Arab children must have stolen it."

"They say the people in Siloam are the greatest thieves in Syria; and
nobody dares to meddle with them."

"But I saw it in your hand, my dear, at the Well of Enrogel."

"What, no potatoes! there were potatoes yesterday. Waiter, waiter;
who ever heard of setting people down to dinner without potatoes?"

"Well, I didn't know what to say to it. If that is the tomb of
Nicodemus, that seems to settle the question. May I trouble you for
the salt?"

"Mr. Pott, I won't have anything more to say to you; you have no
faith. I believe it all."

"What, all? from Calvary upstairs in the gallery down to the dark
corner where the cock crew?"

"Yes, all, Mr. Pott. Why should not a cock crow there as well as
anywhere else? It is so beautiful to believe."

George Bertram found himself seated next to a lady-like well-dressed
Englishwoman of the middle age, whom he heard called Miss Baker; and
next to her again sat--an angel! whom Miss Baker called Caroline,
and whom an odious man sitting on the other side of her called Miss
Waddington.

All my readers will probably at different times have made part of a
table-d'hôte assemblage; and most of them, especially those who have
travelled with small parties, will know how essential it is to one's
comfort to get near to pleasant neighbours. The young man's idea of a
pleasant neighbour is of course a pretty girl. What the young ladies'
idea may be I don't pretend to say. But it certainly does seem to be
happily arranged by Providence that the musty fusty people, and the
nicy spicy people, and the witty pretty people do severally assemble
and get together as they ought to do.

Bertram's next-door neighbour was certainly of the nicy spicy order;
but this did not satisfy him. He would have been very well pleased to
talk to Miss Baker had it not been for the close contiguity of Miss
Waddington; and even her once-removed vicinity would not have made
him unhappy had not that odious man on her left had so much to say
about the village of Emmaus and the Valley of Ajalon.

Now, be it known to all men that Caroline Waddington is our donna
primissima--the personage of most importance in these pages. It is
for her that you are to weep, with her that you are to sympathize,
and at her that you are to wonder. I would that I could find it
compatible with my duty to introduce her to this circle without any
minute details of her bodily and mental charms; but I have already
been idle in the case of Adela Gauntlet, and I feel that a donna
primissima has claims to description which I cannot get over.
Only not exactly now; in a few chapters hence we shall have Miss
Waddington actively engaged upon the scene, and then she shall be
described.

It must suffice now to say that she was an orphan; that since her
father's death she had lived with her aunt, Miss Baker, chiefly
at Littlebath; that Miss Baker had, at her niece's instance, been
to Egypt, up the Nile, across the short desert--(short!) having
travelled from Cairo to Jerusalem,--and that now, thoroughly sick of
the oriental world, she was anxious only to get back to Littlebath;
while Caroline, more enthusiastic, and much younger, urged her to go
on to Damascus and Lebanon, to Beyrout and Smyrna, and thence home,
merely visiting Constantinople and Athens on the way.

Had Bertram heard the terms in which Miss Waddington spoke of the
youth who was so great about Ajalon when she and her aunt were in
their own room, and also the words in which that aunt spoke of him,
perhaps he might have been less provoked.

"Aunt, that Mr. M'Gabbery is an ass. I am sure he has ears if one
could only see them. I am so tired of him. Don't you think we could
get on to Damascus to-morrow?"

"If we did I have no doubt he'd come too." Mr. M'Gabbery had been one
of the party who crossed the desert with them from Cairo.

"Impossible, aunt. The Hunters are ready to start to-morrow, or, if
not, the day after, and I know they would not have him."

"But, my dear, I really am not equal to Damascus. A few more days on
a camel--"

"But, aunt, you'll have a horse."

"That's worse, I'm sure. And, moreover, I've found an old friend, and
one that you will like very much."

"What, that exceedingly ugly young man that sat next to you?"

"Yes. That exceedingly ugly young man I remember as the prettiest
baby in the world--not that I think he is ugly. He is, however, no
other than the nephew of Mr. Bertram."

"What, papa's Mr. Bertram?"

"Yes; your father's Mr. Bertram. Therefore, if old Mr. Bertram should
die, and this young man should be his heir, he would have the charge
of all your money. You'd better be gracious to him."

"How odd! But what is he like?"

"He is one of the cleverest young men of the day. I had heard that he
had distinguished himself very much at Oxford; and he certainly is a
most agreeable companion." And so it was arranged between them that
they would not start to Damascus as yet, in spite of any evil that
Mr. M'Gabbery might inflict on them.

On the next morning at breakfast, Bertram managed to separate the
aunt from the niece by sitting between them. It was long, however,
before Mr. M'Gabbery gave up the battle. When he found that an
interloper was interfering with his peculiar property, he began to
tax his conversational powers to the utmost. He was greater than
ever about Ajalon, and propounded some very startling theories with
reference to Emmaus. He recalled over and over again the interesting
bits of their past journey; how tired they had been at Gaza, where
he had worked for the ladies like a slave--how terribly Miss Baker
had been frightened in the neighbourhood of Arimathea, where he,
Mr. M'Gabbery, had specially looked to his pistols with the view of
waging war on three or four supposed Bedouins who were seen to be
hovering on the hill-sides. But all would not do. Miss Waddington was
almost tired of Gaza and Arimathea, and Miss Baker seemed to have a
decided preference for London news. So at last Mr. M'Gabbery became
silent and grand, and betook himself to his associations and a map of
Palestine in a corner.

Bertram, when fortified with a night's rest and a good breakfast, was
able to recover his high-toned feeling, and, thus armed, proceeded
alone to make his first visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
It was a Sunday, the last Sunday in Lent; and he determined to hear
mass in the Greek Church, and ascertain for himself how much devotion
an English Protestant could experience in the midst of this foreign
worship. But one mass was over and another not begun when he reached
the building, and he had thus time to follow his dragoman to the
various wonders of that very wonderful building.

It is now generally known in England of what the church of the holy
places consists; but no one who has not seen it, and none, indeed,
who have not seen it at Easter-time, can fully realize all the
absurdity which it contains and all the devotion which it occasions.
Bertram was first carried to the five different churches which have
crowded themselves together under the same roof. The Greeks have by
far the best of it. Their shrine is gaudy and glittering, and their
temple is large and in some degree imposing. The Latins, whom we call
Roman Catholics, are much less handsomely lodged, and their tinsel
is by far more dingy. The Greeks, too, possess the hole in which
stood--so they say--the cross of Our Saviour; while the Latins are
obliged to put up with the sites on which the two thieves were
crucified. Then the church of the Armenians, for which you have to
descend almost into the bowels of the earth, is still less grand in
its pretensions, is more sombre, more dark, more dirty; but it is as
the nave of St. Peter's when compared to the poor wooden-cased altar
of the Abyssinians, or the dark unfurnished gloomy cave in which
the Syrian Christians worship, so dark that the eye cannot at first
discover its only ornament--a small ill-made figure of the crucified
Redeemer.

We who are accustomed to Roman Catholic gorgeousness in Italy and
France can hardly at first understand why the Pope here should
playso decidedly a second fiddle. But as he is held to be God's
viceregent among the people of south-western Europe, so is the
Russian emperor among the Christians of the East. He, the Russian, is
still by far the greatest pope in Jerusalem, and is treated with a
much greater respect, a much truer belief, than is his brother of
Rome, even among Romans.

Five or six times Bertram had attempted to get into the Tabernacle of
the Holy Sepulchre; but so great had been the rush of pilgrims, that
he had hitherto failed. At last his dragoman espied a lull, and went
again to the battle. To get into the little outside chapel, which
forms, as it were, a vestibule to the cell of the sepulchre, and from
which on Easter Saturday issue the miraculous flames, was a thing to
be achieved by moderate patience. His close contiguity to Candiotes
and Copts, to Armenians and Abyssinians was not agreeable to our
hero, for the contiguity was very close, and Christians of these
nations are not very cleanly. But this was nothing to the task of
entering the sanctum sanctorum. To this there is but one aperture,
and that is but four feet high; men entering it go in head foremost,
and those retreating come out in the other direction; and as it is
impossible that two should pass, and as two or three are always
trying to come out, and ten or twelve equally anxious to get in, the
struggle to an Englishman is disagreeably warm, though to an Oriental
it is probably matter of interesting excitement.

But for his dragoman, Bertram would never have succeeded. He,
however, so pulled and hauled these anxious devotees, so thrust in
those who endeavoured to come out, and clawed back those who strove
to get in, that the passage became for a moment clear, and our hero,
having bent low his head, found himself standing with his hand on the
marble slab of the tomb.

Those who were there around him seemed to be the outcasts of the
world, exactly those whom he would have objected to meet, unarmed, on
the roads of Greece or among the hills of Armenia; cut-throat-looking
wretches, with close-shaven heads, dirty beards, and angry eyes; men
clothed in skins, or huge skin-like-looking cloaks, filthy, foul,
alive with vermin, reeking with garlic,--abominable to an Englishman.
There was about them a certain dignity of demeanour, a natural
aptitude to carry themselves with ease, and even a not impure taste
for colour among their dirt. But these Christians of the Russian
Church hardly appeared to him to be brothers of his own creed.

But he did put his hand on the slab of the tomb; and as he did so,
two young Greeks, brothers by blood--Greeks by their creed, though of
what actual nation Bertram was quite unable say--pressed their lips
vehemently to the marble. They were dirty, shorn about the head,
dangerous looking, and skin-clothed, as we have described; men very
low in the scale of humanity when compared with their fellow-pilgrim;
but, nevertheless, they were to him at that moment objects of envy.
They believed: so much at any rate was clear to him. By whatever code
of morals they might be able to govern their lives, whether by any,
or as, alas! might be too likely, by none, at least they possessed a
faith. Christ to them was an actual living truth, though they knew
how to worship him no better than by thus kissing a stone, which had
in fact no closer reference to the Saviour than any other stone they
might have kissed in their own country. They believed; and as they
reverently pressed their foreheads, lips, and hands to the top and
sides and edges of the sepulchre, their faith became ecstatic. It was
thus that Bertram would fain have entered that little chapel, thus
that he would have felt, thus that he would have acted had he been
able. So had he thought to feel--in such an agony of faith had he
been minded there to kneel. But he did not kneel at all. He remarked
to himself that the place was inordinately close, that his contiguity
to his religious neighbours was disagreeable; and then, stooping low
his head, not in reverence, but with a view to backing himself out
from the small enclosure, with some delay and much precaution, and,
to speak truth, with various expressions of anger against those who
with their heads continued to push him the way he did not wish to go,
he retreated from the chapel. Nor while he was at Jerusalem did he
feel sufficient interest in the matter again to enter it. He had done
that deed, he had killed that lion, and, ticking it off from his list
of celebrities as one celebrity disposed of, he thought but little
more about it. Such, we believe, are the visits of most English
Christians to the so-called Holy Sepulchre.

And then he killed the other lions there: Calvary up in the gallery;
the garden, so called, in which the risen Saviour addressed the women
running from the sepulchre; the place where Peter's cock crew; the
tomb of Nicodemus--all within the same church, all under the one
roof--all at least under what should be a roof, only now it has
fallen into ruin, so that these sacred places are open to the rain
of heaven, and Greeks and Latins having quarrelled about the repairs,
the Turks, now lords of the Holy Sepulchre, have taken the matter
into their own hands, and declared that no repairs shall be done by
any of them.

And then he attended the Greek mass--at least, he partly believed
that he did so, somewhat doubting, for the mass was not said as are
those of the Romans, out at an open altar before the people, but in
a holy of holies; very holy, it may be imagined, from the manner
in which the worshippers rubbed their foreheads against certain
gratings, through which a tantalizing glimpse might be had of the
fine things that were going on within. Had they but known it, it
might all have been seen, holy of holies, head-wagging priest, idle
yawning assistant, with legs stretched out, half asleep, mumblement,
jumblement and all, from a little back window in a passage opening
from that Calvary gallery upstairs. From thence at least did these
profane eyes look down and see all the mumblement and jumblement,
which after all was little enough; but saw especially the idle
clerical apprentice who, had that screen been down, and had he been
called on to do his altar work before the public eye, would not have
been so nearly asleep, as may perhaps be said of other clerical
performers nearer home.

But Bertram's attention was mainly occupied with watching the
devotions of a single woman. She was a female of one of those strange
nations, decently clad, about thirty years of age, pleasant to the
eye were she not so dirty, and had she not that wild look, half way
between the sallow sublime and the dangerously murderous, which seems
common to oriental Christians, whether men or women. Heaven might
know of what sins she came there to leave the burden: heaven did
know, doubtless; but from the length of her manoeuvres in quitting
herself of their weight, one would say that they were heavy; and yet
she went through her task with composed dignity, with an alacrity
that was almost joyous, and certainly with no intentional
self-abasement.

Entering the church with a quick step, she took up a position as
though she had selected a special stone on which to stand. There,
with head erect, but bowing between each ceremony, she crossed
herself three times; then sinking on her knees, thrice she pressed
her forehead to the floor; then rising again, again she crossed
herself. Having so done somewhat to the right of the church, but near
the altar-screen, she did the same on the corresponding stone towards
the left, and then again the same on a stone behind the others, but
in the centre. After this she retreated further back, and did three
more such worshippings, always choosing her stone with an eye to
architectural regularity; then again, getting to the backward, she
did three more, thus completing her appointed task, having crossed
herself thirty-six times, and pressed her head with twenty-seven
pressures upon the floor. And so, having finished, she quickly
withdrew. Did any slightest prayer, any idea of praying, any thought
of a God giving grace and pardon if only asked to give, once enter
that bowing bosom?

"Why do those Turks sit there?" said Bertram, as he left the
building. Why, indeed? It was strange to see five or six stately
Turks, strict children of the Prophet doubtless, sitting there within
the door of this temple dedicated to the Nazarene God, sitting there
and looking as though they of all men had the most right so to sit,
and were most at home in so sitting; nay, they had a divan there,
were drinking coffee there out of little double cups, as is the
manner of these people; were not smoking, certainly, as is their
manner also in all other places.

"Dem guard de keys," said the dragoman.

"Guard the keys!"

"Yes, yes; open de lock, and not let de Christian fight."

So it is. In such manner is proper, fitting, peaceable conduct
maintained within the thrice Christian walls of the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre.

On his return to the hotel, Bertram accepted an invitation to join
Miss Todd's picnic in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and then towards
evening strolled up alone on to the Mount of Olives.



CHAPTER VII.

THE MOUNT OF OLIVES.


If there be one place told of in holy writ, the name of which gives
rise to more sacred feelings than any other, it is that of the Mount
of Olives; and if there be a spot in that land of wondrous memories
which does bring home to the believer in Christ some individualized
remembrance of his Saviour's earthly pilgrimage, that certainly is
it.

There is no doubting there, no question there whether or no the
ground on which you tread was not first called "the mount" by some
Byzantine Sophia; whether tradition respecting it can go back further
than Constantine; whether, in real truth, that was the hill over
which Jesus walked when he travelled from the house of Lazarus at
Bethany to fulfil his mission in the temple. No: let me take any
ordinary believing Protestant Christian to that spot, and I will as
broadly defy him to doubt there as I will defy him to believe in that
filthy church of the holy places.

The garden of Gethsemane near the city, "over the brook Cedron,"
where he left his disciples resting while he went yonder to pray; the
hill-side on which the angel appeared unto him, strengthening him,
and whither Judas and the multitude came out to take him; Bethany,
the town of Mary and Martha, "fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem," where
Lazarus was raised from the dead; the spot from whence he sent for
the ass and the ass's colt; the path from thence to the city by which
he rode when the multitude "cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of
David!" the same multitude which afterwards came out against him with
staves: these places are there, now as they were in his day, very
credible--nay, more, impossible not to be believed. These are the
true holy places of Jerusalem, places for which Greeks and Latins do
not fight, guarded by no sedate, coffee-drinking Turks, open there
to all men under the fair heavens, and desolate enough, too, even in
these pilgrim weeks, for any one or two who will sit there alone and
ponder over the wondrous history of the city that still lies over
against him.

But what is the so strong evidence of the actual identity of these
places? What is it that makes me so sure that this is the Mount of
Olives, and that water-channel there the brook Cedron, and the hamlet
on the other side the veritable Bethany? Why is one to be so sure of
these, and yet feel such an infinity of doubt as to that village of
Emmaus, that valley of Ajalon, that supposed Arimathea, and the rest
of them? Nay, I cannot well say, at any rate not in these light novel
pages. Dr. Stanley, with considerable distinctness does say. But go
and see: with the ordinary Protestant Christian seeing here will be
believing, as seeing over in that church of the holy places most
indisputably will be disbelieving.

Hither Bertram strolled, and, seated on the brow of the hill, looked
over to Jerusalem till the short twilight of the Syrian evening had
left him, and he could no longer discern the wondrous spots on which
his eye still rested. Wondrous, indeed! There before him were the
walls of Jerusalem, standing up erect from the hill-side--for the
city is still all fenced up--stretching from hill to hill in varying
but ever continued line: on the left was the Hill of Sion, David's
hill, a hill still inhabited, and mainly by Jews. Here is still
the Jews' quarters, and the Jews' hospital too, tended by English
doctors, nurtured also by English money; and here, too, close to
David's Gate, close also to that new huge Armenian convent, shall
one, somewhat closely scrutinizing among heaps of rubbish, come upon
a colony of lepers. In the town, but not of it, within the walls, but
forbidden all ingress to the streets, there they dwell, a race of
mournfullest Pariahs. From father to son, from mother to daughter,
dire disease, horrid, polluting, is handed down, a certain legacy,
making the body loathsome, and likening the divine face of man to a
melancholy ape. Oh! the silent sadness, the inexpressible melancholy
of those wan, thoughtless, shapeless, boneless, leaden faces! To them
no happy daily labour brings rest and appetite; their lot forbids
them work, as it forbids all other blessings. No; on their dunghills
outside their cabins there they sit in the sun, the mournfullest
sight one might look on, the leper parents with their leper children,
beggars by inheritance, paupers, outcasts, mutilated victims,--but
still with souls, if they or any round them did but know it.

There also, directly facing him, was the Mount Moriah, also inside
the walls, where Solomon built the house of the Lord, "where the Lord
appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared,
in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite." For this city,
Jerusalem, had, in still more ancient days, before the thought of
that temple had come into men's minds, been the city Jebus, a city
even then fenced up, and here had been the threshing-floor which
Ornan tendered to David without price, but which the king bought for
six hundred shekels of gold.

Yes; here before him as he sat was the site of that temple, Solomon's
temple, "exceeding magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all
countries," of which David had been worthy only to collect the
materials. The site! nay, but there were the very stones themselves.

Seen from that hill, the city seems so close that you may lay your
hand upon it. Between you and it (you, if ever you should happily
come to sit there) lies that valley of Jehoshaphat, in which Miss
Todd is going to celebrate her picnic. This is the valley in which
the Jews most love to have themselves buried; as there, according
to them, is the chosen site of the resurrection: and thus they who
painfully journeying thither in their old age, and dying there can
there be buried, will have no frightful, moles'-work, underground
pilgrimage to detain them when that awful trumpet shall once more
summon them to the upper world.

The air, in Syria there, is thin and clear, clouded by no fogs; and
the lines of the wall and the minarets of the mosque are distinct and
bright and sharp against the sky, as in the evening light one looks
across from one hill to the other. The huge stones of the wall now
standing, stones which made part of that ancient temple, can be
counted, one above another, across the valley. Measured by a rough
estimate, some of them may be two and twenty feet in length, seven in
depth, and five in height, single blocks of hewn rock, cut certainly
by no Turkish enterprise, by no mediæval empire, by no Roman labour.
It is here, and here only, at the base of the temple, that these huge
stones are to be found, at the base of what was the temple, forming
part of the wall that now runs along the side of Mount Moriah, but
still some forty feet above the ground.

Over them now is the Mosque of Omar--a spot to be desecrated no more
by Christian step. On the threshing-floor of Ornan, the children of
Mahomet now read the Koran and sing to Allah with monotonous howl.
Oh, what a history! from the treading of the Jebusite's oxen down
to the first cry of the Mussulman! Yes; no Christian may now enter
here, may hardly look into the walled court round the building. But
dignified Turks, drinking coffee on their divan within the building,
keep the keys of the Christian church--keep also the peace, lest
Latin and Greek should too enthusiastically worship their strange
gods.

There can be few spots on the world's surface more sacred to any
Christian than that on which Bertram sat. Coming up from Bethany,
over a spur on the southern side of the Mount of Olives, towards
Jerusalem, the traveller, as he rises on the hill, soon catches a
sight of the city, and soon again loses it. But going onward along
his path, the natural road which convenience would take, he comes
at length to the brow of the hill, looking downwards, and there has
Mount Sion, Moriah, and the site of the temple full before him. No
one travelling such a road could do other than pause at such a spot.

'Twas here that Jesus "sat upon the mount, over against the temple."
There is no possibility of mistaking the place. "And as he went, one
of the disciples saith unto him, 'Master, see what manner of stones
and what buildings are here.' And Jesus answering, said unto him,
'Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone
upon another that shall not be thrown down.'" There are the stones,
the very stones, thrown down indeed from the temple, but now standing
erect as a wall, supporting Omar's mosque.

"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it."
Yes, walk up from Bethany, my reader, and thou, too, shalt behold it,
even yet; a matter to be wept over even now. 'Tis hard to sit there
and not weep, if a man have any heart within him, any memory of those
histories. "If thou hadst known, even, then, at least in this thy
day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" But thou wouldest not
know. And where art thou now, O Jew? And who is it that sittest in
thy high place, howling there to Allah most unmusically?

"O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" Not silently, and in thought only, but
with outspoken words and outstretched hands, so then spake our young
English friend, sitting there all alone, gazing on the city. What
man familiar with that history could be there and not so speak? "O,
Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest
them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered
thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under
her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you
desolate."

When talking over the matter with Harcourt at Oxford, and afterwards
with his uncle at Hadley, Bertram had expressed a sort of half-formed
wish to go into the church; not, indeed, in such a manner as to leave
on the minds of either of his counsellors an idea that he would
really do so; but this profession of being a parson had been one of
those of which he had spoken as being in some sort desirable for
himself. Now, as he sat there, looking at the once holy city, it
seemed to him to be the only profession in any way desirable. He
resolved that he would be a clergyman; thanked his God in that he had
brought him there to this spot before it was too late; acknowledged
that, doubting as he had done, he had now at length found a Divine
counsellor--one whose leading his spirit did not disdain. There he
devoted himself to the ministry, declared that he, too, would give
what little strength he had towards bringing the scattered chickens
of the new house of Israel to that only wing which could give them
the warmth of life. He would be one of the smallest, one of the least
of those who would fight the good fight; but, though smallest and
least, he would do it with what earnestness was in him.

Reader! you may already, perhaps, surmise that George Bertram does
not become a clergyman. It is too true. That enthusiasm, strong,
true, real as it was, did not last him much longer than his last walk
round Jerusalem; at least, did not bide by him till he found himself
once more walking on the High Street of Oxford. Very contemptible
this, you will say. Yes, contemptible enough, as humanity so often
is. Who amongst us have not made such resolves--some resolve of
self-devotion, at the sound of the preacher's voice--and forgotten it
before our foot was well over the threshold? It is so natural, that
wish to do a great thing; so hard, that daily task of bathing in
Jordan.

When the bright day had disappeared, all but suddenly, and he could
no longer see the minarets of the mosque, Bertram descended the hill.
It is but a short walk thence to Jerusalem--thence even into the
centre of Jerusalem.

But what a walk! To the left is the valley-side--that valley of the
Resurrection--covered with tombs--flat, sturdy, short stones, each
bearing a semblance, at least, of some short Hebraic epitaph, unmoved
through heaven knows how many centuries! apparently immovable;
the place, in this respect, being very unlike our more ornamental
cemeteries. On his right was the Mount of Olives; a mount still of
olives, sprinkled over with olive-trees quite sufficiently to make it
properly so called, even to this day. Then he passed by the garden
of Gethsemane, now a walled-in garden, in which grow rue and other
herbs; in which, also, is one fine, aged olive-tree, as to which
tradition of course tells wondrous tales. This garden is now in
charge of an old Latin monk--a Spaniard, if I remember well--who, at
least, has all a Spaniard's courtesy.

It was here, or near to this, just above, on the hill-side, if our
topography be reliable, that Jesus asked them whether they could not
watch one hour. Bertram, as he passed, did not take the question to
himself; but he well might have done so.

Turning round the wall of the garden, on his pathway up to Stephen's
Gate, the so-called tomb of the Virgin was on his right hand, with
its singular, low, subterranean chapel. A very singular chapel,
especially when filled to the very choking with pilgrims from those
strange retreats of oriental Christendom, and when the mass is being
said--inaudible, indeed, and not to be seen, at the furthest end of
that dense, underground crowd, but testified to by the lighting of
a thousand tapers, and by the strong desire for some flicker of the
holy flame.

And then he ascended to the city, up the steep hill, the side of
Mount Moriah, to St. Stephen's Gate; and there, on his left, was
the entrance to Omar's mosque, guarded by fierce dervishes against
pollution from stray Christian foot. Hence to his hotel every
footstep was over ground sacred in some sense, but now desecrated by
traditionary falsehoods. Every action of our Saviour's passion has
its spot assigned to it; of every noted word the _locale_ is given.
When once you are again within the walls, all is again unbelievable,
fabulous, miraculous; nay, all but blasphemous. Some will say quite
so. But, nevertheless, in passing by this way, should you, O reader!
ever make such passage, forget not to mount to the top of Pilate's
house. It is now a Turkish barrack; whether it ever were Pilate's
house, or, rather, whether it stands on what was ever the site of
Pilate's house or no. From hence you see down into the court of the
mosque, see whatever a Christian can see of that temple's site, and
see also across them gloriously to those hills of Jerusalem, Scopus,
and the hill of the men of Galilee, and the Mount of Olives, and
the Mount of Offence--so called because there "did Solomon build an
high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is
before Jerusalem."

On his return to his inn, Bertram at once found that there had been
an arrival of some importance during his absence. Waiters and boots
were all busy--for there are waiters and boots at Jerusalem, much
the same as at the "Saracen's Head," or "White Lion;" there is no
chambermaid, however, only a chamberman. Colonel Sir Lionel Bertram
was there.



CHAPTER VIII.

SIR LIONEL BERTRAM.


The personal peculiarities which Sir Lionel had mentioned in his
letter to his son as being characteristic of himself were certainly
true. He was an old, or, perhaps, rather an elderly gentleman, in a
military frock, with a bald head, a hook nose, and a short allowance
of teeth. But he was more than this: though elderly he was tall and
upright; he was distinguished looking, and, for an old man, handsome
in spite of his lost teeth; and though bald as to the top of his
head, had yet enough hair to merit considerable attention, and to be
the cause of considerable pride. His whiskers, also, and mustache,
though iron-gray, were excellent in their way. Had his baldness been
of an uglier description, or his want of teeth more disagreeably
visible, he probably might not have alluded to them himself. In
truth, Sir Lionel was not a little vain of his personal appearance,
and thought that in the matter of nose, he was quite equal to the
Duke in aristocratic firmness, and superior to Sir Charles Napier in
expression and general design.

But though a vain man, Sir Lionel was too clever to let his vanity
show itself in an offensive manner. The "ars celare artem" was
his forte; and he was able to live before the world as though he
never cast a thought on his coat and pantaloons, or ever did more
than brush and smooth his iron-gray locks with due attention to
cleanliness.

I was going to say that Sir Lionel's appearance was the best thing
about him; but in saying so I should belie his manner, with which it
was certainly difficult for any one to find fault. It was what the
world calls happy, meaning thereby, that so great was the possessor's
luck that he was able to make it pleasant to all men, and to all
women--for a while. Mrs. Bertram--she had not lived to be my
lady--had, I believe, not always found it so.

These, joined to a readiness in the use of one or two languages
besides his own, were the qualifications which had given Sir Lionel
his title, and had caused him to be employed in so many missions in
so many countries; and on duty, too, which could not be said to be of
a military nature. He never made difficulties or enemies of his own,
and could generally smooth down the difficulties and enemies left
behind them by others, perhaps of a more sturdy temperament.

But now the catalogue of his virtues is complete. He was not a man of
genius, or even a man of talent. He had performed no great service
for his country; had neither proposed nor carried through any
valuable project of diplomacy; nor had he shown any close insight
into the habits and feelings of the people among whom he had lived.
But he had been useful as a great oil-jar, from whence oil for the
quiescence of troubled waters might ever and anon be forthcoming.
Expediency was his god, and he had hitherto worshipped it with a
successful devotion.

That he had not been a good husband has been hinted; that he had been
a very indifferent father has been made apparent. But at the moment
of his meeting with his son, he atoned for all his past sins in this
respect by the excellence of his manner; and before the evening was
over, George liked his father, who had owed him everything and given
him nothing, ten times better than he had ever liked his uncle who
had given him everything though he had owed him nothing.

"It's an odd place for us to have met in at last, is it not, sir?"
said George. They were sitting after supper very close together on
one of those stationary sofas which are found affixed to the wall in
every room in the East, and the son was half holding, half caressing
his father's arm. Sir Lionel, to tell the truth, did not much care
for such caresses, but under the peculiar circumstances of this
present interview he permitted it.

"You see, I'm always in odd places, George."

"You've been in Jerusalem before?"

"No, never. It's not on the road anywhere, or on any road at all, as
one may well see. I never knew such a place to get to. Now there are
roads of some sort even about Bagdad."

"And Damascus?"

"Oh, Damascus is a highway; but nobody comes to Jerusalem except the
pilgrims, and those who like to look after the pilgrims. We are just
in the thick of them now, I believe."

"Yes, sir. There are thirteen thousand here. I am sure you'll like
the place. I am delighted with it, although I have been here as yet
only two days."

"Perhaps more so than you will be when you have been ten."

"I don't think it. But it is not the city itself."

"No; that seems poor and dirty enough."

"I would not mind the dirt if the place were but true." Sir Lionel
did not quite understand him, but he said nothing. "It is the country
round, the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem that fascinates so
wonderfully."

"Ah! the scenery is good, is it?"

"Well, in one way it is; but I do not mean that. I cannot explain it;
but to-morrow you will go to the Mount of Olives with me."

"Mount of Olives, eh? I'm not very good at climbing up a hill, Master
George; you must remember the difference between twenty-three and
sixty-three. What is there to see there?"

What was there to see there! This was said in a tone which made
George feel rather indisposed to describe, if describe he could, what
there was there to be seen. He had quite wit enough to perceive that
his father was not enthusiastic about Bible history.

And then they changed the conversation, and began to talk about
George Bertram the elder.

"It's eighteen years since I've seen my brother," said Sir Lionel.
"He was usually cross enough then. I suppose he has hardly improved?"

"I can't exactly call him cross. He has been very kind to me, you
know."

"Kind--well. If you are contented, I am; but, considering that you
are his natural heir, I don't think he has done so very much. If he
means to be kind, why does he bother me every other month with a long
account, of which the postage comes to heaven knows how much?"

"Ah! but, sir, I am not his heir."

"Not his heir!" said Sir Lionel, with more of sharpness in his tone
than was at all usual with him; with a little sharpness also in his
eye, as George quickly observed. "Not his heir--who is his heir
then?"

"Ah, that I do not know. Some corporation, perhaps, or some hospital.
All I know is, that I am not. That he has told me quite plainly. And
he was very right to do so," added George, after a pause.

Sir Lionel repressed the exclamation of anger against his brother
which was in his heart, and had all but risen to his tongue. He had
not been wandering for thirty years on foreign missions for nothing.
He must find out more of this lad's disposition and feelings before
he spoke out plainly before him what he thought. He had intended
not only that his son should be the rich uncle's heir, but the rich
uncle's adopted child also; so that some portion of that vast wealth
might be made use of, certainly by George, perhaps even in some
modest degree by himself, without the unnecessary delay of waiting
for his brother's death. It would be bad enough to wait, seeing how
probable it was that that brother might outlive himself. But now to
be told not only that his hopes in this respect were vain, but that
the old miser had absolutely repudiated his connection with his
nephew! This was almost too much for his diplomatic equanimity.
Almost, I say; for in fact he did restrain himself.

"And did he say, George, in so many words that he meant to give you
nothing?"

"Yes, very plainly--in so many words. And I told him as plainly, and
in as many, that I wanted nothing from him."

"Was that prudent, my boy?"

"It was the truth, sir. But I must tell you the whole. He offered me
a loan of three thousand pounds--"

"Well, you took that?"

"Indeed, no. He offered it on the condition that I should be an
attorney."

"An attorney! and you with a double-first?"

"Ah, he does not much value double-firsts. Of course, I was not going
to make myself an attorney."

"Of course not. But what is he doing about an allowance for you?"

"He has been very liberal. He has given me a hundred and fifty a
year--"

"Yes; and sent me the bill of it--with great regularity."

The son did not remind the father that all regularity in the matter
had ended there, and that the bills so sent had never been paid; but
he could not help thinking that in justice he might do so.

"But that expense will soon be over, sir, as regards either you or
him. The allowance will be discontinued next year."

"What! he is going to stop even that school-boy's pittance?"

"Why not, sir? I have no claim on him. And as he has not forgotten to
tell me so once or twice--"

"He was always a vulgar fellow," said Sir Lionel. "How he came to
have such a spirit of trade in his very blood, I can't conceive. God
knows I have none of it."

"Nor I either, sir."

"Well, I hope not. But does he expect you to live upon air? This is
bad news, George--very bad."

"Of course I have always intended to go into a profession. I have
never looked at it in the same light as you do. I have always
intended to make my own way, and have no doubt that I shall do so. I
have quite made up my mind about it now."

"About what, George?"

"I shall go into orders, and take a college living."

"Orders!" said Sir Lionel; and he expressed more surprise and almost
more disgust at this idea than at that other one respecting the
attorney scheme.

"Yes; I have been long doubting; but I think I have made up my mind."

"Do you mean that you wish to be a parson, and that after taking a
double-first?"

"I don't see what the double-first has to do with it, sir. The only
objection I have is the system of the establishment. I do not like
the established church."

"Then why go into it?" said Sir Lionel, not at all understanding the
nature of his son's objection.

"I love our liturgy, and I like the ritual; but what we want is the
voluntary principle. I do not like to put myself in a position which
I can, in fact, hold whether I do the duties of it or no. Nor do I
wish--"

"Well; I understand very little about all that; but, George, I
had hoped something better for you. Now, the army is a beggarly
profession unless a man has a private fortune; but, upon my word, I
look on the church as the worst of the two. A man _may_ be a bishop
of course; but I take it he has to eat a deal of dirt first."

"I don't mean to eat any dirt," said the son.

"Nor to be a bishop, perhaps," replied the father.

They were quite unable to understand each other on this subject. In
Sir Lionel's view of the matter, a profession was--a profession.
The word was understood well enough throughout the known world. It
signified a calling by which a gentleman, not born to the inheritance
of a gentleman's allowance of good things, might ingeniously obtain
the same by some exercise of his abilities. The more of these good
things that might be obtained, the better the profession; the easier
the labour also, the better the profession; the less restriction that
might be laid on a man in his pleasurable enjoyment of the world, the
better the profession. This was Sir Lionel's view of a profession,
and it must be acknowledged that, though his view was commonplace, it
was also common sense; that he looked at the matter as a great many
people look at it; and that his ideas were at any rate sufficiently
intelligible. But George Bertram's view was different, and much less
easy of explanation. He had an idea that in choosing a profession
he should consider, not so much how he should get the means of
spending his life, but how he should in fact spend it. He would
have, in making this choice, to select the pursuit to which he would
devote that amount of power and that amount of life which God should
allot to him. Fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, guardians and
grandfathers, was not this a singular view for a young man to take in
looking at such a subject?

But in truth George was somewhat afflicted by a _tête monté_ in this
matter. I say afflicted, because, having imagination and ideality to
lead him to high views, he had not a sufficient counterbalance in
his firmness of character. If his father was too mundane, he was too
transcendental. As for instance, he approved at the present moment,
in theory, of the life of a parish clergyman; but could he have
commenced the life to-morrow, he would at once have shrunk from its
drudgery.

They did not understand each other; perceiving which, Sir Lionel gave
up the subject. He was determined not to make himself disagreeable to
his son. He, at any rate, intended to make him no allowance, to give
him no fortune, and was aware, therefore, that he had no right to
interfere otherwise than as his advice might be asked. Nor indeed had
he any wish to do so, if he could only instil into the young man's
mind a few--not precepts; precepts are harsh and disagreeable--a few
comfortable friendly hints as to the tremendous importance of the
game which might be played with Mr. George Bertram senior. If he
could only do this pleasantly, and without offence to his son, he
would attempt nothing further.

He turned the conversation, and they talked agreeably on other
matters--of Oxford, of the Wilkinsons, of Harcourt, and by degrees
also a little of uncle George.

"What sort of a house does my brother keep at Hadley--eh, George?
Dull enough it used to be."

"Well; it is dull. Not that he is dull himself; I can always talk to
my uncle when he will talk to me."

"Sees no company, I suppose?"

"Not much."

"Never goes into society?"

"He dines out in London sometimes; and sometimes gives dinners too."

"What! at taverns?"

"Yes; at Blackwall, or Greenwich, or some of those places. I have
been at his dinners, and he never spares anything."

"He doesn't feel his years, then? He's not infirm? no rheumatism or
anything of that sort--strong on his legs, eh?"

"As strong as you are, sir."

"He's ten years my senior, you know."

"Yes, I know he is. He's not nearly so young a man as you are; but
I really think he is as strong. He's a wonderful man for his years,
certainly."

"I'm delighted to hear it," said Sir Lionel. A keen judge of
character, however, scrutinizing the colonel's face closely, would
not then have read much warm delight therein depicted.

"You rather like him on the whole, then--eh, George?"

"Well; I really think I do. I am sure I ought to like him. But--"

"Well, George; speak out. You and I need have no secrets."

"Secrets, no; I've no secret. My uncle has a way of saying too much
himself about what he does for one."

"Sends in the bill too often--eh, George?"

"If it is to be a bill, let him say so. I for one shall not blame
him. There is no reason he should give me anything. But situated as I
have been at Oxford, it would have been almost absurd in me to refuse
his allowance--"

"Quite absurd."

"When he knew I was coming out to you, he made Pritchett--you know
Pritchett?"

"And his handwriting--very well indeed."

"He made Pritchett put three hundred pounds to my credit; that was
over and above my allowance. Well, I did almost make up my mind to
return that; as it is, I have not touched it, and I think I shall
repay it."

"For heaven's sake do no such thing. It would be an offence which he
would never forgive." Sir Lionel did say so much with something of
parental energy in his tone and manner.

"Yes, sir; but to be told of it!"

"But he does not ask you to pay it him back again?"

"If he asks you;--is not that the same thing? But you hardly
understand me, or him either."

"I think I understand him, George. I wonder whether they could give
us a cup of coffee here?"

"Of course they can:" and George rang the bell.

"Perhaps so; but as far as my experience goes, wherever Englishmen
frequent, there the coffee is spoilt. Englishmen, as far as I can
see, have a partiality for chicory, but none at all for coffee."

"What I mean, sir, is this. Connected as I and my uncle are together,
seeing that he has all my life--" Here George paused a moment, for
what he was about to say might have seemed to imply a censure on his
father.

"Paid your school-bills, and all that sort of thing," filled in Sir
Lionel.

"Yes; as he has always done that, it seemed so natural that I should
take what he gave me."

"Quite natural. You could have done nothing else."

"And now he speaks of it as though--as though;--of course I am under
an obligation to him--a very deep obligation. I understand that, and
should not fret at it. But he thinks of it as though I had been to
blame in spending his money. When I see him next, he'll say something
of the same sort about that three hundred pounds. All I can do is to
remind him that I did not ask for it, and tell him that he may have
it back again."

"Do nothing of the kind, George," said Sir Lionel, who regarded as
little less than lunacy on his son's part this declared intention to
refund money to a rich man. "I know very well what you mean. It is
disagreeable to be reminded of money that you have spent."

"But I haven't spent it."

"Well, of money that you have received. But what can you do? It is
not your fault. As you truly say, it would be absurd and ungrateful
too if you were to decline to take such trifles from your own uncle;
especially seeing what he has done for you. It is his manner, and
that was always disagreeable; especially in money matters." And so
having given to his son the best advice he had to offer, Sir Lionel
sipped his coffee. "Very bad--very bad, indeed; it always is at these
English places. If I could have my own way, I would always keep out
of English haunts." In this respect Sir Lionel had had his own way
during the greater portion of his life.

Before they parted for the evening, George communicated to his father
the great fact of Miss Todd's picnic as settled for the next day;
and Sir Lionel expressed himself as willing to make one of the party
if Miss Todd could be induced to extend to him the light of her
countenance. On this head young Bertram, though his own acquaintance
had certainly been short, thought that he might take on himself to
answer. People soon get intimate with each other at such places as
Jerusalem. When you have been up the Great Pyramid with a lady, the
chances are you know more about her than you would do from a year's
acquaintance fostered by a dozen London parties; and a journey up the
Nile with a man may be considered quite equal to three years spent
together at the same college,--that is, if the fellow-travellers be
young. After a certain age, men never become really intimate, let
their relations with each other be ever so close.

"There will be a Miss Baker there, sir, who says she knows you; and a
Miss Waddington, a very fine girl, who at any rate knows my name."

"What! Caroline Waddington?"

"Yes, Caroline Waddington."

"She is a ward of your uncle."

"So Miss Baker tells me; but I never heard my uncle mention them.
Indeed, he never mentions anything."

"It will be very desirable that you should know Miss Waddington.
There is no saying what your uncle may do with his money. Yes, I'll
go to the picnic; only I hope the place is not distant." So that
matter was settled.



CHAPTER IX.

MISS TODD'S PICNIC.


That matter of obtaining permission for Sir Lionel to join the
picnic was not found difficult of arrangement. Good-looking,
pleasant-mannered Sir Lionels, who bear the Queen's commission,
and have pleasant military ways with them, are welcome enough at
such parties as these, even though they be sixty years of age. When
George mentioned the matter to Miss Todd, that lady declared herself
delighted. She had heard, she said, of the distinguished arrival at
the hotel, but she had been almost afraid to ask such a man as Sir
Lionel to join their foolish little party. Then Miss Baker, who in
this affair bore the next authority to Miss Todd, declared that she
had intended to ask him, taking upon herself the freedom of an old
acquaintance; and so that matter was arranged.

The party was not to be a large one. There was Miss Todd, the
compounder of it, a maiden lady, fat, fair, and perhaps almost forty;
a jolly jovial lady, intent on seeing the world, and indifferent to
many of its prejudices and formal restraints. "If she threw herself
in Sir Lionel's way, people would of course say that she wanted to
marry him; but she did not care a straw what people said; if she
found Sir Lionel agreeable, she would throw herself in his way." So
she told Miss Baker--with perhaps more courage than the occasion
required.

Then there was Mrs. and Miss Jones. Miss Jones was the young lady who
lost her parasol on the Mount of Offence, and so recklessly charged
the Arab children of Siloam with the theft. Mr. Jones was also in
Jerusalem, but could not be persuaded to attend at Miss Todd's
behest. He was steadily engaged in antiquarian researches, being
minded to bring out to the world some startling new theory as to
certain points in Bible chronology and topography. He always went
about the city with a trowel and a big set of tablets; and certain
among the more enthusiastic of the visitors to Jerusalem had put him
down as an infidel.

There were also Mr. and Mrs. Hunter--a bridegroom and bride, now on
their wedding trip; a somewhat fashionable couple, who were both got
up with considerable attention as to oriental costume. Mrs. Hunter
seemed to think a good deal about her trousers, and Mr. Hunter's mind
was equally taken up with the fact that he had ceased to wear any.
They had a knowing way of putting on their turbans, and carried their
sashes gracefully; those, however, who had seen Mr. Hunter roll
himself into his sash, were of opinion that sooner or later he would
suffer from vertigo in his head. Miss Baker and her niece had fallen
in with these people, and were considered to be of the same party.

There was a clergyman to be there, one Mr. Cruse, the gentleman who
had been so keenly annoyed at the absence of potatoes from the dinner
board. He was travelling in charge of a young gentleman of fortune,
a Mr. Pott, by whose fond parents the joint expense of the excursion
was defrayed. Mr. Cruse was a University man, of course; had been
educated at Trinity College Cambridge, and piqued himself much on
being far removed from the dangers of Puseyism. He was a man not of
a happy frame of mind, and seemed to find that from Dan to Beersheba
everything in truth was barren. He was good-looking, unmarried, not
without some talent, and seemed to receive from the ladies there
assembled more attention than his merits altogether deserved.

Mr. M'Gabbery had talked of not going, but had been over-persuaded by
the good-natured Miss Todd. He had become almost overwhelmed by the
intensity of his feelings in regard to the sacred associations of the
place, since George Bertram had contrived to seat himself between
Miss Baker and Miss Waddington. Up to that moment, no one had been
merrier than he. He had, so he had flattered himself, altogether cut
out Mr. Cruse in that special quarter, the good graces namely of
those two ladies, and had been prepared to take on his own shoulders
all the hard work of the picnic. But now things were altered with
him; he had some doubts whether the sacredness of the valley would
not be desecrated by such a proceeding, and consulted Mr. Cruse on
the matter. Hitherto these gentlemen had not been close friends;
but now they allied themselves as against a common enemy. Mr. Cruse
did not care much for associations, seemed indeed to think that
any special attention to sacred places savoured of idolatry, and
professed himself willing to eat his dinner on any of the hills or
in any of the valleys round Jerusalem. Fortified with so good an
opinion, and relying on the excellence of his purpose, Mr. M'Gabbery
gave way, and renewed his offers of assistance to Miss Todd.

There was also Mr. Pott, Mr. Cruse's young charge, the son of a man
largely engaged in the linen trade; a youth against whom very little
can be alleged. His time at present was chiefly given up to waiting
on Miss Jones; and, luckier in this respect than his tutor, Mr.
Cruse, he had no rival to interfere with his bliss.

Miss Baker and Miss Waddington made up the party. Of the former,
little more need be said, and that little should be all in her
praise. She was a lady-like, soft-mannered, easy-tempered woman,
devoted to her niece, but not strongly addicted to personal exertions
on her own part. The fact that she was now at Jerusalem, so far away
from her own comfortable drawing-room, sufficiently proved that she
_was_ devoted to her niece.

And now for Caroline Waddington, our donna primissima. Her qualities,
attributes, and virtues must be given more in detail than those of
her companions at the picnic, seeing that she is destined to fill a
prominent place upon our canvas.

At the time of which we are speaking, she might perhaps be twenty
years of age; but her general appearance, her figure, and especially
the strong character marked in her face, would have led one to
suspect that she was older. She was certainly at that time a
beautiful girl--very beautiful, handsome in the outline of her face,
graceful and dignified in her mien, nay, sometimes almost majestic--a
Juno rather than a Venus. But any Paris who might reject her, awed by
the rigour of her dignity, would know at the time that he was wrong
in his judgment. She was tall, but not so tall as to be unfeminine
in her height. Her head stood nobly on her shoulders, giving to her
bust that ease and grace of which sculptors are so fond, and of
which tight-laced stays are so utterly subversive. Her hair was
very dark--not black, but the darkest shade of brown, and was worn
in simple rolls on the side of her face. It was very long and very
glossy, soft as the richest silk, and gifted apparently with a
delightful aptitude to keep itself in order. No stray jagged ends
would show themselves if by chance she removed her bonnet, nor did it
even look as though it had been prematurely crushed and required to
be afresh puffed out by some head-dresser's mechanism. She had the
forehead of a Juno; white, broad, and straight; not shining as are
some foreheads, which seem as though an insufficient allowance of
skin had been vouchsafed for their covering. It was a forehead on
which an angel might long to press his lips--if angels have lips, and
if, as we have been told, they do occasionally descend from their
starry heights to love the daughters of men.

Nor would an angel with a shade of human passion in his temperament
have been contented with her forehead. Her mouth had all the richness
of youth, and the full enticing curves and ruby colour of Anglo-Saxon
beauty. Caroline Waddington was no pale, passionless goddess; her
graces and perfections were human, and in being so were the more
dangerous to humanity. Her forehead we have said, or should have
said, was perfect; we dare not affirm quite so much in praise of her
mouth: there was sometimes a hardness there, not in the lines of the
feature itself, but in the expression which it conveyed, a want of
tenderness, perhaps of trust, and too much self-confidence, it may
be, for a woman's character. The teeth within it, however, were never
excelled by any that ever graced the face of a woman.

Her nose was not quite Grecian; had it been so, her face might have
been fairer, but it would certainly have been less expressive. Nor
could it be called _retroussé_, but it had the slightest possible
tendency in that direction; and the nostrils were more open, more
ready to breathe forth flashes of indignation than is ever the case
with a truly Grecian nose.

The contour of her face was admirable: nothing could exceed in beauty
the lines of her cheeks or the shape and softness of her chin. Those
who were fastidious in their requirements might object to them that
they bore no dimple; but after all, it is only prettiness that
requires a dimple: full-blown beauty wants no such adventitious aid.

But her eyes! Miss Waddington's eyes! The eyes are the poet's
strongest fortress; it is for their description that he most gathers
up his forces and puts forth all his strength. What of her eyes?
Well, her eyes were bright enough, large enough, well set in her
head. They were clever eyes too--nay, honest eyes also, which is
better. But they were not softly feminine eyes. They never hid
themselves beneath their soft fringes when too curiously looked into,
as a young girl at her window half hides herself behind her curtain.
They were bold eyes, I was going to say, but the word would signify
too much in their dispraise; daring eyes, I would rather say,
courageous, expressive, never shrinking, sometimes also suspicious.
They were fit rather for a man than for so beautiful a girl as our
Caroline Waddington.

But perhaps the most wonderful grace about her was her walk. "Vera
incessu patuit Dea." Alas! how few women can walk! how many are
wilfully averse to attempting any such motion! They scuffle, they
trip, they trot, they amble, they waddle, they crawl, they drag
themselves on painfully, as though the flounces and furbelows around
them were a burden too heavy for easy, graceful motion; but, except
in Spain, they rarely walk. In this respect our heroine was equal to
an Andalusian.

Such and so great were Miss Waddington's outward graces. Some attempt
must also be made to tell of those inner stores with which this
gallant vessel was freighted; for, after all, the outward bravery is
not everything with a woman. It may be that a man in selecting his
wife rarely looks for much else;--for that in addition, of course, to
money; but though he has looked for little else, some other things do
frequently force themselves on his attention soon after the knot is
tied; and as Caroline Waddington will appear in these pages as wife
as well as maid, as a man's companion as well as his plaything,
it may be well to say now something as to her fitness for such
occupation.

We will say, then, that she was perhaps even more remarkable for her
strength of mind than for her beauty of person. At present, she was
a girl of twenty, and hardly knew her own power; but the time was to
come when she should know it and should use it. She was possessed of
a stubborn, enduring, manly will; capable of conquering much, and not
to be conquered easily. She had a mind which, if rightly directed,
might achieve great and good things, but of which it might be
predicted that it would certainly achieve something, and that if not
directed for good, it might not improbably direct itself for evil.
It was impossible that she should ever grow into a piece of domestic
furniture, contented to adapt itself to such uses as a marital tyrant
might think fit to require of it. If destined to fall into good
hands, she might become a happy, loving wife; but it was quite as
possible that she should be neither happy nor loving.

Like most other girls, she no doubt thought much of what might be her
lot in love--thought much of loving, though she had never yet loved.
It has been said that her turn of mind was manly; but it must not
on that account be imagined that her wishes and aspirations were at
present other than feminine. Her heart and feeling's were those of a
girl, at any rate as yet; but her will and disposition were masculine
in their firmness.

For one so young, she had great and dangerous faults of
character--great, as being injurious to her happiness; and dangerous,
as being likely to grow with her years. Her faults were not young
faults. Though true herself, she was suspicious of others; though
trustworthy, she was not trustful: and what person who is not
trustful ever remains trustworthy? Who can be fit for confidence who
cannot himself confide? She was imperious, too, when occasion offered
itself to her proud spirit. With her aunt, whom she loved, she was
not so. Her she was content to persuade, using a soft voice and a
soft eye; but with those whom she could not persuade and wished to
rule, her voice was sometimes stern enough, and her eye far from
soft.

She was a clever girl, capable of talking well, and possessed of more
information than most young ladies of the same age. She had been at
an excellent school, if any schools are really excellent for young
ladies; but there was, nevertheless, something in her style of
thought hardly suitable to the softness of girlhood. She could speak
of sacred things with a mocking spirit, the mockery of philosophy
rather than of youth; she had little or no enthusiasm, though there
was passion enough deep seated in her bosom; she suffered from
no transcendentalism; she saw nothing through a halo of poetic
inspiration: among the various tints of her atmosphere there was no
rose colour; she preferred wit to poetry; and her smile was cynical
rather than joyous.

Now I have described my donna primissima, with hardly sufficient
detail for my own satisfaction, doubtless with far too much for
yours, oh, my reader! It must be added, however, that she was an
orphan; that she lived entirely with her aunt, Miss Baker; that her
father had been in early life a sort of partner with Mr. George
Bertram; that Mr. George Bertram was her guardian, though he had
hitherto taken but little trouble in looking after her, whatever
trouble he may have taken in looking after her money; and that she
was possessed of a moderate fortune, say about four thousand pounds.

A picnic undertaken from Jerusalem must in some respects be unlike
any picnic elsewhere. Ladies cannot be carried to it in carriages,
because at Jerusalem there are no carriages; nor can the provisions
be conveyed even in carts, for at Jerusalem there are no carts. The
stock of comestibles was therefore packed in hampers on a camel's
back, and sent off to the valley by one route, whereas Miss Todd and
her friends went on horseback and on donkey-back by another and a
longer road.

It may as well be mentioned that Miss Todd was a little ashamed of
the magnitude to which her undertaking had attained. Her original
plan had merely been this:--that she and a few others should ride
through the valleys round the city, and send a basket of sandwiches
to meet them at some hungry point on the road. Now there was a
_cortège_ of eleven persons, exclusive of the groom-boys, a boiled
ham, sundry chickens, hard-boiled eggs, and champagne. Miss Todd
was somewhat ashamed of this. Here, in England, one would hardly
inaugurate a picnic to Kensal Green, or the Highgate Cemetery, nor
select the tombs of our departed great ones as a shelter under which
to draw one's corks. But Miss Todd boasted of high spirits: when this
little difficulty had been first suggested to her by Mr. M'Gabbery,
she had scoffed at it, and had enlarged her circle in a spirit of
mild bravado. Then chance had done more for her; and now she was
doomed to preside over a large party of revellers immediately over
the ashes of James the Just.

None but Englishmen or Englishwomen do such things as this. To other
people is wanting sufficient pluck for such enterprises; is wanting
also a certain mixture of fun, honest independence, and bad taste.
Let us go into some church on the Continent--in Italy, we will
say--where the walls of the churches still boast of the great
works of the great masters.--Look at that man standing on the very
altar-step while the priest is saying his mass; look at his gray
shooting-coat, his thick shoes, his wide-awake hat stuck under one
arm, and his stick under the other, while he holds his opera-glass
to his eyes. How he shuffles about to get the best point of sight,
quite indifferent as to clergy or laity! All that bell-ringing,
incense-flinging, and breast-striking is nothing to him: he has paid
dearly to be brought thither; he has paid the guide who is kneeling a
little behind him; he is going to pay the sacristan who attends him;
he is quite ready to pay the priest himself, if the priest would only
signify his wish that way; but he has come there to see that fresco,
and see it he will: respecting that he will soon know more than
either the priest or his worshippers. Perhaps some servant of the
church, coming to him with submissive, almost suppliant gesture, begs
him to step back just for one moment. The lover of art glares at
him with insulted look, and hardly deigns to notice him further:
he merely turns his eye to his Murray, puts his hat down on the
altar-step, and goes on studying his subject. All the world--German,
Frenchman, Italian, Spaniard--all men of all nations know that that
ugly gray shooting-coat must contain an Englishman. He cares for no
one. If any one upsets him, he can do much towards righting himself;
and if more be wanted, has he not Lord Malmesbury or Lord Clarendon
at his back? But what would this Englishman say if his place of
worship were disturbed by some wandering Italian?

It was somewhat in this way with Miss Todd. She knew that what she
was about to do was rather absurd, but she had the blood of the Todds
warm at her heart. The Todds were a people not easily frightened, and
Miss Todd was not going to disgrace her lineage. True, she had not
intended to feed twelve people over a Jewish sepulchre, but as the
twelve people had assembled, looking to her for food, she was not the
woman to send them away fasting: so she gallantly led the way through
the gate of Jaffa, Sir Lionel attending her on a donkey.

When once out of the town, they turned sharp to the left. Their path
lay through the valley of Gihon, through the valley of Hinnom, down
among those strange, open sepulchres, deeply excavated in caves on
the mountain-sides--sepulchres quite unlike those below in the valley
of Jehoshaphat. There they are all covered, each stone marking a
grave; but here they lie in open catacombs--in caves, at least, of
which the entrance is open. The hardy stranger crawling in may lay
his hand within the cell--nay, may crawl up into it if he will--in
which have mouldered the bones of some former visitor to Jerusalem.
For this, so saith tradition, is the field purchased with the reward
of iniquity. It was the burying-place for strangers, Aceldama, the
field of blood.

But where be these bones now? for the catacombs are mostly empty. Mr.
Pott, descending as far as he could into the deepest of them, did at
last bring forth a skull and two parts of a back-bone; did present
the former with much grace to Miss Jones, who, on beholding it, very
nearly fell from off her donkey.

"For shame, Pott," said Mr. Cruse. "How could you handle anything
so disgusting? You are desecrating the grave of some unfortunate
Mussulman who has probably died within the last fifty years." Mr.
Cruse was always intent on showing that he believed none of the
traditions of the country.

"It was quite dreadful of you, Mr. Pott," said Miss Jones; "quite
dreadful! Indeed, I don't know what you would not do. But I am quite
sure he was never a Mahomedan."

"He looked like a Jew, didn't he?" said Pott.

"Oh! I did not see the face; but he was certainly either a Jew or a
Christian. Only think. Perhaps those remains have been there for
nearly eighteen hundred years. Is it not wonderful? Mamma, it was
just here that I lost my parasol."

Sir Lionel had headed the cavalcade with Miss Todd, but George
Bertram was true to his new friends, Miss Baker and Miss Waddington.
So also, for a time, were Mr. M'Gabbery and Mr. Cruse. As the aunt
and niece rode beside each other, a great part of this gallant
attention fell upon the former. Indeed, the easiest way of addressing
the beauty was often found to be through the beauty's aunt; and it
may be doubted whether Mr. M'Gabbery would not have retreated long
since in despair, but for the scintillations of civility which fell
to him from Miss Baker's good-humour. He had had the good fortune
of some previous days' journeying with them on horseback through
the desert, and had found that privilege gave him an inestimable
advantage over Mr. Cruse. Why should it not also suffice as regarded
this new comer? He had held much commune with himself on the subject
that morning; had called himself to task for his own pusillanimity,
and had then fortified his courage with the old reflection about fair
ladies and faint hearts--and also with a glass of brandy. He was
therefore disposed to make himself very unpleasant to poor George if
occasion should require.

"How delighted you must have been to see your father!" said Miss
Baker, who, though her temper would not permit her to be uncivil to
Mr. M'Gabbery, would readily have dispensed with that gentleman's
attendance.

"Indeed, I was. I never saw him before, you know."

"Never saw him, your father, before, Mr. Bertram?" said Caroline.
"Why, aunt Mary says that I have seen him."

"I never saw him to remember him. One doesn't count one's
acquaintance before seven or eight years of age."

"Your memory must be very bad, then," said Mr. M'Gabbery, "or your
childhood's love for your father very slight. I perfectly remember
the sweetness of my mother's caresses when I was but three years
old. There is nothing, Miss Waddington, to equal the sweetness of a
mother's kisses."

"I never knew them," said she. "But I have found an aunt's do nearly
as well."

"A grandmother's are not bad," said Bertram, looking very grave.

"I can never think of my mother without emotion," continued Mr.
M'Gabbery. "I remember, as though it were yesterday, when I first
stood at her knee, with a picture-book on her lap before me. It is
the furthest point to which memory carries me--and the sweetest."

"I can remember back much before that," said George; "a great deal
before that. Listen to this, Miss Baker. My earliest impression was a
hatred of dishonesty."

"I hope your views have not altered since," said Caroline.

"Very materially, I fear. But I must tell you about my memory. I was
lying once in my cradle--"

"You don't mean to tell me you remember that?" said M'Gabbery.

"Perfectly, as you do the picture-book. Well, there I was lying, Miss
Baker, with my little eyes wide open. It is astonishing how much
babies see, though people never calculate on their having eyes at
all. I was lying on my back, staring at the mantelpiece, on which my
mother had left her key-basket."

"You remember, of course, that it was her key-basket?" said Miss
Waddington, with a smile that made M'Gabbery clench his walking-stick
in his hand.

"Perfectly; because she always kept her halfpence there also. Well,
there was a nursery-girl who used to be about me in those days. I
distinctly saw her go to that basket, Miss Baker, and take out a
penny; and I then made up my mind that the first use I would make of
my coming speech should be to tell my mother. That, I think, is the
furthest point to which my memory carries me."

The ladies laughed heartily, but Mr. M'Gabbery frowned bitterly. "You
must have dreamt it," said he.

"It is just possible," said George; "but I don't think it. Come, Miss
Waddington, let us have your earliest recollections."

"Ah! mine will not be interesting. They do not go back at all so far.
I think they have reference to bread and butter."

"I remember being very angry," said Miss Baker, "because papa
prophesied that I should be an old maid. It was very hard on me, for
his prophecy no doubt brought about the fact."

"But the fact is no fact as yet," said Mr. M'Gabbery, with a smirking
gallantry for which he ought to have been kicked.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. M'Gabbery," said Miss Waddington. "It is
quite an established fact. My aunt will never have my consent to
marry; and I am sure she will never dream of such a thing without
it."

"And so Mr. M'Gabbery's hopes in that direction are all at an end,"
said George, who was now able to speak to Caroline without being
heard by the others.

"I declare I think he has entertained some such idea, for he never
leaves my aunt alone for a minute. He has been very civil, very; but,
Mr. Bertram, perhaps you know that a very civil man may be a bore."

"He always is, I think. No man is really liked who is ever ready to
run on messages and tie up parcels. It is generally considered that a
man knows his own value, and that, if he be willing to do such work,
such work is fit for him."

"You never do anything to oblige, then?"

"Very rarely; at least, not in the little domestic line. If one could
have an opportunity of picking a lady out of a fire, or saving her
from the clutches of an Italian bravo, or getting her a fortune of
twenty thousand pounds, one would be inclined to do it. In such
cases, there would be no contempt mixed up with the lady's gratitude.
But ladies are never really grateful to a man for turning himself
into a flunky."

"Ah! I like to be attended to all the same."

"Then there is Mr. M'Gabbery. Half a smile will keep him at your feet
the whole day."

Mr. M'Gabbery and poor Miss Baker were now walking behind them, side
by side. But his felicity in this respect was not at all sufficient
for that gentleman. In their long journey from Egypt, he and Miss
Waddington had always been within speaking distance; and who was the
stranger of to-day that was thus to come and separate them?

"Miss Waddington," he cried, "do you remember when your horse
stumbled in the sand at El Arish? Ah! what a pleasant day that was!"

"But you have not recalled it by a very pleasant incident. I was very
nearly being thrown out of my saddle."

"And how we had to wait for our dinner at Gaza till the camels came
up?" And Mr. M'Gabbery, urging on his horse, brought him up once more
abreast with that of Miss Waddington.

"I shall soon have as great a horror of Gaza as Samson had," said
she, _sotto voce_. "I almost feel myself already in bonds under
Philistian yoke whenever it is mentioned."

"Talking of recollections, that journey will certainly be among the
sunniest of my life's memories," said Mr. M'Gabbery.

"It was sunny, certainly," said Miss Waddington; for the heat of the
desert had been oppressive.

"Ah! and so sweet! That encamping in your own tent; preparing your
own meals; having everything, as it were, within yourself. Civilized
life has nothing to offer equal to that. A person who has only gone
from city to city, or from steamboat to steamboat, knows nothing of
oriental life. Does he, Miss Waddington?" This was intended as a blow
at Bertram, who had got to Jerusalem without sleeping under canvas.

"What ignorant wretches the natives must be!" said George; "for
they apparently sleep as regularly in their own beds as any stupid
Christian in England."

"I am not sure that even Mr. M'Gabbery would admire the tents so much
if he had not some Christian comforts along with him."

"His brandy-flask and dressing-case, for instance," said George.

"Yes; and his mattress and blankets," said Caroline.

"His potted meat and preserved soup."

"And especially his pot to boil his potatoes in."

"That was Mr. Cruse," said Mr. M'Gabbery, quite angrily. "For myself,
I do not care a bit about potatoes."

"So it was, Mr. M'Gabbery; and I beg your pardon. It is Mr. Cruse
whose soul is among the potatoes. But, if I remember right, it was
you who were so angry when the milk ran out." Then Mr. M'Gabbery
again receded, and talked to Mrs. Jones about his associations.

"How thoroughly the Turks and Arabs beat us in point of costume,"
said Mrs. Hunter to Mr. Cruse.

"It will be very hard, at any rate, for any of them to beat you,"
said the tutor. "Since I have been out here, I have seen no one adopt
their ways with half as much grace as you do."

Mrs. Hunter looked down well pleased to her ancles, which were
covered, and needed to be covered, by no riding-habit. "I was not
thinking so much of myself as of Mr. Hunter. Women, you know, Mr.
Cruse, are nothing in this land."

"Except when imported from Christendom, Mrs. Hunter."

"But I was speaking of gentlemen's toilets. Don't you think the
Turkish dress very becoming? I declare, I shall never bear to see
Charles again in a coat and waistcoat and trousers."

"Nor he you in an ordinary silk gown, puffed out with crinoline."

"Well, I suppose we must live in the East altogether then. I am sure
I should not object. I know one thing--I shall never endure to put a
bonnet on my head again. By-the-by, Mr. Cruse, who is this Sir Lionel
Bertram that has just come? Is he a baronet?"

"Oh dear, no; nothing of that sort, I imagine. I don't quite know who
he is; but that young man is his son."

"They say he's very clever, don't they?"

"He has that sort of boy's cleverness, I dare say, which goes towards
taking a good degree." Mr. Cruse himself had not shone very brightly
at the University.

"Miss Waddington seems very much smitten with him; don't you think
so?"

"Miss Waddington is a beautiful girl; and variable--as beautiful
girls sometimes are."

"Mr. Cruse, don't be satirical."

"'Praise undeserved is satire in disguise,'" said Mr. Cruse, not
quite understanding, himself, why he made the quotation. But it did
exceedingly well. Mrs. Hunter smiled sweetly on him, said that he was
a dangerous man, and that no one would take him to be a clergyman;
upon which Mr. Cruse begged that she would spare his character.

And now they had come to the fountain of Enrogel, and having
dismounted from their steeds, stood clustering about the low wall
which surrounds the little pool of water.

"This, Sir Lionel," said Miss Todd, acting cicerone, "is the fountain
of Enrogel, which you know so well by name."

"Ah!" said Sir Lionel. "It seems rather dirty at present; doesn't
it?"

"That is because the water is so low. When there has been much rain,
there is quite a flood here. Those little gardens and fields there
are the most fertile spot round Jerusalem, because there is so much
irrigation here."

"That's where the Jerusalem artichokes are grown, I suppose."

"It is a singular fact, that though there are plenty of artichokes,
that special plant is unknown," said Mr. M'Gabbery. "Do you remember,
Miss Waddington--"

But Miss Waddington had craftily slipped round the corner of the
wall, and was now admiring Mrs. Hunter's costume, on the other side
of the fountain.

"And that is the village of Siloam," continued Miss Todd, pointing to
a range of cabins, some of which seemed to be cut out of the rock on
the hill-side, on her right hand as she looked up towards the valley
of Jehoshaphat. "And that is the pool of Siloam, Sir Lionel; we shall
go up there."

"Ah!" said Sir Lionel again.

"Is it not interesting?" said Miss Todd; and a smiling gleam of
satisfaction spread itself across her jovial ruddy face.

"Very," said Sir Lionel. "But don't you find it rather hot?"

"Yes, it is warm. But one gets accustomed to that. I do so like to
find myself among these names which used to torment me so when I
was a child. I had all manner of mysterious ideas about the pool of
Bethesda and the beautiful gate, about the hill of Sion, and Gehenna,
and the brook Cedron. I had a sort of belief that these places were
scattered wide over the unknown deserts of Asia; and now, Sir Lionel,
I am going to show them all to you in one day."

"Would they were scattered wider, that the pleasure might last the
longer," said Sir Lionel, taking off his hat as he bowed to Miss
Todd, but putting it on again very quickly, as he felt the heat.

"Yes; but the mystery, the beautiful mystery, is all gone," said Miss
Jones. "I shall never feel again about these places as I used to do."

"Nor I either, I hope," said Mr. Pott. "I always used to catch it for
scripture geography."

"Yes, the mystery of your childhood will be gone, Miss Jones," said
Mr. M'Gabbery, who, in his present state of hopelessness as regarded
Miss Waddington, was ill-naturedly interfering with young Pott. "The
mystery of your childhood will be gone; but another mystery, a more
matured mystery, will be created in your imagination. Your
associations will henceforth bear a richer tint."

"I don't know that," said Miss Jones, who did not approve of being
interfered with a bit better than did Mr. Pott.

And then they remounted, and the cavalcade moved on. They turned up
the rising ground towards the city wall, and leaving on the left the
gardens in which Jerusalem artichokes did not grow, they came to the
pool of Siloam. Here most of them again descended, and climbed down
to the water, which bursts out from its underground channel into a
cool, but damp and somewhat dirty ravine.

"You are my guide, Miss Todd, in everything," said Sir Lionel. "Is it
necessary that I should study scripture geography down in that hole?
If you bid me, I'll do it."

"Well, Sir Lionel, I'll let you off; the more especially as I have
been down there myself already, and got dreadfully draggled in doing
so. Oh! I declare, there is Miss Waddington in the water."

Miss Waddington was in the water. Not in such a manner, gentlest
of readers, as to occasion the slightest shock to your susceptible
nerves; but in such a degree as to be very disagreeable to her boots,
and the cause of infinite damage to her stockings. George Bertram had
handed her down, and when in the act of turning round to give similar
assistance to some other adventurous lady, had left her alone on the
slippery stones. Of course any young lady would take advantage of
such an unguarded moment to get into some catastrophe.

Alas! and again alas! Unfortunately, Mr. M'Gabbery had been the first
to descend to the pool. He had calculated, cunningly enough, that in
being there, seeing that the space was not very large, the duty must
fall to his lot of receiving into his arms any such ladies as chose
to come down--Miss Waddington, who was known to be very adventurous,
among the number. He was no sooner there, however, than George
Bertram jumped in almost upon him, and hitherto he had not had an
opportunity of touching Miss Waddington's glove. But now it seemed
that fortune was to reward him.

"Good heavens!" cried Mr. M'Gabbery, as he dashed boldly into the
flood, thereby splashing the water well up into Caroline's face.
There was not much occasion for this display, for the gentleman could
have assisted the lady quite as effectually without even wetting his
toes; but common misfortunes do create common sympathies--or at least
they should do. Would it not be natural that Miss Waddington and
Mr. M'Gabbery, when both wet through up to their knees, should hang
together in their sufferings, make common cause of it, talk each of
what the other felt and understood so well? Nay, might it not be
probable that, in obedience to the behests of some wise senior, they
might be sent back to the city together;--understand, O reader, that
the wall of Jerusalem had never yet been distant from them half a
mile--back, we say, together to get dry stockings? To achieve such an
object, Mr. M'Gabbery would have plunged bodily beneath the wave--had
the wave been deep enough to receive his body. As it was, it only
just came over the tops of his boots, filling them comfortably with
water.

"Oh, Mr. M'Gabbery!" exclaimed the ungrateful lady. "Now you have
drowned me altogether."

"I never saw anything so awkward in my life," said M'Gabbery, looking
up at Bertram with a glance that should have frozen his blood.

"Nor I, either," said Caroline.

"What had you better do? Pray give me your hand, Miss Waddington. To
leave you in such a manner as that! We managed better in the desert,
did we not, Miss Waddington? You really must go back to Jerusalem for
dry shoes and stockings; you really must. Where is Miss Baker? Give
me your hand, Miss Waddington; both hands, you had better."

So much said Mr. M'Gabbery while struggling in the pool of Siloam.
But in the meantime, Miss Waddington, turning quickly round, had put
out her hand to Bertram, who was standing--and I regret to say all
but laughing--on the rock above her; and before Mr. M'Gabbery's
eloquence was over, she was safely landed among her friends.

"Oh, Mr. Bertram," said she; "you are a horrid man. I'll never
forgive you. Had I trusted myself to poor Mr. M'Gabbery, I should
have been dry-footed at this moment." And she shook the water from
off her dress, making a damp circle around herself as a Newfoundland
dog sometimes does. "If I served you right, I should make you go to
the hotel for a pair of shoes."

"Do, Miss Waddington; make him go," said Sir Lionel. "If he doesn't,
I'll go myself."

"I shall be delighted," said Mr. Cruse; "my donkey is very quick;"
and the clergyman mounted ready to start. "Only I shouldn't know
where to find the things."

"No, Mr. Cruse; and I couldn't tell you. Besides, there is nothing I
like so much as wet feet,--except wet strings to my hat, for which
latter I have to thank Mr. M'Gabbery."

"I will go, of course," said M'Gabbery, emerging slowly from the
pool. "Of course it is for me to go; I shall be glad of an
opportunity of getting dry boots myself."

"I am so sorry you have got wet," said the beauty.

"Oh! it's nothing; I like it. I was not going to see you in the water
without coming to you. Pray tell me what I shall fetch. I know all
your boxes so well, you know, so I can have no difficulty. Will they
be in the one with C. W. on it in brass nails? That was the one which
fell off the camel near the Temple of Dagon." Poor Mr. M'Gabbery!
that ride through the desert was an oasis in his otherwise somewhat
barren life, never to be forgotten.

"I am the sinner, Miss Waddington," said George, at last, "and on me
let the punishment fall. I will go back to Jerusalem; and in order
that you may suffer no inconvenience, I will bring hither all your
boxes and all your trunks on the backs of a score of Arab porters."

"You know you intend to do no such thing," said she. "You have
already told me your ideas as to waiting upon young ladies."

There was, however, at last some whispering between Miss Baker and
her niece, in which Mr. M'Gabbery vainly attempted to join, and the
matter ended in one of the grooms being sent into the town, laden
with a bunch of keys and a written message for Miss Baker's servant.
Before dinner-time, Miss Waddington had comfortably changed her
stockings in the upper story of the tomb of St. James, and Mr.
M'Gabbery--but Mr. M'Gabbery's wet feet did not receive the attention
which they deserved.

Passing on from the pool of Siloam, they came to a water-course at
which there was being conducted a considerable washing of clothes.
The washerwomen--the term is used as being generic to the trade and
not to the sex, for some of the performers were men--were divided
into two classes, who worked separately; not so separately but what
they talked together, and were on friendly terms; but still there was
a division. The upper washerwomen, among whom the men were at work,
were Mahomedans; the lower set were Jewesses. As to the men, but
little observation was made, except that they seemed expert enough,
dabbing their clothes, rubbing in the soap, and then rinsing, very
much in the manner of Christians. But it was impossible not to look
at the women. The female followers of the Prophet had, as they
always have, some pretence of a veil for their face. In the present
instance, they held in their teeth a dirty blue calico rag, which
passed over their heads, acting also as a shawl. By this contrivance,
intended only to last while the Christians were there, they concealed
one side of the face and the chin. No one could behold them without
wishing that the eclipse had been total. No epithet commonly applied
to women in this country could adequately describe their want of
comeliness. They kept their faces to their work, and except that they
held their rags between their teeth, they gave no sign of knowing
that strangers were standing by them.

It was different with the Jewesses. When they were stared at, they
stood up boldly and stared again;--and well worth looking at they
were. There were three or four of them, young women all, though
already mothers, for their children were playing on the grass behind
them. Each bore on her head that moon-shaped head-dress which is
there the symbol of a Jewess; and no more graceful tiara can a woman
wear. It was wonderful that the same land should produce women
so different as were these close neighbours. The Mahomedans were
ape-like; but the Jewesses were glorious specimens of feminine
creation. They were somewhat too bold, perhaps; there was too much
daring in their eyes, as, with their naked shoulders and bosoms
nearly bare, they met the eyes of the men that were looking at them.
But there was nothing immodest in their audacity; it was defiant
rather, and scornful.

There was one among them, a girl, perhaps of eighteen, who might have
been a sculptor's model, not only for form and figure, but for the
expression of her countenance and the beautiful turn of her head and
shoulders. She was very unlike the Jewess that is ordinarily pictured
to us. She had no beaky nose, no thin face, no sharp, small, black,
bright eyes; she was fair, as Esther was fair; her forehead and face
were broad, her eyes large and open; yet she was a Jewess, plainly a
Jewess; such a Jewess as are many still to be seen--in Palestine, at
least, if not elsewhere.

When they came upon her, she was pressing the dripping water from
some large piece of linen, a sheet probably. In doing this she had
cunningly placed one end firmly under her foot upon a stone, and
then, with her hands raised high above her head, she twisted and
retwisted it till the water oozing out fell in heavy drops round her
feet. Her arms and neck were bare, as were also her feet; and it was
clear that she put forth to her work as much strength as usually
falls to the lot of a woman in any country.

She was very fair to look at, but there was about her no feminine
softness. Do not laugh, reader, unless you have already stopped to
think, and, thinking, have decided that a girl of eighteen, being a
washerwoman, must therefore be without feminine softness. I would not
myself say that it is so. But here at least there was no feminine
softness, no tenderness in the eye, no young shame at being gazed at.
She paused for a moment in her work, and gave back to them all the
look they gave her; and then, as though they were beneath her notice,
she strained once more at her task, and so dropped the linen to the
ground.

"If I knew how to set about the bargain, I would take that woman home
with me, and mould her to be my wife." Such was George Bertram's
outspoken enthusiasm.

"Moulded wives never answer well," said Sir Lionel.

"I think he would prefer one that had been dipped," whispered Miss
Todd to the colonel; but her allusion to Miss Waddington's little
accident on the water, and to the chandler's wares, was not
thoroughly appreciated.

It has been said that the hampers were to be sent to the tomb of
Zachariah; but they agreed to dine immediately opposite to that of
St. James the Less. This is situated in the middle of the valley of
Jehoshaphat, in the centre of myriads of Jewish tombs, directly
opposite to the wall built with those huge temple stones, not many
feet over the then dry water-course of the brook Cedron. Such was the
spot chosen by Miss Todd for her cold chickens and champagne.

Of course they wandered about a little in pairs and trios while these
dainties were being prepared for them. This St. James's tomb is a
little temple built on the side of the rock, singularly graceful. The
front towards the city is adorned with two or three Roman pillars,
bearing, if I remember rightly, plain capitals. There is, I think,
no pediment above them, or any other adjunct of architectural
pretension; but the pillars themselves, so unlike anything else
there, so unlike any other sepulchral monument that I, at least, have
seen, make the tomb very remarkable. That it was built for a tomb is,
I suppose, not to be doubted; though for whose ashes it was in fact
erected may perhaps be questioned. I am not aware that any claimant
has been named as a rival to St. James.

The most conspicuous of these monuments is that which tradition
allots to Absalom, close to this other which we have just described.
It consists of a solid square erection, bearing what, for want of
a better name, I must call a spire, with curved sides, the sides
curving inwards as they fall from the apex to the base. This spiral
roof, too low and dumpy to be properly called a spire, is very
strong, built with stones laid in circles flat on each other, the
circles becoming smaller as they rise towards the top. Why Absalom
should have had such a tomb, who can say? That his bones were buried
there, the Jews at least believe; for Jewish fathers, as they walk by
with their children, bid their boys each cast a stone there to mark
their displeasure at the child who rebelled against his parent. It is
now nearly full of such stones.

While Miss Waddington was arranging her toilet within the tomb of St.
James, her admirers below were not making themselves agreeable to
each other. "It was the awkwardest thing I ever saw," said Mr. Cruse
to Mr. M'Gabbery, in a low tone, but not so low but what Bertram was
intended to hear it.

"Very," said Mr. M'Gabbery. "Some men are awkward by nature;--seem,
indeed, as though they were never intended for ladies' society."

"And then to do nothing but laugh at the mischief he had caused. That
may be the way at Oxford; but we used to flatter ourselves at
Cambridge that we had more politeness."

"Cambridge!" said Bertram, turning round and speaking with the most
courteous tone he could command. "Were you at Cambridge? I thought
I had understood that you were educated at St. Bees." Mr. Cruse had
been at St. Bees, but had afterwards gone to the University.

"I was a scholar at St. John's, sir," replied Mr. Cruse, with much
dignity. "M'Gabbery, shall we take a stroll across the valley till
the ladies are ready?" And so, having sufficiently shown their
contempt for the awkward Oxonian, they moved away.

"Two very nice fellows, are they not?" said Bertram to Mr. Hunter.
"It's a stroke of good fortune to fall in with such men as that at
such a place as this."

"They're very well in their own way," said Mr. Hunter, who was lying
on the grass, and flattering himself that he looked more Turkish than
any Turk he had yet seen. "But they don't seem to me to be quite at
home here in the East. Few Englishman in fact are. Cruse is always
wanting boiled vegetables, and M'Gabbery can't eat without a regular
knife and fork. Give me a pilau and a bit of bread, and I can make a
capital dinner without anything to help me but my own fingers."

"Cruse isn't a bad kind of coach," said young Pott. "He never
interferes with a fellow. His only fault is that he's so spoony about
women."

"They're gentlemanlike men," said Sir Lionel; "very. One can't
expect, you know, that every one should set the Thames on fire."

"Cruse won't do that, at any rate," put in Mr. Pott.

"But Mr. M'Gabbery perhaps may," suggested George. "At any rate, he
made a little blaze just now at the brook above." And then the ladies
came down, and the business of the day commenced; seeing which, the
two injured ones returned to their posts.

"I am very fond of a picnic," said Sir Lionel, as, seated on a corner
of a tombstone, he stretched out his glass towards Miss Todd, who had
insisted on being his cupbearer for the occasion; "excessively fond.
I mean the eating and drinking part, of course. There is only one
thing I like better; and that is having my dinner under a roof, upon
a table, and with a chair to sit on."

"Oh, you ungrateful man; after all that I am doing for you!"

"I spoke of picnics generally, Miss Todd. Could I always have my
nectar filled to me by a goddess, I would be content with no room,
but expect to recline on a cloud, and have thunderbolts ready at my
right hand."

"What a beautiful Jupiter your father would make, Mr. Bertram!"

"Yes; and what a happy king of gods with such a Juno as you, Miss
Todd!"

"Ha! ha! ha! oh dear, no. I pretend to no _rôle_ higher than that of
Hebe. Mr. M'Gabbery, may I thank you for a slice of ham? I declare,
these tombs are very nice tables, are they not? Only, I suppose it's
very improper. Mr. Cruse, I'm so sorry that we have no potatoes; but
there is salad, I know."

"Talking of chairs," said Mr. Hunter, "after all there has been no
seat yet invented by man equal to a divan, either for ease, dignity,
or grace." Mr. Hunter had long been practising to sit cross-legged,
and was now attempting it on on the grass for the first time in
public. It had at any rate this inconvenient effect, that he was
perfectly useless; for, when once seated, he could neither help
himself nor any one else.

"The cigar divan is a very nice lounge when one has nothing better to
do," suggested Mr. Pott. "They have capital coffee there."

"A divan and a sofa are much the same, I suppose," said George.

But to this Mr. Hunter demurred, and explained at some length what
were the true essential qualities of a real Turkish divan: long
before he had finished, however, George had got up to get a clean
plate for Miss Waddington, and in sitting down had turned his back
upon the Turk. The unfortunate Turk could not revenge himself, as in
his present position any motion was very difficult to him.

Picnic dinners are much the same in all parts of the world, and
chickens and salad are devoured at Jerusalem very much in the same
way as they are at other places--except, indeed, by a few such
proficients in Turkish manners as Mr. Hunter. The little Arab
children stood around them, expectant of scraps, as I have seen
children do also in England; and the conversation, which was dull
enough at the commencement of the feast, became more animated when a
few corks had flown. As the afternoon wore on, Mr. M'Gabbery became
almost bellicose under the continual indifference of his lady-love;
and had it not been for the better sense of our hero--such better
sense may be expected from gentlemen who are successful--something
very like a quarrel would have taken place absolutely in the presence
of Miss Todd.

Perhaps Miss Waddington was not free from all blame in the matter.
It would be unjust to accuse her of flirting--of flirting, at least,
in the objectionable sense of the word. It was not in her nature to
flirt. But it was in her nature to please herself without thinking
much of the manner in which she did it, and it was in her nature also
to be indifferent as to what others thought of her. Though she had
never before known George Bertram, there was between them that sort
of family knowledge of each other which justified a greater intimacy
than between actual strangers. Then, too, he pleased her, while
Mr. M'Gabbery only bored. She had not yet thought enough about
the world's inhabitants to have recognized and adjudicated on the
difference between those who talk pleasantly and those who do not;
but she felt that she was amused by this young double-first Oxonian,
and she had no idea of giving up amusement when it came in her way.
Of such amusement, she had hitherto known but little. Miss Baker
herself was, perhaps, rather dull. Miss Baker's friends at Littlebath
were not very bright; but Caroline had never in her heart accused
them of being other than amusing. It is only by knowing his contrast
that we recognize a bore when we meet him. It was in this manner that
she now began to ascertain that Mr. M'Gabbery certainly had bored
her. Ascertaining it, she threw him off at once--perhaps without
sufficient compunction.

"I'll cut that cock's comb before I have done with him," said
M'Gabbery to his friend Mr. Cruse, as they rode up towards St.
Stephen's gate together, the rest of the cavalcade following them.
Sir Lionel had suggested to Miss Todd that they might as well return,
somewhat early though it was, seeing that there was cause why that
feast of reason and that flow of soul should no longer be continued
by them round the yet only half-emptied hampers. So the ladies had
climbed up into the tomb and there adjusted their hats, and the
gentlemen had seen to the steeds; and the forks had been packed up;
and when Mr. M'Gabbery made the state of his mind known to Mr. Cruse,
they were on their way back to Jerusalem, close to the garden of
Gethsemane.

"I'll cut that young cock's comb yet before I have done with him,"
repeated Mr. M'Gabbery.

Now Mr. Cruse, as being a clergyman, was of course not a fighting
man. "I shouldn't take any notice of him," said he; "nor, indeed, of
her either; I do not think she is worth it."

"Oh, it isn't about that," said M'Gabbery. "They were two women
together, and I therefore was inclined to show them some attention.
You know how those things go on. From one thing to another it has
come to this, that they have depended on me for everything for the
last three or four weeks."

"You haven't paid any money for them, have you?"

"Well, no; I can't exactly say that I have paid money for them. That
is to say, they have paid their own bills, and I have not lent them
anything. But I dare say you know that a man never travels with
ladies in that free and easy way without feeling it in his pocket.
One is apt to do twenty things for them which one wouldn't do for
oneself; nor they for themselves if they had to pay the piper."

Now here a very useful moral may be deduced. Ladies, take care how
you permit yourselves to fall into intimacies with unknown gentlemen
on your travels. It is not pleasant to be spoken of as this man was
speaking of Miss Baker and her niece. The truth was, that a more
punctilious person in her money dealings than Miss Baker never
carried a purse. She had not allowed Mr. M'Gabbery so much as to lay
out on her behalf a single piastre for oranges on the road. Nor had
he been their sole companion on their journey through the desert.
They had come to Jerusalem with a gentleman and his wife: Mr.
M'Gabbery had been kindly allowed to join them.

"Well, if I were you, I should show them a cold shoulder," said Mr.
Cruse; "and as to that intolerable puppy, I should take no further
notice of him, except by cutting him dead."

Mr. M'Gabbery at last promised to follow his friend's advice, and so
Miss Todd's picnic came to an end without bloodshed.



CHAPTER X.

THE EFFECTS OF MISS TODD'S PICNIC.


Sir Lionel did not participate violently either in his son's disgust
at the falsehood of that holy sepulchre church, nor in his enthusiasm
as to the Mount of Olives. In the former, he walked about as he had
done in many other foreign churches, looked a little to the right and
a little to the left, observed that the roof seemed to be rather out
of order, declined entering the sanctum sanctorum, and then asked
whether there was anything more to be seen. He did not care, he said,
about going upstairs into the gallery; and when George suggested
that he should descend into the Armenian chapel, he observed that it
appeared to be very dark and very crowded. He looked at the Turkish
janitors without dismay, and could not at all understand why George
should not approve of them.

He was equally cold and equally complaisant on the Mount of Olives.
He would willingly have avoided the ascent could he have done so
without displeasing his son; but George made a point of it. A donkey
was therefore got for him, and he rode up.

"Ah! yes," said he, "a very clear view of the city; oh, that was
Solomon's temple, was it? And now they have a mosque there, have
they? Ah! perhaps the Brahmins will have a turn at it before the
world is done. It's a barren sort of hill after all, is it not?"

And then George tried very much in vain to make his father understand
why he wished to go into the church.

"By-the-by," said Sir Lionel--they were then sitting exactly on the
spot where George had placed himself before, when he made that grand
resolve to give up everything belonging to this world for the sake
of being one of Christ's shepherds--"by-the-by, George, for heaven's
sake don't throw your uncle over in choosing a profession. I
certainly should be sorry to see you become an attorney."

"I have never thought of it for a moment," said George.

"Because, with your abilities, and at any rate with your chance of
money, I think you would be very much thrown away; but, considering
his circumstances and yours, were I you, I would really submit almost
to anything."

"I will not at any rate submit to that," said George, not very well
able to reconcile his father's tone to the spot on which they were
sitting.

"Well, it's your own affair, my boy. I have no right to interfere,
and shall not attempt to do so; but of course I must be anxious. If
you did go into the church, I suppose he'd buy a living for you?"

"Certainly not; I should take a college living."

"At your age any that you could get would be very small. Ah, George!
if I could only put an old head upon young shoulders, what a hand of
cards you would have to play! That old man could leave you half a
million of money!"

This was certainly not the object with which the son had ascended the
mount, and he did not use much eloquence to induce his father to
remain long in the place. Sir Lionel got again on his donkey, and
they returned to Jerusalem; nor did George ever again talk to him
about the Mount of Olives.

And he was not very much more successful with another friend into
whose mind he endeavoured to inculcate his own high feelings. He got
Miss Baker up to his favourite seat, and with her Miss Waddington;
and then, before he had left Jerusalem, he succeeded in inducing the
younger lady to ramble thither with him alone.

"I do not know that I think so highly of the church as you do," said
Caroline. "As far as I have seen them, I cannot find that clergymen
are more holy than other men; and yet surely they ought to be so."

"At any rate, there is more scope for holiness if a man have it
in him to be holy. The heart of a clergyman is more likely to be
softened than that of a barrister or an attorney."

"I don't exactly know what you mean by heart-softening, Mr. Bertram."

"I mean--" said Bertram, and then he paused; he was not quite able,
with the words at his command, to explain to this girl what it was
that he did mean, nor was he sure that she would appreciate him if
he did do so; and, fond as he still was of his idea of a holy life,
perhaps at this moment he was fonder still of her.

"I think that a man should do the best he can for himself in a
profession. You have a noble position within your grasp, and if I
were you, I certainly would not bury myself in a country parsonage."

What this girl of twenty said to him had much more weight than the
time-honoured precepts of his father; and yet both, doubtless, had
their weight. Each blow told somewhat; and the seed too had been sown
upon very stony ground.

They sat there some three or four minutes in silence. Bertram was
looking over to Mount Moriah, imaging to himself the spot where
the tables of the money-changers had been overturned, while Miss
Waddington was gazing at the setting sun. She had an eye to see
material beauty, and a taste to love it; but it was not given to her
to look back and feel those things as to which her lover would fain
have spoken to her. The temple in which Jesus had taught was nothing
to her.

Yes, he was her lover now, though he had never spoken to her of love,
had never acknowledged to himself that he did love her--as so few
men ever do acknowledge till the words that they have said make it
necessary that they should ask themselves whether those words are
true. They sat there for some minutes in silence, but not as lovers
sit. The distance between them was safe and respectful. Bertram was
stretched upon the ground, with his eyes fixed, not upon her, but on
the city opposite; and she sat demurely on a rock, shading herself
with her parasol.

"I suppose nothing would induce you to marry a clergyman?" said he at
last.

"Why should you suppose that, Mr. Bertram?"

"At any rate, not the parson of a country parish. I am led to suppose
it by what you said to me yourself just now."

"I was speaking of you, and not of myself. I say that you have a
noble career open to you, and I do not look on the ordinary life of
a country parson as a noble career. For myself, I do not see any
nobility in store. I do not know that there is any fate more probable
for myself than that of becoming a respectable vicaress."

"And why may not a vicar's career be noble? Is it not as noble to
have to deal with the soul as with the body?"

"I judge by what I see. They are generally fond of eating, very
cautious about their money, untidy in their own houses, and apt to go
to sleep after dinner."

George turned upon the grass, and for a moment or two ceased to look
across into the city. He had not strength of character to laugh at
her description and yet to be unmoved by it. He must either resent
what she said, or laugh and be ruled by it. He must either tell her
that she knew nothing of a clergyman's dearest hopes, or else he must
yield to the contempt which her words implied.

"And could you love, honour, and obey such a man as that, yourself,
Miss Waddington?" he said at last.

"I suppose such men do have wives who love, honour, and obey them;
either who do or do not. I dare say I should do much the same as
others."

"You speak of my future, Miss Waddington, as though it were a subject
of interest; but you seem to think nothing of your own."

"It is useless for a woman to think of her future; she can do so
little towards planning it, or bringing about her plans. Besides, I
have no right to count on myself as anything out of the ordinary run
of women; I have taken no double-first degree in anything."

"A double-first is no sign of a true heart or true spirit. Many a man
born to grovel has taken a double-first."

"I don't perhaps know what you mean by grovelling, Mr. Bertram. I
don't like grovellers myself. I like men who can keep their heads
up--who, once having them above the water, will never allow them to
sink. Some men in every age do win distinction and wealth and high
place. These are not grovellers. If I were you I would be one of
them."

"You would not become a clergyman?"

"Certainly not; no more than I would be a shoemaker."

"Miss Waddington!"

"Well; and what of Miss Waddington? Look at the clergymen that
you know; do they never grovel? You know Mr. Wilkinson; he is an
excellent man, I am sure, but is he conspicuous for highmindedness,
for truth and spirit?" It must be remembered that the elder Mr.
Wilkinson was at this time still living. "Are they generally men of
wide views and enlightened principles? I do not mean to liken them
to shoemakers; but were I you, I should think of the one business as
soon as the other."

"And in my place, what profession would you choose?"

"Ah, that I cannot say. I do not know your circumstances."

"I must earn my bread, like other sons of Adam."

"Well, earn it then in such manner that the eyes of the world shall
be upon you; that men and women shall talk of you, and newspapers
have your name in their columns. Whatever your profession, let it be
a wakeful one; not one that you can follow half asleep."

Again he paused for awhile, and again sat looking at the rock of the
temple. Still he thought of the tables of the money-changers, and
the insufficiency of him who had given as much as half to the poor.
But even while so thinking, he was tempted to give less than half
himself, to set up on his own account a money-changing table in his
own temple. He would fain have worshipped at the two shrines together
had he been able. But he was not able; so he fell down before that of
Mammon.

"You can talk to me in this way, urge me to be ambitious, and yet
confess that you could give yourself to one of those drones of whom
you speak with such scorn."

"I speak of no one with scorn; and I am not urging you; and at
present am not talking of giving myself to any one. You ask as to the
possibility of my ever marrying a clergyman; I say that it is very
possible that I may do so some day."

"Miss Waddington," said George; and now he had turned his face
absolutely from the city, and was looking upwards to the hill;
upwards, full into the beauty of her countenance. "Miss Waddington!"

"Well, Mr. Bertram?"

"You speak of me as though I were a being high in the scale of
humanity--"

"And so I think of you."

"Listen for a moment--and of yourself as one comparatively low."

"No, no, not low; I have too much pride for that; much lower than
you, certainly, for I have given no proofs of genius."

"Well--lower than me. That is what you have said, and I do not
believe that you would say so falsely. You would not descend to
flatter me?"

"Certainly not; but--"

"Believe equally of me that I would not flatter you. I have told you
no falsehood as yet, and I have a right to claim your belief. As you
look on me, so do I on you. I look up to you as one whose destiny
must be high. To me there is that about you which forbids me to think
that your path in the world can ever be other than conspicuous. Your
husband, at least, will have to live before the world."

"I shall not have the slightest objection to his doing so; but that,
I think, will depend a great deal more on him than on me."

Bertram was very anxious to say something which might tend towards
the commingling of his destiny with hers. He was hardly yet prepared
to swear that he loved her, and to ask her in good set terms to be
his wife. But he did not like to leave her without learning whether
he had at all touched her heart. He was fully sure now that his own
was not whole.

"Come, Mr. Bertram," said she; "look at the sun, how nearly it is
gone. And you know we have no twilight here. Let us go down; my aunt
will think that we are lost."

"One minute, Miss Waddington; one minute, and then we will go.
Miss Waddington--if you care enough for me to bid me take up any
profession, follow any pursuit, I will obey you. You shall choose for
me, if you will."

She blushed, not deeply, but with a colour sufficiently heightened
to make it visible to him, and with a tingling warmth which made
her conscious of it herself. She would have given much to keep her
countenance, and yet the blush became her greatly. It took away from
the premature firmness of her womanly look, and gave her for the
moment something of the weakness natural to her age.

"You know that is nonsense: on such a subject you must of course
choose for yourself."

Bertram was standing in the path before her, and she could not well
go on till he had made way for her. "No," said he; "thinking as I do
of you, feeling as I do regarding you, it is not nonsense. It would
be absolute nonsense if I said so to your aunt, or to Mrs. Hunter, or
to Miss Jones. I could not be guided by a person who was indifferent
to me. But in this matter I will be guided by you if you will consent
to guide me."

"Of course I shall do no such thing."

"You have no personal wish, then, for my welfare?"

"Yes, I have. Your uncle is my guardian, and I may therefore be
allowed to look upon you as a friend of a longer standing than merely
of yesterday. I do regard you as a friend, and shall be glad of your
success." Here she paused, and they walked on a few steps together in
silence; and then she added, becoming still redder as she did so, but
now managing to hide her face from her companion, "Were I to answer
you in the way that you pretend to wish, I should affect either less
friendship than I feel, or much more."

"Much more!" said Bertram, with a shade of despondency in his tone.

"Yes, much more, Mr. Bertram. Why, what would you have me say?"

"Ah me! I hardly know. Nothing--nothing--I would have you say
nothing. You are quite right to say nothing." And then he walked
on again for a hundred yards in silence. "Nothing, Miss Waddington,
nothing; unless, indeed--"

"Mr. Bertram;" and as she spoke she put out her hand and gently
touched his arm. "Mr. Bertram, stop yourself; think, at any rate,
of what you are going to say. It is a pity when such as you speak
foolishly." It was singular to see how much more composed she was
than he; how much more able to manage the occasion--and yet her
feelings were strong too.

"Nothing; I would have you say nothing--nothing, unless this: that
whatever my destiny may be, you will share it with me."

As he spoke he did not look towards her, but straight before him down
the path. He did not sigh, nor look soft. There was indeed not much
capability for soft looks in his square and strongly-featured face.
He frowned rather, set his teeth together, and walked on faster than
before. Caroline did not answer him immediately; and then he repeated
his words. "I do not care for you to say anything now, unless you can
say this--that whatever your lot may be, I may share it; whatever
mine, that you will share it."

"Mr. Bertram."

"Well--"

"Now you have spoken foolishly. Do you not know that you have spoken
foolishly?"

"I have spoken truly. Do you speak as truly. You should be as much
above false girlish petty scruples, as you will be and are above
falsehood of another kind. You will never tell a man that you love
him if you do not."

"No; certainly, I never will."

"And do not deny it if it be the truth."

"But it is not the truth. How long have we known each other, Mr.
Bertram?"

"Counting by days and hours, some fortnight. But what does that
signify? You do not love a man the better always, the longer you know
him. Of you, I discern that there is that in you I can love, that
would make me happy. I have talent, some sort of talent at least. You
have a spirit which would force me to use it. I will not pretend to
say that I am suited for you. You must judge that. But I know that
you are suited for me. Now I will take any answer you will give me."

To tell the truth, Miss Waddington hardly knew what answer to give
him. He was one, it seemed, who, having spoken with decision himself,
would take any answer as decisive. He was one not to be tampered
with, and one also hardly to be rejected without consideration; and
certainly not so to be accepted. She had liked him much--very much,
considering the little she had known of him. She had even asked
herself, half playfully, whether it were not possible that she might
learn to love him. He was a gentleman, and that with her was much.
He was a man of talent, and that with her was more. He was one whose
character and mode of thought she could respect. He was a man whom
any woman might probably be able to respect. But Caroline Waddington
wanted much more than this in her future lord. She could talk
pleasantly of the probability of her marrying a country parson; but
she had, in truth, a much wider ambition for herself. She would never
marry--such was the creed which was to govern her own life--without
love; but she would not allow herself to love where love would
interfere with her high hopes. In her catalogue of human blisses
love in a cottage was not entered. She was not avaricious; she did
not look to money as the summum bonum;--certainly not to marry for
money's sake. But she knew that no figure in the world could be made
without means. Her own fortune was small, and she did not even rate
her beauty high. Her birth was the birth of a lady, but that was
all; her talents had never been tried, but she thought of them more
indifferently than they deserved. She felt, therefore, that she had
no just ground to hope for much; but she was determined that no folly
on her own part should rob her of any chance that fortune might
vouchsafe to her.

Under such circumstances what answer should she make to Bertram? Her
heart would have bid her not reject him, but she was fearful of her
own heart. She dreaded lest she should be betrayed into sacrificing
herself to love. Ought prudence now to step in and bid her dismiss a
suitor whose youth had as yet achieved nothing, whose own means were
very small, with whom, if he were accepted, her marriage must be
postponed; who, however, was of great talent, who gave such promise
of future distinction? Bertram, when he made his offer, made it from
a full heart; but Caroline was able to turn these matters in her mind
before she answered him.

She will be called cold-hearted, mercenary, and unfeminine. But when
a young girl throws prudence to the winds, and allows herself to love
where there is nothing to live on, what then is she called? It seems
to me that it is sometimes very hard for young girls to be in the
right. They certainly should not be mercenary; they certainly should
not marry paupers; they certainly should not allow themselves to
become old maids. They should not encumber themselves with early,
hopeless loves; nor should they callously resolve to care for nothing
but a good income and a good house. There should be some handbook
of love, to tell young ladies when they may give way to it without
censure. As regards our heroine, however, she probably wanted no such
handbook. "Now I will take any answer you will give me." Bertram,
when he had said that, remained silent, awaiting her reply.

"Mr. Bertram," she said at last, "I think that you have spoken
unwisely; let us agree to forget it. What you have said has come from
impulse rather than judgment."

"Not so, Miss Waddington. I cannot forget it; nor can you. I would
not have it again unsaid if I could. When I once learned that I loved
you, it became natural to me to tell you so."

"Such quick speaking is not perhaps natural to me. But as you demand
an immediate answer, I must give you one. I have had much pleasure in
your society, but I have never thought of loving you. Nor can I love
you without thinking of it."

It would be hard to say what answer Bertram expected; indeed, he had
no expectations. He had had no idea of making this offer when he
walked up the hill with her. His heart was then turned rather to
worship at that other shrine: it had been her own words, her own
eloquence in favour of the world's greatness, that had drawn him on.
He had previously filled his mind with no expectation; but he had
felt an intense desire for success when once he had committed himself
to his offer.

And now, as he walked down beside her, he hardly knew what to make
of her answer. A man, if he be not absolutely rejected, is generally
inclined to think that any answer from a lady may be taken as having
in it some glimmer of favour. And ladies know this so well, that
they almost regard any reply on their own part, short of an absolute
refusal, as an acceptance. If a lady bids a gentleman wait awhile
for his answer, he thinks himself quite justified in letting all
the world know that she is his own. We all know what a reference to
a parent's judgment means. A lady must be very decisive--very, if
she means to have her "no" taken at its full meaning. Now Caroline
Waddington had not been very decisive.

Whatever Bertram's thoughts or his hopes might be, he said nothing
more on the present occasion. He walked silently down the hill by her
side, somewhat moody-looking, but yet not with the hang-dog aspect
of a rejected suitor. There was a fire in his eyes and a play upon
his countenance which did not tell of hope altogether extinguished.
Before they were at the foot of the hill, he had resolved that he
would have Caroline Waddington for his wife, let the difficulties in
his way be what they might. But then he was ever so keen to resolve;
so often beaten from his resolutions!

And Caroline also walked silently down the hill. She knew that she
had given an ambiguous answer, and was content to let it remain so.
In the silence of her chamber, she would think over this thing and
make her calculations. She would inquire into her own mind, and learn
whether she could afford to love this man whom she could not but
acknowledge to be so loveable. As for asking any one else, seeking
counsel in the matter from her aunt, that never for a moment
suggested itself to Caroline Waddington.

They had left Miss Baker and Miss Todd at the bottom of the hill. It
was a beautiful evening, and those ladies had consented to sit down
and rest there while the more enthusiastic and young lovers of the
mount ascended to the spot of which Bertram was so fond. But in
giving that consent, they had hardly expected that such encroachment
would be made on their good-nature. When Caroline and Bertram again
found them, the daylight had almost waned away.



CHAPTER XI.

VALE VALETE.


Miss Baker was a little querulous at being left so long sitting with
Miss Todd at the corner of the garden wall; but Miss Todd was never
querulous: she was one of those good-humoured persons who never
complain, and find some antidote to every ill in life, even in the
ill itself. True, she had been kept a couple of hours and more
sitting on a stone by the brook Cedron; but then she had acquired
the privilege of telling how Mr. George Bertram and Miss Caroline
Waddington had passed those hours, _tête-à-tête_ together, on the
mountain-side.

"Why, Caroline, we thought you were never coming down again," said
Miss Baker.

"It was Mr. Bertram's fault, aunt; he is immoveable when he gets
to a certain rock up there. He has an idea of turning hermit, and
constructing a cell for himself in that spot."

"If I did turn hermit, it should certainly be for the sake of living
there," said he. "But I fear I want the proper spirit for so holy a
life."

"I hope you have not kept us all this time for nothing: you have had
some success, I trust?" said Miss Todd to Bertram, in a laughing
whisper. Miss Todd's face was quite joyous as she whispered; but then
her face was always joyous.

"I certainly have not done that which I intended to do," said
Bertram, with mock sententiousness. "And so far I have been
unsuccessful."

"Then she has rejected him," said Miss Todd to herself. "What a fool
the girl must be!" but it was a great comfort to Miss Todd that she
knew all about it.

That evening their plans were decided on as to leaving Jerusalem--the
plans, that is, of those whose fortunes we must follow;--Miss Baker,
namely, and her niece; Sir Lionel and his son. Of Miss Todd we may
here take our leave for awhile. She did not on this occasion marry
Sir Lionel, nor did she even have the satisfaction of knowing that
her friends accused her of wishing to do so. Miss Todd had her weak
points, but taking her as a whole, and striking the balance between
good and bad, I do not care how soon we may meet her again. To her
friends also we may bid adieu. Mr. M'Gabbery did not die of love. Mr.
Pott did propose to and was accepted by Miss Jones; but the match
was broken off by the parental Potts who on the occasion nearly
frightened poor Mrs. Jones out of her life. The Hunters sojourned
for awhile on the sides of Lebanon, but did at last return to the
discomforts of European life. Mrs. Hunter tried the effect of her
favourite costume at Tenby, but it was not found to answer. Of Mr.
Cruse, I can only say that he was dreadfully scolded by Mrs. Pott,
in that he had allowed her son to fall in love; and that Mr. Pott
threatened to stop his salary. An attorney's letter, however, settled
that.

It must be confessed that Miss Baker had allowed her plans to be
altered by the arrival of the Bertrams at Jerusalem; and confessed
also that Miss Baker's complaisance in this respect had been brought
about by her niece's persuasion. Their original intention had been
to go on to Damascus. Then Miss Baker had begged off this further
journey, alleging that her clothes as well as her strength were
worn out; and Caroline had consented to return home by the shortest
route. Then came the temptation of going as far as Beyrout with the
Bertrams, and Miss Baker had been enjoined to have herself patched
up externally and internally. She was accordingly being patched up;
but now things were altered again. Caroline knew that she could not
travel with George Bertram without engaging herself to be his wife;
or that if she did, their journey would not be a happy one. And
she did not wish so to engage herself without further thought. She
determined, therefore, that they would fall back upon her aunt's
plan, and return home by the easier route, by Jaffa, that is, and
Alexandria.

Her altered mind had to be explained, not only to her aunt, but
to the Bertrams; and she came to the somewhat singular resolve to
explain it in both cases by the simple truth. She would tell her
aunt what had happened; and she would make George Bertram understand
in a few and as kind words as might be, that under the present
circumstances it would be better that they should not be thrown into
the very close intercourse necessary for fellow-travellers in the
East. She was very prudent, was Miss Waddington; and having freed
herself of one lover because she did not like him, she prepared to
rid herself of another because she did.

The Bertrams were to leave Jerusalem together in a couple of days'
time. George was to go with his father as far as Constantinople, and,
having seen something of real Turks in real Turkey, was to return at
once to England. After his last visit to the Mount of Olives, he said
nothing further about the church as a profession.

That evening Caroline settled it all with her aunt. "Aunt," said she,
as they sat together brushing their hair before they went to bed,
"you will think me very fanciful; but after all, I believe we had
better go back by Alexandria."

"Oh dear, I shall be so glad, my dear. Jane says that I could not
possibly get a travelling dress made here that I could wear."

"You could get a dress in Damascus, I don't doubt, aunt. But--"

"And I really am not fit for much more riding. I don't like to
disappoint you; but if you really wouldn't mind it--"

"Well, I should mind it,--and I should not. But let me tell you. You
must not think that I am so very changeable, first pressing you to go
one way, and then begging you to go another, without a reason."

"No; I know you do it for my sake."

"Not that either, aunt--quite; but do listen. Mr. Bertram to-day
made--"

"He has not offered to you, has he?"

"Yes, aunt; that is just what he has done. And, therefore, perhaps it
will not be quite so well that we should travel together."

"But, Caroline, tell me--pray do tell me; what did he say, and what
have you said? Oh dear me, this is very sudden." And Miss Baker
sat back in her chair, with her now grayish hair hanging over her
shoulders, with her hair-brush still held in one hand, and with the
other resting on the toilet-table.

"As for what he said, I may skip that, aunt. It was the old story, I
suppose, merely signifying that he wanted me to marry him."

"Well, well."

"As you truly say, aunt; it was too sudden. Mr. Bertram has a great
deal to recommend him; a very great deal; one cannot but like him. He
is very clever too."

"Yes, Caroline; and will be his uncle's heir--doubtless."

"I know nothing of that; to tell the truth, indeed, I never thought
of that. But it would have made no difference."

"And you refused him."

"Well, I hardly know. I do know this--that I did more towards
refusing him than accepting him; that I must have much more love for
any man I do marry than I have for him at present; and that after
what has passed, I think we had better not go to Damascus together."

To this latter proposition aunt Mary fully agreed; and thus it was
decided that the extra patching for the longer journey need not be
accomplished. Miss Baker would explain the matter to Sir Lionel in
her way; and Caroline would do the same to George Bertram in hers. On
one other point, also, Miss Baker made up her mind fully; though on
this matter she did not think it prudent to make her mind known to
her niece. She was very confident that the marriage would take place,
and resolved to do all in her power to bring it about. Personally,
she was fond of George Bertram; she admired his talents, she liked
his father, and felt very favourably inclined towards his uncle's
wealth. She finished her toilet therefore in calm happiness. She had
an excellent match in view for her niece--and, after all, she would
escape that dreadful horseback journey to Damascus.

During the next day Caroline and George Bertram were not together for
a moment--that is, they were not together alone; for they breakfasted
and dined at the same table, and he sat between the aunt and her
niece as he had done continually since he had been at Jerusalem.
Sir Lionel told him in the forenoon that they were not to have the
pleasure of the ladies' company on their journey, and rallied him as
to the heart-breaking tendency of these tidings. But George showed,
in his countenance at least, no symptoms of heart-breaking.

That evening, as they all parted for the night, George did press
Miss Waddington's hand more warmly than was usual with him; and,
as he did so, he did look into her face for one moment to see what
encouragement he might find there. I cannot say that there was no
encouragement. The pressure was perhaps not met by any similar warmth
on her part, but it was submitted to without any touch of resentment:
the love which shot from his eye was not returned to him from hers,
but hers were soft beneath his glance, softer than was usual with
Caroline Waddington.

But on the next morning they did come together. It was the day before
the departure of the Bertrams, and whatever was to be said must be
said then. Caroline watched her opportunity, and as soon as breakfast
was over--they all breakfasted in the public salon--asked him to come
into her aunt's sitting-room. She was quite collected, had fully
made up her mind what to say, and was able also to say it without
hesitation, and with perfect self-possession. This was more than
could be boasted of on the gentleman's behalf.

"You know, Mr. Bertram, that we are not going to travel together?"

"Yes; my father told me so yesterday."

"And you will understand the reason of it, I am sure?"

"Not exactly, Miss Waddington. I cannot say I do understand it. I
may have been presumptuous in what I said to you the other day; but
I do not see why on that account your aunt should be put to the
inconvenience of altering her plans. You fear, I suppose, that I
should annoy you; but you might trust me--and still may if you will
do so."

"Now, Mr. Bertram, you are hardly so sincere as you asserted yourself
to be, and required me to be on the mount. You are yourself quite
aware that nobody has thought you presumptuous. I have nothing to
complain of, and much to thank you for--independently of the honour
you have now done me;--for from you it is an honour. But I cannot say
that I love you. It would not be natural that I should do so."

"Good heavens! not natural. I love you with the whole strength of my
heart. Is that unnatural?"

"It is the province of men to take the initiative in such matters,"
said Caroline, smiling.

"I know nothing as to man's province, or of woman's province either.
By province, you mean custom and conventional rule; and conventional
rule means falsehood. I have known you but a week or two, and I love
you dearly. You, of course, have known me as long, and are at any
rate as capable of loving as I am. There would be nothing unnatural
in you loving me--though, indeed, it may be very unlikely that you
should do so."

"Well; I will not contradict you in anything if I can help it, except
perhaps as to that last little would-be-proud, petulant protest. But
putting out of sight all question of likelihood, what ought I to
do if I do not love you? What in such a case would you recommend a
sister to do? Is it not better that we should not be immediately
thrown together, as must so certainly be the case in travelling?"

"Then I am to understand that you positively can never love me?"

"I have not said so: but you press me unfairly, Mr. Bertram."

"Unfairly. No, by heavens! no pressure in such case can be unfair. I
would press the truth out from you--the real truth; the truth that so
vitally concerns myself. You will not say that you have an aversion
to me?"

"Aversion! No, certainly not."

"Or that you cannot love me? Then why not let us remain together? You
argue that you do not yet know me well enough; will not that be the
way to know me better?"

"If I were to travel with you now, Mr. Bertram, it would be
tantamount to accepting you. Your own sense will certainly tell you
that. Were I to do so, I should give you the privilege of coming with
me as my lover. Forgive me for saying that I cannot give you that
privilege. I grieve to hurt your feelings for a day even; but I am
sure you will ultimately approve of what I am doing."

"And are we to meet no more, then?"

"Of course we shall meet again; at least, in all human probability.
My guardian is your uncle."

"I never even knew that till I met you the other day."

"Because you have always been at school or at college; but you know
it now. I, at least, shall look forward to meeting you--and so will
my aunt."

"Yes; as acquaintances. It would be impossible for me to meet you
in that way. I hardly think you know or realize what my feelings to
you are. I can only meet you to tell you again and again that I love
you. You are so cold yourself that you cannot understand my--my--my
impetuosity, if you choose to call it so."

"In three or four months, Mr. Bertram, you will be laughing at
your own impetuosity--when I perhaps shall be grieving over my own
coldness." These last words she said with a smile in which there was
much archness, and perhaps also a little encouragement.

"You will tell me at any rate that I may hope?"

"No; certainly not. You will hope enough for anything you really
desire without my telling you. But I will not joke, as I believe that
you are serious."

"Oh, you believe so, do you?"

"Yes; I suppose I must believe so. Your declaration the other day
took me very much by surprise. I had no conception that you had any
feelings towards me of that sort. I certainly had entertained none
such towards you. Love with me cannot be the birth of a moment. I
cannot say that I will love merely because I am asked. You would not
wish me to be false even in your own favour. We will part now, Mr.
Bertram; and being apart we shall better learn to know, each of us,
how we value the other. On my part I can truly say that I hope we
shall meet again--at any rate, as friends." And then she held out her
hand to him.

"Is this to be our farewell?" said he, without at once taking it.

"It shall be if you so please. We shall meet again only at the public
table."

"And you will not tell me that I may hope?"

"I will tell you nothing further, Mr. Bertram. You will shake hands
with me as with a friend, will you not?"

He then took her hand, and, holding it in his own, gazed for a moment
into her face. She bore the weight of his eyes with unabashed front.
She showed neither anger nor pleasure; neither disdain nor pride; the
same sweet smile was still upon her face, somewhat playful, somewhat
hopeful, but capable of no definite construction either for making or
marring a man's comfort.

"Caroline!" he said at last.

"Good-bye, Mr. Bertram. I thoroughly hope you may enjoy your
journey."

"Caroline!"

She essayed to withdraw her hand from his. Feeling this, he raised it
to his lips and kissed it, and then left the room. As he closed the
door the same smile was on her face.

I hope it will be admitted that Miss Waddington had played her part
with skill, and judgment, and good breeding; and not altogether
heartlessly either. She had thought much on the subject since George
had first thrown himself at her feet, and had concluded, putting the
good against the bad, and balancing the affair as accurately as facts
would enable her, that the match would be one which she ought to
regard as desirable. There were two valid reasons, however, why she
should not at once accept his offer. Firstly, he might not know his
own mind, and it might be serviceable to him to have the option of
renewing his proposal or retreating from it after a few months' trial
of his own feelings. And secondly, she hardly knew her own mind. She
could not in truth say yet whether she did love him, or whether she
did not. She was rather inclined to think she did; but it would be
well that she should try the matter before she committed herself.

The statement made by her aunt that George would doubtless be his
uncle's heir certainly had its weight with her. It would be wrong
in her to engage herself to a man who was without the means of
maintaining her in that rank of life in which she had resolved to
live; wrong both on his account and on her own. She felt that she
could not be a good poor man's wife. It was not the walk of life for
which she had destined herself. She had made up her mind on that
point too, and having made it up was not weak enough to be driven
from her resolve by any little gust of feeling. She did like
Bertram--much, very much, better then she had ever liked any other
man. He came up in many points to her idea of what a man should be.
He was not sufficiently collected, not sufficiently thoughtful, and
perhaps almost too enthusiastic: success in life would be easier to
a man who put less heart into everything he said and did. But years
would teach him much in this respect, and she also might perhaps
teach him something. She did like Bertram; and what objection could
there be to the match if, as appeared so probable, he was to inherit
his uncle's money?

Prudent as she was, she was ready to run some risk in this respect.
She did not wish to be a poor man's wife; but neither did she wish
to be an idle man's wife. What she did desire was, that her husband
should be an earnest, rising, successful man;--one whose name, as she
had herself said to Bertram, might be frequent in men's mouths, and
daily to be read in the columns of newspapers. She would not marry
a fool, even though he were also a Croesus; she would not marry a
fool, even though he were also an earl. In choosing a master, her
first necessity was that she should respect him, then that the world
should do so also. She could respect talent--talent if needs be
alone--but nothing without talent. The world's respect could not be
had without wealth. As for love, that was necessary too; but it was
only a third necessity.

Such being our heroine's mind about marriage, I make bold to say
that she had behaved with skill and judgment, and not altogether
heartlessly either.

On the following morning, Sir Lionel and George left Jerusalem
together. The colonel had his own servant, as he always had; George
was followed by the dragoman, who had now been with him for some
time; and each had also an Arab groom. On quitting Jerusalem, Sir
Lionel had made no objection to having the entire bill settled by his
son.

"Well, George," he had said with a smile, "I know you are in ample
funds, and I never am. You, moreover, have a milch cow that will not
run dry. The government is my cow, and she is apt to be very chary in
her supply; she does run dry with uncommon quickness."

George smiled also, and paid the bill readily, protesting that of
course he ought to do so, as Sir Lionel had come there only to see
him. The colonel plumed himself at once upon having managed well; but
he was greatly mistaken. His calculation in this respect had been
made on a false basis. "George," he said to himself, "is a young man;
he will think nothing of this: a fellow at his age cares nothing for
money." George did care but little for the money, but he did care
about his father; and he understood the ways of the world well enough
to know that his father ought to have paid his own bill. He began
for the first time to experience something of that feeling which his
uncle so often expressed.

They started, too, with somewhat different ideas as to the purport
of their route. Sir Lionel wished to get to Constantinople, and was
content, for George's sake, to go by Damascus and Beyrout; but George
had to visit Ramah, and Gibeon, and Luz; to see the well of the woman
of Samaria at Sichem; to climb Mount Carmel, and to sleep at least
for a night within its monastery. Mount Tabor also, and Bethsaida,
and Capernaum, he must visit; he must bathe in the Sea of Galilee, as
he had already bathed in Jordan and the Dead Sea; Gadara he must see,
and Gergesa, and Chorazin; and, above all, he must stand with naked
feet in Nazareth, and feel within his heart that he was resting on
holy ground.

Sir Lionel did not care a straw for Bethsaida or Chorazin--not a
straw even for Nazareth. For many reasons he wished to be well with
his son. In the first place, a man whose bill is paid for him always
makes some concession to the man who pays it. He should do so, at
any rate; and on this point Sir Lionel was willing to be just. And
then he had ulterior views, which made it very necessary that George
should like him. In this respect he had hitherto played his cards
well--well, with the exception of that Jerusalem bill. He had made
his society very pleasant to his son, had done much towards gaining
the young man's heart, and was well inclined to do more--anything,
indeed, short of putting himself to real personal inconvenience. We
may perhaps add, without doing too much violence to Sir Lionel's
established character, that he himself really liked his son.

All this for some days carried him hither and thither, if not with
patience, at any rate with perseverance. He went to spots which
he was told had a world-wide celebrity, of the names of which he
had but a bare distant remembrance, and which he found to be arid,
comfortless, and uninteresting. Gibeon he did endure, and Shiloh, and
Sichem; Gilgal, also, and Carmel. But there he broke down: he could
not, he said, justify it to himself to be absent longer from his
official duties. He found that he was near Beyrout: he could ride
thither in two days, avoiding Damascus altogether. The cookery at
Mount Carmel did not add to his love of the Holy Land. He found
himself to be not very well. He laughingly reminded George that
there was a difference between twenty-three and sixty; and ended by
declining altogether to go backwards towards the Sea of Galilee. If
George could only be induced to think that he had seen enough of
these regions, his father would be so delighted to have his company
direct from Beyrout to Constantinople!

George, however, was inexorable about Nazareth: and so they parted,
agreeing that they would meet again at Constantinople. We need
not closely follow either on his journey. Sir Lionel, having had
everything paid for him up to the moment of their separation,
arrived--let us hope with a full purse--at the Bosphorus. George,
when left to himself, travelled more slowly, and thought much of
these holy places--much also of his love. He could have found it in
his heart to rush back, and catch Miss Baker and Caroline at Jaffa.
He would have done so as soon as he quitted Nazareth, only that he
was ashamed.

About a fortnight after his father's departure, he found himself at
Damascus, and in another week, he was stepping on board the packet
at Beyrout. When leaving Palestine, that land of such wondrous
associations, his feelings were not altogether consolatory. He had at
one moment acknowledged what he believed to be a spiritual influence
within him, and yielding himself to it, had spoken of devoting his
life to a high and holy purpose. He had, indeed, spoken only to
himself, and the wound to his pride was therefore the less. But his
high and holy purpose had been blown to the winds by a few words from
a pair of ruby lips, by one glance of scorn from a pair of bright
eyes. And he had so yielded, even though those lips would acknowledge
no love for him; though those eyes would not look on him kindly. He
could not be proud of his visit to the Holy Land; and yet he felt a
longing to linger there. It might be, that if he would return once
more to that mount, look once again on Sion and the temple, the
spirit might yet get the better of the flesh. But, alas! he had to
own to himself that he had now hardly a wish that the spirit should
predominate. The things of the world were too bright to be given up.
The charms of the flesh were too strong for him. With a sigh, he
looked back for the last time from Mount Hermon, stretched out his
arms once more towards Jerusalem, said one farewell in his heart as
his eye rested for a moment on the distant glassy waters of Galilee,
and then set his horse's head towards Damascus.

When a traveller in these railroad days takes leave of Florence,
or Vienna, or Munich, or Lucerne, he does so without much of the
bitterness of a farewell. The places are now comparatively so near
that he expects to see them again, or, at any rate, hopes that he
may do so. But Jerusalem is still distant from us no Sabbath-day's
journey. A man who, having seen it once, takes his leave, then sees
it probably for the last time. And a man's heart must be very cold
who can think of Palestine exactly as of any other land. It is not
therefore surprising that Bertram was rather sad as he rode down the
further side of Mount Hermon.

At Constantinople, Sir Lionel and George again met, and our hero
spent a pleasant month there with his father. It was still spring,
the summer heats had hardly commenced, and George was charmed, if not
with the city of the Sultan, at any rate with the scenery around it.
Here his father appeared in a new light: they were more intimate with
each other than they had been at Jerusalem; they were not now living
in ladies' society, and Sir Lionel by degrees threw off what little
restraint of governorship, what small amount of parental authority he
had hitherto assumed. He seemed anxious to live with his son on terms
of perfect equality; began to talk to him rather as young men talk to
each other than men of ages so very different, and appeared to court
a lack of reverence.

In his ordinary habits of life, and, indeed, in his physical
vivacity, Sir Lionel was very young for his time of life. He never
pleaded his years in bar of any pleasure, and never pleaded them at
all except when desirous of an excuse for escaping something that
was disagreeable. There are subjects on which young men talk freely
with each other, but on which they hesitate to speak to their elders
without restraint. Sir Lionel did his best to banish any such feeling
on the part of his son. Of wine and women, of cards and horses,
of money comforts and money discomforts, he spoke in a manner
which Bertram at first did not like, but which after awhile was not
distasteful to him. There is always some compliment implied when an
old man unbends before a young one, and it is this which makes the
viciousness of old men so dangerous. I do not say that Sir Lionel
purposely tempted his son to vice; but he plainly showed that he
regarded morality in a man to be as thoroughly the peculiar attribute
of a clergyman as a black coat; and that there could be no reason for
other men even to pretend to it when there were no women by to be
respected and deceived.

Bertram certainly liked his father, and was at ease in his company;
but, in spite of this, he was ashamed of him, and was sometimes very
sorrowful. He was young, full of vivacity, and without that strength
of character which should have withstood the charm of Sir Lionel's
manner; but he knew well that he would fain have had in his father
feelings of a very different nature, and he could not but acknowledge
that the severity of his uncle's tone was deserved.

It had been George's intention to stay a week only at Constantinople,
but his father had persuaded him to remain four. He had boasted that
when he returned to England he would be in a position to give back to
his uncle the three hundred pounds which Pritchett had placed to his
account. But he would not now be able to do this: his father lived
expensively; and even here, where Sir Lionel was now at home, George
paid more than his own share of the expense.

One of their chief subjects of conversation, that, indeed, which
Sir Lionel seemed to prefer to any other, was the ultimate disposal
of his brother's money. He perceived that George's thoughts on
this subject were by far too transcendental, that he was childishly
indifferent to his own interests, and that if not brought to a keener
sense of his own rights, a stronger feeling as to his position as
the only nephew of a very wealthy man, he might let slip through his
fingers a magnificent fortune which was absolutely within his reach.
So thinking, he detained his son near him for awhile, that he might,
if possible, imbue him with some spark of worldly wisdom.

He knew how useless it would be to lecture a young man like George
as to the best way in which he could play tuft-hunter to his uncle.
From such lectures George would have started away in disgust; but
something, Sir Lionel thought, might be done by tact, by _finesse_,
and a daily half-scornful badinage, skilfully directed towards the
proper subject. By degrees, too, he thought that George did listen to
him, that he was learning, that he might be taught to set his eyes
greedily on those mountains of wealth. And so Sir Lionel persevered
with diligence to the end.

"Say everything that is civil from me to my brother," said the
colonel, the day before George left him.

"Uncle George does not care much for civil speeches," said the other,
laughing.

"No, I know he does not; he'd think more of it if I could send home
a remittance by you to pay the bill; eh, George? But as I can't do
that, I may as well send a few civil words." Uncle George's bill had
gradually become a source of joke between the father and son. Sir
Lionel, at least, was accustomed to mention it in such a way that the
junior George could not help laughing; and though at first this had
gone against the grain of his feelings, by degrees he had become used
to it.

"He expects, I fancy, neither money nor civil words," said George the
younger.

"He will not, on that account, be the less pleased at getting either
the one or the other. Don't you believe everything that everybody
tells you in his own praise: when a man says that he does not like
flattery, and that he puts no value on soft words, do not on that
account be deterred from making any civil speeches you may have
ready. He will not be a bit stronger than another because he boasts
of his strength."

"I really think you would find it difficult to flatter your brother."

"Perhaps so; and therefore I should set about it with the more care.
But, were I in your shoes, I should not attempt flattery; I should be
very submissive rather. He always loved to play the tyrant."

"And I do not love to play the slave."

"An only nephew's slavery would probably be of a very mild
description."

"Yes; no harder than sitting on a clerk's stool in a merchant's
counting-house for seven or eight hours a day."

"That would be an unendurable bore as a continuance; but take my word
for it, George, if you could bring yourself to do it for six months,
by the end of that time you would have the game in your own hands."

"At any rate, I shall not try it, sir."

"Well, you are your own master: I can only say that the temptation
would be too strong for most men. I have not the slightest doubt that
if you would give way to him for six months, two years would see you
in Parliament." Sir Lionel had already ascertained that to sit in the
House of Commons was the dearest object of his son's ambition.

On the evening of that day, as they were drinking their coffee and
smoking together, Sir Lionel for the first time spoke to his son on
another matter. "George," said he, "I don't know whether there was
anything in it, but when we were at Jerusalem, I thought you were
very sweet on Caroline Waddington."

George blushed deeply, and affected to laugh.

"She was certainly a very fine girl," continued his father; "I think
as handsome a girl as I have seen these ten years. What a shoulder
and neck she had! When you used to be dragging her up the Mount
of Olives, I could not but think there was more in it than mere
scripture geography--eh, George?"

George merely laughed, and looked rather like a simpleton.

"If you were not in love with her, I can only say that you ought to
have been. I was, I know."

"Well, sir, I believe she is free as yet; you can try your chance if
you have a mind."

"Ah! I would I could. If I knew Medea's secret, I would have myself
chopped and boiled that I might come out young on her behalf; but,
George, I can tell you something about her."

"Well, sir!"

"I would have told you then, when we were at Jerusalem, but we were
not so well acquainted then as we are now, and I did not like to
interfere."

"It could not be interference from you."

"Well, but the matter is this: if my brother ever loved any human
being--and I am not quite sure he ever did--but if he did, it was
that girl's father. Had Waddington lived, he would now have been my
age. Your uncle took him early by the hand, and would have made his
fortune for him, but the poor fellow died. In my opinion, it would
assist your views if your uncle knew that you were going to marry
Caroline Waddington."

George said nothing, but sat sucking the mouth-piece of his
pipe-stick and blowing out great clouds of smoke. Sir Lionel said
nothing further, but easily changed the conversation. Early on the
following morning, Bertram left Constantinople, having received a
promise that Sir Lionel would visit him in England as soon as the
exigencies of the public service would permit of his doing so.



CHAPTER XII.

GEORGE BERTRAM DECIDES IN FAVOUR OF THE BAR.


George Bertram did not return directly to England. Since he had
been in Turkey, he had made arrangement by letter with his friend
Harcourt to meet him in the Tyrol, and to travel home with him
through Switzerland. It was about the middle of June when he left
Constantinople, and Harcourt was to be at Innspruck on the 5th
August. George might therefore well have remained a week or two
longer with his father had either of them so wished; but neither of
them did wish it. The living at Constantinople was dear, and George's
funds would not stand much more of it; and Sir Lionel, free and easy
as he was, still felt his son's presence as some impediment--perhaps
in the way of his business, perhaps in that of his pleasures.

From Constantinople Bertram went up across the Balkan to the Danube,
and thence through Bucharest into Transylvania, travelling, as in
those days was necessary, somewhat by permission of the Russian
authorities. He then again struck the Danube at Pesth; remained some
little time there; again a week or so at Vienna; from thence he
visited Saltzburg, and exactly on the appointed day shook hands with
his friend in the hall of the old "Golden Sun" at Innspruck.

At first, on leaving his father, George was very glad to be once more
alone. Men delighted him not; nor women either at that moment--seeing
that his thoughts were running on Caroline Waddington, and that her
presence was not to be had. But by the time that he found himself in
the Tyrol, he was delighted once more to have a companion. He had
of course picked up Englishmen, and been picked up by them at every
town he had passed; one always does; some ladies also he had casually
encountered--but he had met with no second Caroline. While wandering
about the mountains of Transylvania, he had been quite contented to
be alone: at Pesth he had not ceased to congratulate himself on his
solitude, though sometimes he found the day a little too long for
his purpose in doing so; at Vienna he was glad enough to find an old
Oxonian; though, even while enjoying the treat, he would occasionally
say to himself that, after all, society was only a bore. But by the
time he had done the Saltzburg country, he was heartily sick of
himself, somewhat sick also of thinking of his love, and fully able
to re-echo all that Harcourt had to say in praise of some very fine
old wine which that fastidious gentleman caused to be produced for
them from the cellars of the "Golden Sun."

Innspruck is a beautiful little town. Perhaps no town in Europe can
boast a site more exquisitely picturesque. Edinburgh would be equal
to it, if it had a river instead of a railroad running through its
valley and under its Castle-hill. But we sojourned too long in the
Holy Land to permit of our dwelling even for half a chapter in
the Tyrol. George, however, and his friend remained there for a
fortnight. They went over the Brenner and looked down into Italy;
made an excursion to those singular golden-tinted mountains, the
Dolomites, among which live a race of men who speak neither German
nor Italian, nor other language known among the hundred dialects
of Europe, but a patois left to them from the ancient Latins; they
wandered through the valleys of the Inn and its tributaries and
wondered at the odd way of living which still prevails in their
picturesque castellated mansions.

For awhile Bertram thought that Harcourt was the best companion in
the world. He was as agreeable and easy tempered as his father; and
was at the same time an educated man, which his father certainly was
not. Harcourt, though he put his happiness in material things perhaps
quite as much as did Sir Lionel, required that his material things
should be of a high flavour. He was a reading man, addicted, in a
certain cynical, carping sort of way, even to poetry, was a critic
almost by profession, loved pictures, professed to love scenery,
certainly loved to watch and scrutinize the different classes of his
brother-men. He was gifted pre-eminently with a lawyer's mind, but it
was not a lawyer's mind of a vulgar quality. He, too, loved riches,
and looked on success in the world as a man's chief, nay, perhaps
his only aim; but for him it was necessary that success should be
polished. Sir Lionel wanted money that he might swallow it and
consume it, as a shark does its prey; but, like sharks in general,
he had always been hungry,--had never had his bellyful of money.
Harcourt's desire for money was of a different class. It would not
suit him to be in debt to any one. A good balance at his banker's was
a thing dear to his soul. He aimed at perfect respectability, and
also at perfect independence.

For awhile, therefore, Harcourt's teaching was a great improvement
on Sir Lionel's, and was felt to be so. He preached a love of good
things; but the good things were to be corollaries only to good work.
Sir Lionel's summum bonum would have been an unexpected pocketful of
money, three months of idleness in which to spend it, and pleasant
companions for the time, who should be at any rate as well provided
in pocket as himself. Harcourt would have required something more.
The world's respect and esteem were as necessary to him as the
world's pleasures.

But nevertheless, after a time, Harcourt's morality offended Bertram,
as Bertram's transcendentalism offended Harcourt. They admired the
same view, but they could not look at it through the same coloured
glass.

"And so on the whole you liked your governor?" said Harcourt to him
one day as they were walking across a mountain range from one valley
to another.

"Yes, indeed."

"One is apt to be prejudiced in one's father's favour, of course,"
said Harcourt. "That is to say, when one hasn't seen him for twenty
years or so. A more common, constant knowledge, perhaps, puts the
prejudice the other way."

"Sir Lionel is undoubtedly a very pleasant man; no one, I fancy,
could help liking his society."

"I understand it all as well as though you had written a book about
him. You have none of that great art, Bertram, which teaches a man to
use his speech to conceal his thoughts."

"Why should I wish to conceal my thoughts from you?"

"I know exactly what you mean about your father: he is no martinet
in society, even with his son. He assumes to himself no mysterious
unintelligible dignity. He has none of the military Grimgruffenuff
about him. He takes things easily, and allows other people to do the
same."

"Exactly."

"But this was not exactly what you wanted. If he had treated you as
though a father and son were necessarily of a different order of
beings, had he been a little less familiar, a little colder, perhaps
a thought more stern and forbidding in his parental way of pushing
the bottle to you, you would have liked him better?"

"No, not have liked him better; I might perhaps have thought it more
natural."

"Just so; you went to look for a papa with a boy's feelings, and the
papa, who had not been looking for you at all, took you for a man as
you are when he found you."

"I am sure of this at any rate, that he was delighted to see me."

"I am sure he was, and proud of you when he did see you. I never
supposed but that the gallant colonel had some feelings in his
bowels. Have you made any arrangements with him about money?"

"No--none."

"Said not a word about so mundane a subject?"

"I don't say that; it is only natural that we should have said
something. But as to income, he fights his battle, and I fight mine."

"He should now have a large income from his profession."

"And large expenses. I suppose there is no dearer place in Europe
than Constantinople."

"All places are dear to an Englishman exactly in comparison as he
knows, or does not know, the ways of the place. A Turk, I have no
doubt, could live there in a very genteel sort of manner on what you
would consider a moderate pittance."

"I suppose he could."

"And Sir Lionel by this time should be a Turk in Turkey, a Greek in
Greece, or a Persian in Bagdad."

"Perhaps he is. But I was not. I know I shall be very fairly cleared
out by the time I get to London; and yet I had expected to have three
hundred pounds untouched there."

"Such expectations always fall to the ground--always. Every quarter
I allow myself exactly what I shall want, and then I double it for
emergencies."

"You are a lucky fellow to have the power to do so."

"Yes, but then I put my quarterly wants at a _very_ low figure; a
figure that would be quite unsuitable--quite unintelligible to the
nephew of a Croesus."

"The nephew of a Croesus will have to put his quarterly wants at
something about fifty pounds, as far as I can see."

"My dear fellow, when I observe that water bubbles up from a certain
spot every winter and every spring, and occasionally in the warm
weather too, I never think that it has run altogether dry because it
may for a while cease to bubble up under the blazing sun of August.
Nature, of whose laws I know so much, tells me that the water will
come again."

"Yes, water will run in its natural course. But when you have been
supplied by an artificial pipe, and have cut that off, it is probable
that you may run short."

"In such case I would say, that having a due regard to prudence, I
would not cut off that very convenient artificial pipe."

"One may pay too dear, Harcourt, even for one's water."

"As far as I am able to judge, you have had yours without paying for
it at all; and if you lose it, it will only be by your own obstinacy.
I would I had such an uncle to deal with."

"I would you had; as for me, I tell you fairly, I do not mean to deal
with him at all."

"I would I had; I should know then that everything was open to me.
Now I have everything to do for myself. I do not despair, however. As
for you, the ball is at your foot."

They talked very freely with each other as to their future hopes and
future destinies. Harcourt seemed to take it as a settled matter that
Bertram should enter himself at the bar, and Bertram did not any
longer contradict him. Since he had learnt Miss Waddington's ideas
on the subject, he expressed no further desire to go into the church,
and had, in fact, nothing serious to say in favour of any of those
other professions of which he had sometimes been accustomed to speak.
There was nothing but the bar left for him; and therefore when
Harcourt at last asked him the question plainly, he said that he
supposed that such would be his fate.

But on one subject Bertram did not speak openly to his friend. He
said not a word to him about Caroline. Harcourt was in many respects
an excellent friend; but he had hardly that softness of heart, or
that softness of expression which tempts one man to make another a
confidant in an affair of love. If Harcourt had any such affairs
himself, he said nothing of them to Bertram, and at the present time
Bertram said nothing on the subject to him. He kept that care deep in
his own bosom. He had as yet neither spoken a word nor written a word
concerning it to any one; and even when his friend had once casually
asked him whether he had met much in the way of beauty in Jerusalem,
he had felt himself to wince as though the subject were too painful
to be spoken of.

They reached London about the middle of October, and Harcourt
declared that he must immediately put himself again into harness.
"Ten weeks of idleness," said he, "is more than a man can well afford
who has to look to himself for everything; and I have now given
myself eleven."

"And what are you going to do?"

"Do! work all day and read all night. Take notice of all the dullest
cases I can come across, and read the most ponderous volumes that
have been written on the delightful subject of law. A sucking
barrister who means to earn his bread has something to do--as you
will soon know."

Bertram soon learnt--now for the first time, for Harcourt himself
had said nothing on the subject--that his friend's name was already
favourably known, and that he had begun that career to which he so
steadily looked forward. His ice was already broken: he had been
employed as junior counsel in the great case of Pike _v_ Perch; and
had distinguished himself not a little by his success in turning
white into black.

"Then you had decidedly the worst of it?" said Bertram to him, when
the matter was talked over between them.

"Oh, decidedly; but, nevertheless, we pulled through. My opinion all
along was that none of the Pikes had a leg to stand upon. There were
three of them. But I won't bore you with the case. You'll hear more
of it some day, for it will be on again before the lords-justices in
the spring."

"You were Pike's counsel?"

"One of them--the junior. I had most of the fag and none of the
honour. That's of course."

"And you think that Perch ought to have succeeded?"

"Well, talking to you, I really think he ought; but I would not admit
that to any one else. Sir Ricketty Giggs led for us, and I know he
thought so too at first; though he got so carried away by his own
eloquence at last that I believe he changed his mind."

"Well, if I'd thought that, I wouldn't have held the brief for all
the Pikes that ever swam."

"If a man's case be weak, then, he is to have no advocate? That's
your idea of justice."

"If it be so weak that no one can be got to think it right, of course
he should have no advocate."

"And how are you to know till you have taken the matter up and sifted
it? But what you propose is Quixotic in every way. It will not hold
water for a moment. You know as well as I do that no barrister would
keep a wig on his head who pretended to such a code of morals in his
profession. Such a doctrine is a doctrine of puritanism--or purism,
which is worse. All this moonshine was very well for you when you
talked of being a clergyman, or an author, or a painter. One allows
outsiders any amount of nonsense in their criticism, as a matter
of course. But it won't do now, Bertram. If you mean to put your
shoulders to the wheel in the only profession which, to my mind,
is worthy of an educated man's energies, you must get rid of those
cobwebs."

"Upon my word, Harcourt, when you hit on a subject you like, your
eloquence is wonderful. Sir Ricketty Giggs himself could hardly say
more to defend his sins of forty years' endurance."

Harcourt had spoken in earnest. Such milk-and-water, unpractical
scruples were disgusting to his very soul. In thinking of them to
himself, he would call them unmanly. What! was such a fellow as
Bertram, a boy just fresh from college, to animadvert upon and
condemn the practice of the whole bar of England? He had, too, a
conviction, clearly fixed in his own mind, though he could hardly
explain the grounds of it in words, that in the long run the cause of
justice would be better served by the present practice of allowing
wrong and right to fight on equal terms; by giving to wrong the same
privilege that is given to right; by giving to wrong even a wider
privilege, seeing that, being in itself necessarily weak, it needs
the more protection. He would declare that you were trampling on the
fallen if you told him that wrong could be entitled to no privilege,
no protection whatever--to no protection, till it was admitted by
itself, admitted by all, to be wrong.

Bertram had now to establish himself in London; and he was also, as
he thought, under the necessity of seeing two persons, his uncle and
Miss Waddington. He could not settle himself well to work before he
had done both. One preliminary business he did settle for himself, in
order that his uncle, when he saw him, might know that his choice for
the bar was made up and past recalling. He selected that great and
enduring Chancery barrister, Mr. Neversaye Die, as the Gamaliel at
whose feet he would sit; as the fountain from whence he would draw
the coming waters of his own eloquence; as the instructor of his
legal infancy and guide of his legal youth. Harcourt was at the
Common Law bar, and therefore he recommended the other branch of the
profession to his friend. "The Common Law," said he, "may have the
most dash about it; but Chancery has the substance." George, after
thinking over the matter for some days, gave it as his opinion that
Chancery barristers were rogues of a dye somewhat less black than the
others, and that he would select to be a rogue of that colour. The
matter was therefore so settled.

His first step, then, was to see his uncle. He told himself--and as
he thought, truly--that his doing so was a duty, disagreeable in all
respects, to be attended with no pecuniary results, but necessary
to be performed. In truth, however, the teaching of Sir Lionel and
Harcourt had not been altogether without effect: at this present
moment, having just paid to Mr. Neversaye Die his first yearly
contribution, he was well-nigh penniless; and, after all, if a rich
uncle have money to bestow, why should he not bestow it on a nephew?
Money, at any rate, was not in itself deleterious. So much George was
already prepared to allow.

He therefore called on his uncle in the City. "Ha! George--what;
you're back, are you? Well, come and dine at Hadley to-morrow. I must
be at the Bank before three. Good-bye, my boy."

This was all his uncle said to him at their first meeting. Then he
saw Mr. Pritchett for a moment.

"Oh, Mr. George, I am glad to see you back, sir; very glad indeed,
sir. I hear you have been to very foreign parts. I hope you have
always found the money right, Mr. George?"

Mr. George, shaking hands with him, warmly assured him that the money
had always been quite right--as long as it lasted.

"A little does not go a long way, I'm sure, in those very foreign
parts," said Mr. Pritchett, oracularly. "But, Mr. George, why didn't
you write, eh, Mr. George?"

"You don't mean to say that my uncle expected to hear from me?"

"He asked very often whether I had any tidings. Ah! Mr. George, you
don't know an old man's ways yet. It would have been better for you
to have been led by me. And so you have seen Mr. Lionel--Sir Lionel,
I should say now. I hope Sir Lionel is quite well."

George told him that he had found his father in excellent health, and
was going away, when Mr. Pritchett asked another question, or rather
made another observation. "And so you saw Miss Waddington, did you,
Mr. George?"

Bertram felt that there was that in his countenance which might again
betray him; but he managed to turn away his face as he said, "Yes, I
did meet her, quite by chance, at Jerusalem."

"At Jerusalem!" said Mr. Pritchett, with such a look of surprise,
with such an awe-struck tone, as might have suited some acquaintance
of Æneas's, on hearing that gentleman tell how he had travelled
beyond the Styx. Mr. Pritchett was rather fat and wheezy, and the
effort made him sigh gently for the next two minutes.

Bertram had put on his hat and was going, when Mr. Pritchett,
recovering himself, asked yet a further question. "And what did you
think of Miss Waddington, sir?"

"Think of her!" said George.

"A very beautiful young lady; isn't she? and clever, too. I knew
her father well, Mr. George--very well. Isn't she a very handsome
young lady? Ah, well! she hasn't money enough, Mr. George; that's
the fact; that's the fact. But"--and Mr. Pritchett whispered as he
continued--"the old gentleman might make it more, Mr. George."

Mr. Pritchett had a somewhat melancholy way of speaking of
everything. It was more in his tone than in his words. And this tone,
which was all but sepulchral, was perhaps owing rather to a short
neck and an asthmatic tendency than to any real sorrow or natural
lowness of spirits.

Those who saw Mr. Pritchett often probably remembered this, and
counted on it; but with George there was always a graveyard touch
about these little interviews. He could not, therefore, but have some
melancholy presentiment when he heard Miss Waddington spoken of in
such a tone.

On the following day he went down to Hadley, and, as was customary
there, found that he was to spend the evening _tête-à-tête_ with his
uncle. Nothing seemed changed since he had left it: his uncle came in
just before dinner, and poked the fire exactly as he had done on the
last visit George had paid him after a long absence. "Come, John,
we're three minutes late! why don't we have dinner?" He asked no
question--at least, not at first--either about Sir Lionel or about
Jerusalem, and seemed resolute to give the traveller none of that
_éclat_, to pay to his adventures none of that deferential awe which
had been so well expressed by Mr. Pritchett in two words.

But Mr. Bertram, though he always began so coldly, did usually
improve after a few hours. His tone would gradually become less
cynical and harsh; his words would come out more freely; and he would
appear somewhat less anxious to wound the _amour propre_ of his
companion.

"Are you much wiser for your travels, George?" he said at last, when
John had taken away the dinner, and they were left alone with a
bottle of port wine between them. This, too, was asked in a very
cynical tone, but still there was some improvement in the very fact
of his deigning to allude to the journey.

"Yes, I think I am rather wiser."

"Well, I'm glad of that. As you have lost a year in your profession,
it is well that you should have gained something. Has your accession
of wisdom been very extensive?"

"Somewhat short of Solomon's, sir; but probably quite as much as I
should have picked up had I remained in London."

"That is very probable. I suppose you have not the slightest idea how
much it cost you. Indeed, that would be a very vulgar way of looking
at it."

"Thanks to your unexpected kindness, I have not been driven to any
very close economy."

"Ah! that was Pritchett's doing. He seemed afraid that the land would
not flow with milk and honey unless your pocket was fairly provided.
But of course it's your own affair, George. It is money borrowed;
that's all."

George did not quite understand what this meant, and remained silent;
but at one moment it was almost on his tongue to say that it ought at
least to be admitted that the borrower had not been very pressing in
his application.

"And I suppose you have come back empty?" continued his uncle.

George then explained exactly how he stood with regard to money,
saying how he had put himself into the hands of Mr. Neversaye Die,
how he had taken chambers in the Middle Temple, and how a volume of
Blackstone was already lying open in his dingy sitting-room.

"Very well, very well. I have no objection whatever. You will perhaps
make nothing at the bar, and certainly never the half what you would
have done with Messrs. Dry and Stickatit. But that's your affair. The
bar is thoroughly respectable. By-the-by, is your father satisfied
with it as a profession?" This was the first allusion that Mr.
Bertram had made to his brother.

"Perfectly so," said George.

"Because of course you were bound to consult him." If this was
intended for irony, it was so well masked that George was not able to
be sure of it.

"I did consult him, sir," said George, turning red in accordance with
that inveterate and stupid habit of his.

"That was right. And did you consult him about another thing? did you
ask him what you were to live on till such time as you could earn
your own bread?"

In answer to this, George was obliged to own that he did not. "There
was no necessity," said he, "for he knows that I have my fellowship."

"Oh! ah! yes; and that of course relieves him of any further cause
for anxiety in the matter. I forgot that."

"Uncle George, you are always very hard on my father; much too hard."

"Am I?"

"I think you are. As regards his duty to me, if I do not complain,
you need not."

"Oh! that is it, is it? I did think that up to this, his remissness
in doing his duty as a father had fallen rather on my shoulders than
on yours. But I suppose I have been mistaken; eh?"

"At any rate, if you have to complain, your complaint should be made
to him, not to me."

"But you see I have not time to run across the world to Jerusalem;
and were I to do so, the chances are ten to one I should not catch
him. If you will ask Pritchett too, you will find that your father is
not the best correspondent in the world. Perhaps he has sent back by
you some answer to Pritchett's half-yearly letters?"

"He has sent nothing by me."

"I'll warrant he has not. But come, George, own the truth. Did he
borrow money from you when he saw you? If he did not, he showed a
very low opinion of your finances and my liberality."

George might have declared, without any absolute falseness, that his
father had borrowed no money of him. But he had not patience at the
present moment to distinguish between what would be false and what
not false in defending his father's character. He could not but
feel that his father had behaved very shabbily to him, and that Sir
Lionel's conduct could not be defended in detail. But he also felt
that his uncle was quite unjustifiable in wounding him by such
attacks. It was not to him that Mr. Bertram should have complained of
Sir Lionel's remissness in money matters. He resolved that he would
not sit by and hear his father so spoken of; and, therefore, utterly
disregardful of what might be the terribly ill effects of his uncle's
anger, he thus spoke out in a tone not of the meekest:--

"I will neither defend my father, Mr. Bertram; nor will I sit still
and hear him so spoken of. How far you may have just ground of
complaint against him, I do not know, nor will I inquire. He is my
father, and that should protect his name in my presence."

"Hoity, toity!"

"I will ask you to hear me if you please, sir. I have received very
many good offices from you, for which I heartily thank you. I am
aware that I owe to you all my education and support up to this time.
This debt I fear I can never pay."

"And therefore, like some other people, you are inclined to resent
it."

"No, by heaven! I would resent nothing said by you to myself; but I
will not sit by and hear my father ill spoken of. I will not--no; not
for all the money which you could give or leave me. It seems to me
that what I spend of your money is added up as a debt against my
father--"

"Pray don't imagine, my boy, that that is any burden to him."

"It is a burden to me, and I will endure it no longer. While at
school, I knew nothing of these things, and not much while I was at
college. Now I do know something, and feel something. If you please,
sir, I will renounce any further assistance from you whatever; and
beg, in return, that you will say nothing further to me as to any
quarrel there may be between you and Sir Lionel."

"Quarrel!" said his uncle, getting up and standing with his back to
the fire. "He has not spirit enough to quarrel with me."

"Well, I have," said George, who was now walking about the room; and
from the fire in his eyes, it certainly appeared that he spoke the
truth in this respect.

"I know the bitterness of your spirit against your brother,"
continued George; "but your feelings should teach you not to show it
before his son."

Mr. Bertram was still standing with his hands in his pockets, leaning
against the mantel-piece, with his coat-tails over his arms. He said
nothing further at once, but continued to fix his eyes on his nephew,
who was now walking backwards and forwards from one end of the room
to the other with great vehemence. "I think," at last said George,
"that it will be better that I should go back to town. Good-night,
sir."

"You are an ass," said his uncle.

"Very likely," said George. "But asses will kick sometimes."

"And bray too," said his uncle.

There was a certain spirit about them both which made it difficult
for either altogether to get the better of the other.

"That I may bray no more in your hearing, I will wish you
good-night." And again he held out his hand to the old man.

His uncle took hold of his hand, but he did not go through the
process of shaking it, nor did he at once let it go again. He held it
there for a time, looking stedfastly into his nephew's face, and then
he dropped it. "You had better sit down and drink your wine," he said
at last.

"I had rather return to town," said George, stoutly.

"And I had rather you stayed here," said his uncle, in a tone of
voice that for him was good-humoured. "Come, you need not be in a
pet, like a child. Stay where you are now, and if you don't like to
come again, why you can stay away."

As this was said in the manner of a request, George did again sit
down. "It will be foolish to make a fuss about it," said he to
himself; "and what he says is true. I need not come again, and I will
not." So he sat down and again sipped his wine.

"So you saw Caroline at Jerusalem?" said the old man, after a pause
of about twenty minutes.

"Yes, I met her with Miss Baker. But who told you?"

"Who told me? Why, Miss Baker, of course. They were both here for a
week after their return."

"Here in this house?"

"Why shouldn't they be here in this house? Miss Baker is usually here
three or four times every year."

"Is she?" said George, quite startled by the information. Why on
earth had Miss Baker not told him of this?

"And what did you think of Caroline?" asked Mr. Bertram.

"Think of her?" said George.

"Perhaps you did not think anything about her at all. If so, I shall
be delighted to punish her vanity by telling her so. She had thought
a great deal about you; or, at any rate, she talked as though she
had."

This surprised George a great deal, and almost made him forgive his
uncle the inquiry he had received. "Oh, yes, I did think of her,"
said he. "I thought of her a little at least."

"Oh, a little!"

"Well, I mean as much as one does generally think of people one
meets--perhaps rather more than of others. She is very handsome and
clever, and what I saw of her I liked."

"She is a favourite of mine--very much so. Only that you are too
young, and have not as yet a shilling to depend on, she might have
done for a wife for you."

And so saying, he drew the candles to him, took up his newspaper, and
was very soon fast asleep.

George said nothing further that night to his uncle about Caroline,
but he sat longing that the old man might again broach the subject.
He was almost angry with himself for not having told his uncle
the whole truth; but then he reflected that Caroline had not yet
acknowledged that she felt anything like affection for him; and he
said to himself, over and over again, that he was sure she would not
marry him without loving him for all the rich uncles in Christendom;
and yet it was a singular coincidence that he and his uncle should
have thought of the same marriage.

The next morning he was again more surprised. On coming down to the
breakfast-parlour, he found his uncle there before him, walking up
and down the room with his hands behind his back. As soon as George
had entered, his uncle stopped his walk, and bade him shut the door.

"George," said he, "perhaps you are not very often right, either in
what you do or what you say; but last night you were right."

"Sir!"

"Yes, last night you were right. Whatever may have been your father's
conduct, you were right to defend it; and, bad as it has been, I was
wrong to speak of it as it deserved before you. I will not do so
again."

"Thank you, sir," said George, his eyes almost full of tears.

"That is what I suppose the people in the army call an ample apology.
Perhaps, however, it may be made a little more ample."

"Sir, sir," said George, not quite understanding him; "pray do not
say anything more."

"No, I won't, for I have got nothing more to say; only this:
Pritchett wants to see you. Be with him at three o'clock to-day."

At three o'clock Bertram was with Pritchett, and learned from that
gentleman, in the most frozen tone of which he was capable, and with
sundry little, good-humoured, asthmatic chuckles, that he had been
desired to make arrangements for paying to Mr. George regularly an
income of two hundred a year, to be paid in the way of annuity till
Mr. Bertram's death, and to be represented by an adequate sum in the
funds whenever that much-to-be-lamented event should take place.

"To be sure, sir," said Pritchett, "two hundred a year is nothing for
you, Mr. George; but--"

But two hundred a year was a great deal to George. That morning he
had been very much puzzled to think how he was to keep himself going
till he might be able to open the small end of the law's golden eggs.



CHAPTER XIII.

LITTLEBATH.


I abhor a mystery. I would fain, were it possible, have my tale run
through from its little prologue to the customary marriage in its
last chapter, with all the smoothness incidental to ordinary life. I
have no ambition to surprise my reader. Castles with unknown passages
are not compatible with my homely muse. I would as lief have to do
with a giant in my book--a real giant, such as Goliath--as with a
murdering monk with a scowling eye. The age for such delights is, I
think, gone. We may say historically of Mrs. Radcliffe's time that
there were mysterious sorrows in those days. They are now as much out
of date as are the giants.

I would wish that a serene gratification might flow from my pages,
unsullied by a single start. Now I am aware that there is that in
the last chapter which appears to offend against the spirit of calm
recital which I profess. People will begin to think that they are to
be kept in the dark as to who is who; that it is intended that their
interest in the novel shall depend partly on a guess. I would wish to
have no guessing, and therefore I at once proceed to tell all about
it.

Miss Caroline Waddington was the granddaughter of old Mr. George
Bertram; and was, therefore, speaking with absolute technical
propriety, the first-cousin once removed of her lover, young Mr.
George Bertram--a degree of relationship which happily admits of love
and matrimony.

Old Mr. Bertram has once or twice been alluded to as a bachelor; and
most of those who were best acquainted with him had no doubt of his
being so. To you, my reader, is permitted the great privilege of
knowing that he was married very early in life. He, doubtless, had
his reasons for keeping this matter a secret at the time, and the
very early death of his wife saved him from the necessity of much
talking about it afterwards. His wife had died in giving birth to a
daughter, but the child had survived. There was then living a sister
of Mrs. Bertram's, who had been married some few years to a Mr.
Baker, and the infant was received into this family, of which our
friend Miss Baker was a child. Miss Baker was therefore a niece,
by marriage, of Mr. Bertram. In this family, Caroline Bertram was
educated, and she and Mary Baker were brought up together as sisters.
During this time Mr. Bertram did his duty by his daughter as regards
money, as far as his means then went, and was known in that family to
be her father; but elsewhere he was not so known. The Bakers lived
in France, and the fact of his having any such domestic tie was not
suspected among his acquaintance in England.

In the course of time his daughter married one Mr. Waddington, hardly
with the full consent of the Bakers, for Mr. Waddington's means were
small--but not decidedly in opposition to it; nor had the marriage
been opposed by Mr. Bertram. He of course was asked to assist in
supplying money for the young couple. This he refused to give; but
he offered to Mr. Waddington occupation by which an income could
be earned. Mr. Waddington wisely acceded to his views, and, had he
lived, would doubtless have lived to become a rich man. He died,
however, within four years of his marriage, and it so fell out that
his wife did not survive him above a year or two.

Of this marriage, Caroline Waddington, our heroine, was the sole
offspring. Mr. Waddington's commercial enterprises had not caused
him to live in London, though he had been required to be there
frequently. Mr. Bertram had, therefore, seen more of him than of his
own daughter. The infant had been born in the house of the Bakers,
and there she was brought up. As an orphan of four years old, she had
come under the care of Mary Baker, and under her care she remained.
Miss Baker was therefore not in truth her aunt. What was their exact
relationship I leave as a calculation to those conversant with the
mysteries of genealogy. I believe myself that she was almost as
nearly connected with her lover.

When Mr. Waddington and his daughter were both dead, Mr. Bertram felt
himself to be altogether relieved from family ties. He was not yet
an old man, being then about fifty-five; but he was a very rich man.
It was of course considered that he would provide liberally for his
grandchild. But when asked to do so by Miss Baker, he had replied
that she was provided for; that he had enabled the child's father
to leave behind him four thousand pounds, which for a girl was a
provision sufficiently liberal; that he would not give rise to false
hopes that she would be his heiress; but that if his niece, Mary
Baker, would take the charge of her, he would allow an income for the
purpose. This he had done with sufficient liberality.

All that is mysterious has now, I believe, been unravelled, and we
may go back to our story. Of Mr. Pritchett, we should perhaps say a
word. He had been habituated in his sundry money dealings to look
on Miss Baker as his patron's niece, and had always called her as
such. Indeed, the connection had been so far back that he usually
styled her Miss Mary. But he did not know, nor--though he was very
suspicious on the matter--did he quite suspect what was the truth as
to Miss Waddington. She was niece to his patron's niece; he knew no
more than that, excepting, of course, that she was the daughter of
Mr. Waddington, and that she was mistress in her own right of four
thousand pounds.

Mr. Pritchett was very anxious about his patron's wealth. Here was
Mr. Bertram turned seventy years of age--Mr. Pritchett himself was
sixty-six--and no one knew who was to be his heir. As far as he, Mr.
Pritchett, was aware, he had no heir. Mr. George would naturally be
so--so thought Mr. Pritchett; and the old man's apparent anxiety
respecting his nephew, the habit which he had now given himself for
years of paying the cost of that nephew's education, and the income
which he now allowed him, all led to such a conclusion. But then the
uncle liked so well to lead, and Mr. George was so unwilling to be
led! Had Waddington lived, he would have been the heir, doubtless.
Miss Waddington might still be so, or even Miss Baker. Mr. Bertram,
in his way, was certainly very fond of Miss Baker. It was thus that
Mr. Pritchett speculated from day to day. George, however, was always
regarded by him as the favourite in the race.

And now at last we may return to our story.

Having seen his uncle, George's next business was to see his
lady-love. His was a disposition which would not allow him to remain
quiet while his hopes were so doubtful and his heart so racked. Had
he been travelling with Miss Baker ever since, and living in daily
intercourse with Caroline, it is probable enough that he might by
this time have been half tired of her. But his love had had no such
safety-valve, and was now, therefore, bubbling and boiling within his
heart in a manner very subversive of legal accuracy and injurious to
legal studies.

It was absolutely necessary, he said to himself, that he should know
on what ground he stood; absolutely necessary, also, that he should
be able to talk to some one on the subject. So he wrote to Miss
Baker, saying that he intended to do himself the pleasure of renewing
his acquaintance with her at Littlebath, and he determined to see
Arthur Wilkinson on his way. These were the days in which Wilkinson
was taking pupils at Oxford, the days in which he used to think so
much of Adela Gauntlet.

The meeting of the two friends was sufficiently joyous; for such love
sorrows as those which oppressed Bertram when sitting in the chambers
of Mr. Neversaye Die rarely oppress a young man in moments which
would otherwise be jovial. And Arthur had at this time gotten over
one misery, and not yet fallen into another. He had obtained the
fellowship which he had hardly expected, and was commencing the life
of a don, with all a don's comforts around him.

"Well, upon my word, I envy you, Arthur; I do, indeed," said Bertram,
looking round his cousin's room at Balliol as they sat down to pass
an evening quietly together. "This was what I always looked forward
to, as you did also; you have obtained it, I have forsworn it."

"Your envy cannot be very envious," said Wilkinson, laughing, "as all
my bliss is still within your own reach. You have still your rooms at
Oriel if you choose to go into them." For Bertram had been elected to
a fellowship at that college.

"All! that's easily said; but somehow it couldn't be. I don't know
why it is, Arthur; but I have panted to have the privileges of an
ordained priest, and yet it is not to be so. I have looked forward to
ordination as the highest ambition of a man, but yet I shall never be
ordained."

"Why not, George?"

"It is not my destiny."

"On such a subject, do not talk such nonsense."

"Well, at any rate it will not be my lot. I do not mind telling you,
Arthur, but there is no one else to whom I could own how weak I am.
There have been moments since I have been away in which I have sworn
to devote myself to this work, so sworn when every object around
me was gifted with some solemn tie which should have made my oath
sacred; and yet--"

"Well--and yet? as yet everything is in your own power."

"No, Arthur, no, it is not so; I am now one of the myrmidons of
that most special of special pleaders, Mr. Neversaye Die. I have
given myself over to the glories of a horse-hair wig; 'whereas'
and 'heretofore' must now be my gospel; it is my doom to propagate
falsehood instead of truth. The struggle is severe at first; there is
a little revulsion of feeling; but I shall do it very well after a
time; as easily, I have no doubt, as Harcourt does."

"It is Harcourt who has led you to this."

"Perhaps so, partly; but no--I wrong myself in that. It has not been
Harcourt. I have been talked over; I have weakly allowed myself to be
talked out of my own resolve, but it has not been done by Harcourt. I
must tell you all: it is for that that I came here."

And then he told the history of his love; that history which to men
of twenty-four and girls of twenty is of such vital importance. A
young man when first he loves, and first knows that his love is
frequent in the thoughts of the woman he has chosen, feels himself
to be separated from all humanity by an amber-tinted cloud--to be
enveloped in a mystery of which common mortals know nothing. He
shakes his mane as he walks on with rapid step, and regards himself
almost as a god.

"And did she object to your taking orders?" asked Wilkinson.

"Object! no, I am nothing to her; nothing on earth. She would not
have objected to my being a shoemaker; but she said that she would
advise me to think of the one trade as soon as the other."

"I cannot say that I think she showed either good feeling or good
taste," said Wilkinson, stiffly.

"Ah! my dear fellow, you do not know her. There was no bad taste in
it, as she said it. I would defy her to say anything in bad taste.
But, Arthur, that does not matter. I have told her that I should go
to the bar; and, as a man of honour, I must keep my word to her."

His cousin had not much inclination to lecture him. Wilkinson himself
was now a clergyman; but he had become so mainly because he had
failed in obtaining the power of following any other profession. He
would have gone to the bar had he been able; and felt himself by no
means called to rebuke Bertram for doing what he would fain have done
himself.

"But she has not accepted you, you say. Why should she be so
unwilling that you should take orders? Her anxiety on your behalf
tells a strong tale in your own favour."

"Ah! you say that because you do not understand her. She was able
to give me advice without giving the least shadow of encouragement.
Indeed, when she did advise me, I had not even told her that I loved
her. But the fact is, I cannot bear this state any longer. I will
know the worst at any rate. I wish you could see her, Arthur; you
would not wonder that I should be uneasy."

And so he went on with a lover's customary eloquence till a late hour
in the night. Wilkinson was all patience; but about one o'clock he
began to yawn, and then they went to bed. Early on the following
morning, Bertram started for Littlebath.

The Littlebath world lives mostly in lodgings, and Miss Baker and
Caroline lived there as the world mostly does. There are three sets
of persons who resort to Littlebath: there is the heavy fast, and the
lighter fast set; there is also the pious set. Of the two fast sets
neither is scandalously fast. The pace is never very awful. Of the
heavies, it may be said that the gentlemen generally wear their coats
padded, are frequently seen standing idle about the parades and
terraces, that they always keep a horse, and trot about the roads a
good deal when the hounds go out. The ladies are addicted to whist
and false hair, but pursue their pleasures with a discreet economy.
Of the lighter fast set, assembly balls are the ruling passion; but
even in these there is no wild extravagance. The gentlemen of this
division keep usually two horses, on the sale of one of which their
mind is much bent. They drink plentifully of cherry-brandy on hunting
days; but, as a rule, they do not often misbehave themselves. They
are very careful not to be caught in marriage, and talk about women
much as a crafty knowing salmon might be presumed to talk about
anglers. The ladies are given to dancing, of course, and are none
of them nearly so old as you might perhaps be led to imagine. They
greatly eschew card-playing; but, nevertheless, now and again one of
them may be seen to lapse from her sphere and fall into that below,
if we may justly say that the votaries of whist are below the
worshippers of Terpsichore. Of the pious set much needs not be
said, as their light has never been hid under a bushel. In spite of
hunt-clubs and assembly-rooms, they are the predominant power. They
live on the fat of the land. They are a strong, unctuous, moral,
uncharitable people. The men never cease making money for themselves,
nor the women making slippers for their clergymen.

But though the residents at Littlebath are thus separated as a
rule into three classes, the classes do not always keep themselves
accurately to their divisions. There will be some who own a double
allegiance. One set will tread upon another. There will be those who
can hardly be placed in either. Miss Baker was among this latter
number: on principle, she was an admirer of the great divine on the
domestic comfort of whose toes so many fair fingers had employed
themselves; but, nevertheless, she was not averse to a rubber in its
mildest forms. Caroline did not play whist, but she occasionally gave
way to the allurement prevalent among the younger female world of
Littlebath.

Miss Baker lived in lodgings, and Bertram therefore went to an hotel.
Had she been mistress of the largest house in Littlebath, he would
hardly have ventured to propose himself as a guest. The "Plough,"
however, is a good inn, and he deposited himself there. The hunting
season at Littlebath had commenced, and Bertram soon found that had
he so wished he could with but little trouble have provided himself
with a stud in the coffee-room of his hotel.

He had intended to call on Miss Baker on the evening of his arrival;
but he had not actually told her that he would do so: and though he
walked down to the terrace in which she lived, his courage failed him
when he got there, and he would not go in. "It may be that evening
calls are not the thing at Littlebath," he said to himself; and so he
walked back to his hotel.

And on the following day he did not go before two o'clock. The
consequence was, that poor Miss Baker and her niece were kept at home
in a state of miserable suspense. To them his visit was quite as
important as to himself; and by one of them, the elder namely, it was
regarded with an anxiety quite as nervous.

When he did call, he was received with all the hospitality due to an
old friend. "Why had he not come to tea the night before? Tea had
been kept for him till eleven o'clock. Why, at any rate, had he not
come to breakfast? He had been much nicer in Jerusalem," Miss Baker
said.

Bertram answered hardly with the spirit which had marked all that he
had said in that far-away land. "He had been afraid to disturb them
so late; and had been unwilling to intrude so early." Miss Waddington
looked up at him from the collar she was working, and began to ask
herself whether she really did like him so much.

"Of course you will dine with us," said Miss Baker. George said he
would, but assured her that he had not intended to give so much
trouble. Could this be the same man, thought Caroline, who had
snubbed Mr. M'Gabbery, and had stood by laughing when she slipped
into the water?

All manner of questions were then asked and answered respecting their
different journeys. Constantinople was described on one side, and
the Tyrol; and on the other the perils of the ride to Jaffa, the
discomforts of the Austrian boat to Alexandria, and the manners
of the ladies from India with whom Miss Baker and her niece had
travelled in their passage from Egypt to Marseilles. Then they said
something about uncle George--not that Miss Baker so called him--and
Bertram said that he had learnt that Miss Baker had been staying at
Hadley.

"Yes," said she; "when I am in town, I have always money matters
to arrange with Mr. Bertram, or rather to have arranged by Mr.
Pritchett; and I usually stay a day or two at Hadley. On this
occasion I was there a week."

George could not but think that up to the period of their meeting at
Jerusalem, Miss Baker had been instructed to be silent about Hadley,
but that she was now permitted to speak out openly.

And so they sat and talked for an hour. Caroline had given her
aunt strict injunctions not to go out of the room, so as to leave
them together during Bertram's first visit. "Of course it would be
palpable that you did so for a purpose," said Caroline.

"And why not?" said Miss Baker, innocently.

"Never mind, aunt; but pray do not. I don't wish it." Miss Baker of
course obeyed, as she always did. And so George sat there, talking
about anything or nothing, rather lack-a-daisically, till he got up
to take his leave.

"You have not a horse here, I suppose?" said Miss Baker.

"No; but why do you ask? I can get one in ten minutes, no doubt."

"Because Caroline will be so glad to have some one to ride with her."

"Nothing will induce aunt Mary to mount a steed since the day she was
lifted out of her saddle at Jaffa," said Caroline.

"Oh, that journey, Mr. Bertram! but I am a stronger woman than I ever
thought I was to have lived through it."

It was soon arranged that George should go back to his inn and hire a
horse, and that he and Caroline should then ride together. In another
hour or so they were cantering up the face of Ridgebury Hill.

But the ride produced very little. Caroline here required her
attention, and George did not find it practicable to remain close
enough to his love, or long enough close to her, to say what he had
to say with that emphasis which he felt that the subject demanded.
There were some little tender allusions to feats of horsemanship done
in Syria, some mention of the Mount of Olives, of Miss Todd's picnic,
and the pool of Siloam, which might, if properly handled, have led
to much; but they did lead to nothing: and when George helped Miss
Waddington to dismount at Miss Baker's door, that young lady had
almost come to the conclusion that he had thought better of his love,
and that it would be well that she should think better of hers.

In accordance with our professed attempt at plain speaking, it may
be as well explained here that Miss Baker, with the view of sounding
her uncle's views and wishes, had observed to him that George had
appeared to her to admire Caroline very much. Had the old man
remarked, as he might so probably have done, that they were two
fools, and would probably become two beggars, Miss Baker would have
known that the match would be displeasing to him. But he had not done
so. "Ah!" he said; "did he? It is singular they should have met." Now
Miss Baker in her wisdom had taken this as a strong hint that the
match would not be displeasing to him.

Miss Baker had clearly been on George's side from the beginning.
Perhaps, had she shown a little opposition, Caroline's ardour might
have been heightened. As it was, she had professed to doubt. She had
nothing to say against George; much might doubtless be said in his
favour, but--. In fact, Miss Waddington would have been glad to know
what were the intentions of Mr. George Bertram senior.

"I really wish he had stayed away," she said to her aunt as they were
getting ready for dinner.

"Nonsense, Caroline; why should he have stayed away? Why should you
expect him to stay away? Had he stayed away, you would have been the
first to grumble. Don't be missish, my dear."

"Missish! Upon my word, aunt Mary, you are becoming severe. What I
mean is, that I don't think he cares so very much for me; and on
the whole, I am not--not _quite_ sure, whether--well, I won't say
anything more; only it does seem to me that you are much more in love
with him than I am."

Bertram came to dinner; and so also did one of the Littlebath
curates, a very energetic young man, but who had not yet achieved
above one or two pairs of worked slippers and a kettle-holder.
Greater things, however, were no doubt in store for him if he would
remain true to his mission. Aunt Mary had intended to ask no one; but
Caroline had declared that it was out of the question to expect that
Mr. Bertram should drink his wine by himself.

The whole evening was dull enough, and the work of disenchantment on
Caroline's part was nearly accomplished; but Bertram, a few minutes
before he went away, as the curate was expatiating to Miss Baker on
the excellence of his rector's last sermon, found an occasion to say
one word.

"Miss Waddington, if I call to-morrow, early after breakfast, will
you see me?" Miss Waddington looked as though there were nothing
in the proposition to ruffle her serenity, and said that she would.
George's words had been tame enough, but there had been something in
the fire of his eye that at last reminded her of Jerusalem.

On the next morning, punctually at ten, his knock was heard at the
door. Caroline had at first persisted that her aunt should not absent
herself; but even Miss Baker would not obey such an injunction as
this.

"How do you expect that the poor young man is to behave?" she had
said. "I do not much care how he behaves," Caroline had replied. But,
nevertheless, she did care.

She was therefore sitting alone when Bertram entered the room. He
walked up to her and took her hand, and as he did so he seemed to be
altogether a different man from that of yesterday. There was purpose
enough in his countenance now, and a purpose, apparently, which he
had an intention of pursuing with some energy.

"Miss Waddington," he said, still holding her hand; "Caroline! Or am
I to apologize for calling you so? or is the privilege to be my own?"
and then, still holding her hand, he stood as though expectant of an
answer that should settle the affair at once.

"Our connection through your uncle entitles you to the privilege,"
said Caroline, smiling, and using a woman's wiles to get out of the
difficulty.

"I will take no privilege from you on such a basis. What I have to
ask of you must be given on my own account, or on my own refused.
Caroline, since we parted in that room in Jerusalem, I have thought
seriously of little else than of you. You could not answer me then;
you gave me no answer; you did not know your own heart, you said. You
must know it now. Absence has taught me much, and it must have taught
you something."

"And what has it taught you?" said she, with her eyes fixed on the
ground.

"That the world has but one thing desirable for me, and that I should
not take a man's part unless I endeavoured to obtain it. I am here to
ask for it. And now, what has absence taught you?"

"Oh, so many things! I cannot repeat my lesson in one word, as you
do."

"Come, Caroline, I look at least for sincerity from you. You are too
good, too gracious to indulge a girlish vanity at the cost of a man's
suspense."

Missish and girlish! Miss Waddington felt that it behoved her to look
to her character. These were words which had not usually been applied
to her.

"Indeed, Mr. Bertram, I should think myself unpardonable to keep you
in suspense."

"Then answer me," said he. He had by this time let go her hand, and
was standing at a little distance from her, on the hearth-rug. Never
had lady been wooed in a sterner manner; but Caroline almost felt
that she liked him the better for it. He had simpered and said his
little nothings so like an ordinary gentleman during their ride, that
his present brusqueness was quite a relief to her.

But still she did not answer him at once. She essayed to stick her
needle into her work, and pricked her finger in lieu of it.

"Come, Caroline; am I wrong in supposing that now at least you must
know your own feelings? Or shall I tell you again how dearly, how
truly I love you?"

"No!--no!--no!"

"Answer me, then. In honest, plain, Christian sincerity, answer me;
as a true woman should answer a true man. Do you love me?"

For a moment there was no answer.

"Well, I will not ask again. I will not torment you."

"Oh, Mr. Bertram! What am I to say? What would you have me say? Do
not be so stern with me."

"Stern!"

"Well, are you not stern?" And coming up close to him, she looked
into his face.

"Caroline," said he, "will you be my wife?"

"I will." It was a motion of the lips rather than a spoken word; but,
nevertheless, he heard it. Fool that he was not to have heard it
before in the beating of her heart; not to have seen it in the tear
in her eye; not to have felt it in the warmth of her hand.

On that afternoon Miss Waddington's ride was much more energetic,
and on that evening Miss Baker did not think it necessary to catch a
curate to drink wine with George Bertram. He was made quite at home,
and given to understand that he had better leave the dining-room when
the ladies did so.

There was much talked over that evening and the next day: the upshot
of which was, that no marriage could take place till next summer;
that perhaps it might be expedient to postpone it till the summer
twelvemonths. To this George put, or would have put, an absolute
veto; but Miss Baker only shook her head, and smilingly said that
she thought it must be so. Nothing was to be done before Christmas;
but as Miss Baker was to be at Hadley very early in January, she
undertook to inform Mr. Bertram, and gave strong hopes that he would
be prevailed on to favour the marriage.

"It can make no difference to my purpose whether he does or no," said
George, very independently.



CHAPTER XIV.

WAYS AND MEANS.


On the following day Bertram returned to town. Now that he was a
successful lover, and about to take upon himself at some future time
the responsible duties of a married man, he became very energetic
in the chambers of Mr. Die. He could hardly spare a day during the
winter for running down to Littlebath, and whenever he did do so, he
took Coke upon Lyttleton down with him. Nor did he work in vain. He
never had worked in vain. Facility of acquiring the special knowledge
which he sought had ever been one of his gifts. Mr. Die was already
beginning to prophesy great things; and his friend Harcourt, who
occasionally wanted his society, declared that he overdid his
labours.

Down at Littlebath they did not quite approve of all this industry.
Caroline naturally thought that more of her lover's hours should be
devoted to her; and Miss Baker, who looked on Mr. Bertram's money as
certainly destined either for Caroline or George, considered that he
was wasting his time with his fusty books. She had not dared to say
much to George on this subject, and he had not taken very well the
little that she did say. She could not tell him that Caroline was Mr.
Bertram's granddaughter, but she did remind him that he himself was
Mr. Bertram's nephew, and hinted that though a profession might be
very eligible for a young man of such brilliant prospects, it could
hardly be necessary for him absolutely to make a slave of himself. To
this George had answered, somewhat curtly, that he had no reason to
expect anything further from his uncle; and that as he looked forward
to maintain himself and his wife by his successful exertions as a
barrister, it was absolutely necessary that he should at present work
very hard. "I have lost a whole year," he said to Miss Baker; "and
nothing but very sharp work can atone for that."

He never once saw his uncle after his first visit to Littlebath
till the next year was far advanced. He felt no desire to see him,
and certainly no wish to be the bearer of tidings as to his own
engagement. Miss Baker had undertaken to do this, and might do so if
she so pleased. As far as he was concerned, he had no idea of asking
permission to marry from any one.

"Why should I ask him," he had once said to Miss Baker. "I shall
marry just the same, whether he permits it or whether he does not."

This was grievous to the ladies at Littlebath. Very little had been
said about money between George and Miss Baker up to this time;
nothing had been said between George and Caroline; but the two ladies
knew that there could be no marriage till there was an adequate
income. The income of the gentleman when stripped of his fellowship
would be two hundred pounds a year; that of the lady was about the
same. Now Caroline Waddington had no intention whatever of marrying
on four hundred pounds a year; and it must be more than three years
at the very least before all this profound study would result in
golden fees.

Now that the matter was so far settled--settled as Bertram considered
it--he did tell Harcourt of his love. "Harcourt," said he, one day.
"I have a piece of news which perhaps I ought to tell you. I am
engaged to be married."

"Are you?" said Harcourt, rather too coolly to satisfy his friend's
expectation.

"I am not joking."

"Who ever accused you of joking since you took to the law and Mr.
Die? I did not give you credit for a joke; not even for so bad a one
as that would be. Shall I congratulate or condole with you?"

"Either or neither. Perhaps you had better wait till you see the
lady."

"And when is it to be?"

"Well; in this coming summer, I suppose. That is my wish, at least."

"And your wish of course will be law. I presume then that I may be
justified in surmising that the lady has some considerable fortune?"

"No, indeed, she has not. Something she has got; about as much,
perhaps, as myself. We shall have bread to eat."

"And occasionally cheese," said Harcourt, who could not understand
that any rising man could marry early, unless in doing so he acquired
money.

"And occasionally cheese," repeated Bertram. "This is a state of
things that would not suit your book, I know."

"Not exactly," said Harcourt. "But men have very different ideas
about women. I could do, and have done, and am doing with a small
income myself; but a wife is in some respects like a horse. If a
gentleman does keep a horse, it should be well groomed."

"You could not endure a woman who was not always got up in satin and
velvet?"

"Not satin and velvet exactly. I do not require a curiously-mounted
saddle for my horse. But I don't think I should have much enjoyment
with a cheap wife. I like cold mutton and candle-ends myself very
well, but I do not love feminine economies. Family washing-bills kept
at the lowest, a maid-of-all-work with an allowance in lieu of beer,
and a dark morning gown for household work, would not, if I know
myself, add fuel to the ardour of my conjugal affection. I love women
dearly; I like them to be near me; but then I like them to be nice.
When a woman is nasty, she is very nasty."

Bertram said in his heart that Harcourt was a beast, an animal
without a soul, a creature capable of no other joys than those of a
material nature; but he kept this opinion at the present moment to
himself. Not, however, that he was averse to express himself openly
before his friend. He often gave Harcourt to understand that he
suspected him of being deficient in the article of a soul; and
Harcourt would take the reproach with perfect good-humour, remarking,
perhaps, that he might probably find it possible to get on decently
without one.

"Is the lady's name a secret?" he asked.

"No; not to you, at least. I believe it is generally considered
advisable that these sort of things should not be talked about quite
openly till the consummation of them is nigh at hand. I have no wish
for any mystery in the matter. Her name is Caroline Waddington."

"What! a daughter of Sir Augustus?"

"No; nothing to Sir Augustus, that I have heard."

"She must, then, be one of the General's family?"

"Not that either. Her only relative, that I know, is a Miss Baker."

"Miss Baker!" said Harcourt; and the tone of his voice was not
encouraging.

"Yes, Miss Baker," said Bertram; and the tone of his voice was hardly
conciliatory.

"Oh--ah--yes. I don't exactly think I know her. Miss Baker!"

"It would be odd if you did, for she lives at Littlebath, and hardly
ever comes to town. When she does, she stays down at Hadley with my
uncle."

"Oh--h! That's a horse of another colour. I beg your pardon entirely,
my dear fellow. Why did you not tell me at first that this is a match
of your uncle's making?"

"My uncle's making! It is not a match of my uncle's making."

"Well, well; one that he approves. I hardly gave you credit for so
much prudence. That will be as good as having everything settled
exactly as you could wish it."

"You are giving me a great deal too much credit," said Bertram,
laughing. "My uncle knows nothing about my marriage, and I have not
the slightest idea of consulting him. I should think it mean to do
so, considering everything."

"Mean to consult the only relative you have who can do anything for
you?"

"Yes. He has told me over and over again that I have no claim on him;
and, therefore, I will make none."

Bertram had said to himself frequently that he cared nothing for
this man's judgment in such matters; but, nevertheless, after what
had passed, he did desire that Harcourt should see Caroline. He
was aware, judging rather from Harcourt's tone than from his words,
that that keen-sighted friend of his had but a low opinion of Miss
Waddington; that he thought that she was some ordinary, intriguing
girl, who had been baiting a hook for a husband, after the manner
which scandal states to be so common among the Littlebathians; and
Bertram longed, therefore, to surprise his eyes and astound his
intellect with a view of her charms and a near knowledge of her
attributes. Nothing should be said of her beauty, and the blaze of it
should fall upon him altogether unprepared.

George was right in his feelings in this respect. Harcourt had formed
a very false idea of Miss Waddington;--had led himself to imagine
that she was second-rate and unattractive. In the first place, he had
his own ideas about Littlebath, and conceived that it was not the
place in which the highest beauty of England should be looked for;
and in the next place, he knew George Bertram, and regarded him as a
man peculiarly liable to such dangers as these.

"You must come down with me to Littlebath. When will you give me a
day?"

Harcourt demurred, as he did not wish to be called on imperiously to
praise a woman of whom he knew he should disapprove, and endeavoured
to excuse himself from the journey. But Bertram persisted, and at
last it was settled that he would go down.

This did not happen till towards the end of winter. Miss Baker had,
as she promised, seen Mr. Bertram in the meantime, and the answer
returned from the Hadley oracle had, like most oracle-answers, been
neither favourable nor unfavourable. Mr. Bertram had expressed no
great anger at the tale of love that was told him; but neither had
he expressed any gratification. "Well," he had said, "it is odd that
they should have come together; very odd. He is a clever young man,
and I dare say may do well." Miss Baker had then ventured, but in a
very modest way, to ask him his opinion as to the sufficiency of the
young people's income. "They must judge of that themselves," he had
said, rather sharply. "But I suppose they have no idea of marrying as
yet. They mean to wait, don't they, till he begins his profession?"
To this Miss Baker had made no answer, and nothing further had been
said at that meeting.

Early in March, Miss Baker had again seen the great man. She had then
ventured to explain to him that George was working very hard.

"Ah! you have his word for that, I suppose," said the uncle; "but if
so, believe me he will get on at such work as that quicker without a
wife than he will with one."

But at this interview Miss Baker did ask him plainly, as had been
agreed beforehand between her and her niece that she should do,
whether he would on their marriage make any increase to his
granddaughter's fortune.

"She has a liberal, ladylike provision," said he.

"But they will not have enough to live on," said Miss Baker.

"They will have a third more, Mary, than I had when I married your
aunt. And yet I saved money on my income."

"But remember how they have been brought up, sir."

"If they will be fine ladies and gentlemen, they must take the
penalties of being so. Fine ladies and gentlemen cannot marry at
a moment's notice, as do ploughboys and milkmaids. If they cannot
live on a limited income, they must wait." He did, however, on this
occasion go so far as to say, that if they would wait for another
twelvemonth, and that if he were then living, he would add two
thousand pounds to Caroline's fortune. As to George, he had done as
much as he intended to do--certainly for the present. "George likes
his own way," said the old man, "and as far as I am concerned, he
shall have it. It will be well for him to make his own career in the
world; he will be happier so than in spending my money."

On this occasion Miss Baker was permitted to tell Caroline all the
circumstances of her parentage and grandparentage. The same story
might now be told to George. But they were both to be cautioned
that their relative's displeasure would be incurred by any useless
repetition of it. "And, Mary," said he, "do not let them mislead
themselves. Do not let them marry with the idea that by so doing they
will inherit between them my money. I wish them both to understand
that my views are altogether different."

Miss Baker, when she returned to Littlebath, could not think that she
had been successful in her mission; and Caroline immediately declared
that any idea of a marriage for that year, or even for the next, must
now be altogether out of the question. She was very much startled at
hearing that Mr. Bertram was her mother's father, but did not pretend
to any suddenly intense affection for him. "If that be so," said she,
coldly, "if George and I are his only near connections, and if he
does not disapprove of our marriage, he ought to give us an income on
which we can live." It is astonishing how different are the views of
grandfathers and grandchildren on such matters!

Unfortunately there was no unanimity of opinion on this matter,
either between the lovers themselves or between them and their aunt.
George was of opinion that they should marry immediately on their
present income, and trust to Providence and his exertions for a
future increase. For one year he would have the income of his
fellowship; in two years and a half he would be called; and in the
meantime, he could make something by the Magazines. If Caroline was
not afraid, he was not.

But Caroline was very much afraid. It had by no means formed part of
the project of her life to live in London as a married woman on four
hundred pounds a year. "She knew," she said to Miss Baker, "what
effect that would have on her husband's affections." She seemed,
indeed, to share some of Harcourt's opinions on the subject, and to
have a dislike to feminine economies, or at least to the use of them
under the surveillance of a man's eye. As far as she could see, the
marriage must be postponed indefinitely--at any rate, till after
George should have been called to the bar.

Miss Baker's voice was for a middle course. She suggested that they
should wait for Mr. Bertram's two thousand pounds and then marry.
They would then have an income increased to some extent. They
would also show a deference to the old man's views, which would
undoubtedly--so Miss Baker thought--have ultimate results of a most
beneficial nature. "After all," as she remarked more than once to her
niece, "who else is there?"

But the young people were quite as obstinate as the old man. George
would make no concession whatever to his uncle. He was ready to marry
on love and a small income, and he expected Caroline to show an equal
warmth. Caroline would by no means alter her views, or risk the
misery of an ill-provided nursery. It had been the one great resolve
of her life, that she would not be a poor man's wife. "She was ready
to wait," she said. "If she could trust and wait, surely George might
do so. A man, with all the world around him, encountered neither the
misery nor the risk in waiting that fell to a girl's lot."

The disputes incidental to these different opinions did not ever take
place between George and Caroline. He, from a feeling of chivalry,
abstained from discussing money matters with her; and she, from a
feeling of prudence, was equally silent with him. Poor Miss Baker was
the medium for it all. George of course would press with a lover's
ardour for an early day; and Caroline would of course say that an
immediate marriage was, she found, impracticable. And then each would
refer the other to Miss Baker.

Things went on in this way till the middle of May. Sometimes George
was almost angry, and wrote letters that were somewhat savage;
sometimes Caroline would be haughty, and then she too could write
letters which would tell her mind in good plain set terms. But they
were not near enough, or sufficiently often with each other, to
quarrel.

So matters went on till May; and then, on one fine May-day, Harcourt
and George together took their places in the train for Littlebath.

"I wonder what you'll think of her?" said George. "Of course you'll
tell the truth?"

"Oh, of course," said Harcourt, with his mind duly made up to praise
her.

"You haven't the pluck to find fault with her," said George; "you
would be afraid not to call her handsome, even if you thought her as
ugly as Hecate."

"Exactly," said Harcourt; "and therefore these little experimentary
trips are never of any use."



CHAPTER XV.

MR. HARCOURT'S VISIT TO LITTLEBATH.


During the whole of the winter and spring, George's attention to
his work had been unremitting. Mr. Die was always prophesying still
greater things, and still greater. Once a fortnight, on every other
Saturday, Bertram had gone down to Littlebath, but he had always
returned to London by the first train on Monday morning, and was
always up to his elbows in law, even on that morning, before eleven.

During the whole of this time, he had not once seen his uncle,
although Miss Baker had softly endeavoured to talk him into visiting
Hadley. "I never go there without being asked," he had said. "It is
quite understood between us."

He had made but one excursion out of London, except those to
Littlebath, and that had been to Hurst Staple. Mr. Wilkinson had died
very suddenly, as has been told, about the end of the winter, and
Bertram had of course not been able to see him. Arthur Wilkinson had
then been quickly put into the living, and as soon as he had taken
up his residence in the parsonage, Bertram had gone down. This visit
had been made before the last walk to West Putford; but even then the
young barrister had found the young vicar in rather a plaintive mood.
Wilkinson, however, had said nothing of his love, and George was too
much occupied with talking of his own heart to think much of his
cousin's.

Miss Gauntlet--I hope the reader has not altogether forgotten Adela
Gauntlet--had also an aunt living at Littlebath, Miss Penelope
Gauntlet; and it so happened, that very shortly after that memorable
walk and the little scene that took place in the West Putford
drawing-room, Adela visited her aunt. Bertram, who had known her well
when they were children together, had not yet seen her there; indeed,
her arrival had taken place since his last visit; but there she was,
staying with Miss Penelope Gauntlet, when he and Harcourt went down
to Littlebath together.

Caroline and Adela had for years been friends. Not bosom friends,
perhaps; that is, they did not correspond three times a week, each
sending to the other on each occasion three sheets of note paper
crossed over on every page from top to bottom. Caroline had certainly
no such bosom friend, and perhaps neither had Adela; but they were
friends enough to call each other by their Christian names, to lend
each other music and patterns, and perhaps to write when they had
anything special to say. There had been a sort of quasi-connection
between Miss Baker and the elder Miss Gauntlet--a connection of a
very faint local character--in years gone by. Miss Baker, by reason
of her Bertram relations, had been at Hurst Staple, and Miss Gauntlet
had been at West Putford at the same time. They had thus become
acquainted, and the acquaintance there had led to a Littlebath
friendship. Friendships in Littlebath are not of a very fervid
description.

Miss Waddington had now been engaged for six months, and hitherto
she had made no confidante. She knew no resident at Littlebath whom
she would willingly trust with her heart's secret: her aunt, and her
aunt's cognizance of the matter were quite another thing. No one
could be more affectionate than aunt Mary, no one more trustworthy,
no one more thoroughly devoted to another than she was to her niece.
But then she was not only old, but old-fashioned. She was prudent,
and Caroline also was prudent; but their prudence was a different
kind. There was no dash, no ambition about aunt Mary's prudence.
She was rather humdrum, Caroline thought; and, which was worse,
though she liked George Bertram, she did not seem to understand his
character at all in the same light as that in which Caroline regarded
it.

From these circumstances it came to pass that Adela had not been a
week at Littlebath before she was made acquainted with the grand
secret. She also had a secret of her own; but she did not tell that
in return. Secrets such as Caroline's are made to be told; but those
other secrets, those which burn up the heart instead of watering it
as with a dew from heaven, those secrets for the most part are not
made to be told.

"And yet, Adela, I suppose it will never happen." This had been said
on the morning of that Saturday which was to bring down not only
Bertram, but Harcourt. Caroline knew well that the London friend,
the man of the world, was being brought to inspect her, and was by
no means afraid of undergoing the inspection. She was not timid by
nature; and though, as has been already said, she was hardly yet
conscious of her powers of attracting, she was never ashamed of
herself.

"And why not? I think that is nonsense, Caroline. If you really
thought that, you would not receive him as you will do, nor his
friend neither."

"I do think it; that is to say, I think it very probable. I cannot
explain to you, Adela, all the turns of my mind, or of my heart. I
would not for worlds of gold marry a man I did not love."

"And do not you love Mr. Bertram?"

"Yes, I do; at times very, very much; but I fear the time may come
when I may love him less. You will not understand me; but the fact
is, I should love him better if he were less worthy of my love--if he
were more worldly."

"No, I do not understand that," said Adela, thinking of her love, and
the worldly prudence of him who should have been her lover.

"That is it--you do not understand me; and yet it is not selfishness
on my part. I would marry a man in the hope of making him happy."

"Certainly," said Adela; "no girl should marry unless she have
reasonable hope that she can do that."

"He would wish me to go to him now, at once; when we have no
sufficient income to support us."

"Four hundred a year!" said Adela, reproachfully.

"What would four hundred a year do in London? Were I to consent, in
a year or two he would be sick of me. He would be a wretched man,
unless, indeed, his law-courts and his club kept him from being
wretched;--his home would not do so."

Adela silently compared the matter with her own affairs: her ideas
were so absolutely different. "If he could have contented himself to
live upon potatoes," she had once thought to herself, "I could have
contented myself to live on the parings." She said nothing of this
however to Caroline. Their dispositions she knew were different.
After all, it may be that Miss Waddington had a truer knowledge of
human nature.

"No, I shall not consent; I will not consent to be the cause of his
misery and poverty; and then he will be angry with me, and we shall
quarrel. He can be very stern, Adela; very."

"He is impetuous; but however angry he may be, he forgives
immediately. He never bears malice," said Adela, remembering her
early dealings with the boy-friend of her girlhood.

"He can be very stern now. I know it will come to our quarrelling;
and when he finds that he cannot have his own way, that I cannot
yield to him, his proud heart will revolt from me; I know it will."

Adela could only say that were she in her friend's place she would
not think so much about income; but her gentle speech, the eloquence
of which had an inward, rather than an outward tendency, had no
effect on Caroline. If Bertram could not persuade her, it certainly
was not probable that Adela Gauntlet should do so.

Messrs. Harcourt and Bertram reached Littlebath quite safely.
Harcourt was to dine with the ladies in Montpellier Crescent--it was
in Montpellier Crescent that Miss Baker lived--and as some sort of
party was necessary for his honour, the curate was again invited, as
were also the two Miss Gauntlets.

"You'll go on first, I suppose?" said Harcourt, when they had secured
their rooms at the "Plough," and were preparing to dress. Bertram
was well known at the "Plough" now, and there was not a boots
or chambermaid about the house who did not know why he came to
Littlebath.

"Oh, no," said Bertram, "I'll wait for you."

"I didn't know; I thought there might be some lovers' privileges to
be exercised, for which the eyes of the world might be inconvenient."

"They shall be postponed on your behalf, my dear fellow." And so the
two went off together.

They found Miss Baker in her drawing-room, and with her Adela and
aunt Penelope.

"And where is Caroline?" said George, when the introductions had been
duly performed. He had to make a little effort to say this in a voice
that should signify that he was at home there, but which should not
savour too much of the lover. On the whole, he succeeded pretty well.

"Why, to tell the truth," said Miss Baker, laughing, "she is doing
duty at this moment as head butler in the dining-room. If you feel
any vocation that way, you may go and help her."

"Well, I am a fairish good hand at drawing a cork," said Bertram, as
he left the room.

"So the lovers' privileges are all arranged for," thought Harcourt to
himself.

When Bertram entered the dining-room, the butler's duties seemed to
be complete; at any rate, Miss Waddington was not engaged in their
performance. She was leaning on the mantel-piece, and was apparently
engaged in contemplating a bouquet of flowers which Bertram had
contrived to send to the house since his arrival at Littlebath. It
was no wonder that the boots should know all about it.

Let us agree to say nothing about the lovers' privileges. Caroline
Waddington was not a girl to be very liberal of such favours, and on
the occasion in question she was not more liberal than usual.

"Is Mr. Harcourt here?" said she.

"Yes, of course he is. He is upstairs."

"And I am to go up to be looked at. How vain you men are of your
playthings! Not that you have anything in this respect of which you
ought to be vain."

"But a great deal of which I ought to be, and am, very proud. I am
proud of you, Caroline; proud at this moment that my friend should
see how beautiful is the girl that loves me."

"Tush!" said Caroline, putting the back of her nosegay up to his
mouth. "What delightful nonsense you can talk. But come, your London
friend won't much appreciate my excellence if I keep him waiting for
his dinner." And so they went upstairs.

But Caroline, though she laughed at her lover for showing her off,
had not failed to make the best of herself. She was sufficiently
anxious that Bertram should be proud of her, should have cause to be
proud of her; and she seemed to be aware that if she could satisfy
Mr. Harcourt's fastidious judgment, she might probably hope to pass
as approved of among his other friends. She determined, therefore, to
look her best as she walked into the drawing-room; and she did look
her best.

"Mr. Harcourt, my niece, Miss Waddington," said Miss Baker. Harcourt,
as he rose and bowed, was lost in wonder.

Bertram fell immediately into conversation with Miss Penelope
Gauntlet, but even while listening to her enthusiasm as to Arthur
Wilkinson's luck in getting the living of Hurst Staple, and her
praise of Lord Stapledean, he contrived to keep an eye on his friend
Harcourt. "Yes, indeed, quite fortunate; wasn't it?" But as he thus
spoke, his very soul within him was rejoicing at his own triumph.
He had said nothing about Caroline personally; he had refrained his
tongue, and now he had his reward.

We have said that Harcourt was lost in wonder, and such was literally
the case. He had taught himself to believe that Caroline Waddington
was some tall, sharp-nosed dowdy; with bright eyes, probably, and
even teeth; with a simpering, would-be-witty smile, and full of
little quick answers such as might suit well for the assembly-rooms
at Littlebath. When he heard that she was engaged in seeing that the
sherry-bottles were duly decantered, the standard of her value did
not at all rise in his estimation. Candle-ends and cold mutton would
doubtless be her forte, an economical washing-bill her strong point.

So was he thinking, much distressed in mind--for, to do him justice,
he was as anxious on behalf of Bertram as it was in his nature to be
anxious for any one--when a Juno entered the room. She did not swim
in, or fly in, or glide in, but walked in, as women should walk if
they properly understood their parts. She walked in as though she
were mistress of her own soul, and afraid to meet no pair of eyes
which any human being could bend upon her. He had intended in his
good-nature to patronise her; but that other question instantly
occurred to him--would she patronise him? Bertram he had known
long and intimately, and held him therefore somewhat cheap in many
respects, as we are all accustomed to hold our dearest friends. But
now, at once he rose in his estimation a hundred per cent. What might
not be expected of a man whom such a woman would acknowledge that she
loved?

A Juno had entered the room; for her beauty, as we have said before,
was that rather of the queen of the gods. George immediately
acknowledged to himself that he had never before seen her look so
grandly beautiful. Her charms have been related, and that relation
shall not be repeated; but when first seen by Harcourt, their power
was more thoroughly acknowledged by him, much more thoroughly than
they had been by her lover when he had first met her. Then, however,
she had been sitting at dinner between her aunt and Mr. M'Gabbery,
quite unconscious that any one was arriving whose existence could be
of importance to her.

There was no time for conversation then. The surprise arising from
her entrance had, on Harcourt's part, hardly subsided, when the
servant announced dinner, and he was called on to give his arm to
Miss Baker.

"I hope you approve your friend's choice," said that lady, smiling.

"Miss Waddington is certainly the most lovely girl I ever beheld,"
replied he, with enthusiasm.

The Rev. Mr. Meek handed down Miss Penelope Gauntlet, and Bertram
followed with the two girls, happy and high-spirited. He first
tendered his arm to Adela, who positively refused it; then to
Caroline, who was equally determined. Then, putting a hand behind the
waist of each of them, he pushed them through the door before him.
There are certainly some privileges which an accepted lover may take
in a house, and no one but an accepted lover.

George took his seat at the bottom of the table, as though he were
quite at home; and Harcourt, happy sinner! found himself seated
between Adela and Caroline. He was not good enough for such bliss.
But had his virtues been ever so shining, how could they have availed
him? Neither of his neighbours had a portion of a heart left to call
her own.

But he was able to perceive that Caroline was not only beautiful. She
talked to him almost exclusively, for she had capriciously seated
herself away from her lover, and next to her aunt. "Adela," she had
whispered, going downstairs, "I shall look to you to talk to George
all the evening, for I mean to make a new conquest."

Bertram was delighted. It was hardly in him to be jealous, even had
there been a shadow of cause. As it was, his love was doing exactly
that which he wished her to do. She was vindicating his choice to the
man whose judgment on the matter was most vitally essential to him.

When the ladies left the dining-room, both Bertram and Harcourt
heartily wished that Miss Baker had not been so scrupulously
hospitable. They hardly knew what to do with Mr. Meek. Mr. Meek
remarked that Miss Baker was a very nice person, that Miss Waddington
was a charming person, that Miss Penelope Gauntlet was a very nice
person indeed, and that Miss Adela was a very sweet person; and
then it seemed that all conversation was at end. "Eh! what! none
especially; that is to say, the Middle Temple." Such had been
Harcourt's reply to Mr. Meek's inquiry as to what London congregation
he frequented; and then the three gentlemen seemed to be much
occupied with their wine and biscuits. This invitation to Mr. Meek
had certainly been a mistake on Miss Baker's part.

But the misery did not last long. Of the first occasion on which Mr.
Meek's glass was seen to be well empty, George took advantage. "If
you don't take any more wine, Mr. Meek, we may as well go upstairs;
eh, Harcourt?" and he looked suppliantly at his friend.

"Oh, I never take any more wine, you know. I'm an anchorite on such
occasions as these." And so they went into the drawing-room, long
before Miss Baker had her coffee ready for them.

"You see a good deal of Arthur now, I suppose?" said Bertram,
addressing Adela.

"Yes; that is, not a very great deal. He has been busy since he took
up the parish. But I see Mary frequently."

"Do you think Arthur likes it? He seemed to me to be hardly so much
gratified as I should have thought he would have been. The living is
a good one, and the marquis was certainly good-natured about it."

"Oh, yes, he was," said Adela.

"It will be a long time, I know, before I earn five hundred pounds a
year. Do you know, he never wrote about it as though he thought he'd
been lucky in getting it."

"Didn't he?"

"Never; and I thought he was melancholy and out of spirits when I
saw him the other day. He ought to marry; that's the fact. A young
clergyman with a living should always get a wife."

"You are like the fox that lost its tail," said Adela, trying hard to
show that she joined in the conversation without an effort.

"Ah! but the case is very different. There can be no doubt that
Arthur ought to lose his tail. His position in the world is one which
especially requires him to lose it."

"He has his mother and sisters, you know."

"Oh, mother and sisters! Mother and sisters are all very well, or not
very well, as the case may be; but the vicar of a parish should be a
married man. If you can't get a wife for him down there in Hampshire,
I shall have him up to London, and look one out for him there. Pray
take the matter in hand when you go home, Miss Gauntlet."

Adela smiled, and did not blush; nor did she say that she quite
agreed with him that the vicar of a parish should be a married man.

"Well, I shan't ask any questions," said Bertram, as soon as he and
Harcourt were in the street, "or allow you to offer any opinion;
because, as we have both agreed, you have not pluck enough to give it
impartially." Bertram as he said this could hardly preserve himself
from a slight tone of triumph.

"She is simply the most most lovely woman that my eyes ever beheld,"
said Harcourt.

"Tush! can't you make it a little more out of the common way than
that? But, Harcourt, without joke, you need not trouble yourself. I
did want you to see her; but I don't care twopence as to your liking
her. I shall think much more of your wife liking her--if you ever
have a wife."

"Bertram, upon my word, I never was less in a mood to joke."

"That is saying very little, for you are always in a mood to
joke." Bertram understood it all; saw clearly what impression Miss
Waddington had made, and for the moment was supremely happy.

"How ever you had the courage to propose yourself and your two
hundred pounds a year to such a woman as that!"

"Ha! ha! ha! Why, Harcourt, you are not at all like yourself. If you
admire her so much, I shall beg you not to come to Littlebath any
more."

"Perhaps I had better not. But, Bertram, I beg to congratulate you
most heartily. There is this against your future happiness--"

"What?"

"Why, you will never be known as Mr. George Bertram; but always as
Mrs. George Bertram's husband. With such a bride-elect as that, you
cannot expect to stand on your own bottom. If you can count on being
lord-chancellor, or secretary of state, you may do so; otherwise,
you'll always be known as an appendage."

"Oh, I'll put up with that misery."

This visit of inspection had been very successful, and George went
to bed in the highest spirits. In the highest spirits also he walked
to church with Harcourt, and there met the two ladies. There was
something especially rapturous in the touch of his fingers as he
shook hands with Caroline when the service was over; and Miss Baker
declared that he looked almost handsome when he went home with them
to lunch.

But that afternoon his bliss was destined to receive something of a
check. It was imperative that Harcourt should be in town early on the
Monday morning, and therefore it had been settled that they should
return by the latest train that Sunday evening. They would just be
able to dine with Miss Baker, and do this afterwards. Harcourt had,
of course, been anxious to be allowed to return alone; but Bertram
had declined to appear to be too much in love to leave his mistress,
and had persisted that he would accompany him.

This having been so decided, he had been invited to a little
conference at Miss Baker's, to be holden upstairs in her private
little sitting-room before dinner. He had had one or two chats with
Miss Baker in that same room before now, and therefore did not
think so much of the invitation; but on this occasion he also found
Caroline there. He felt at once that he was to be encountered with
opposition.

Miss Baker opened the battle. "George," said she, "Caroline has made
me promise to speak to you before you go up to town. Won't you sit
down?"

"Upon my word," said he, seating himself on a sofa next to Caroline;
"I hardly know what to say to it. You look so formal both of you. If
I am to be condemned, my lord, I hope you'll give me a long day."

"That's just it," said Miss Baker; "it must be a long day, I'm
afraid, George."

"What do you mean?"

"Why this; we think the marriage must be put off till after you have
been called. You are both young, you know."

"Nonsense!" said George, rather too imperiously for a lover.

"Nay, but George, it is not nonsense," said Caroline, in her sweetest
voice, almost imploringly. "Don't be impetuous; don't be angry with
us. It is for your sake we say so."

"For my sake!"

"Yes, for your sake; for your sake;" and she put his hand inside her
arm, and almost pressed it to her bosom. "For your sake, certainly,
George; you of whom we are so much bound to think."

"Then for my own sake I disdain any such solicitude. I know the
world, at any rate, as well as either of you--"

"Ah! I am not sure of that," said Caroline.

"And I know well, that our joint income should be ample for the next
four or five years. You will have to give up your horse--"

"I should think nothing of that, George; nothing."

"And that is all. How many thousand married couples are there, do you
suppose, in London, who are now living on less than what our income
will be?"

"Many thousands, doubtless. But very few, probably not one, so living
happily, when the husband has been brought up in such a manner as has
been Master George Bertram."

"Caroline, my belief is, that you know nothing about it. Some of your
would-be-grand friends here in Littlebath have been frightening you
on the score of income."

"I have no friend in Littlebath to whom I would condescend to speak
on such a matter, except aunt Mary." Caroline's tone as she said this
showed some slight offence; but not more than she had a right to
show.

"And what do you say, aunt Mary?"

"Well, I really agree with Caroline; I really do."

"Ah, she has talked you over." This was true.

"And what is the date, Miss Waddington, that you are now kind enough
to name for our wedding-day?" asked George, in a tone half of
anger and half of banter. To Caroline's ear, the anger seemed to
predominate.

"The day after you shall have been called to the bar, Mr. Bertram.
That is, if the press of two such great events together will not be
too much for you."

"Of course you know that that is putting it off for nearly three
years?"

"For more than two, I believe, certainly."

"And you can talk quite coolly about such a delay as that?"

"Not quite coolly, George; but, at any rate, with a fixed purpose."

"And am not I then to have a fixed purpose also?"

"Certainly, dearest, you can. You can say, if you are cruel enough,
that it shall be postponed for two years again, after that. Or you
can say, if you will do so, that under such circumstances you will
not marry me at all. We have each got what you lawyers call a veto.
Now, George, I put my veto upon poverty for you, and discomfort, and
an untidy house, and the perils of a complaining, fretful wife. If
I can ever assist you to be happy, and prosperous, and elate before
the world, I will try my best to do so; but I will not come to you
like a clog round your neck, to impede all your efforts in your
first struggle at rising. If I can wait, George, surely you can? An
unfulfilled engagement can be no impediment to a man, whatever it may
be to a girl."

It may have been perceived by this time that Miss Waddington was not
a person easy to be talked over. On this occasion, Bertram failed
altogether in moving her. Even though at one moment aunt Mary had
almost yielded to him, Caroline remained steady as a rock. None of
his eloquence--and he was very eloquent on the occasion--changed
her at all. She became soft in her tone, and affectionate, almost
caressing in her manner; but nothing would induce her to go from her
point. Bertram got on a very high horse, and spoke of the engagement
as being thus practically broken off. She did not become angry, or
declare that she took him at his word; but with a low voice she said
that she was aware that her determination gave him an option in the
matter. He would certainly be justified in so resolving; nay, might
do so without the slightest stain upon his faith. She herself would
not violate the truth by saying that such a decision would give her
pleasure; that it would--would-- Here for the first time she became
rather agitated, and before she could finish, George was at her feet,
swearing that he could not, would not live without her; that she knew
that he could not, and would not do so.

And so the little conference ended. George had certainly gained
nothing. Caroline had gained this, that she had made known her
resolution, and had, nevertheless, not lost her lover. To all the
expressions of her determination not to marry till George should be
a barrister, aunt Mary had added a little clause--that such decision
might at any moment be changed by some new act of liberality on the
part of uncle Bertram. In aunt Mary's mind, the rich uncle, the rich
grandfather, was still the god that was to come down upon the stage
and relieve them from their great difficulty.

As George returned to town with his friend, his love was not quite so
triumphant as it had been that morning on his road to church.


END OF VOL. I.



      *      *      *      *      *



THE BERTRAMS.

A Novel.

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

Author of "Barchester Towers," "Doctor Thorne," etc.

In Three Volumes

VOL. II.

Second Editon



London:
Chapman & Hall, 193 Piccadilly.
1859.

[The right of Translation is reserved.]

London: Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

      I. THE NEW MEMBER FOR THE BATTERSEA HAMLETS.
     II. RETROSPECTIVE.--FIRST YEAR.
    III. RETROSPECTIVE.--SECOND YEAR.
     IV. RICHMOND.
      V. JUNO.
     VI. SIR LIONEL IN TROUBLE.
    VII. MISS TODD'S CARD-PARTY.
   VIII. THREE LETTERS.
     IX. BIDDING HIGH.
      X. DOES HE KNOW IT YET?
     XI. HURST STAPLE.
    XII. THE WOUNDED DOE.
   XIII. THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL IN LOVE.
    XIV. MRS. LEAKE OF RISSBURY.
     XV. MARRIAGE-BELLS.



THE BERTRAMS.


CHAPTER I.

THE NEW MEMBER FOR THE BATTERSEA HAMLETS.


I must now ask my readers to pass over two years with me. It is a
terrible gap in a story; but in these days the unities are not much
considered, and a hiatus which would formerly have been regarded as a
fault utterly fatal is now no more than a slight impropriety.

But something must be told of the occurrences of these two years.
In the first place, no marriage had taken place--that is, among our
personages; nor had their ranks been thinned by any death. In our
retrospective view we will give the _pas_ to Mr. Harcourt, for he had
taken the greatest stride in winning that world's success, which is
the goal of all our ambition. He had gone on and prospered greatly;
and nowadays all men at the bar said all manner of good things of
him. He was already in Parliament as the honourable member for the
Battersea Hamlets, and was not only there, but listened to when
it suited him to speak. But when he did speak, he spoke only as a
lawyer. He never allowed himself to be enticed away from his own
profession by the meretricious allurements of general politics.
On points of law reform, he had an energetic opinion; on matters
connected with justice, he had ideas which were very much his own--or
which at least were stated in language which was so; being a denizen
of the common law, he was loud against the delays and cost of
Chancery, and was supposed to have supplied the legal details of a
very telling tale which was written about this time with the object
of upsetting the lord-chancellor as then constituted.

But though he worked as a member only in legal matters, of course he
was always ready to support his party with his vote in all matters.
His party! here had been his great difficulty on first entering the
House of Commons. What should be his party?

He had worked hard as a lawyer. In so doing no party had been
necessary to him. Honest hard work--honest, that is, as regarded the
work itself, if not always so as regarded the object. Honest hard
work, and some cunning in the method of his eloquence, had at first
sufficed him. He was not called upon to have, or at any rate to
state, any marked political tenets. But no man can rise to great note
as a lawyer without a party. Opulence without note would by no means
have sufficed with Mr. Harcourt.

When, therefore, he found it expedient in the course of his
profession to go into Parliament, and with this object presented
himself to the inhabitants of the Battersea Hamlets, it was necessary
that he should adopt a party. At that time the political watchword
of the day was the repeal of the corn laws. Now the electors of the
Battersea Hamlets required especially to know whether Mr. Harcourt
was or was not for free trade in corn.

To tell the truth, he did not care two straws about corn. He cared
only for law--for that and what was to be got by it. It was necessary
that he should assume some care for corn--learn a good deal about
it, perhaps, so as to be able, if called on, to talk on the subject
by the hour at a stretch; but it was not a matter on which he was
personally solicitous a fortnight or so before he began his canvass.

The Conservatives were at that time in, and were declared foes
to free trade in corn. They were committed to the maintenance
of a duty on imported wheat--if any men were ever politically
committed to anything. Indeed, it had latterly been their great
shibboleth--latterly; that is, since their other greater shibboleths
had been cut from under their feet.

At that time men had not learnt thoroughly by experience, as now they
have, that no reform, no innovation--experience almost justifies
us in saying no revolution--stinks so foully in the nostrils of an
English Tory politician as to be absolutely irreconcilable to him.
When taken in the refreshing waters of office any such pill can
be swallowed. This is now a fact recognized in politics; and it
is a great point gained in favour of that party that their power
of deglutition should be so recognized. Let the people want what
they will, Jew senators, cheap corn, vote by ballot, no property
qualification, or anything else, the Tories will carry it for them
if the Whigs cannot. A poor Whig premier has none but the Liberals
to back him; but a reforming Tory will be backed by all the
world--except those few whom his own dishonesty will personally have
disgusted.

But at that time--some twelve or fifteen years since--all this was
not a part of the political A B C; and Harcourt had much doubt in
his own mind as to the party which ought to be blessed with his
adherence. Lord chancellorships and lord chief-justiceships, though
not enjoyed till middle life, or, indeed, till the evening of a
lawyer's days, must, in fact, be won or lost in the heyday of his
career. One false step in his political novitiate may cost him
everything. A man when known as a recognized Whig may fight battle
after battle with mercenary electors, sit yawning year after year
till twelve o'clock, ready to attack on every point the tactics of
his honourable and learned friend on the Treasury seats, and yet see
junior after junior rise to the bench before him--and all because at
starting he decided wrongly as to his party.

If Harcourt had predilections, they were with the Whigs; but he was
not weak enough to let any predilection be a burden to his interests.
Where was the best opening for him? The Tories--I still prefer the
name, as being without definite meaning; the direct falsehood implied
in the title of Conservative amounts almost to a libel--the Tories
were in; but from the fact of being in, were always liable to be
turned out. Then, too, they were of course provided with attorneys
and solicitors-general, lords-advocate and legal hangers-on of every
sort. The coming chances might be better with the Whigs.

Under these circumstances, he went to his old friend Mr. Die, Mr.
Neversaye Die, the rich, quiet, hard-working, old chancery barrister,
to whose fostering care he had some time since recommended his friend
Bertram. Every one has some quiet, old, family, confidential friend;
a man given to silence, but of undoubted knowledge of the world,
whose experience is vast, and who, though he has not risen in the
world himself, is always the man to help others to do so. Every one
has such a friend as this, and Mr. Neversaye Die was Harcourt's
friend. Mr. Die himself was supposed to be a Tory, quite of the old
school, a Lord Eldon Tory; but Harcourt knew that this would in no
way bias his judgment. The mind of a barrister who has been for fifty
years practising in court will never be biassed by his predilections.

Mr. Die soon understood the whole matter. His young friend Harcourt
was going into Parliament with the special object of becoming a
solicitor-general as soon as possible. He could so become by means
only of two moving powers. He must be solicitor-general either to
the Whigs or to the Tories. To which he should be so was a question
mainly indifferent to Mr. Harcourt himself, and also to Mr. Die in
framing his advice.

Mr. Die himself of course regarded corn-law repeal as an invention
of the devil. He had lived long enough to have regarded Catholic
emancipation and parliamentary reform in the same light. Could you
have opened his mind, you would probably have found there a settled
conviction that the world was slowly coming to an end, that end being
brought about by such devilish works as these. But you would also
have found a conviction that the Three per Cents. would last his
time, and that his fear for the future might with safety be thrown
forward, so as to appertain to the fourth or fifth, or, perhaps,
even to the tenth or twelfth coming generation. Mr. Die was not,
therefore, personally wretched under his own political creed.

"I should be inclined to support the government if I were going into
Parliament as a young man," said Mr. Die.

"There are nine seniors of mine in the House who now do so." By
seniors, Mr. Harcourt alluded to his seniors at the bar.

"Yes; but they like young blood nowadays. I think it's the safest."

"I shall never carry the Battersea Hamlets unless I pledge myself on
this corn-law question."

"Well," said Mr. Die--"well; a seat is certainly a great thing, and
not to be had at any moment. I think I should be inclined to yield to
the electors."

"And commit myself to the repeal of the corn laws?"

"Commit yourself!" said Mr. Die, with a gentle smile. "A public man
has to commit himself to many things nowadays. But my opinion is,
that--that you may hold the popular opinion about free trade, and be
not a whit the less useful to Sir Robert on that account."

Mr. Harcourt was still a young man, and was, therefore, excusable in
not seeing to the depth of Mr. Die's wisdom. He certainly did not see
to the depth of it; but he had come to his oracle with faith, and
wisely resolved to be guided by wisdom so much superior to his own.

"Never bind yourself wantonly to an expiring policy," said Mr. Die.
"The man who does so has surely to unbind himself; and, to say the
least of it, that always takes time."

So Mr. Harcourt presented himself to the electors of the Battersea
Hamlets as a man very anxious in their behalf in all things, but
anxious in their behalf above all things for free trade in corn. "Is
it credible, that now, in this year of grace 184--,--" and so on.
Such were the eloquent words which he addressed to the electors on
this subject, and so taken were they by his enthusiasm that they
returned him by a large majority.

Mr. Dod, therefore, in his remarkably useful little parliamentary
compendium, put down Mr. Harcourt as a liberal: this he had an
opportunity of doing immediately after Mr. Harcourt's election: in
his next edition, however, he added, "but supports the general policy
of Sir Robert Peel's government."

Mr. Harcourt had altogether managed this little affair so well that,
despite his youth, despite also those nine political seniors of his,
men began to talk of him as one who might shortly hope to fill high
places. He made himself very useful in the House, and did so in a
quiet, business-like, unexciting manner, very pleasant to the leading
politician of the Treasury bench.

And then there came the Irish famine, and all the bindings of all
the Tories were scattered to the winds like feathers. The Irishman's
potato-pot ceased to be full, and at once the great territorial
magnates of England were convinced that they had clung to the horns
of a false altar. They were convinced; or at least had to acknowledge
such conviction. The prime minister held short little debates with
his underlings--with dukes and marquises, with earls and viscounts;
held short debates with them, but allowed to no underling--to no
duke, and to no viscount--to have any longer an opinion of his own.
The altar had been a false altar: it was enough for them that they
were so told. With great wisdom the majority of them considered that
this _was_ enough; and so the bill for the repeal of the corn laws
was brought before the House, and the world knew that it would be
carried.

And now there was a great opportunity for Mr. Harcourt. He could
support the prime minister and merit all manner of legal generalships
without any self-unbinding. Alas! such comfort as this can only
belong to the young among politicians! Up to this period he had
meddled only with law questions. Now was the time for him to come
out with that great liberal speech, which should merit the eternal
gratitude of the Tory leader. Just at the time at which we recommence
our tale he did come out with a very great liberal speech, in which,
as an independent member, he vehemently eulogized the daring policy
of that great man who, as he said, was brave enough, and wise enough,
and good enough to save his country at the expense of his party.
Whether there were not men who could have saved their country without
betraying their friends--who would have done so had not Sir Robert
been ready with his apostacy; who in fact did so by forcing Sir
Robert to his apostacy--as to that, Mr. Harcourt then said nothing.
What might not be expected from the hands of a man so eulogized? of a
man who was thus able to keep the votes of the Tories and carry the
measures of the Liberals? of a man of whom it might now be predicated
that his political power would end only with his political life? We
should be going on too fast were we to declare in how few months
after this triumph that great political chieftain was driven from the
Treasury bench.

Mr. Harcourt's name was now mentioned in all clubs and all
dining-rooms. He was an acute and successful lawyer, an eloquent
debater, and a young man. The world was at his feet, and Mr. Die was
very proud of him. Mr. Die was proud of him, and proud also of his
own advice. He said nothing about it even to Harcourt himself, for
to Mr. Die had been given the gift of reticence; but his old eye
twinkled as his wisdom was confessed by the youth at his feet. "In
politics one should always look forward," he said, as he held up to
the light the glass of old port which he was about to sip; "in real
life it is better to look back,--if one has anything to look back
at." Mr. Die had something to look back at. He had sixty thousand
pounds in the funds.

And now we must say a word of Mr. Harcourt, with reference to the
other persons of our story. He was still very intimate with Bertram,
but he hardly regarded him in the same light as he had done two
years before. Bertram had not hitherto justified the expectation of
his friends. This must be explained more at length in the next two
chapters; but the effect on Harcourt had been that he no longer
looked up with reverence to his friend's undoubted talents. He had
a lower opinion of him than formerly. Indeed, he himself had risen
so quickly that he had left Bertram immeasurably below him, and the
difference in their pursuits naturally brought them together less
frequently than heretofore.

But if Harcourt was less concerned than he had been with George
Bertram junior, he was much more concerned than he had been with
George Bertram senior. He had in former days known nothing of the old
merchant; now he was, within certain bounds, almost intimate with
him; occasionally dined down at Hadley, and frequently consulted him
on money matters of deep import.

With Miss Baker, also, and Caroline Waddington, Mr. Harcourt was
intimate. Between him and Miss Baker there existed a warm friendship,
and with Caroline, even, he was on such terms that she often spoke
to him as to the deep troubles of her love and engagement. For these
were deep troubles, as will be seen also in the coming chapters.

George Bertram had been told by Miss Baker that Caroline was the
granddaughter of old Mr. Bertram, and George in his confidence with
his friend had told him the secret. Indeed, there had been hardly any
alternative, for George had been driven to consult his friend more
than once as to this delay in his marriage; and who can ever consult
a friend with advantage on any subject without telling him all the
circumstances?

It was after this that Harcourt and Miss Baker became so intimate.
The ladies at Littlebath had many troubles, and during those troubles
the famous young barrister was very civil to them. In the latter of
those two years that are now gone, circumstances had brought them up
to London for a couple of months in the spring; and then they saw
much of Mr. Harcourt, but nothing of George Bertram, though George
was still the affianced husband of Miss Waddington.



CHAPTER II.

RETROSPECTIVE.--FIRST YEAR.


George Bertram had returned to town that Sunday after the conference
in Miss Baker's little room not in the very best of moods. He had
talked glibly enough on his way back, because it had been necessary
for him to hide his chagrin; but he had done so in a cynical tone,
which had given Harcourt to understand that something was wrong. For
some ten days after that there had been no intercourse between him
and Littlebath; and then he had written a letter to Caroline, full
of argument, full also of tenderness, in which he essayed to move
her from her high resolve. He had certainly written strongly, if not
well. "He was working," he said, "nearly as hard as a man could work,
in order to insure success for her. Nothing he was aware but the idea
that he was already justified in looking on her as his wife would
have induced him to labour so strictly; and for this he was grateful
to her. She had given him this great and necessary incitement; and
he therefore thanked God that he had on his shoulders the burden,
as well as in his heart the blessing, of such an engagement. But
the strain would be too great for him if the burden were to remain
present to him daily, while the blessing was to be postponed for so
long a time. He had already felt his spirits numbed and his energy
weakened. It seemed to him in all his daily work that his great hope
had been robbed from him. His dreams told him that he was to be
happy, but his waking moments brought him back to disappointment.
He knew that he could not endure it, that he could not remain there
at his post, diligent as he fain would be, if his reward were to be
postponed for so long. As being under a holy engagement to you,"
he wrote, perhaps almost too solemnly, "I have given up that sort
of life to which my natural disposition might have led me. Do not
suppose that I say this with regret. I rejoice to have done so,
rejoice to be so doing; but it is for you that I do it. Should I not
look to you for my reward? Granting that there may be risk, shall not
I share it? Supposing that there may be suffering, shall not I endure
it? And if a man with his best efforts may protect a woman from
suffering, I will protect you." So he had written, and had ended by
imploring her to let them be married that autumn.

By return of post he got three lines from her, calling him her
dearest, dearest George, and requesting that he would allow her a
week to answer his letter at length. It could not be answered without
deep thought. This gratified him much, and he wrote another note to
her, begging her on no account to hurry herself; that he would wait
for her reply with the utmost patience; but again imploring her to be
merciful. It was, however, apparent in the tone of his note, apparent
at least to Caroline, that he judged the eloquence of his letter to
be unanswerable, and that he was already counting on her surrender.
This lessened the effect of it on Caroline's heart;--for when first
received it had had a strong effect.

On that first morning, when she read it in her bedroom before she
went down to breakfast, it certainly had a strong effect on her. She
made up her mind that she would say nothing about it to her aunt,
at any rate on that day. Her aunt would have advised her to yield
at once, and she would have preferred some counsellor of a sterner
sort. So she put the letter in her pocket, went down tranquilly
to breakfast, and after breakfast wrote the note which we have
mentioned.

All that day she thought about it to herself, and all the next day.
On the evening of the second day she had all but brought herself to
give in. Then came George's note, and the fancied tone of triumph
hardened her heart once more. On the evening of that day she was firm
to her principles. She had acted hitherto, and would continue to act,
according to the course she had laid down for herself.

On the fourth day she was sitting in the drawing-room alone--for her
aunt had gone out of Littlebath for the day--when Adela Gauntlet
came to call on her. Adela she knew would counsel her to yield, and
therefore she would certainly not have gone to Adela for advice. But
she was sad at heart; and sitting there with the letter among her
threads and needles before her, she gradually found it impossible not
to talk of it--to talk of it, and at last to hand it over to be read.

There could be no doubt at all as to the nature of Adela's advice;
but Caroline had had no conception of the impetuosity of matured
conviction on the subject, of the impassioned eloquence with which
that advice would be given. She had been far from thinking that Adela
had any such power of passion.

"Well," said she, as Adela slowly folded the sheet and put it back
into its envelope; "well; what answer shall I make to it?"

"Can you doubt, Caroline?" said Adela, and Miss Gauntlet's eyes shone
as Caroline had never before seen them shine.

"Indeed, I do doubt; doubt very much. Not that I ought to doubt. What
I knew to be wise a week ago, I know also to be wise now. But one is
so weak, and it is so hard to refuse those whom we love."

"Hard, indeed!" said Adela. "To my thinking, a woman would have a
stone instead of a heart who could refuse such a request as that from
a man to whom she has confessed her love."

"But because you love a man, would you wish to make a beggar of him?"

"We are too much afraid of what we call beggary," said Adela.
"Beggary, Caroline, with four hundred pounds a year! You had no right
to accept a man if you intended to decline to live with him on such
an income as that. He should make no request; it should come from him
as a demand."

"A demand. No; his time for demands has not yet come."

"But it has come if you are true to your word. You should have
thought of all this, and no doubt did think of it, before you
accepted him. You have no right now to make him wretched."

"And, therefore, I will not make him poor."

"Poor, poor! How fearfully afraid we are of poverty! Is there nothing
worse than poverty, what you call poverty--poverty that cannot have
its gowns starched above once a week?" Caroline stared at her, but
Adela went on. "Broken hearts are not half so bad as that; nor
daily tears and disappointed hopes, nor dry, dull, dead, listless
despondency without one drop of water to refresh it! All that is as
nothing to a well-grounded apprehension as to one's larder! Never
marry till you are sure that will be full, let the heart be ever so
empty."

"Adela!"

"For others there may be excuse," she continued, thinking then, as
always, of that scene at West Putford, and defending to herself him
whom to herself she so often accused; "but for you there can be none.
If you drive him from you now, whatever evil may befall him will lie
like a weight of lead upon your heart. If you refuse him now, he is
not the man to take it quietly and wait."

"I can live without him."

"Yes; it is your pride to say so; and I believe you could live
without him. But I think too well of you to believe that you could
live happily without him; nor will he be happy without you. You will
both be proud, and stony-hearted, and wretched--stony-hearted at
least in appearance; not fortunate enough to become so in reality."

"Why, Adela, one would think that you yourself were the victim of
some passion nipped in its bud by a cruel prudence."

"And so I am." As she said this she rose from her seat as though she
intended, standing there before her companion, to go on with her
impassioned warning. But the effect was too much for her; and falling
down on her knees, with her face buried in her hands, she rested them
on the sofa, and gave way to sobs and tears.

Caroline was of course much shocked, and did what she could to
relieve her; but Adela merely begged that she might be left to
herself one minute. "One minute," she said, plaintively, in a voice
so different from that she had used just now; "one minute and I shall
be well again. I have been very foolish, but never say anything about
it; never, never, not to any one; promise me, promise me, Caroline.
Dear Caroline, you do promise me? No one knows it; no one must know
it."

Caroline did promise; but with a natural curiosity she wanted to know
the whole story. Adela, however, would tell her nothing, would say no
more about herself. In the agony of her strong feeling she had once
pointed to herself as a beacon; but even she herself could not endure
to do this again. She would say nothing further about that; but in
a more plaintive and softer tone she did not cease to implore her
friend not to throw away from her the rich heart which was still
within her grasp.

A scene such as this could not but have an effect on Caroline; but
it did not ultimately have that which Adela had wished. It was Miss
Waddington's doctrine that she should not under any circumstances of
life permit herself to be carried away by passion. Why then should
she allow Adela's passion to convince her? What were the facts? Of
Adela's own case she knew nothing. It might be that she had been
cruelly treated. Her friends, her lover, or even she herself might
have been in fault. But it would surely be the extreme of folly
for her, Caroline Waddington, to allow herself to be actuated by
the example of one who had not even shown her of what that example
consisted.

The upshot of it all was, that at the end of the week she wrote to
George, declaring that, grieved as she was to grieve him, she felt
herself obliged to adhere to her former resolution. She also wrote
strongly, and perhaps with more force of logic than her lover
had done. "I trust the time will come," she said, "when you will
acknowledge that I have been right. But of this I am quite sure, that
were I now to yield to you, the time would come very quickly when you
would acknowledge me to have been wrong; and that you should then
think me to have been wrong would kill me. I am not, I know, fitted,
either by disposition or education, to be a poor man's wife. I say
this with no pride; though if you choose to take it for pride, I
cannot help myself. Nor are you fitted to be the husband of a poor
wife. Your love and enthusiasm now make you look on want as a slight
evil; but have you ever tried want? Since you left school, have you
not had everything that money could buy you? Have you ever been
called on to deny yourself any reasonable wish? Never, I believe. Nor
have I. What right have we then to suppose that we can do that for
each other which we have never yet done for ourselves?

"You talk of the misery of waiting. Is it not because you have as yet
known no misery? Have not all men to wait who look for success in
life?--to work, and wait, and bide their time? Your present work is,
I know, too hard. In whatever you do, you have too much enthusiasm.
Do not kill yourself by work. For my sake, if I may still plead
my own sake, do not do so. You say you have given up that sort of
life to which your disposition would have led you. I do not believe
your disposition to be bad, and I should be grieved to think that
you debar yourself from pleasures that are not bad because you
are engaged to me." There was that in the eagerness of Bertram's
protestations on this point which could not but be flattering to any
girl; but Caroline, when she thought of it, did not wish to be so
flattered. She required less passion in her lover and more judgment.
She wanted him to be more awake to the fact that the true meaning
of their engagement was this, that they two should join themselves
together in their world's battle, in order that together each might
fight that battle more successfully than either of them could do
apart.

"I write this with great grief," she continued, "as I know that what
I write will grieve you. But I write it under a conviction that I am
doing my duty by you. I am ready, however, to acknowledge that such a
delay may not be in consonance with your intentions when you proposed
to me. That neither of us have deceived the other wilfully I am quite
sure; but it may be that we have misunderstood each other. If so,
dear George, let all this be as though it had never been. I do not
say this on my own behalf. If you so wish it, I am ready to hold
myself as yours, and to wait. Ready, I have said! That is a cold
word, and you may supply any other that your heart wishes. But if
this waiting be contrary to your wishes, be what you are not willing
to endure, then consider the matter as altogether in your own hands.
I certainly have no right to bind you to my will; all that I ask in
such case is, that your decision shall not be delayed."

Such was Miss Waddington's letter; a portion of it, at least, for not
above the half has been given here. Its effect upon Bertram had not
been exhilarating. In his heart he called her cold and heartless, and
at first resolved to take her at her word and break off from her.
He would willingly have done so as far as she was concerned; but he
could not bring himself to do it on his own part. He could not endure
to part with her, though he would willingly have punished her by
telling her that she had forfeited her claim to him. As it was, he
did nothing. For three weeks he neither answered the letter nor went
near her, nor gave her any token that he was thinking about her.

Then came a note from Miss Baker, asking him to come to Littlebath.
It was good-humoured, playful, almost witty; too much so for Miss
Baker's unassisted epistle-craft, and he at once saw that Caroline
had dictated it. Her heart at any rate was light. He answered it
by one equally good-humoured and playful, and perhaps more witty,
addressed of course to Miss Baker, in which he excused himself at
present in consequence of the multiplicity of his town engagements.
It was June, and he could not get away without making himself guilty
of all manner of perjuries; but in August he would certainly take
Littlebath on his way to Scotland.

He had intended that every light word should be a dagger in
Caroline's bosom; but there was not a pin's prick in the whole of
it. Sullen grief on his part would have hurt her. And it would have
hurt her had he taken her at her word and annulled their engagement;
for she had begun to find that she loved him more than she had
thought possible. She had talked in her prudence, and written in her
prudence, of giving him up; but when the time came in which she might
expect a letter from him, saying that so it should be, her heart did
tremble at the postman's knock; she did feel that she had something
to fear. But his joyous, clever, laughing answer to her aunt was all
that she could wish. Though she loved him, she could wait; though she
loved him, she did not wish him to be sad when he was away from her.
She had reason and measure in her love; but it was love, as she began
to find--almost to her own astonishment.

George had alluded not untruly to his own engagements. On the day
after he received Caroline's letter he shut up Coke upon Lyttleton
for that term, and shook the dust off his feet on the threshold of
Mr. Die's chambers. Why should he work? why sit there filling his
brain with cobwebs, pouring over old fusty rules couched in obscure
language, and useful only for assisting mankind to cheat each other?
He had had an object; but that was gone. He had wished to prove to
one heart, to one soul, that, young as he was, poor as he was, she
need not fear to trust herself to his guardianship. Despite his musty
toils, she did fear. Therefore, he would have no more of them. No
more of them at any rate then, while the sun was shining so brightly.
So he went down to Richmond with Twisleton and Madden, and Hopgood
and Fortescue. Heaven knows what they did when they got back to town
that night--or, rather, perhaps heaven's enemy. And why not? Caroline
did not care whether or no he amused himself as other men do. For her
sake he had kept himself from these things. As she was indifferent,
why need he care? He cared no longer. There was no more law that
term; no more eulogy from gratified Mr. Die; but of jovial days
at Richmond or elsewhere there were plenty; plenty also of jovial
Bacchanalian nights in London. Miss Waddington had been very prudent;
but there might perhaps have been a prudence yet more desirable.

He did go down to Littlebath on his way to Scotland, and remained
there three days. He made up his mind as he journeyed down to
say nothing about their late correspondence to Caroline till she
should first speak of it; and as she had come to an exactly similar
resolution on her part, and as both adhered to their intentions, it
so fell out that nothing in the matter was said by either of them.
Caroline was quite satisfied; but not so Bertram. He again said
to himself that she was cold and passionless; as cold as she is
beautiful, he declared as he walked home to the "Plough." How
very many young gentlemen have made the same soliloquy when their
mistresses have not been so liberal as they would have had them!

The lovers passed the three days together at Littlebath with apparent
satisfaction. They rode together, and walked together, and on one
evening danced together; nay, they talked together, and Miss Baker
thought that everything was smooth. But Bertram, as he went off to
Scotland, said to himself that she was very, very cold, and began to
question with himself whether she did really love him.

"Do write to me, and tell me what sport you have," Caroline had said
when he went away. What a subject for a woman to choose for her
lover's letters! She never said, "Write, write often; and always
when you write, swear that you love me." "Oh, yes, I'll write," said
Bertram, laughing. "I'll give you a succinct account of every brace."
"And send some of them too," said Miss Baker. "Certainly," said
George; and so he did.

He was joined with Harcourt and one or two others in this trip to
Scotland, and it was then that he told his friend how much he was
disturbed by Miss Waddington's obstinacy; and how he doubted, not
as to her heart being his, but as to her having a heart to belong
to any one. In answer to this, Harcourt gave him pretty nearly the
same counsel as she had done. "Wait, my dear fellow, with a little
patience; you'll have lots of time before you for married troubles.
What's the use of a man having half-a-score of children round him
just when he is beginning to enjoy life? It is that that Miss
Waddington thinks about; though, of course, she can't tell you so."

And then, also--that is to say, on some occasion a little subsequent
to the conversation above alluded to--Bertram also told his friend
what he knew of Miss Waddington's birth.

"Whew-w-w," whistled Harcourt; "is that the case? Well, now I am
surprised."

"It is, indeed."

"And he has agreed to the marriage?"

"He knows of it, and has not disagreed. Indeed, he made some peddling
little offer about money."

"But what has he said to you about it?"

"Nothing, not a word. I have only seen him once since Christmas, and
then I did not speak of it; nor did he."

Harcourt asked fifty other questions on the matter, all eagerly, as
though he considered this newly-learned fact to be of the greatest
importance: all of which Bertram answered, till at last he was tired
of talking of his uncle.

"I cannot see that it makes any difference," said he, "whose
granddaughter she is."

"But it does make the greatest difference. I own that I am surprised
now that Miss Waddington should wish to delay the marriage. I thought
I understood her feelings and conduct on the matter, and must say
that I regarded them as admirable. But I cannot quite understand her
now. It certainly seems to me that with such a guarantee as that she
needs be afraid of nothing. Whichever of you he selected, it would
come to the same thing."

"Harcourt, if she would marry me to-morrow because by doing so she
would make sure of my uncle's money, by heaven, I would not take her!
If she will not take me for myself, and what I can do for her, she
may let me alone." Thus majestically spoke Bertram, sitting with his
friend on the side of a Scottish mountain, with a flask of brandy and
a case of sandwiches between them.

"Then," said Harcourt, "you are an ass;" and as he spoke he finished
the flask.

Bertram kept his word, and told his lady-love all particulars as to
the game he killed; some particulars also he gave her as to scenery,
as to his friends, and as to Scotch people. He wrote nice, chatty,
amusing letters, such as most people love to get from their friends;
but he said little or nothing about love. Once or twice he ventured
to tell her of some pretty girl that he met, of some adventure with a
laird's daughter; nay, insinuated laughingly that he had not escaped
from it quite heart-whole. Caroline answered his letter in the same
tone; told him, with excellent comedy, of the leading facts of life
in Littlebath; recommended him by all means to go back after the
laird's daughter; described the joy of her heart at unexpectedly
meeting Mr. M'Gabbery in the pump-room, and her subsequent
disappointment at hearing that there was now a Mrs. M'Gabbery. He had
married that Miss Jones, of whom the parental Potts had so strongly
disapproved. All this was very nice, very amusing, and very friendly.
But Bertram, as a lover, knew that he was not satisfied.

When he had done with the grouse and the laird's daughter he went
to Oxford, but he did not then go again to Littlebath. He went to
Oxford, and from thence to Arthur Wilkinson's parsonage. Here he
saw much of Adela; and consoled himself by talking with her about
Caroline. To her he did not conceal his great anger. While he was
still writing good-humoured, witty letters to his betrothed, he was
saying of her to Adela Gauntlet things harsh--harsher perhaps in that
they were true.

"I had devoted myself to her," he said. "I was working for her as a
galley-slave works, and was contented to do it. I would have borne
anything, risked anything, endured anything, if she would have borne
it with me. All that I have should have gone to shield her from
discomfort. I love her still, Miss Gauntlet; it is perhaps my misery
that I love her. But I can never love her now as I should have done
had she come to me then."

"How can I work now?" he said again. "I shall be called to the bar
of course; there is no difficulty in that; and may perhaps earn what
will make us decently respectable. But the spirit, the high spirit is
gone. She is better pleased that it should be so. She is intolerant
of enthusiasm. Is it not a pity, Miss Gauntlet, that we should be so
different?"

What could Adela say to him? Every word that he uttered was to her
a truth--a weary, melancholy truth; a repetition of that truth
which was devouring her own heart. She sympathized with him fully,
cordially, ardently. She said no word absolutely in dispraise of
Caroline; but she admitted, and at last admitted so often, that,
according to her thinking, Caroline was wrong.

"Wrong!" Bertram would shout. "Can there be a doubt? Can any one with
a heart doubt?" Adela said, "No; no one with a heart could doubt."

"She has no heart," said Bertram. "She is lovely, clever,
fascinating, elegant. She has everything a woman should have except a
heart--except a heart." And then, as he turned away his face, Adela
could see that he brushed his hand across his eyes.

What could she do but weep too? And is it not known to all
men--certainly it is to all women--how dangerous are such tears?

Thus during his stay at Hurst Staple, Bertram was frequently at West
Putford. But he observed that Adela was not often at his cousin's
vicarage, and that Arthur was very seldom at West Putford. The
families, it was clear, were on as good terms as ever. Adela and
Mary and Sophia would be together, and old Mr. Gauntlet would dine
at Hurst Staple, and Arthur would talk about the old rector freely
enough. But Bertram rarely saw Adela unless he went to the rectory,
and though he dined there with the Wilkinson girls three or four
times, Arthur only dined there once.

"Have you and Arthur quarrelled?" said he to Adela one day, laughing
as he spoke.

"Oh, no," said she; but she could not keep down her rebellious colour
as she answered him, and Bertram at once took the hint. To her he
said nothing further on that matter.

"And why don't you marry, Arthur?" he asked the next morning.

And Arthur also blushed, not thinking then of Adela Gauntlet, but of
that pledge which he had given to Lord Stapledean--a pledge of which
he had repented every day since he had given it.

And here it may be explained, that as Arthur Wilkinson had repented
of that pledge, and had felt more strongly from day to day that it
had put him in a false and unworthy position, so did his mother from
day to day feel with less force the compunction which she had at
first expressed as to receiving her son's income. This had become
less and less, and now, perhaps, it could no longer boast of an
existence. The arrangement seemed to her to be so essentially a
good one, her children were provided for in so convenient and so
comfortable a manner, it was so natural that she should regard
herself as the mistress of that house, that perhaps no blame is due
to her in that this compunction ceased. No blame is now heaped upon
her, and the fact is merely stated. She had already learned to regard
herself as the legal owner of that ecclesiastical income; and seeing
that her son deducted a stipend of one hundred and fifty pounds for
merely doing the duty--a curate would have only had the half of that
sum, as she sometimes said to herself--and seeing also that he had
his fellowship, she had no scruple in making him pay fairly for
whatever extra accommodation he received at home--exactly as she
would have done had poor dear old Mr. Wilkinson not been out of the
way. Considering all these comfortable circumstances, poor dear
old Mr. Wilkinson was perhaps not regretted quite so much as might
otherwise have been the case.

Mrs. Wilkinson was in the habit of saying many things from day to day
in praise of that good Lord Stapledean, who had so generously thought
of her and her widowhood. When she did so Arthur would look grim
and say nothing, and his mother would know that he was displeased.
"Surely he cannot begrudge us the income," she had once said to her
eldest daughter. "Oh, no; I am sure he does not," said Mary; "but,
somehow, he is not so happy about things as he used to be." "Then he
must be a very ungrateful boy," said the mother. Indeed, what more
could a young full-fledged vicar want than to have a comfortable
house under his mother's apron-string?

"And why don't you marry?" Bertram had asked his cousin. It was odd
that Arthur should not marry, seeing that Adela Gauntlet lived so
near him, and that Adela was so very, very beautiful.

Up to that day, Bertram had heard nothing of the circumstances under
which the living had been given. Then did Wilkinson tell him the
story, and ended by saying--"You now see that my marriage is quite
out of the question."

Then Bertram began to think that he understood why Adela also
remained unmarried, and he began to ask himself whether all the world
were as cold-hearted as his Caroline. Could it be that Adela also
had refused to venture till her future husband should have a good,
comfortable, disposable income of his own? But, if so, she would not
have sympathized so warmly with him; and if so, what reason could
there be why she and Arthur should not meet each other? Could it then
be that Arthur Wilkinson was such a coward?

He said nothing on the matter to either of them, for neither of them
had confided to him their sorrows--if they had sorrows. He had no
wish to penetrate their secrets. What he had said, and what he had
learnt, he had said and learnt by accident. He himself had not their
gift of reticence, so he talked of his love occasionally to Arthur,
and he talked of it very often to Adela.

And the upshot of his talking to Adela was always this: "Why, oh
why, was not his Caroline more like to her?" Caroline was doubtless
the more beautiful, doubtless the more clever, doubtless the more
fascinating. But what are beauty and talent and fascination without a
heart? He was quite sure that Adela's heart was warm.

He went to Littlebath no more that year. It was well perhaps that he
did not. Well or ill as the case may be. Had he done so, he would,
in his then state of mind, most assuredly have broken with Miss
Waddington. In lieu, however, of accepting Miss Baker's invitation
for Christmas, he went to Hadley and spent two or three days there,
uncomfortable himself, and making the old man uncomfortable also.

Up to this time he had been completely idle--at any rate, as far
as the law was concerned--since the day of his great break down on
the receipt of Miss Waddington's letter. He still kept his Temple
chambers, and when the day came round in October, he made another
annual payment to Mr. Die. On that occasion Mr. Die had spoken rather
seriously to him; but up to that time his period of idleness had
mainly been the period of the long vacation, and Mr. Die was willing
to suppose that this continued payment was a sign that he intended to
settle again to work.

"Will it be impertinent to ask," his uncle at Hadley had said to
him--"will it be impertinent to ask what you and Caroline intend to
do?" At this time Mr. Bertram was aware that his nephew knew in what
relationship they all stood to each other.

"No impertinence at all, sir. But, unfortunately, we have no
intentions in common. We are engaged to be married, and I want to
keep my engagement."

"And she wants to break hers. Well, I cannot but say that she is the
wiser of the two."

"I don't know that her wisdom goes quite so far as that. She is
content to abide the evil day; only she would postpone it."

"That is to say, she has some prudence. Are you aware that I have
proposed to make a considerable addition to her fortune--to hers,
mind--on condition that she would postpone her marriage till next
summer?"

"I did hear something about some sum of money--that you had spoken to
Miss Baker about it, I believe; but I quite forget the particulars."

"You are very indifferent as to money matters, Mr. Barrister."

"I am indifferent as to the money matters of other people, sir. I had
no intention of marrying Miss Waddington for her money before I knew
that she was your granddaughter; nor have I now that I do know it."

"For her money! If you marry her for more money than her own fortune,
and perhaps a couple of thousands added to it, you are likely to be
mistaken."

"I shall never make any mistake of that kind. As far as I am
concerned, you are quite welcome, for me, to keep your two thousand
pounds."

"That's kind of you."

"I would marry her to-morrow without it. I am not at all sure that I
will marry her next year with it. If you exercise any authority over
her as her grandfather, I wish you would tell her so, as coming from
me."

"Upon my word you carry it high as a lover."

"Not too high, I hope, as a man."

"Well, George, remember this once for all"--and now the old man
spoke in a much more serious voice--"I will not interfere at all as
her grandfather. Nor will I have it known that I am such. Do you
understand that?"

"I understand, sir, that it is not your wish that it should be
generally talked of."

"And I trust that wish has been, and will be complied with by you."

This last speech was not put in the form of a question; but George
understood that it was intended to elicit from him a promise for the
future and an assurance as to the past.

"I have mentioned the circumstance to one intimate friend with whom I
was all but obliged to discuss the matter--"

"Obliged to discuss my private concerns, sir!"

"With one friend, sir; with two, indeed; I think--indeed, I fear I
have mentioned it to three."

"Oh! to three! obliged to discuss your own most private concerns as
well as mine with three intimate friends! You are lucky, sir, to have
so many intimate friends. As my concerns have been made known to them
as well as your own, may I ask who they are?"

George then gave up the three names. They were those of Mr. Harcourt,
the Rev. Arthur Wilkinson, and Miss Adela Gauntlet. His uncle was
very angry. Had he utterly denied the fact of his ever having
mentioned the matter to any one, and had it been afterwards
discovered that such denial was false, Mr. Bertram would not have
been by much so angry. The offence and the lie together, but joined
with the fear and deference to which the lie would have testified,
would be nothing so black as the offence without the lie, and without
the fear, and without the deference.

His uncle was very angry, but on that day he said nothing further
on the matter; neither on the next day did he; but on the third day,
just as George was about to leave Hadley, he said, in his usual
bantering tone, "Don't have any more intimate friends, George, as far
as my private matters are concerned."

"No, sir, I will not," said George.

It was in consequence of what Mr. Bertram had then learnt that he
became acquainted with Mr. Harcourt. As Mr. Harcourt had heard this
about his grandchild, he thought it better to see that learned
gentleman. He did see him; and, as has been before stated, they
became intimate with each other.

And so ended the first of these two years.



CHAPTER III.

RETROSPECTIVE.--SECOND YEAR.


The next year passed almost more uncomfortably for George Bertram and
for the ladies at Littlebath than had the latter months of the last
year. Its occurrences can, I hope, be stated less in detail, so that
we may get on without too great delay to the incidents of the period
which is to be awhile for us the present existing time.

This year was Harcourt's great year. In January and February and
March he did great things in Chancery. In April he came into
Parliament. In May and June and July, he sat on committees. In
August he stuck to his work till London was no longer endurable. In
the latter part of autumn there was an extraordinary session, during
which he worked like a horse. He studied the corn-law question as
well as sundry legal reforms all the Christmas week, and in the
following spring he came out with his great speech on behalf of Sir
Robert Peel. But, nevertheless, he found time to devote to the cares
and troubles of Miss Baker and Miss Waddington.

In the spring Bertram paid one or two visits to Littlebath; but it
may be doubted whether he made himself altogether agreeable there. He
stated broadly that he was doing little or nothing at his profession:
he was, he said, engaged on other matters; the great excitement to
work, under which he had commenced, had been withdrawn from him;
and under these circumstances he was not inclined to devote himself
exclusively to studies which certainly were not to his taste. He
did not condescend again to ask Caroline to revoke her sentence; he
pressed now for no marriage; but he made it quite apparent that all
the changes in himself for the worse--and there had been changes for
the worse--were owing to her obstinacy.

He was now living a life of dissipation. I do not intend that it
should be understood that he utterly gave himself up to pleasures
disgraceful in themselves, that he altogether abandoned the reins,
and allowed himself to live such a life as is passed by some young
men in London. His tastes and appetites were too high for this. He
did not sink into a slough of despond. He did not become filthy and
vicious, callous and bestial; but he departed very widely astray from
those rules which governed him during his first six months in London.

All this was well known at Littlebath; nor did Bertram at all
endeavour to conceal the truth. Indeed, it may be said of him, that
he never concealed anything. In this especial case he took a pride in
letting Caroline know the full extent of the evil she had done.

It was a question with them whether he had not now given up the bar
as a profession altogether. He did not say that he had done so, and
it was certainly his intention to keep his terms, and to be called;
but he had now no longer a legal Gamaliel. Some time in the April
of this year, Mr. Die had written to him a very kind little note,
begging him to call one special morning at the chambers in Stone
Buildings, if not very inconvenient to him. Bertram did call, and Mr.
Die, with many professions of regard and regret, honestly returned to
him his money paid for that year's tutelage. "It had been," he said,
"a pleasure and a pride to him to have Mr. Bertram in his chambers;
and would still be so to have him there again. But he could not take
a gentleman's money under a false pretence; as it seemed to be no
longer Mr. Bertram's intention to attend there, he must beg to refund
it." And he did refund it accordingly. This also was made known to
the ladies at Littlebath.

He was engaged, he had said, on other matters. This also was true.
During the first six months of his anger, he had been content to be
idle; but idleness did not suit him, so he sat himself down and wrote
a book. He published this book without his name, but he told them at
Littlebath of his authorship; and some one also told of it at Oxford.
The book--or bookling, for it consisted but of one small demy-octavo
volume--was not such as delighted his friends either at Littlebath or
at Oxford, or even at those two Hampshire parsonages. At Littlebath
it made Miss Baker's hair stand on end, and at Oxford it gave rise
to a suggestion in some orthodox quarters that Mr. Bertram should be
requested to resign his fellowship.

It has been told how, sitting on the Mount of Olives, he had been
ready to devote himself to the service of the church to which he
belonged. Could his mind have been known at that time, how proud
might one have been of him! His mind was not then known; but now,
after a lapse of two years, he made it as it were public, and Oriel
was by no means proud of him.

The name of his little book was a very awful name. It was called the
"Romance of Scripture." He began in his first chapter with an earnest
remonstrance against that condemnation which he knew the injustice of
the world would pronounce against him. There was nothing in his book,
he said, to warrant any man in accusing him of unbelief. Let those
who were so inclined to accuse him read and judge. He had called
things by their true names, and that doubtless by some would be
imputed to him as a sin. But it would be found that he had gone no
further in impugning the truth of Scripture than many other writers
before him, some of whom had since been rewarded for their writings
by high promotion in the church. The bishops' bench was the reward
for orthodoxy; but there had been a taste for liberal deans. He had
gone no further, he said, than many deans.

It was acknowledged, he went on to say, that all Scripture statements
could not now be taken as true to the letter; particularly not as
true to the letter as now adopted by Englishmen. It seemed to him
that the generality of his countrymen were of opinion that the
inspired writers had themselves written in English. It was forgotten
that they were Orientals, who wrote in the language natural to them,
with the customary grandiloquence of orientalism, with the poetic
exaggeration which, in the East, was the breath of life. It was
forgotten also that they wrote in ignorance of those natural truths
which men had now acquired by experience and induction, and not by
revelation. Their truth was the truth of heaven, not the truth of
earth. No man thought that the sun in those days did rise and set,
moving round the earth, because a prolongation of the day had been
described by the sun standing still upon Gibeon. And then he took the
book of Job, and measured that by the light of his own candle--and so
on.

The book was undoubtedly clever, and men read it. Women also read it,
and began to talk, some of them at least, of the blindness of their
mothers who had not had wit to see that these old chronicles were
very much as other old chronicles. "The Romance of Scripture" was
to be seen frequently in booksellers' advertisements, and Mr. Mudie
told how he always had two thousand copies of it on his shelves.
So our friend did something in the world; but what he did do was
unfortunately not applauded by his friends.

Harcourt very plainly told him that a man who scribbled never did any
good at the bar. The two trades, he said, were not compatible.

"No," said George, "I believe not. An author must be nothing if he do
not love truth; a barrister must be nothing if he do." Harcourt was
no whit annoyed by the repartee, but having given his warning, went
his way to his work.

It was very well known that the "Romance of Scripture" was Bertram's
work, and there was a comfortable row about it at Oxford. The row
was all private, of course--as was necessary, the book having been
published without the author's name. But much was said, and many
letters were written. Bertram, in writing to the friend at Oriel who
took up the cudgels in his defence, made three statements. First,
that no one at Oxford had a right to suppose that he was the author.
Second, that he was the author, and that no one at Oxford had a right
to find fault with what he had written. Thirdly, that it was quite a
matter of indifference to him who did find fault. To this, however,
he added, that he was ready to resign his fellowship to-morrow if the
Common-room at Oriel wished to get rid of him.

So the matter rested--for awhile. Those who at this time knew Bertram
best were confident enough that his belief was shaken, in spite of
the remonstrance so loudly put forth in his first pages. He had
intended to be honest in his remonstrance; but it is not every man
who exactly knows what he does believe. Every man! Is there, one may
almost ask, any man who has such knowledge? We all believe in the
resurrection of the body; we say so at least, but what do we believe
by it?

Men may be firm believers and yet doubt some Bible statements--doubt
the letter of such statements. But men who are firm believers will
not be those to put forth their doubts with all their eloquence. Such
men, if they devote their time to Scripture history, will not be
arrested by the sun's standing on Gibeon. If they speak out at all,
they will speak out rather as to all they do believe than as to the
little that they doubt. It was soon known to Bertram's world that
those who regarded him as a freethinker did him no great injustice.

This and other things made them very unhappy at Littlebath. The very
fact of George having written such a book nearly scared Miss Baker
out of her wits. She, according to her own lights, would have placed
freethinkers in the same category with murderers, regicides, and
horrid mysterious sinners who commit crimes too dreadful for women to
think of. She would not believe that Bertram was one of these; but
it was fearful to think that any one should so call him. Caroline,
perhaps, would not so much have minded this flaw in her future
husband's faith if it had not been proof of his unsteadiness, of his
unfitness for the world's battle. She remembered what he had said to
her two years since on the Mount of Olives; and then thought of what
he was saying now. Everything with him was impulse and enthusiasm.
All judgment was wanting. How should such as he get on in the world?
And had she indissolubly linked her lot to that of one who was so
incapable of success? No; indissolubly she had not so linked it; not
as yet.

One night she opened her mind to her aunt, and spoke very seriously
of her position. "I hardly know what I ought to do," she said. "I
know how much I owe him; I know how much he has a right to expect
from me. And I would pay him all I owe; I would do my duty by him
even at the sacrifice of myself if I could plainly see what my duty
is."

"But, Caroline, do you wish to give him up?"

"No, not if I could keep him; keep him as he was. My high hopes are
done with; my ambition is over; I no longer look for much. But I
would fain know that he still loves me before I marry him. I would
wish to be sure that he means to live with me. In his present mood,
how can I know aught of him? how be sure of anything?"

Her aunt, after remaining for some half-hour in consideration, at
last and with reluctance gave her advice.

"It all but breaks my heart to say so; but, Caroline, I think I would
abandon it: I think I would ask him to release me from my promise."

It may well be imagined that Miss Waddington was not herself when she
declared that her high hopes were done with, that her ambition was
over. She was not herself. Anxiety, sorrow, and doubt--doubt as to
the man whom she had pledged herself to love, whom she did love--had
made her ill, and she was not herself. She had become thin and pale,
and was looking old and wan. She sat silent for awhile, leaning with
her head on her hand, and made no answer to her aunt's suggestion.

"I really would, Caroline; indeed, I would. I know you are not happy
as you are."

"Happy!"

"You are looking wretchedly ill, too. I know all this is wearing you.
Take my advice, Caroline, and write to him."

"There are two reasons against it, aunt; two strong reasons."

"What reasons, love?"

"In the first place, I love him." Aunt Mary sighed. She had no other
answer but a sigh to give to this. "And in the next place, I have no
right to ask anything of him."

"Why not, Caroline?"

"He made his request to me, and I refused it. Had I consented to
marry him last year, all this would have been different. I intended
to do right, and even now I do not think that I was wrong. But I
cannot impute fault to him. He does all this in order that I may
impute it, and that then he may have his revenge."

Nothing more was said on the matter at that time, and things went on
for awhile again in the same unsatisfactory state.

Early in the summer, Miss Waddington and her aunt went up for a few
weeks to London. It had been Miss Baker's habit to spend some days at
Hadley about this time of the year. She suggested to Caroline, that
instead of her doing so, they should both go for a week or so to
London. She thought that the change would be good for her niece, and
she thought also, though of this she said nothing, that Caroline
would see something of her lover. If he were not to be given up, it
would be well--so Miss Baker thought--that this marriage should be
delayed no longer. Bertram was determined to prove that marriage was
necessary to tame him; he had proved it--at any rate to Miss Baker's
satisfaction. There would now be money enough to live on, as uncle
Bertram's two thousand pounds had been promised for this summer. On
this little scheme Miss Baker went to work.

Caroline made no opposition to the London plan. She said nothing
about George in connection with it; but her heart was somewhat
softened, and she wished to see him.

Miss Baker therefore wrote up for rooms. She would naturally,
one would say, have written to George, but there were now little
jealousies and commencements of hot blood even between them. George,
though still Caroline's engaged lover, was known to have some bitter
feelings, and was believed perhaps by Miss Baker to be more bitter
than he really was. So the lodgings were taken without any reference
to him. When they reached town they found that he was abroad.

Then Miss Waddington was really angry. They had no right, it is
true, to be annoyed in that he was not there to meet them. They
had not given him the opportunity. But it did appear to them that,
circumstanced as they were, considering the acknowledged engagement
between them, he was wrong to leave the country without letting
them have a word to say whither he was going or for how long. It
was nearly a fortnight since he had written to Caroline, and, for
anything they knew, it might be months before she again heard from
him.

It was then that they sent for Harcourt, and at this period that they
became so intimate with him. Bertram had told him of this foreign
trip, but only a day or two before he had taken his departure. It was
just at this time that there had been the noise about the "Romance
of Scripture." Bertram had defended himself in one or two newspapers,
had written his defiant letter to his friend at Oxford, and then
started to meet his father at Paris. He was going no further, and
might be back in a week. This however must be uncertain, as his
return would depend on that of Sir Lionel. Sir Lionel intended to
come to London with him.

Mr. Harcourt was very attentive to them--in spite of his being at
that time so useful a public man. He was very attentive to both,
being almost as civil to the elder lady as he was to the younger,
which, for an Englishman, showed very good breeding. By degrees they
both began to regard him with confidence--with sufficient confidence
to talk to him of Bertram; with sufficient confidence even to tell
him of all their fears. By degrees Caroline would talk to him alone,
and when once she permitted herself to do so, she concealed nothing.

Harcourt said not a word against his friend. That friend himself
might perhaps have thought that his friend, speaking of him behind
his back, might have spoken more warmly in his praise. But it was
hard at present to say much that should be true in Bertram's praise.
He was not living in a wise or prudent manner; not preparing himself
in any way to live as a man should live by the sweat of his brow.
Harcourt could not say much in his favour. That Bertram was clever,
honest, true, and high-spirited, that Miss Waddington knew; that Miss
Baker knew: what they wanted to learn was, that he was making prudent
use of these high qualities. Harcourt could not say that he was doing
so.

"That he will fall on his legs at last," said Harcourt once when
he was alone with Caroline, "I do not doubt; with his talent, and
his high, honest love of virtue, it is all but impossible that he
should throw himself away. But the present moment is of such vital
importance! It is so hard to make up for the loss even of twelve
months!"

"I am sure it is," said Caroline; "but I would not care for that so
much if I thought--"

"Thought what, Miss Waddington?"

"That his disposition was not altered. He was so frank, so candid,
so--so--so affectionate."

"It is the manner of men to change in that respect. They become,
perhaps, not less affectionate, but less demonstrative."

To this Miss Waddington answered nothing. It might probably be so. It
was singular enough that she, with her ideas, should be complaining
to a perfect stranger of an uncaressing, unloving manner in her
lover; she who had professed to herself that she lived so little for
love! Had George been even kneeling at her knee, her heart would have
been stern enough. It was only by feeling a woman's wrong that she
found herself endowed with a woman's privilege.

"I do not think that Bertram's heart is changed," continued Harcourt;
"he is doubtless very angry that his requests to you last summer were
not complied with."

"But how could we have married then, Mr. Harcourt? Think what our
income would have been; and he as yet without any profession!"

"I am not blaming you. I am not taking his part against you. I only
say that he is very angry."

"But does he bear malice, Mr. Harcourt?"

"No, he does not bear malice; men may be angry without bearing
malice. He thinks that you have shown a want of confidence in him,
and are still showing it."

"And has he not justified that want of confidence?"

To this Harcourt answered nothing, but he smiled slightly.

"Well, has he not? What could I have done? What ought I to have done?
Tell me, Mr. Harcourt. It distresses me beyond measure that you
should think I have been to blame."

"I do not think so; far from it, Miss Waddington. Bertram is my dear
friend, and I know his fine qualities; but I cannot but own that he
justified you in that temporary want of confidence which you now
express."

Mr. Harcourt, though a member of Parliament and a learned pundit,
was nevertheless a very young man. He was an unmarried man also,
and a man not yet engaged to be married. It may be surmised that
George Bertram would not have been pleased had he known the sort
of conversations that were held between his dear friend and his
betrothed bride. And yet Caroline at this period loved him better
than ever she had done.

A week or ten days after this three letters arrived from Bertram,
one for Caroline, one for Miss Baker, and one for Harcourt. Caroline
and her aunt had lingered in London, both doubtless in the hope that
Bertram would return. There can be little doubt now that had he
returned, and had he been anxious for the marriage, Miss Waddington
would have consented. She was becoming ill at ease, dissatisfied,
what the world calls heart-broken. Now that she was tried, she found
herself not to be so strong in her own resolves. She was not sick
from love alone; her position was altogether wretched--though she was
engaged, and persisted in adhering to her engagement, she felt and
often expressed to her aunt a presentiment that she and Bertram would
never be married.

They waited for awhile in the hope that he might return; but instead
of himself, there came three letters. Harcourt, it seemed, had
written to him, and hence arose these epistles. That to Miss Baker
was very civil and friendly. Had that come alone it would have
created no complaint. He explained to her that had he expected her
visit to London, he would have endeavoured to meet her; that he
could not now return, as he had promised to remain awhile with his
father. Sir Lionel had been unwell, and the waters of Vichy had
been recommended. He was going to Vichy with Sir Lionel, and would
not be in London till August. His plans after that were altogether
unsettled, but he would not be long in London before he came to
Littlebath. Such was his letter to Miss Baker.

To Harcourt he wrote very shortly. He was obliged to him for the
interest he took in the welfare of Miss Waddington, and for his
attention to Miss Baker. That was nearly all he said. There was not
an angry word in the letter; but, nevertheless, his friend was able
to deduce from it, short as it was, that Bertram was angry.

But on the head of his betrothed he poured out the vial of his wrath.
He had never before scolded her, had never written in an angry tone.
Now in very truth he did so. An angry letter, especially if the
writer be well loved, is so much fiercer than any angry speech, so
much more unendurable! There the words remain, scorching, not to be
explained away, not to be atoned for by a kiss, not to be softened
down by the word of love that may follow so quickly upon spoken
anger. Heaven defend me from angry letters! They should never be
written, unless to schoolboys and men at college; and not often to
them if they be any way tender hearted. This at least should be a
rule through the letter-writing world: that no angry letter be posted
till four-and-twenty hours shall have elapsed since it was written.
We all know how absurd is that other rule, that of saying the
alphabet when you are angry. Trash! Sit down and write your letter;
write it with all the venom in your power; spit out your spleen at
the fullest; 'twill do you good; you think you have been injured; say
all that you can say with all your poisoned eloquence, and gratify
yourself by reading it while your temper is still hot. Then put it
in your desk; and, as a matter of course, burn it before breakfast
the following morning. Believe me that you will then have a double
gratification.

A pleasant letter I hold to be the pleasantest thing that this world
has to give. It should be good-humoured; witty it may be, but with a
gentle diluted wit. Concocted brilliancy will spoil it altogether.
Not long, so that it be tedious in the reading; nor brief, so that
the delight suffice not to make itself felt. It should be written
specially for the reader, and should apply altogether to him, and not
altogether to any other. It should never flatter. Flattery is always
odious. But underneath the visible stream of pungent water there may
be the slightest under-current of eulogy, so that it be not seen, but
only understood. Censure it may contain freely, but censure which
in arraigning the conduct implies no doubt as to the intellect. It
should be legibly written, so that it may be read with comfort; but
no more than that. Caligraphy betokens caution, and if it be not
light in hand it is nothing. That it be fairly grammatical and not
ill spelt the writer owes to his schoolmaster; but this should come
of habit, not of care. Then let its page be soiled by no business;
one touch of utility will destroy it all.

If you ask for examples, let it be as unlike Walpole as may be. If
you can so write it that Lord Byron might have written it, you will
not be very far from high excellence.

But, above all things, see that it be good-humoured.

Bertram's letter to the lady that he loved was by no means one of
this sort. In the first place, it was not good-humoured; it was very
far from being so. Had it been so, it would utterly have belied his
feelings. Harcourt had so written to him as to make him quite clearly
understand that all his sins and--which was much more to him--all
his loves had been fully discussed between his friend and Miss
Waddington--between his Caroline and another man. To the pride of
his heart nothing could be more revolting. It was as though his
dearest possession had been ransacked in his absence, and rifled and
squandered by the very guardian to whom he had left the key. There
had been sore misgivings, sore differences between him and Caroline;
but, nevertheless, she had had all his heart. Now, in his absence,
she had selected his worldly friend Harcourt, and discussed that
possession and its flaws with him! There was that in all this of
which he could not write with good-humour. Nevertheless, had he kept
his letter to the second morning, it may probably be said that he
would have hesitated to send it.

"My dearest Caroline," it began. Now I put it to all lovers whether,
when they wish to please, they ever write in such manner to their
sweethearts. Is it not always, "My own love?" "Dearest love?" "My own
sweet pet?" But that use of the Christian name, which is so delicious
in the speaking during the first days of intimacy, does it not always
betoken something stern at the beginning of a lover's letter? Ah, it
may betoken something very stern! "My dearest Jane, I am sorry to say
it, but I could not approve of the way in which you danced with Major
Simkins last night." "My dearest Lucy, I was at Kensington-garden
gate yesterday at four, and remained absolutely till five. You really
ought--." Is not that always the angry lover's tone?

I fear that I must give Bertram's letter entire to make the matter
sufficiently clear.


   My dearest Caroline,

   I learn from Mr. Harcourt that you and Miss Baker are
   in town, and I am of course sorry to miss you. Would it
   not have been better that I should have heard this from
   yourself?

   Mr. Harcourt tells me that you are dissatisfied; and I
   understand from his letter that you have explained your
   dissatisfaction very fully to him. It might have been
   better, I think, that the explanation should have been
   made to me; or had you chosen to complain, you might have
   done so to your aunt, or to your grandfather. I cannot
   think that you were at liberty to complain of me to
   Mr. Harcourt. My wish is, that you have no further
   conversation with him on our joint concerns. It is not
   seemly; and, if feminine, is at any rate not ladylike.

   I am driven to defend myself. What is it of which
   you complain, or have a right to complain? We became
   engaged more than twelve months since, certainly with no
   understanding that the matter was to stand over for three
   years. My understanding was that we were to be married as
   soon as it might reasonably be arranged. You then took on
   yourself to order this delay, and kindly offered to give
   me up as an alternative. I could not force you to marry
   me; but I loved you too well, and trusted too much in
   your love to be able to think that that giving up was
   necessary. Perhaps I was wrong.

   But the period of this wretched interval is at my own
   disposal. Had you married me, my time would have been
   yours. It would have been just that you should know how
   it was spent. Each would then have known so much of the
   other. But you have chosen that this should not be; and,
   therefore, I deny your right now to make inquiry. If I
   have departed from any hopes you had formed, you have no
   one to blame but yourself.

   You have said that I neglect you. I am ready to marry you
   to-morrow; I have been ready to do so any day since our
   engagement. You yourself know how much more than ready
   I have been. I do not profess to be a very painstaking
   lover; nay, if you will, the life would bore me, even if
   in our case the mawkishness of the delay did not do more
   than bore. At any rate, I will not go through it. I loved,
   and do love you truly. I told you of it truly when I first
   knew it myself, and urged my suit till I had a definite
   answer. You accepted me, and now there needs be nothing
   further till we are married.

   But I insist on this, that I will not have my affairs
   discussed by you with persons to whom you are a stranger.

   You will see my letter to your aunt. I have told her that
   I will visit her at Littlebath as soon as I have returned
   to England.

   Yours ever affectionately,

   G. B.


This letter was a terrible blow to Caroline. It seemed to her to
be almost incredible that she, she, Caroline Waddington, should be
forced to receive such a letter as that under any circumstances and
from any gentleman. Unseemly, unfeminine, unladylike! These were the
epithets her lover used in addressing her. She was told that it bored
him to play the lover; that his misconduct was her fault; and then
she was accused of mawkishness! He was imperative, too, in laying his
orders to her. "I insist on this!" Was it incumbent on her to comply
with his insistings?

Of course she showed the letter to her aunt, whose advice resulted
in this--that it would be better that she should pocket the affront
silently if she were not prepared to give up the engagement
altogether. If she were so prepared, the letter doubtless would give
her the opportunity.

And then Mr. Harcourt came to her while her anger was yet at the
hottest. His manner was so kind, his temper so sweet, his attention
so obliging, that she could not but be glad to see him. If George
loved her, if he wished to guide her, wished to persuade her, why was
not he at her right hand? Mr. Harcourt was there instead. It did not
bore him, multifold as his duties were, to be near her.

Then she committed the first great fault of which in this history she
will be shown as being guilty. She showed her lover's letter to Mr.
Harcourt. Of course this was not done without some previous converse;
till he had found out that she was wretched, and inquired as to
her wretchedness; till she had owned that she was ill with sorrow,
beside herself, and perplexed in the extreme. Then at last, saying to
herself that she cared not now to obey Mr. Bertram, she showed the
letter to Mr. Harcourt.

"It is ungenerous," said Harcourt.

"It is ungentlemanlike," said Caroline. "But it was written in
passion, and I shall not notice it." And so she and Miss Baker went
back again to Littlebath.

It was September before Bertram returned, and then Sir Lionel came
with him. We have not space to tell much of what had passed between
the father and the son; but they reached London apparently on good
terms with each other, and Sir Lionel settled himself in a bedroom
near to his son's chambers, and near also to his own club. There was,
however, this great ground of disagreement between them. Sir Lionel
was very anxious that his son should borrow money from Mr. Bertram,
and George very resolutely declined to do so. It was now clear enough
to Sir Lionel that his son could not show his filial disposition
by advancing on his own behalf much money to his father, as he was
himself by no means in affluent circumstances.

He went down to Littlebath, and took his father with him. The meeting
between the lovers was again unloverlike; but nothing could be more
affectionate than Sir Lionel. He took Caroline in his arms and kissed
her, called her his dear daughter, and praised her beauty. I believe
he kissed Miss Baker. Indeed, I know that he made an attempt to do
so; and I think it not at all improbable that in the overflowing of
his affectionate heart, he made some overture of the same kind to the
exceedingly pretty parlour-maid who waited upon them. Whatever might
be thought of George, Sir Lionel soon became popular there, and his
popularity was not decreased when he declared that he would spend the
remainder of the autumn, and perhaps the winter, at Littlebath.

He did stay there for the winter. He had a year's furlough, during
which he was to remain in England with full pay, and he made it known
to the ladies at Littlebath that the chief object of his getting
this leave was to be present at the nuptials of dear Caroline and
his son. On one occasion he borrowed thirty pounds from Miss Baker;
a circumstance which their intimacy, perhaps, made excusable. He
happened, however, to mention this little occurrence casually to his
son, and George at once repaid that debt, poor as he was at the time.

"You could have that and whatever more you chose merely for the
asking," said Sir Lionel on that occasion, in a tone almost of
reproach.

And so the winter passed away. George, however, was not idle. He
fully intended to be called to the bar in the following autumn, and
did, to a certain extent, renew his legal studies. He did not return
to Mr. Die, prevented possibly by the difficulty he would have in
preparing the necessary funds. But his great work through the winter
and in the early spring was another small volume, which he published
in March, and which he called, "The Fallacies of Early History."

We need not give any minute criticism on this work. It will suffice
to say that the orthodox world declared it to be much more heterodox
than the last work. Heterodox, indeed! It was so bad, they said, that
there was not the least glimmer of any doxy whatever left about it.
The early history of which he spoke was altogether Bible history, and
the fallacies to which he alluded were the plainest statements of the
book of Genesis. Nay, he had called the whole story of Creation a
myth; the whole story as there given: so at least said the rabbis
of Oxford, and among them outspoke more loudly than any others the
outraged and very learned rabbis of Oriel.

Bertram however denied this. He had, he said, not called anything a
myth. There was the printed book, and one might have supposed that
it would be easy enough to settle this question. But it was far from
being so. The words myth and mythical were used half a dozen times,
and the rabbis declared that they were applied to the statements of
Scripture. Bertram declared that they were applied to the appearance
those statements must have as at present put before the English
world. Then he said something not complimentary to the translators,
and something also very uncivil as to want of intelligence on the
part of the Oxford rabbis. The war raged warmly, and was taken up by
the metropolitan press, till Bertram became a lion--a lion, however,
without a hide, for in the middle of the dispute he felt himself
called on to resign his fellowship.

He lost that hide; but he got another in lieu which his friends
assured him was of a much warmer texture. His uncle had taken
considerable interest in this dispute, alleging all through that
the Oxford men were long-eared asses and bigoted monks. It may be
presumed that his own orthodoxy was not of a high class. He had never
liked George's fellowship, and had always ridiculed the income which
he received from it. Directly he heard that it had been resigned,
he gave his nephew a thousand pounds. He said nothing about it; he
merely told Mr. Pritchett to arrange the matter.

Sir Lionel was delighted. As to the question of orthodoxy he was
perfectly indifferent. It was nothing to him whether his son called
the book of Genesis a myth or a gospel; but he had said much, very
much as to the folly of risking the fellowship; and more, a great
deal more, as to the madness of throwing it away. But now he
was quite ready to own himself wrong, and did do so in the most
straightforward manner. After all, what was a fellowship to a man
just about to be married? In his position Bertram had of course been
free to speak out. If, indeed, there had been any object in holding
to the college, then the expression of such opinions, let alone their
publication, would not have been judicious.

As it was, however, nothing could have been more lucky. His son had
shown his independence. The rich uncle had shown the warm interest
which he still took in his nephew, and Sir Lionel was able to borrow
two hundred and fifty pounds, a sum of money which, at the present
moment, was very grateful to him. Bertram's triumph was gilded on all
sides; for the booksellers had paid him handsomely for his infidel
manuscript. Infidelity that can make itself successful will, at any
rate, bring an income.

And this brings us to the period at which we may resume our story.
One word we must say as to Caroline. During the winter she had seen
her lover repeatedly, and had written to him repeatedly. Their
engagement, therefore, had by no means been broken. But their
meetings were cold, and their letters equally so. She would have
married him at once now if he would ask her. But he would not ask
her. He was quite willing to marry her if she would herself say that
she was willing so far to recede from her former resolution. But she
could not bring herself to do this. Each was too proud to make the
first concession to the other, and therefore no concession was made
by either.

Sir Lionel once attempted to interfere; but he failed. George gave
him to understand that he could manage his own affairs himself. When
a son is frequently called on to lend money to his father, and that
father is never called on to repay it, the parental authority is apt
to grow dull. It had become very dull in this case.



CHAPTER IV.

RICHMOND.


It was in the midst of this noise about Bertram's new book that the
scene is presumed to be re-opened. He had resigned his fellowship,
and pocketed his thousand pounds. Neither of these events had much
depressed his spirits, and he appeared now to his friends to be a
happy man in spite of his love troubles. At the same time, Harcourt
also was sufficiently elate. He had made his great speech with
considerable _éclat_, and his sails were full of wind--of wind of a
more substantial character than that by which Bertram's vessel was
wafted.

And just now Harcourt and Bertram were again much together. A few
months since it had appeared to Harcourt that Bertram intended to
do nothing in the world, to make no figure. Even now there was but
little hope of his doing much as a barrister; but it seemed probable
that he might at any rate make himself known as an author. Such
triumphs, as Harcourt well knew, were very barren; but still it was
well to know men who were in any way triumphant; and therefore the
barrister, himself so triumphant, considered it judicious not to drop
his friend.

It may be said that Bertram had given up all idea of practising as a
barrister. He still intended to go through the form of being called;
but his profession was to be that of an author. He had all manner
of works in hand: poems, plays, political pamphlets, infidel essays,
histories, and a narrative of his travels in the East. He had made up
his mind fully that there were in England only two occupations worthy
of an Englishman. A man should be known either as a politician or as
an author. It behoved a man to speak out what was in him with some
audible voice, so that the world might hear. He might do so either by
word of mouth, or by pen and paper; by the former in Parliament, by
the latter at his desk. Each form of speech had its own advantage.
Fate, which had made Harcourt a member of Parliament, seemed to
intend him, Bertram, to be an author.

Harcourt, though overwhelmed by business at this period, took
frequent occasion to be with Bertram; and when he was with him alone
he always made an effort to talk about Miss Waddington. Bertram was
rather shy of the subject. He had never blamed Harcourt for what had
taken place while he was absent in Paris, but since that time he had
never volunteered to speak of his own engagement.

They were together one fine May evening on the banks of the river
at Richmond. George was fond of the place, and whenever Harcourt
proposed to spend an evening alone with him, they would go up the
river and dine there.

On this occasion Harcourt seemed determined to talk about Miss
Waddington. Bertram, who was not in the best possible humour, had
shown, one might say plainly enough, that it was a subject on which
he did not wish to speak. One might also say that it was a subject as
to talking on which the choice certainly ought to have been left to
himself. A man who is engaged may often choose to talk to his friend
about his engaged bride; but the friend does not usually select
the lady as a topic of conversation except in conformity with the
Benedict's wishes.

On this occasion, however, Harcourt would talk about Miss Waddington,
and Bertram, who had already given one or two short answers, began to
feel that his friend was almost impertinent.

They were cracking decayed walnuts and sipping not the very best of
wine, and Bertram was expatiating on Sir Robert Peel's enormity in
having taken the wind out of the sails of the Whigs, and rehearsing
perhaps a few paragraphs of a new pamphlet that was about to come
out, when Harcourt again suddenly turned the conversation.

"By-the-by," said he, "I believe there is no day absolutely fixed for
your marriage."

"No," said Bertram, sharply enough. "No day has been fixed. Could
anything on earth have been more base than the manner in which he
has endeavoured to leave Cobden as a necessary legacy to the new
government? Would he have put Cobden into any place in a government
of his own?"

"Oh, d---- Cobden! One has enough of him in the House,--quite."

"But I have not that advantage."

"You shall have some of these days. I'll make over the Battersea
Hamlets to you as soon as I can get a judge's wig on my head. But
I'm thinking of other things now. I wonder whether you and Caroline
Waddington ever will be man and wife?"

"Probably about the time that you are made a judge."

"Ha! ha! Well, I hope if you do do it, it will come off before that.
But I doubt it's coming off at all. Each of you is too proud for the
other. Neither of you can forgive what the other has done."

"What do you mean? But to tell you the truth, Harcourt, I have no
great inclination to discuss that matter just at present. If you
please, we will leave Miss Waddington alone."

"What I mean is this," said the embryo judge, perseveringly, "that
you are too angry with her on account of this enforced delay, and she
is too angry with you because you have dared to be angry with her. I
do not think you will ever come together."

Bertram looked full at Harcourt as this was said, and observed that
there was not the usual easy, gentlemanlike smile on the barrister's
face; and yet the barrister was doing his best to look as usual.
The fact was, that Harcourt was playing a game, and playing it with
considerable skill, but his performance was not altogether that of
a Garrick. Something might have been read in his face had Bertram
been cunning enough to read it. But Bertram was not a cunning man.

Bertram looked full in the other's face. Had he been content to do so
and to say nothing, he would have gained his point, and the subject
would have been at once dropped. Harcourt then could have gone no
further. But Bertram was now angry, and, being angry, he could not
but speak.

"Harcourt, you have interfered once before between me and Miss
Waddington--"

"Interfered!"

"Yes, interfered--in what I then thought and still think to have been
a very unwarrantable manner."

"It was a pity you did not tell me of it at the time."

"It is a pity rather that you should drive me to tell you of it now;
but you do so. When I was in Paris, you said to Miss Waddington what
you had no right to say."

"What did I say?"

"Or, rather, she said to you--"

"Ah! that was no fault of mine."

"But it was a fault of yours. Do you think that I cannot understand?
that I cannot see? She would have been silent enough to you but for
your encouragement. I do not know that I was ever so vexed as when I
received that letter from you. You took upon yourself--"

"I know you were angry, very angry. But that was not my fault. I said
nothing but what a friend under such circumstances was bound to say."

"Well, let the matter drop now; and let Miss Waddington and myself
settle our own affairs."

"I cannot let the matter drop; you have driven me to defend myself,
and I must do it as best I may. I know that you were angry,
exceedingly angry--

"Exceedingly angry!" he repeated; "but that was no fault of mine.
When Miss Baker sent for me, I could not but go to her. When I was
there, I could not but listen to her. When Caroline told me that she
was wretched--"

"Miss Waddington!" shouted Bertram, in a voice that caused the
glasses to shake, and made the waiter turn round. And then suddenly
recollecting himself, he scowled round the room as he observed that
he was noticed.

"Hush, my dear fellow. It shall be Miss Waddington; but not quite
so loud. And I beg your pardon, but hearing the lady called by her
Christian name so often, both by yourself and Miss Baker, I forgot
myself. When she spoke to me of her wretched state, what was I to do?
Was I to say, fie! fie! and take my hat and go away?

"She was very wretched," he continued, for Bertram merely scowled and
said nothing, "and I could not but sympathize with her. She thought
that you had neglected her. It was clear that you had gone abroad
without telling her. Was it to be wondered at that she should be
unhappy?"

"Her telling you that she was so was unexcusable."

"At any rate, I am blameless. I myself think that she was also; but
that is another question. In what I wrote to you, I did my duty as a
friend to both parties. After that, I do confess that I thought your
anger too great to allow you ever to stand at the altar with her."

"You do not mean to say that she showed you my letter?" said Bertram,
almost leaping at him.

"Your letter! what letter?"

"You know what letter--my letter from Paris? The letter which I wrote
to her in reference to the one I received from you? I desire at once
to have an answer from you. Did Caroline show you that letter?"

Harcourt looked very guilty, extremely guilty; but he did not
immediately make any reply.

"Harcourt, answer me," said Bertram, much more coolly. "I have no
feeling of anger now with you. Did Caroline show you that letter?"

"Miss Waddington did show it to me."

And thus the successful Mr. Harcourt had been successful also in
this. And now, having narrated this interview in a manner which does
not make it redound very much to that gentleman's credit, I must
add to the narrative his apology. If even-handed justice were done
throughout the world, some apology could be found for most offences.
Not that the offences would thus be wiped away, and black become
white; but much that is now very black would be reduced to that
sombre, uninviting shade of ordinary brown which is so customary to
humanity.

Our apology for Mr. Harcourt will by no means make his conduct
white--will leave it, perhaps, of a deeper, dingier brown than that
which is quite ordinary among men; nay, will leave it still black,
many will say.

Mr. Harcourt had seen that which in his opinion proved that Bertram
and Miss Waddington could never be happy with each other. He had seen
that which in his opinion led to the conclusion that neither of them
really wished that this marriage should take place. But he had seen
that also which made him believe that both were too proud to ask for
a release. Under such circumstances, would he be doing ill if he were
to release them? Caroline had so spoken, spoken even to him, that
it seemed impossible to him that she could wish for the marriage.
Bertram had so written that it seemed equally impossible that he
should wish for it. Would it not, therefore, be madness to allow
them to marry? He had said as much to Miss Baker, and Miss Baker had
agreed with him. "He cannot love her," Miss Baker had said, "or he
would not neglect her so shamefully. I am sure he does not love her."

But there was a man who did love her, who had felt that he could love
her from the first moment that he had seen her as an affianced bride:
he had not then courted her for himself; for then it was manifest
that she both loved and was loved. But now, now that this was
altered, was there good cause why he should not covet her now? Mr.
Harcourt thought that there was no sufficient cause.

And then this man, who was not by nature a vain man, who had not made
himself apt at believing that young beauties fell readily in love
with him, who had not spent his years in basking in ladies' smiles,
imagined that he had some ground to think that Miss Waddington was
not averse to him. Oh, how she had looked when that part of Bertram's
letter had been read, in which he professed that he would not be
bored by any love-duties for his lady! And then, this man had been
kind to her; he had shown that such service would be no bore to him.
He had been gentle-mannered to her; and she also, she had been gentle
to him:


   "The woman cannot be of nature's making
    Whom, being kind, her misery makes not kinder."


And Caroline was kind; at least so he thought, and heaven knows she
was miserable also. And thus hopes rose which should never have
risen, and schemes were made which, if not absolutely black, were as
near it as any shade of brown may be.

And then there was the fact that Caroline was the granddaughter, and
might probably be the heiress, of one of the wealthiest men in the
city of London. The consideration of this fact had doubtless its
weight also. The lady would at least have six thousand pounds, might
have sixty, might have three times sixty. Harcourt would probably
have found it inexpedient to give way to any love had there been no
money to gild the passion. He was notoriously a man of the world; he
pretended to be nothing else; he would have thought that he had made
himself ludicrous if he had married for love only. With him it was a
source of comfort that the lady's pecuniary advantages allowed him
the hope that he might indulge his love. So he did indulge it.

He had trusted for awhile that circumstances would break off this
ill-assorted match, and that then he could step in himself without
any previous interference in the matter. But the time was running
too close: unless something was done, these two poor young creatures
would marry, and make themselves wretched for life. Benevolence
itself required that he should take the matter in hand. So he did
take it in hand, and commenced his operations--not unskilfully, as we
have seen.

Such is our apology for Mr. Harcourt. A very poor one, the reader
will say, turning from that gentleman with disgust. It is a poor one.
Were we all turned inside out, as is done with ladies and gentlemen
in novels, some of us might find some little difficulty in giving
good apologies for ourselves. Our shade of brown would often be very
dark.

Bertram sat for awhile silent and motionless at the table, and
Harcourt seeing his look of grief, almost repented what he had done.
But, after all, he had only told the truth. The letter had been shown
to him.

"It is incredible," said Bertram, "incredible, incredible!" But,
nevertheless, his voice showed plainly enough that the statement to
him was not incredible.

"Let it be so," said Harcourt, who purposely misunderstood him. "I do
not wish you to believe me. Let us leave it so. Come, it is time for
us to go back to town." But Bertram still sat silent, saying nothing.

Harcourt called the waiter, and paid the bill. He then told Bertram
what his share was, and commenced smoothing the silk of his hat
preparatory to moving. Bertram took out his purse, gave him the
necessary amount of shillings, and then again sat silent and
motionless.

"Come, Bertram, there will be only one train after this, and you know
what a crowd there is always for that. Let us go."

But Bertram did not move. "Harcourt, if you would not mind it," he
said, very gently, "I would rather go back by myself to-day. What you
have said has put me out. I shall probably walk."

"Walk to town!"

"Oh, yes; the walk will be nothing: I shall like it. Don't wait for
me, there's a good fellow. I'll see you to-morrow, or next day, or
before long."

So Harcourt, shrugging his shoulders, and expressing some surprise
at this singular resolve, put his hat on his head and walked off by
himself. What his inward reflections were on his journey back to
London we will not inquire; but will accompany our other friend in
his walk.

Hurriedly as it had been written, he remembered almost every word of
that letter from Paris. He knew that it had been severe, and he had
sometimes perhaps regretted its severity. But he knew also that the
offence had been great. What right had his affianced bride to speak
of him to another man? Was it not fit that he should tell her how
great was this sin? His ideas on the matter were perhaps too strong,
but they certainly are not peculiar. We--speaking for the educated
male sex in England--do not like to think that any one should tamper
with the ladies whom we love.

But what was this to that which she had since done? To talk of him
had been bad, but to show his letters! to show such a letter as that!
to show such a letter to such a person! to make such a confidence,
and with such a confidant! It could not be that she loved him; it
could not be but that she must prefer that other man to him.

As he thought of this, walking on hurriedly towards London on that
soft May night, his bosom swelled, but with anger rather than with
sorrow. It must be all over then between them. It could not go on
after what he had now been told. She was willing, he presumed, to
marry him, having pledged him her word that she would do so; but it
was clear that she did not care for him. He would not hold her to her
pledge; nor would he take to his bosom one who could have a secret
understanding with another man.

"Miss Baker," he said to himself, "had treated him badly; she must
have known this; why had she not told him? If it were so that Miss
Waddington liked another better than him, would it not have been
Miss Baker's duty to tell him so? It did not signify however; he had
learnt it in time--luckily, luckily, luckily."

Should he quarrel with Harcourt? What mattered it whether he did or
no? or what mattered it what part Harcourt took in the concern? If
that which Harcourt had said were true, if Caroline had shown him
this letter, he, Bertram, could never forgive that! If so, they must
part! And then, if he did not possess her, what mattered who did?
Nay, if she loved Harcourt, why should he prevent their coming
together? But of this he would make himself fully satisfied; he
would know whether the letter had truly been shown. Harcourt was a
barrister; and in Bertram's estimation a barrister's word was not
always to be taken implicitly.

So he still walked on. But what should he first do? how should he act
at once? And then it occurred to him that, according to the ideas
generally prevalent in the world on such matters, he would not be
held to be justified in repudiating his betrothed merely because
she had shown a letter of his to another gentleman. He felt in his
own mind that the cause was quite sufficient; that the state of
mind which such an act disclosed was clearly not that of a loving,
trusting wife. But others might think differently: perhaps Miss Baker
might do so; or perhaps Miss Waddington.

But then it was not possible that she could ever wish to marry him
after having taken such a course as that. Had he not indeed ample
cause to think that she did not wish to marry him? She had put it off
to the last possible moment. She had yielded nothing to his urgent
request. In all her intercourse with him she had been cold and
unbending. She had had her moments of confidence, but they were not
with him; they were with one whom perhaps she liked better. There was
no jealousy in this, not jealousy of the usual kind. His self-respect
had been injured, and he could not endure that. He hardly now wished
that she should love him.

But he would go to Littlebath at once and ask her the question. He
would ask her all those questions which were now burning inside his
heart. She did not like severe letters, and he would write no more
such to her. What further communication might of necessity take place
between them should be by word of mouth. So he resolved to go down to
Littlebath on the morrow.

And then he reached his chambers, weary and sad at heart. But he
was no longer angry. He endeavoured to persuade himself that he was
absolutely the reverse of angry. He knelt down and prayed that she
might be happy. He swore that he would do anything to make her so.
But that anything was not to include any chance of a marriage with
himself.



CHAPTER V.

JUNO.


In spite of his philosophy and his prayers, Bertram went to bed not
in a very happy state of mind. He was a man essentially of a warm and
loving heart. He was exigeant, and perhaps even selfish in his love.
Most men are so. But he did love, had loved; and having made up his
mind to part from that which he had loved, he could not be happy. He
had often lain awake, thinking of her faults to him; but now he lay
thinking of his faults to her. It was a pity, he said to himself,
that their marriage should have been so delayed; she had acted
foolishly in that, certainly, had not known him, had not understood
his character, or appreciated his affection; but, nevertheless, he
might have borne it better. He felt that he had been stern, almost
savage to her; that he had resented her refusal to marry him at once
too violently: he threw heavy blame on himself. But through all this,
he still felt that they could not now marry. Was it not clear to him
that Caroline would be delighted to escape from her engagement if the
way to do so were opened to her?

He lost no time in carrying out his plans. By an early train on the
following day he went down to Littlebath, and at once went to his
father's lodgings. For Sir Lionel, in order that he might be near
his dear daughter, was still living in Littlebath. He had entered
the second, or lighter fast set, played a good deal at cards, might
constantly be seen walking up and down the assembly-rooms, and did
something in horse-flesh.

George first went to his father's lodgings, and found him still
in bed. The lighter fast set at Littlebath do not generally get
up early, and Sir Lionel professed that he had not lately been
altogether well. Littlebath was fearfully, fearfully cold. It was now
May, and he was still obliged to keep a fire. He was in a very good
humour however with his son, for the period of the two hundred and
fifty pounds' loan was not long passed by. Gratitude for that had not
yet given way to desire for more.

"Oh, George! is that you? I am delighted to see you. Going up to the
terrace, I suppose? I was with Caroline for a few minutes last night,
and I never saw her looking better--never."

George answered by asking his father where he meant to dine. Sir
Lionel was going to dine out. He usually did dine out. He was one of
those men who have a knack of getting a succession of gratis dinners;
and it must be confessed in his favour--and the admission was
generally made in the dining-out world,--that Sir Lionel was worth
his dinner.

"Then I shall probably return this evening; but I will see you before
I go."

Sir Lionel asked why he would not dine as usual in Montpellier
Terrace; but on this subject George at present gave him no answer. He
merely said that he thought it very improbable that he should do so,
and then went away to his work. It was hard work that he had to do,
and he thoroughly wished that it was over.

He did not however allow himself a moment to pause. On the contrary,
he walked so quick, that when he found himself in Miss Baker's
drawing-room, he was almost out of breath, and partly from that
cause, and partly from his agitation, was unable to speak to that
lady in his usual unruffled manner.

"Ah, how do you do, Miss Baker? I'm very glad to see you. I have run
down to-day in a great hurry, and I am very anxious to see Caroline.
Is she out?"

Miss Baker explained that she was not out; and would be down very
shortly.

"I'm glad she's not away, for I am very anxious to see her--very."

Miss Baker, with her voice also in a tremble, asked if anything was
the matter.

"No; nothing the matter. But the truth is, I'm tired of this, Miss
Baker, and I want to settle it. I don't know how she may bear it, but
it has half killed me."

Miss Baker looked at him almost aghast, for his manner was energetic
and almost wild. Only that he so frequently was wild, she would have
feared that something dreadful was about to happen. She had not,
however, time to say anything further, for Caroline's step was heard
on the stairs.

"Could you let us be alone for ten minutes," said George. "But I
feel the shame of turning you out of your own drawing-room. Perhaps
Caroline will not mind coming down with me into the parlour."

But Miss Baker of course waived this objection, and as she retreated,
the two ladies met just at the drawing-room door. Caroline was about
to speak, but was stopped by the expression on her aunt's face.
Ladies have little ways of talking to each other, with nods and becks
and wreathed smiles, which are quite beyond the reach of men; and in
this language aunt Mary did say something as she passed which gave
her niece to understand that the coming interview would not consist
merely of the delights which are common among lovers. Caroline,
therefore, as she entered the room composed her face for solemn
things, and walked slowly, and not without some dignity in her mien,
into the presence of him who was to be her lord and master.

"We hardly expected you, George," she said.

His father had been right. She was looking well, very well. Her
figure was perhaps not quite so full, nor the colour in her cheek
quite so high as when he had first seen her in Jerusalem; but,
otherwise, she had never seemed to him more lovely. The little effort
she had made to collect herself, to assume a certain majesty in her
gait, was becoming to her. So also was her plain morning dress, and
the simple braid in which her hair was collected. It might certainly
be boasted of Miss Waddington that she was a beauty of the morning
rather than of the night; that her complexion was fitted for the sun
rather than for gaslight.

He was going to give up all this! And why? That which he saw before
him, that which he had so often brought himself to believe, that
which at this moment he actually did believe to be as perfect a form
of feminine beauty as might be found by any search in England, was as
yet his own. And he might keep it as his own. He knew, or thought he
knew enough of her to be sure that, let her feelings be what they
might, she would not condescend to break her word to him. Doubtless,
she would marry him; and that in but a few months hence if only
he would marry her! Beautiful as she was, much as she was his own,
much as he still loved her, he had come there to reject her! All
this flashed through his mind in a moment. He lost no time in idle
thoughts.

"Caroline," he said, stretching out his hand to her--usually when
he met her after any absence he had used his hand to draw her
nearer to him with more warmth than his present ordinary greeting
showed--"Caroline, I have come down to have some talk with you. There
is that between us which should be settled."

"Well, what is it?" she said, with the slightest possible smile.

"I will not, if I can help it, say any word to show that I am
angry--"

"But are you angry, George? If so, had you not better show it?
Concealment will never sit well on you."

"I hope not; nor will I conceal anything willingly. It is because I
so greatly dislike concealment that I am here."

"You could not conceal anything if you tried, George. It is useless
for you to say that you will not show that you are angry. You are
angry, and you do show it. What is it? I hope my present sin is
not a very grievous one. By your banishing poor aunt out of the
drawing-room, I fear it must be rather bad."

"I was dining with Mr. Harcourt last night, and it escaped him in
conversation that you had shown to him the letter which I wrote to
you from Paris. Was it so, Caroline? Did you show him that very
letter?"

Certainly, no indifferent listener would have said that there was any
tone of anger in Bertram's voice; and yet there was that in it which
made Miss Waddington feel that the room was swimming round and round
her. She turned ruby red up to her hair. Bertram had never before
seen her blush like that; for he had never before seen her covered by
shame. Oh! how she had repented showing that letter! How her soul had
grieved over it from the very moment that it had passed out of her
hand! She had done so in the hotness of her passion. He had written
to her sharp stinging words which had maddened her. Up to that moment
she had never known how sharp, how stinging, how bitter words might
be. The world had hitherto been so soft to her! She was there told
that she was unfeminine, unladylike! And then, he that was sitting by
her was so smooth, so sympathizing, so anxious to please her! In her
anger and her sympathy she had shown it; and from that day to this
she had repented in the roughness of sackcloth and the bitterness of
ashes. It was possible that Caroline Waddington should so sin against
a woman's sense of propriety; that, alas! had been proved; but it was
impossible that she should so sin and not know that she had sinned,
not feel the shame of it.

She did stand before him red with shame; but at the first moment she
made no answer. It was in her heart to kneel at his feet, to kneel in
the spirit if not in the body, and ask his pardon; but hitherto she
had asked pardon of no human being. There was an effort in the doing
of it which she could not at once get over. Had his eyes looked
tenderly on her for a moment, had one soft tone fallen from his lips,
she would have done it. Down she would have gone and implored his
pardon. And who that he had once loved had ever asked aught in vain
from George Bertram? Ah, that she had done so! How well they might
have loved each other! What joy there might have been!

But there was nothing tender in his eye, no tender tone softened the
words which fell from his mouth.

"What!" he said, and in spite of his promise, his voice had never
before sounded so stern,--"what! show that letter to another man;
show that letter to Mr. Harcourt! Is that true, Caroline?"

A child asks pardon from his mother because he is scolded. He wishes
to avert her wrath in order that he may escape punishment. So also
may a servant of his master, or an inferior of his superior. But when
one equal asks pardon of another, it is because he acknowledges and
regrets the injury he has done. Such acknowledgment, such regret
will seldom be produced by a stern face and a harsh voice. Caroline,
as she looked at him and listened to him, did not go down on her
knees--not even mentally. Instead of doing so, she remembered her
dignity, and wretched as she was at heart, she continued to seat
herself without betraying her misery.

"Is that true, Caroline? I will believe the charge against you from
no other lips than your own."

"Yes, George; it is true. I did show your letter to Mr. Harcourt." So
stern had he been in his bearing that she could not condescend even
to a word of apology.

He had hitherto remained standing; but on hearing this he flung
himself into a chair and buried his face in his hands. Even then she
might have been softened, and he might have relented, and all might
have been well!

"I was very unhappy, George," she said; "that letter had made me very
unhappy, and I hardly knew where to turn for relief."

"What!" he said, jumping up and flashing before her in a storm of
passion to which his former sternness had been as nothing--"what!
my letter made you so unhappy that you were obliged to go to Mr.
Harcourt for relief! You appealed for sympathy from me to him! from
me who am--no, who was, your affianced husband! Had you no idea of
the sort of bond that existed between you and me? Did you not know
that there were matters in which you could not look for sympathy to
such as him without being false, nay, almost worse than false? Have
you ever thought what it is to be the one loved object of a man's
heart, and to have accepted that love?" She had been on the point of
interrupting him, but the softness of these last words interrupted
her for a moment.

"Such a letter as that! Do you remember that letter, Caroline?"

"Yes, I remember it; remember it too well; I would not keep it. I
would not feel that such words from you were ever by me."

"You mean that it was harsh?"

"It was cruel."

"Harsh or cruel, or what you will--I shall not now stop to defend
it--it was one which from the very nature of it should have been
sacred between us. It was written to you as to one to whom I had a
right to write as my future wife."

"No one could have a right to write such a letter as that."

"In it, I particularly begged that Mr. Harcourt might not be made an
arbiter between us. I made a special request that to him, at least,
you would not talk of what causes of trouble there might be between
us; and yet you selected him as your confidant, read it with him,
poured over with him the words which had come hot from my heart,
discussed with him my love--my--my--my-- Bah! I cannot endure it; had
not you yourself told me so, I could not have believed it."

"George!--"

"Good God! that you should take my letters and read them over with
him! Why, Caroline, it admits but of one solution; there is but one
reading to the riddle; ask all the world."

"We sent for him as your friend."

"Yes, and seem to have soon used him as your own. I have no friend
to whom I allow the privilege of going between me and my own heart's
love. Yes, you were my own heart's love. I have to get over that
complaint now as best I may."

"I may consider then that all is over between us."

"Yes; there. You have back your hand. It is again your own to dispose
of to whom you will. Let you have what confidences you will, they
will no longer imply falsehood to me."

"Then, sir, if such be the case, I think you may cease to scold me
with such violence."

"I have long felt that I ought to give you this release; for I have
known that you have not thoroughly loved me."

Miss Waddington was too proud, too conscious of the necessity to
maintain her pride at the present moment to contradict this. But,
nevertheless, in her heart she felt that she did love him, that she
would fain not give him up, that, in spite of his anger, his bitter
railing anger, she would keep him close to her if she only could
do so. But now that he spoke of giving her up, she could not speak
passionately of her love--she who had never yet shown any passion in
her speech to him.

"It has grown on me from day to day; and I have been like a child in
clinging to a hope when I should have known that there was no hope. I
should have known it when you deferred our marriage for three years."

"Two years, George."

"Had it been two years, we should now have been married. I should
have known it when I learned that you and he were in such close
intimacy in London. But now--I know it now. Now at least it is all
over."

"I can only be sorry that you have so long had so much trouble in the
matter."

"Trouble--trouble! But I will not make a fool of myself. I believe at
any rate that you understand me."

"Oh! perfectly, Mr. Bertram."

But she did not understand him; nor perhaps was it very likely that
she should understand him. What he had meant her to understand was
this: that in giving her up he was sacrificing only himself, and not
her; that he did so in the conviction that she did not care for him;
and that he did so on this account, strong as his own love still
was, in spite of all her offences. This was what he intended her to
understand;--but she did not understand the half of it.

"And I may now go?" said she, rising from her chair. The blush of
shame was over, and mild as her words sounded, she again looked the
Juno. "And I may now go?"

"Now go! yes; I suppose so. That is, I may go. That is what you mean.
Well, I suppose I had better go." Not a moment since he was towering
with passion, and his voice, if not loud, had been masterful,
determined, and imperious. Now it was low and gentle enough. Even
now, could she have been tender to him, he would have relented. But
she could not be tender. It was her profession to be a Juno. Though
she knew that when he was gone from her her heart would be breaking,
she would not bring herself down to use a woman's softness. She could
not say that she had been wrong, wrong because distracted by her
misery, wrong because he was away from her, wrong because disturbed
in her spirits by the depth of the love she felt for him; she could
not confess this, and then, taking his hand, promise him that if he
would remain close to her she would not so sin again. Ah! if she
could have done this, in one moment her head would have been on his
shoulder and his arm round her waist; and in twenty minutes more Miss
Baker would have been informed, sitting as she now was up in her
bedroom, that the wedding-day had been fixed.

But very different news Miss Baker had to hear. Had things turned out
so, Miss Waddington would have been a woman and not a goddess. No;
great as was the coming penalty, she could not do that. She had been
railed at and scolded as never goddess was scolded before. Whatever
she threw away, it behoved her to maintain her dignity. She would not
bend to a storm that had come blustering over her so uncourteously.

Bertram had now risen to go. "It would be useless for me to trouble
your aunt," he said. "Tell her from me that I would not have gone
without seeing her had I not wished to spare her pain. Good-bye,
Caroline, and may God bless you;" and, so saying, he put out his hand
to her.

"Good-bye, Mr. Bertram." She would have said something more, but she
feared to trust herself with any word that might have any sound of
tenderness. She took his hand, however, and returned the pressure
which he gave it.

She looked into his eyes, and saw that they were full of tears;
but still she did not speak. Oh, Caroline Waddington, Caroline
Waddington! if it had but been given thee to know, even then, how
much of womanhood there was in thy bosom, of warm womanhood, how
little of goddess-ship, of cold goddess-ship, it might still have
been well with thee! But thou didst not know. Thou hadst gotten there
at any rate thy Juno's pedestal; and having that, needs was that thou
shouldst stand on it.

"God bless you, Caroline; good-bye," he repeated again, and turned to
the door.

"I wish to ask you one question before you go," she said, as his hand
was on the handle of the lock; and she spoke in a voice that was
almost goddess-like; that hardly betrayed, but yet that did betray,
the human effort. Bertram paused, and again turned to her.

"In your accusation against me just now--"

"I made no accusation, Caroline."

"You not only made it, Mr. Bertram, but I pleaded guilty to it. But
in making it you mentioned Mr. Harcourt's name. While you were absent
in Paris, I did talk with that gentleman on our private affairs,
yours and mine. I hope I am believed to have done so because I
regarded Mr. Harcourt as your friend?"

Bertram did not understand her, and he showed that he did not by his
look.

"It is difficult for me to explain myself"--and now she blushed
slightly--very slightly. "What I mean is this; I wish to be acquitted
by you of having had recourse to Mr. Harcourt on my own account--from
any partiality of my own." She almost rose in height as she stood
there before him, uttering these words in all her cold but beautiful
dignity. Whatever her sins might have been, he should not accuse her
of having dallied with another while her word and her troth had been
his. She had been wrong. She could not deny that he had justice on
his side--stern, harsh, bare justice--when he came there to her and
flung back her love and promises into her teeth. He had the right to
do so, and she would not complain. But he should not leave her till
he had acquitted her of the vile, missish crime of flirting with
another because he was absent. Seeing that he still hardly understood
her, she made her speech yet plainer.

"At the risk of being told again that I am unfeminine, I must explain
myself. Do you charge me with having allowed Mr. Harcourt to speak to
me as a lover?"

"No; I make no such charge. Now, I have no right to make any charge
on such a matter."

"No; should Mr. Harcourt be my lover now, that is my affair and his,
not yours. But had he been so then-- You owe it to me to say whether
among other sins, that sin also is charged against me?"

"I have charged and do charge nothing against you, but this--that you
have ceased to love me. And that charge will be made nowhere but in
my own breast. I am not a jealous man, as I think you might know.
What I have said to you here to-day has not come of suspicion. I have
thought no ill against you, and believed no ill against you beyond
that which you have yourself acknowledged. I find that you have
ceased to love me, and finding that, I am indifferent to whom your
love may be given." And so saying, he opened the door and went out;
nor did he ever again see Miss Waddington at Littlebath.

Some few minutes after he had left the room, Miss Baker entered it.
She had heard the sound of the front door, and having made inquiry
of the servant, had learned that their visitor had gone. Then she
descended to her own drawing-room, and found Caroline sitting upright
at the table, as though in grief she despised the adventitious aid
and every-day solace of a sofa. There was no tear in her eye, none as
yet; but it required no tears to tell her aunt that all was not well.
Judging by the face she looked at, aunt Mary was inclined to say that
all was as little well as might be.

There was still to be seen there the beauty, and the dignity, and
still even in part the composure of a Juno; but it was such composure
as Juno might have shown while she devoted to a third destruction
the walls of a thrice-built Troy; of Juno in grief, in jealousy,
almost in despair; but of Juno still mindful of her pedestal, still
remembering that there she stood a mark for the admiration of gods
and men. How long shall this Juno mood serve to sustain her? Ah! how
long?

"Has he gone?" said Miss Baker, as she looked at her niece.

"Yes, aunt, he has gone."

"When will he return?"

"He will not return, aunt. He will not come any more; it is all over
at last."

Miss Baker stood for a moment trembling, and then threw herself upon
a seat. She had at least had no celestial gift by which she could
compose herself. "Oh, Caroline!" she exclaimed.

"Yes, aunt Mary; it is all over now."

"You mean that you have quarrelled?" said she, remembering to her
comfort, that there was some old proverb about the quarrels of
lovers. Miss Baker had great faith in proverbs.

The reader may find it hard to follow Miss Baker's mind on the
subject of this engagement. Some time since she was giving advice
that it should be broken off, and now she was _au désespoir_ because
that result had been reached. She had one of those minds that are
prone to veering, and which show by the way they turn, not any
volition of their own, but the direction of some external wind, some
external volition. Nor can one be angry with, or despise Miss Baker
for this weathercock aptitude. She was the least selfish of human
beings, the least opinionative, the most good-natured. She had had
her hot fits and her cold fits with regard to Bertram; but her hot
fits and her cold had all been hot or cold with reference to what she
conceived to be her niece's chances of happiness. Latterly, she had
fancied that Caroline did love Bertram too well to give him up; and
circumstances had led her to believe more strongly than ever that
old Mr. Bertram wished the marriage, and that the two together, if
married, would certainly inherit his wealth. So latterly, during the
last month or so, Miss Baker had blown very hot.

"No, there has been no quarrel," said Caroline, with forced
tranquillity of voice and manner. "No such quarrel as you mean. Do
not deceive yourself, dear aunt; it is over now, over for ever."

"For ever, Caroline!"

"Yes, for ever. That has been said which can never be unsaid. Do not
grieve about it"--aunt Mary was now in tears--"it is better so; I am
sure it is better. We should not have made each other happy."

"But three years, Caroline; three years!" said aunt Mary through her
tears, thinking of the time that had been so sadly lost. Aunt Mary
was widely awake to the fact that three years was a long period in
a girl's life, and that to have passed three years as the betrothed
of one man and then to leave him was injurious to the matrimonial
prospects of a young lady. Miss Baker was full of these little
mundane considerations; but then they were never exercised, never had
been exercised, on her own behalf.

"Yes, three years!" and Caroline smiled, even through her grief. "It
cannot be helped, aunt. And the rest of it; neither can that be
helped. Three years! say thirty, aunt."

Miss Baker looked at her, not quite understanding. "And must it be
so?" said she.

"Must! oh, yes, indeed it must. It must now, must--must--must."

Then they both sat silent for awhile. Miss Baker was longing to know
the cause of this sudden disruption, but she hesitated at first to
inquire. It was not, however, to be borne that the matter should be
allowed to remain altogether undiscussed.

"But what is it he has said?" she at last asked. Caroline had never
told her aunt that that letter had been shown to Mr. Harcourt, and
had no intention of telling her so now.

"I could not tell you, aunt, all that passed. It was not what he said
more than what I said. At least--no; that is not true. It did arise
from what he said; but I would not answer him as he would have me;
and so we agreed to part."

"He wished to have the marriage at once?"

"No; I think he wished no such thing. You may rest assured he wishes
no marriage now; none with me, at least. And rest assured of this,
too, that I wish none with him. Wish! it is no use wishing. It is now
impossible."

Again there was a silence, and again it was broken by Miss Baker. "I
wonder whether you ever really loved him? Sometimes I have thought
you never did."

"Perhaps not," said she, musing on her fate.

"If it is never to be, I hope that you did not."

"It would be to be hoped--to be hoped for me, and to be hoped also
for him."

"Oh, he loved you. There is no doubt of that; no doubt at all of
that. If any man ever loved a girl, he loved you." To this Miss
Waddington answered nothing, nor would she just then talk any further
with her aunt upon the subject. They were to dine early on that
day, as their custom was when they went out in the evening. On this
evening they were going to the house--lodgings rather--of an old
friend they had not seen for some time. She had arrived a week or two
since at Littlebath, and though there had been callings between them,
they had not yet succeeded in meeting. When Bertram had arrived it
was near their dinner hour and before he went that hour was already
passed. Had his manner been as it ordinarily was, he would of course
have been asked to join them; but, as we have seen, that had been no
moment for such customary civility.

Now, however, they went to dinner, and while seated there, Miss
Waddington told her aunt that she did not feel equal to going out
that evening. Miss Baker of course said something in opposition to
this, but that something was not much. It might easily be understood
that a young lady who had just lost her lover was not in a fit state
to go to a Littlebath card-party.

And thus early in the evening Caroline contrived to be alone; and
then for the first time she attempted to realize all that had come
upon her. Hitherto she had had to support herself--herself and her
goddess-ship,--first before George Bertram, and then with lighter
effort before her aunt. But now that she was alone, she could descend
to humanity. Now that she was alone she had so to descend.

Yes; she had lost three years. To a mortal goddess, who possessed
her divinity but for a short time, this was much. Her doctrine had
been to make the most of the world. She had early resolved not to
throw away either herself or her chances. And now that she was
three-and-twenty, how had she kept her resolves? how had her doctrine
answered with her? She had lived before the world for the last two
years as a girl betrothed to a lover--before such of the world as she
knew and as knew her; and now her lover was gone; not dismissed by
her, but gone! He had rather dismissed her, and that not in the most
courteous manner.

But, to do her justice, this was not the grief that burnt most hotly
into her heart. She said to herself that it was so, that this was her
worst grief; she would fain have felt that it was so; but there was
more of humanity in her, of the sweetness of womanly humanity, than
she was aware. He had left her, and she knew not how to live without
him. That was the thorn that stuck fast in her woman's bosom. She
could never again look into those deep, thoughtful eyes; never again
feel the pressure of that strong, manly arm; never hear the poetry of
that rich voice as she had heard it when he poured words of love and
truth into her ear. Bertram had many faults, and while he belonged to
her, she had thought of them often enough; but he had many virtues
also, and now she could think but of them.

She had said that he was gone, gone for ever. It was easy enough to
say that with composed voice to Miss Baker. There is nothing so easy
as bravado. The wretch who is to be hung can step lightly while
multitudes are looking at him. The woman who is about to give up all
that her heart most values can declare out loud that the matter is
very indifferent to her. But when the victim of the law is lying
in his solitary cell, thinking on his doom, the morning before the
executioner comes to him; when the poor girl is sitting alone on
her bedside, with her heart all empty,--or rather not empty, only
hopeless; it is very difficult then to maintain a spirit of bravado!

Caroline Waddington did try it. She had often said to herself, in
months now some time past, that she repented of her engagement. If
so, now was the time to congratulate herself that she was free from
it. But she could not congratulate herself. While he had entirely
belonged to her, she had not known how thoroughly she had loved him.
When she had only thought of parting with him, she had believed that
it would be easy. But now she found that it was not so easy. It was
about as easy for her to pluck his image from her heart as to draw
one of her limbs from the socket.

But the limb had to be drawn from the socket. There was no longer any
hope that it could be saved. Nay, it had been already given up as far
as the expression of the will was concerned, and there was nothing
left but to bear the pain.

So she sat down and began to draw out the limb. Oh, my sensitive
reader! have you ever performed the process? It is by no means to be
done with rose-water appliances and gentle motherly pressure. The
whole force of the hospital has to be brought out to perform this
operation.

She now discovered, perhaps, for the first time, that she had a
strong beating heart, and that she loved this violent capricious man
with every strong pulse of it. There was more about him now that was
lovable by such a woman as Caroline Waddington than when he had first
spoken of his love on the side of Mount Olivet. Then he had been
little more than a boy; a boy indeed with a high feeling, with a
poetic nature, and much humour. But these gifts had hardly sufficed
to win her heart. Now he had added to these a strong will, a power of
command, a capability of speaking out to the world with some sort of
voice. After all, power and will are the gifts which a woman most
loves in a man.

And now that Caroline had lost her lover, she confessed to herself
that she did love him. Love him! Yes! How could she recover him? That
was her first thought. She could not recover him in any way. That
was her second thought. As to asking him to come back to her; the
wrenching of the limb from the socket would be better than that.
That, at least, she knew she could not do. And was it possible
that he of his own accord should come back to her? No, it was not
possible. The man was tender hearted, and could have been whistled
back with the slightest lure while yet they two were standing in the
room together. But he was as proud as he was tender. Though there
might also be some wrenching to be done within his heart, he would
never come back again uninvited.

And thus, while Miss Baker was at her old friend's card-party, Miss
Waddington sat in her own bedroom, striving, with bitter tears and
violent struggles, to reconcile herself to her loss.



CHAPTER VI.

SIR LIONEL IN TROUBLE.


It has been said that Miss Baker was going to spend the evening with
an old friend. I trust that Miss Todd, umquhile of the valley of
Jehoshaphat, and now of No. 7 Paragon, Littlebath, has not been
forgotten; Miss Todd of the free heart and the rosy face.

Yes, Miss Todd had come to Littlebath, and was intent rather on
forming a party of Toddites than of joining herself to either of the
regular sets. She was perhaps not much given to be pious, and she
certainly was but ill inclined to be slow. If fast, however, she
chose to be fast in her own line.

But before we have the pleasure of attending at her _soirée_, we must
say a word or two of one of the most distinguished of the expected
guests. Sir Lionel was to be there.

Now Sir Lionel had been leading a pleasant life at Littlebath, with
one single exception--that he was rather in want of funds. He had
capital apartments, four rooms _ensuite_, a man-servant, a groom,
three horses, and a phaeton, and no one was more looked up to at
Littlebath. Ladies smiled, young men listened, old gentlemen brought
out their best wines, and all was delightful. All but this, that the
"res angusta" did occasionally remind him that he was mortal. Oh,
that sordid brother of his, who could have given him thousands on
thousands without feeling the loss of them! We have been unable to
see much of old Mr. Bertram in recapitulating the story of young Mr.
Bertram's latter doings. But it should have been said, that early in
the present year he had not been quite as well as his friends could
wish. George had gone to see him once or twice, and so also had his
niece Miss Baker, and his granddaughter. He had said but very little
to them; but on Miss Baker's mind an impression had been left that it
would please him to see the marriage completed.

And at this time likewise his brother, Sir Lionel, had thought it
expedient to see him. There had hitherto been no interview between
them since Sir Lionel's return. The colonel had found out, and had
been duly astonished at finding out, the history of Miss Baker and
her niece. That George and Caroline would be the heirs to a great
portion of his brother's money he could not doubt; that Miss Baker
would have something he thought probable; and then he reflected, that
in spite of all that was come and gone, his brother's heart might
relent on his death-bed. It might be that he could talk the sick man
round; and if that were impracticable, he might at least learn how
others stood in his brother's favour. Sir Lionel was not now a young
man himself. Ease and a settled life would be good for him. What, if
he married Miss Baker!

He first called on Pritchett. Mr. Pritchett told him that his brother
was better--considerably better. Sir Lionel was in raptures. He had
hurried up from Littlebath in an agony. He had heard most distressing
accounts. He would however go down to Hadley and see his brother.

"I am afraid Mr. Bertram is not very much up to company just at
present," wheezed out Mr. Pritchett.

"But a brother, you know," suggested Sir Lionel.

Pritchett knew exactly how the brothers stood with each other; and he
himself, though he was very partial to Mr. George, had not any warm
love for Sir Lionel.

"Oh, yes; a brother is a brother, surely. But, Mr. Bertram, you know,
sir--"

"You mean," said Sir Lionel, "that he is a little vexed about the
account."

"Oh, yes, the account; there is the account, Sir Lionel. If it is
to settle that, perhaps I can manage without troubling you to go
to Hadley. Not but what settling the account _will_ make matters
smoother."

Sir Lionel could get nothing more from Mr. Pritchett; but he would
not be put off from his intention, and he did go to Hadley. He found
his brother sitting up in the dining-room, but he would not have
known him. And, indeed, many who had seen him lately might have had
some difficulty in recognizing him. He was not only lean and lank,
and worn and wan, but he spoke with some difficulty, and on close
examination it might be seen that his mouth was twisted as it were
from the centre of his face. Since his relatives had seen him he had
suffered what is genteelly called a slight threatening of paralysis.

But his mind, if touched at all, had recovered itself; and his spirit
was in nowise paralyzed. When Sir Lionel was shown into the room--he
had first of all taken the precaution of sending down his card from
the hotel, and saying that he would call in half an hour--the old man
put out his hand to him, but did not attempt to rise from his chair.
It must be remembered that the brothers had not seen each other for
more than fifteen years.

Sir Lionel had tutored himself carefully as to what he would say and
what do. "George," he said, and the old man shrank as he heard the
unaccustomed name. "When I heard that you were ill, I could not but
come and see you."

"Very good of you, Sir Lionel; very good of you," growled the old
man.

"It is fifteen years since we met, and we are both old men now."

"I am an old man now, and nearly worn out; too old and far gone to
have many wants. You are not in that condition, I suppose."

There was an amount of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke, and in his
eye also as he looked at his brother, which made Sir Lionel perfectly
understand that his rich relative was not specially anxious to be
kind to him.

"Well, we are neither of us quite so far gone as that, I hope--not
quite so far gone as that;" and Sir Lionel looked very pleasant.
"But, speaking for myself, I have not many wants now"--nor had he,
pleasant old man that he was; only three or four comfortable rooms
for himself and his servant; a phaeton and a pair of horses; and
another smaller establishment in a secluded quiet street; nothing
more than that, including of course all that was excellent in the
eating and drinking line--"speaking for myself, I have not many wants
now." And he did look very good-humoured and pleasant as he spoke.

Mr. Bertram senior did not look good-humoured or pleasant. There was
that in his old eye which was the very opposite to good-humour and
pleasantness.

"Ah!" said he. "Well I am glad of that, for you will be able to do
the more for poor George. He will have wants; he is going to take
care and trouble on himself. Neither he nor his sweetheart have, I
take it, been accustomed to do without wants; and their income will
be tight enough--forby what you can do for them."

The colonel sat and still looked pleasant, but he began to think that
it might be as well for him that he was back at Littlebath.

"Poor George! I hope they will be happy. I think they will; my
greatest anxiety now is of course for their happiness; and yours is
the same, doubtless. It is odd that my child and your child's child
should thus come together, is it not?" so spoke the colonel.

Mr. Bertram looked at him; looked through him almost, but he said
nothing.

"It is odd," continued Sir Lionel, "but a very happy circumstance.
She is certainly the sweetest girl I ever saw; and George is a lucky
fellow."

"Yes, he is a lucky fellow; he will get more than he has any right
to expect. First and last she will have six thousand pounds. I have
not heard him say what he means to settle on her; but perhaps he was
waiting till you had come home."

Sir Lionel's forte during his whole official career had been the
making pleasant--by the pleasantness that was innate in him--things
which appeared to be going in a very unpleasant manner. But how was
he to make things pleasant now?

"Well, you see, George has been so much knocked about! There was his
fellowship. I think they behaved shabbily enough to him."

"Fellowship! One hundred and seventy pounds a year and the run of his
teeth at feast time, or some such thing as that. A man can't marry on
his fellowship very well!"

"Ha! ha! ha! no, he can't exactly do that. On the whole, I think it
was quite as well that he threw it up; and so I told him."

"Did you tell him at the same time what his future income was to be?"

"No, upon my soul I did not; but if all I hear be true, I believe you
did. You have been exceedingly generous to him, George--and to me
also."

"Then, Sir Lionel, allow me to tell you that all you hear is not
true. Anything at all that you may have heard of that kind, if you
have heard anything, is perfectly false. I have said nothing to
George about his income, and have nothing to say to him."

"Well, I may have expressed myself wrongly, and perhaps you did say
nothing. I was alluding especially to what you have done."

"I will tell you exactly what I have done. I thought he showed a high
spirit when he threw up his fellowship, and as I had always a great
contempt for those Oxford fellows, I sent him a thousand pounds. It
was a present, and I hope he will make good use of it."

"I am sure he will," said Sir Lionel, who certainly had just cause
for such confidence, seeing how large a slice out of the sum had been
placed at his own disposal.

"I am sure he will," said Sir Lionel. "Indeed, I know that he has."

"Ah, I'm glad to hear of it; of course you know more about it than I
do; of course you are arranging these matters. But that is all he has
had from me, and all that he is likely to have."

If such were to be the treatment of George, of George who was
certainly in some respects a favourite, what hope could Sir Lionel
have for himself? But it was not so much his brother's words which
led him to fear that his brother's money-bags were impregnable to him
as his brother's voice and his brother's eye. That eye was never off
him, and Sir Lionel did begin to wish that he was at Littlebath.

"I don't know whether George may have formed any hopes," continued
the old man; but here Sir Lionel interrupted him, and not
imprudently: if anything was to be said, it should be said now.

"Well, if he has formed hopes, George, you cannot but own that it is
natural. He has looked on you as a man without any child of your own,
and he has been taught so to look by your treating him almost as
though he were your son."

"You mean that I paid his school debts and his Oxford debts when you
forgot to do so," growled out the elder brother.

"Yes, and that you afterwards gave him an income when he came up
to live in London. I hope you do not think that I am ungrateful,
George?" and Sir Lionel used his softest and, at the same time, his
most expressive tone.

"Grateful! I seldom look for much gratitude. But I shall be glad to
know when it may suit you to settle with me. The account has been
running on now for a great many years. Probably Pritchett may have
sent it you." And as he spoke Mr. Bertram rose from his chair and
took an ominous-looking piece of paper from off the mantelpiece.

"Yes, Mr. Pritchett is punctuality itself in these matters," said Sir
Lionel, with a gentle laugh, which had not about it all his usual
pleasantness.

"You have probably checked it, and can say whether or no it be
correct," said Mr. Bertram senior, looking at the paper in his hand.

"Well, I can't say that I have exactly; but I don't in the least
doubt the figures, not in the least; Mr. Pritchett is always correct,
I know."

"Yes, Mr. Pritchett is generally correct. And may I ask, Sir Lionel,
what you intend to do in the matter?"

It was necessary now that Sir Lionel should summon up his best
courage. He reminded himself that after all his brother was but a
feeble old man--impotent in all but money; and as it seemed now clear
that no further pecuniary aid was to be expected, why need he fear
him on this account? Had it been possible for him to get away without
further talk, he would have done so; but this was not possible, so he
determined to put a good face on it.

"I suppose you are joking now, George," said he.

I wish I could describe the tone of voice in which the word joking
was repeated by the elder Mr. Bertram. It made the military knight
jump in his chair, and confess to himself that the word impotent
could not be safely applied to his ancient relative.

"Well, I dare say it is a joke," the old man went on to say. "If I
expect to be paid what I have expended in saving George from being
turned loose upon the world without education, I suppose it is a
joke. Ha! ha! ha! I never thought of laughing at it before, but now I
will. I always heard that you were a joker, Sir Lionel. Ha! ha! ha! I
dare say you have laughed at it often enough yourself, eh?"

"What I mean is this, when you took upon yourself George's education
and maintenance, you could hardly have intended to have it paid back
again by such a poor devil as I am."

"Oh, I couldn't, couldn't I?"

"At any rate, I don't suppose you did count on having your money
back."

"Well, I must admit this, I did not feel very sure of it; I did think
there might be a doubt. But what could I do? I could not let poor
Wilkinson ruin himself because you would not pay your debts."

"I am sorry that you take it up in such a manner," said the colonel,
assuming a tone of injured innocence. "I came here because I heard
that you were ill--"

"Thought I was dying, eh?"

"I did not exactly think that you were dying, George; but I knew that
you were very ill, and old feelings came back on me. The feelings
of our early youth, George; and I could not be happy without seeing
you."

"Very kind of you, I am sure. You altogether decline then to settle
the account, eh?"

"If you desire it, I will--will make arrangements, certainly; you do
not want it all at once, I suppose?"

"Oh, no; half in three months, and other half in six will do for me."

"It would take a great deal more than all my income to do that, I
fear."

"Your professional income; yes, I suppose it would. I fear they
don't give you five or six thousand a year for staying at home at
Littlebath. But surely you must have saved money; you must have
intended to do something for your son?"

"I have looked upon him as provided for by his uncle."

"Oh!"

"And have therefore been satisfied that he would do well."

"Now, Sir Lionel, I will tell you how the matter is. I know you will
never repay me a shilling of this money, and therefore I shall tell
Pritchett not to bother himself with sending you any more accounts."

"He is a worthy man, and I am sorry he should have had so much
trouble."

"So am I, very; but that's done. He has had the trouble, and I've
paid the money; and, as far as George is concerned, I do not begrudge
it."

"You would not if you knew what his sentiments are."

"I don't care a fig for his sentiments."

"His feelings of gratitude to you are very strong."

"No, they are not. He is not in the least grateful to me, nor do I
wish him to be so. He is an honest lad, with a high spirit, a good
heart, and a bad head. Sometimes I have thought of making him my
heir."

"Ah!" sighed Sir Lionel.

"But I have now firmly made up my mind to do no such thing. He has no
knowledge of the worth of money. He does not value money."

"Oh, there you mistake him; indeed, you do."

"He would do no good with it; and, as regards mine, he won't have
it." Sir Lionel's face again became very doleful.

"But who will have it, George? Whom else have you got to leave it
to?"

"When I want to consult you on that subject, I'll send for you; just
at present I have no wish to do so. And now, if you please, we'll say
no more about money."

Nothing more was said about money, and very little on any other
subject. On what other subject could a pleasant votary of pleasure,
such as Sir Lionel, wish to hold conversation with a worn-out old
miser from the city? He had regarded his brother as a very full
sponge, from which living water might probably be squeezed. But the
sponge, it seemed, was no longer squeezable by him in any way. So he
left Hadley as quickly as he could, and betook himself to Littlebath
with a somewhat saddened heart. He consoled himself, however, by
reflecting that an old man's whims are seldom very enduring, and that
George might yet become a participator in the huge prize; if not on
his own account, at least on that of his wife.

Sir Lionel returned to Littlebath, resolving that come what might he
would not again have personal recourse to his brother. He had tried
his diplomatic powers and had failed--failed in that line on being
successful in which he so pre-eminently piqued himself. In Ireland it
is said of any man who is more than ordinarily persuasive, that he
can "talk the devil out of the liver wing of a turkey!" Sir Lionel
had always supposed himself to be gifted with this eloquence; but in
that discourse at Hadley, the devil had been too stout for him, and
he had gone away without any wing at all--liver or other.

On one point on which he had been very anxious to say a word or two,
he had been unable to introduce the slightest hint. He had not dreamt
that it would be possible to ask his brother in so many words whether
or no Miss Baker would be made a participator in the great prize; but
he had imagined that he might have led the way to some conversation
which would have shown what were the old man's feelings with
reference to that lady. But, as the reader will have perceived, he
had not been able to lead the conversation in any way; and he had
left Hadley without further light for the guidance of his steps in
that matrimonial path in which he had contemplated the expediency of
taking a leisurely evening stroll.

The wicked old miser had declared that George should not be his heir;
and had also said that which was tantamount to a similar declaration
regarding Caroline. She would have six thousand pounds, first and
last. Nothing more than a beggarly six thousand pounds, of which
two-thirds were already her own without thanks to any one. What a
wretched old miser! Who then would have his money? It would hardly be
possible that he would leave it all to Miss Baker. And yet he might.
It was just possible. Anything was possible with a capricious miserly
old fool like that. What a catch would it be if he, Sir Lionel, could
become the heir in so deliciously easy a manner!

But, in all probability, anything the old man might say was exactly
the opposite of that which he intended to do. He probably would leave
his money to George--or very probably to Caroline; but most probably
he would do something for Miss Baker; something handsome for that
soft, obedient handmaid who had never disobeyed any of his commands;
and, better still, had never drawn upon him for more than her regular
allowance.

Such were Sir Lionel's thoughts as he made his way back to
Littlebath. Yes; he would make himself acceptable to Miss Baker. That
George, old George, was not long for this world was very evident
to the colonel. He, troublesome old cross-grained churl that he
was, would soon be out of the way. Such being certain--all but
certain--could not Sir Lionel manage matters in this way? Could he
not engage himself to the lady while his brother was yet alive, and
then marry her afterwards--marry her, or perhaps not marry her,
as might then become expedient? He was well sure of this, that if
she promised to marry him before her acquisition of fortune, such
acquisition would not induce her to break off from the match. "She
is too true, too honourable for that," said Sir Lionel to himself,
feeling a warm admiration for the truth of her character, as he
resolved how he might himself best back out of such an engagement in
the event of its being expedient for him so to do.

So passed his thoughts as he made his way back to Littlebath.
And when there he did not allow idleness to mar his schemes. He
immediately began to make himself pleasant--more than ordinarily
pleasant to Miss Baker. He did not make love to her after the manner
of his youth. Had he done so, he would only have frightened the
gentle lady. But he was assiduous in his attentions, soft and sweetly
flattering in his speech, and friendly, oh, so friendly, in his
manner! He called almost every day at Montpellier Crescent. To be
sure, there was nothing unnatural in this, for was he not about to
become the father of his dear Caroline? But dear to him as his dear
Caroline might be, his softest whispers, his most sugared words, were
always for her aunt.

He had ever some little proposition to make, some kind family
suggestion to put forward. He was a man of the world; they were
ladies, delicate, unfit for coping with the world, necessarily
ignorant of its naughtier, darker ways; he would do everything for
them: and by degrees he did almost everything for Miss Baker.

And so that lady was charmed without knowing it. Let us do her full
justice. She had not the remotest idea of opening a flirtation with
Sir Lionel Bertram. She had looked on him as the future father-in-law
of her own dear child; never as anything more: no idea of becoming
Lady Bertram had ever for an instant flashed upon her imagination.
But, nevertheless, by degrees the warrior's attentions became
pleasant to her.

She had had no youthful adorers, this poor, good Miss Baker; never,
at least, since she had been merry as other children are, "when her
little lovers came." She had advanced to her present nearly mature
age without perhaps feeling the want of them. But, nevertheless, even
in her bosom was living the usual feminine passion for admiration.
She was no "lusus naturæ," but a woman with a heart, and blood in her
veins; and not as yet a very old woman either. And therefore, though
she had no idea that Sir Lionel was her lover, she had learned to be
fond of him.

Her little conversations with Caroline on this subject were
delightful. The younger lady was certainly the sharper of the two;
and though she had her own concerns to occupy her, she was able to
see that something might perhaps be intended. Her liking for Sir
Lionel was by no means a strong passion. Something probably had
passed between her and George; for George could keep no secret from
her. At any rate, she suspected the knight, but she could not say
anything to put her aunt on her guard beyond using cold expressions
in speaking of her future father. But Miss Baker, who suspected
nothing, who expected nothing, could not be too lavish in her
praises.

"Caroline," she would say, "I do think you are so happy in having
such a father-in-law."

"Oh, certainly," Caroline had answered. "But, for myself, I think
more of my father-in-law's son."

"Oh, of course you do; I know that. But Sir Lionel is such a perfect
gentleman. Did you ever know a gentleman of his age so attentive to
ladies as he is?"

"Well, perhaps not; except one or two old men whom I have seen making
love."

"That's a very different sort of thing, you know--that's absurd. But
I must say I think Sir Lionel's behaviour is perfect." What would she
have said of Sir Lionel's behaviour had she known all the secrets of
his establishments?

And thus, partly on Sir Lionel's account, Miss Baker began in these
days to have perhaps her hottest fit, her strongest wish with
reference to her niece's marriage. And then just at this hottest
moment came the blow which has been told of in the last chapter.

But Miss Baker, as she prepared herself for Miss Todd's party, would
not believe that the matter was hopeless. The quarrels of lovers have
ever been the renewal of love, since the day when a verb between two
nominative cases first became possessed of the power of agreeing
with either of them. There is something in this sweet easiness of
agreement which seems to tend to such reconciliations. Miss Baker was
too good a grammarian to doubt the fact.

She would probably, under existing circumstances, have stayed at home
with her niece, but that she knew she should meet Sir Lionel at Miss
Todd's party. She was very anxious to learn whether Sir Lionel had
heard of this sad interruption to their harmony; anxious to hear what
Sir Lionel would say about it; anxious to concert measures with Sir
Lionel for repairing the breach--that is, if Sir Lionel should appear
to be cognizant that the breach existed. If she should find that
he was not cognizant, she would not tell him; at least she thought
she would not. Circumstances must of course govern her conduct to
a certain degree when the moment of meeting should arrive. And so
Miss Baker went to the party, certainly with a saddened heart, but
comforted in some degree by the assurance that she would meet Sir
Lionel. "Dear Sir Lionel, what a thing it is to have a friend," she
said to herself as she stepped into the fly. Yes, indeed, the best
thing in the world--the very best. But, dear Miss Baker, it is of all
things the most difficult to acquire--and especially difficult for
both ladies and gentlemen after forty years of age.

In the meantime, Sir Lionel had been calling on Miss Todd--had heard
a good deal about Miss Todd; and was strong at heart, as a man is
strong who has two good strings to his bow.



CHAPTER VII.

MISS TODD'S CARD-PARTY.


Yes. The great Miss Todd had arrived at Littlebath, and had already
been talked about not a little. Being a maiden lady, with no family
but her one own maid, she lived in lodgings of course. People at
Littlebath, indeed, are much given to lodgings. They are mostly a
come-and-go class of beings, to whom the possession of furniture and
the responsibilities of householding would be burdensome. But then
Miss Todd's lodgings were in the Paragon, and all the world knows how
much it costs to secure eligible rooms in the Paragon: two spacious
sitting-rooms, for instance, a bedroom, and a closet for one's own
maid. And Miss Todd had done this in the very best corner of the
Paragon; in that brazen-faced house which looks out of the Paragon
right down Montpellier Avenue as regards the front windows, and from
the back fully commands the entrance to the railway station. This
was Mrs. O'Neil's house; and, as Mrs. O'Neil herself loudly boasted
when Miss Todd came to inspect the premises, she rarely took single
ladies, or any ladies that had not handles to their names. Her
very last lodger had been Lady McGuffern, the widow of the medical
director of the great Indian Eyesore district, as Mrs. O'Neil called
it. And Lady McGuffern had paid her, oh! ever so much per week; and
had always said on every Saturday--"Mrs. O'Neil, your terms for such
rooms as these are much too low." It is in such language that the
widows of Scotch doctors generally speak of their lodgings when they
are paying their weekly bills.

And these rooms Miss Todd had secured. She had, moreover, instantly
sent for Mr. Wutsanbeans, who keeps those remarkably neat livery
stables at the back of the Paragon, and in ten minutes had concluded
her bargain for a private brougham and private coachman in
demi-livery at so much per week. "And very wide awake she is, is
Miss Todd," said the admiring Mr. Wutsanbeans, as he stood among
his bandy-legged satellites. And then her name was down at the
assembly-rooms, and in the pump-room, and the book-room, and in
the best of sittings in Mr. O'Callaghan's fashionable church, in
almost less than no time. There were scores of ladies desirous of
being promoted from the side walls to the middle avenues in Mr.
O'Callaghan's church; for, after all, what is the use of a French
bonnet when stuck under a side wall? But though all these were
desirous, and desirous in vain, Miss Todd at once secured a place
where her head was the cynosure of all the eyes of the congregation.
Such was Miss Todd's power, and therefore do we call her great.

And in a week's time the sound of her loud but yet pleasant voice,
and the step of her heavy but yet active foot, and the glow of her
red cherry cheek were as well known on the esplanade as though she
were a Littlebathian of two months' standing. Of course she had
found friends there, such friends as one always does find at such
places--dear delightful people whom she had met some years before
for a week at Ems, or sat opposite to once at the hotel table at
Harrowgate for a fortnight. Miss Todd had a very large circle of such
friends; and, to do her justice, we must say that she was always glad
to see them, and always treated them well. She was ready to feed
them at all times; she was not candid or malicious when backbiting
them; she never threw the burden of her pleasures on her friends'
shoulders--as ladies at Littlebath will sometimes do. She did not
boast either of her purse or her acquaintance; and as long as she was
allowed to do exactly what she liked she generally kept her temper.
She had an excellent digestion, and greatly admired the same quality
in other people. She did not much care what she said of others, but
dearly liked to have mischief spoken of herself. Some one once had
said--or very likely no one had said it, but a _soupçon_ of a hint
had in some way reached her own ears--that she had left Torquay
without paying her bills. It was at any rate untrue, but she had
sedulously spread the report; and now wherever she ordered goods,
she would mysteriously tell the tradesman that he had better inquire
about her in Devonshire. She had been seen walking one moonlight
night with a young lad at Bangor: the lad was her nephew; but some
one had perhaps jested about Miss Todd and her beau, and since that
time she was always talking of eloping with her own flesh and blood.

But Miss Todd was not a bad woman. She spent much in feeding those
who perhaps were not hungry; but she fed the hungry also: she
indulged a good deal in silk brocades; but she bought ginghams
as well, and calicos for poor women, and flannel petticoats for
motherless girls. She did go to sleep sometimes in church, and would
sit at a whist-table till two o'clock of a Sunday morning; but having
been selected from a large family by an uncle as his heir, she had
divided her good things with brothers and sisters, and nephews and
nieces. And so there were some hearts that blessed her, and some
friends who loved her with a love other than that of her friends of
Littlebath and Ems, of Jerusalem and Harrowgate.

And she had loved in her early days, and had been told and had
believed that she was loved. But evidence had come to her that her
lover was a scamp--a man without morals and without principle; and
she had torn herself away from him. And Miss Todd had offered to him
money compensation, which the brute had taken; and since that, for
his sake, or rather for her love's sake, she had rejected all further
matrimonial tenders, and was still Miss Todd: and Miss Todd she
intended to remain.

Being such as she was, the world of Littlebath was soon glad to get
about her. Those who give suppers at their card-parties are not long
in Littlebath in making up the complement of their guests. She had
been there now ten days, and had already once or twice mustered a
couple of whist-tables; but this affair was to be on a larger scale.

Miss Baker she had not yet seen, nor Miss Waddington. The ladies had
called on each other, but had missed fire on both occasions; but with
Sir Lionel she had already renewed her intimacy on very affectionate
terms. They had been together for perhaps three days at Jerusalem,
but then three days at Jerusalem are worth a twelvemonth in such a
dull, slow place as London. And Sir Lionel, therefore, and Miss Todd
had nearly rushed into each other's arms; and they both, without any
intentional falsehood, were talking of each other all over Littlebath
as old and confidential friends.

And now for Miss Todd's party. Assist me, my muse. Come down from
heaven, O, Calliope my queen! and aid me to spin with my pen a long
discourse. Hark! do you hear? or does some fond delusion mock me?
I seem to hear, and to be already wandering through those sacred
recesses--the drawing-rooms, namely, at Littlebath--which are
pervious only to the streams and breezes of good society.

Miss Todd stood at her drawing-room door as her guests were ushered
in, not by the greengrocer's assistant, but by the greengrocer
himself in person. And she made no quiet little curtsies, whispered
no unmeaning welcomes with bated breath. No; as they arrived
she seized each Littlebathian by the hand, and shook that hand
vigorously. She did so to every one that came, rejoiced loudly in the
coming of each, and bade them all revel in tea and cake with a voice
that demanded and received instant obedience.

"Ah, Lady Longspade! this is kind. I am delighted to see you. Do you
remember dear Ems, and the dear Kursaal? Ah, me! Well, do take some
tea now, Lady Longspade. What, Miss Finesse--well--well--well. I was
thinking of Ostend only the other day. You'll find Flounce there
with coffee and cake and all that. You remember my woman, Flounce,
don't you? Mrs. Fuzzybell, you really make me proud. But is not Mr.
Fuzzybell to be here? Oh, he's behind is he? well--I'm so glad.
Ha! ha! ha! A slow coach is he? I'll make him faster. But perhaps
you won't trust him to me, I'm such a dangerous creature. I'm
always eloping with some one. Who knows but I might go off with Mr.
Fuzzybell? We were near it you know at the end of that long walk at
Malvern--only he seemed too tired--ha! ha! ha! There's tea and cake
there, Mrs. Fuzzybell. My dear Sir Lionel, I am delighted. I declare
you are five years younger--we are both five years younger than when
we were at Jerusalem."

And so forth. But Sir Lionel did not pass on to the tea-tables as did
the Finesses and the Longspades. He remained close at Miss Todd's
elbow, as though his friendship was of a more enduring kind than that
of others, as though he were more to Miss Todd than Mrs. Fuzzybell,
nearer than Miss Ruff who had just been assured at her entrance
that the decks should be made ready for action almost at once. A
lion-hearted old warrior was Miss Ruff,--one who could not stand
with patience the modern practice of dallying in the presence of her
enemies' guns. She had come there for a rubber of whist--to fight the
good fight--to conquer or to die, and her soul longed to be at it.
Wait but one moment longer, Miss Ruff, and the greengrocer and I will
have done with our usherings, and then the decks shall be cleared.

But we must certainly do the honours for our old friend Miss Baker.
Miss Todd, when she saw her, looked as though she would have fallen
on her neck and kissed her; but she doubtless remembered that their
respective head-dresses might suffer in the encounter.

"At last, dear Miss Baker; at last! I am so delighted; but where is
Miss Waddington? where is the bride-elect?" These last words were
said in a whisper which was not perhaps quite as plainly audible at
the other side of the Paragon as were the generality of Miss Todd's
speeches. "Indisposed! Why is she indisposed? you mean that she has
love-letters to write. I know that is what you mean." And the roar
again became a whisper fit for Drury Lane. "Well, I shall make a
point of seeing her to-morrow. Do you remember Jehoshaphat, dear
Jehoshaphat?" And then having made her little answers, Miss Baker
also passed on, and left Miss Todd in the act of welcoming the Rev.
Mr. O'Callaghan.

Miss Baker passed on, but she did so slowly. She had to speak to
Sir Lionel, who kept his place near Miss Todd's shoulder; and
perhaps she had some secret hope--no, not hope; some sort of an
anticipation--that her dear friend would give her the benefit of his
arm for a few moments. But Sir Lionel did nothing of the kind. He
took her hand with his kindest little squeeze, asked with his softest
voice after his dear Caroline, and then let her pass on by herself.
Miss Baker was a bird easily to be lured to her perch,--or to his.
Sir Lionel felt that he could secure her at any time. Therefore, he
determined to attach himself to Miss Todd for the present. And so
Miss Baker walked on alone, perhaps a little piqued at being thus
slighted.

It was a strange sight to see the Rev. Mr. O'Callaghan among that
worldly crowd of pleasure-seeking sinners. There were, as we have
said, three sets of people at Littlebath. That Miss Todd, with her
commanding genius and great power of will, should have got together
portions of two of them was hardly to be considered wonderful. Both
the fast and heavy set liked good suppers. But it did appear singular
to the men and women of both these sets that they should find
themselves in the same room with Mr. O'Callaghan.

Mr. O'Callaghan was not exactly the head and font of piety at
Littlebath. It was not on his altars, not on his chiefly, that
hecatombs of needlework were offered up. He was only senior curate to
the great high-priest, to Dr. Snort himself. But though he was but
curate, he was more perhaps to Littlebath--to his especial set in
Littlebath--than most rectors are to their own people.

Mr. O'Callaghan was known to be condescending and mild under the
influence of tea and muffins--sweetly so if the cream be plentiful
and the muffins soft with butter; but still, as a man and a pastor,
he was severe. In season and out of season he was hot in argument
against the devil and all his works. He was always fighting the
battle with all manner of weapons. He would write letters of killing
reproach to persons he had never known, and address them by post to--


   "John Jones, Esq.,
   The Sabbath-breaker,
   5 Paradise Terrace,
   Littlebath."


or--


   "Mrs. Gambler Smith,
   2 Little Paragon,
   Littlebath."


Nothing was too severe for him. One may say that had he not been a
clergyman, and therefore of course justified in any interference, he
would have been kicked from Littlebath to London and back again long
since. How then did it come to pass that he was seen at Miss Todd's
party? The secret lay in Miss Todd's unbounded power. She was not as
other Littlebathians. When he unintentionally squeezed her hand, she
squeezed his in return with somewhat of a firmer grasp. When, gently
whispering, he trusted that she was as well in spirit as in body, she
answered aloud--and all the larger Paragon heard her--that she was
very well in both, thank God. And then, as her guests pressed in,
she passed him on rapidly to the tea and cake, and to such generous
supplies of cream as Mrs. Flounce, in her piety, might be pleased to
vouchsafe to him.

"What, Mr. O'Callaghan!" said Sir Lionel into Miss Todd's ear, in a
tone of well-bred wonder and triumphant admiration. "Mr. O'Callaghan
among the sinners! My dear Miss Todd, how will he like the
whist-tables?"

"If he does not like them, he must just do the other thing. If I know
anything of Miss Ruff, a whole college of O'Callaghans would not
keep her from the devil's books for five minutes longer. Oh, here is
Lady Ruth Revoke, my dear Lady Ruth, I am charmed to see you. When,
I wonder, shall we meet again at Baden Baden? Dear Baden Baden!
Flounce, green tea for Lady Ruth Revoke." And so Miss Todd continued
to do her duty.

What Miss Todd had said of her friend was quite true. Even then Miss
Ruff was standing over a card-table, with an open pack in her hands,
quite regardless of Mr. O'Callaghan. "Come, Lady Longspade," she
said, "we are wasting time sadly. It is ever so much after nine. I
know Miss Todd means us to begin. She told me so. Suppose we sit
down?"

But Lady Longspade merely muttered something and passed on. In
the first place, she was not quite so eager as was Miss Ruff; and
in the next, Miss Ruff was neither the partner nor the opponent
with whom she delighted to co-operate. Lady Longspade liked to
play first-fiddle at her own table; but Miss Ruff always played
first-fiddle at her table, let the others be whom they might; and she
very generally played her tunes altogether "con spirito."

Miss Ruff saw how Lady Longspade passed on, but she was
nothing disconcerted. She was used to that, and more than that.
"Highty-tighty!" was all she said. "Well, Mrs. Garded, I think we can
manage without her ladyship, can't we?" Mrs. Garded said that she
thought they might indeed, and stood by the table opposite to Miss
Ruff. This was Mrs. King Garded, a widow of great Littlebathian
repute, to whom as a partner over the green table few objected. She
was a careful, silent, painstaking player, one who carefully kept her
accounts, and knew well that the monthly balance depended mainly, not
on her good, but on her bad hands. She was an old friend, and an old
enemy of Miss Ruff's. The two would say very spiteful things to each
other, things incredible to persons not accustomed to the card-tables
of Littlebath. But, nevertheless, they were always willing to sit
together at the same rubber.

To them came up smirking little Mr. Fuzzybell. Mr. Fuzzybell was not
great at whist, nor did he much delight in it; but, nevertheless, he
constantly played. He was taken about by his wife to the parties,
and then he was always caught and impaled, and generally plucked and
skinned before he was sent home again. He never disported at the same
table with his wife, who did not care to play either with him or
against him; but he was generally caught by some Miss Ruff, or some
Mrs. King Garded, and duly made use of. The ladies of Littlebath
generally liked to have one black coat at the table with them. It
saved them from that air of destitution which always, in their own
eyes, attaches to four ladies seated at a table together.

"Ah, Mr. Fuzzybell," said Miss Ruff, "you are the very person we are
looking for. Mrs. Garded always likes to have you at her table. Sit
down, Mr. Fuzzybell." Mr. Fuzzybell did as he was told, and sat down.

Just at this moment, as Miss Ruff was looking out with eager eyes
for a fourth who would suit her tastes, and had almost succeeded
in catching the eye of Miss Finesse--and Miss Finesse was a silent,
desirable, correct player--who should walk up to the table and
absolutely sit down but that odious old woman, Lady Ruth Revoke! It
was Mrs. Garded's great sin, in Miss Ruff's eye, that she toadied
Lady Ruth to such an extent as to be generally willing to play with
her. Now it was notorious in Littlebath that she had never played
well, and that she had long since forgotten all she had ever known.
The poor old woman had already had some kind of a fit; she was very
shaky and infirm, and ghastly to look at, in spite of her paint and
ribbons. She was long in arranging her cards, long in playing them;
very long in settling her points, when the points went against
her, as they generally did. And yet, in spite of all this, Mrs.
King Garded would encourage her because her father had been Lord
Whitechapel!

There was no help for it now. There she was in the chair; and unless
Miss Ruff was prepared to give up her table and do something that
would be uncommonly rude even for her, the rubber must go on. She was
not prepared at any rate to give up her table, so she took up a card
to cut for partners. There were two to one in her favour. If fortune
would throw her ladyship and Mr. Fuzzybell together there might
yet be found in the easiness of the prey some consolation for the
slowness of the play.

They cut the cards, and Miss Ruff found herself sitting opposite
to Lady Ruth Revoke. It was a pity that she should not have been
photographed. "And now, Mr. Fuzzybell," said Mrs. King Garded,
triumphantly.

But we must for awhile go to other parts of the room. Lady Longspade,
Mrs. Fuzzybell, and Miss Finesse soon followed the daring example of
Miss Ruff, and seated themselves with some worthy fourth compatriot.

"Did you see Miss Ruff?" said Lady Longspade, whose ears had caught
the scornful highty-tighty of the rejected lady. "She wanted to get
me at her table. But no, I thank you. I like my rubber too, and can
play it as well as some other people. But it may cost too dear, eh,
Mrs. Fuzzybell? I have no idea of being scolded by Miss Ruff."

"No, nor I," said Mrs. Fuzzybell. "I hate that continual scolding.
We are playing only for amusement; and why not play in good
temper?"--nevertheless Mrs. Fuzzybell had a rough side to her own
tongue. "It is you and I, Miss Finesse. Shillings, I suppose, and--"
and then there was a little whispering and a little grinning between
Lady Longspade and Mrs. Fuzzybell, the meaning of which was, that as
the occasion was rather a special one, they would indulge themselves
with half-a-crown on the rubber and sixpence each hand on the odd
trick. And so the second table went to work.

And then there was a third, and a fourth, and a fifth. Miss Ruff's
example was more potent than Mr. O'Callaghan's presence in that
assembly. That gentleman began to feel unhappy as there was no longer
round him a crowd of listening ladies sufficient to screen from his
now uninquiring eyes the delinquencies of the more eager of the
sinners. The snorting of the war-horse and the sound of the trumpet
had enticed away every martial bosom, and Mr. O'Callaghan was left
alone in converse with Mrs. Flounce.

He turned to Miss Todd, who was now seated near enough to the door
to do honour to any late arriving guest, but near enough also to the
table to help herself easily to cake. His soul burned within him to
utter one anathema against the things that he saw. Miss Todd was
still not playing. He might opine that she objected to the practice.
Sir Lionel was still at her back; he also might be a brand that had
been rescued from the burning. At a little distance sat Miss Baker;
he knew that she at any rate was not violently attached to cards.
Could he not say something? Could he not lift up his voice, if only
for a moment, and speak forth as he so loved to do, as was his wont
in the meetings of the saints, his brethren?

He looked at Miss Todd, and he raised his eyes, and he raised his
hands, but the courage was not in him to speak. There was about Miss
Todd as she stood, or as she sat, a firmness which showed itself even
in her rotundity, a vigour in the very rubicundity of her cheek which
was apt to quell the spirit of those who would fain have interfered
with her. So Mr. O'Callaghan, having raised his eyes considerably,
and having raised his hands a little, said nothing.

"I fear you do not approve of cards?" said Miss Todd.

"Approve! oh no, how can I approve of them, Miss Todd?"

"Well, I do with all my heart. What are old women like us to do? We
haven't eyes to read at night, even if we had minds fit for it. We
can't always be saying our prayers. We have nothing to talk about
except scandal. It's better than drinking; and we should come to that
if we hadn't cards."

"Oh, Miss Todd!"

"You see you have your excitement in preaching, Mr. O'Callaghan.
These card-tables are our pulpits; we have got none other. We haven't
children, and we haven't husbands. That is, the most of us. And we
should be in a lunatic asylum in six weeks if you took away our
cards. Now, will you tell me, Mr. O'Callaghan, what would you expect
Miss Ruff to do if you persuaded her to give up whist?"

"She has the poor with her always, Miss Todd."

"Yes, she has; the woman that goes about with a clean apron and four
borrowed children; and the dumb man with a bit of chalk and no legs,
and the very red nose. She has these, to be sure, and a lot more.
But suppose she looks after them all the day, she can't be looking
after them all the night too. The mind must be unbent sometimes, Mr.
O'Callaghan."

"But to play for money, Miss Todd! Is not that gambling?"

"Well, I don't know. I can't say what gambling is. But do you sit
down and play for love, Mr. O'Callaghan, and see how soon you'll go
to sleep. Come, shall we try? I can have a little private bet, just
to keep myself awake, with Sir Lionel, here."

But Mr. O'Callaghan declined the experiment. So he had another cup of
tea and another muffin, and then went his way; regretting sorely in
his heart that he could not get up into a high pulpit and preach at
them all. However, he consoled himself by "improving" the occasion on
the following Sunday.

For the next fifteen minutes Sir Lionel stood his ground, saying soft
nothings to Miss Todd, and then he also became absorbed among the
rubbers. He found that Miss Todd was not good at having love made to
her in public. She was very willing to be confidential, very willing
to receive flattery, attentions, hand-pressings, and the like. But
she would make her confidences in her usual joyous, loud voice; and
when told that she was looking remarkably well, she would reply that
she always did look well at Littlebath, in a tone that could not fail
to attract the attention of the whole room. Now Sir Lionel would fain
have been a little more quiet in his proceedings, and was forced to
put off somewhat of what he had to say till he could find Miss Todd
alone on the top of a mountain. 'Twas thus at least that he expressed
his thoughts to himself in his chagrin, as he took his place opposite
to Mrs. Shortpointz at the seventh and last establishment now formed
in the rooms.

The only idlers present were Miss Baker and Miss Todd. Miss Baker was
not quite happy in her mind. It was not only that she was depressed
about Caroline: her firm belief in the grammatical axiom before
alluded to lessened her grief on that score. But the conduct of Sir
Lionel made her uncomfortable; and she began to find, without at all
understanding why, that she did not like Miss Todd as well as she
used to do at Jerusalem. Her heart took Mr. O'Callaghan's side
in that little debate about the cards; and though Sir Lionel, in
leaving Miss Todd, did not come to her, nevertheless the movement was
agreeable to her. She was not therefore in her very highest spirits
when Miss Todd came and sat close to her on the sofa.

"I am so sorry you should be out," said Miss Todd. "But you see, I've
had so much to do at the door there, that I couldn't see who was
sitting down with who."

"I'd rather be out," said Miss Baker. "I am not quite sure that Mr.
O'Callaghan is not right." This was her revenge.

"No; he's not a bit right, my dear. He does--just what the man says
in the rhymes--what is it? you know--makes up for his own little
peccadilloes by damning yours and mine. I forget how it goes. But
there'll be more in by-and-by, and then we'll have another table.
Those who come late will be more in your line; not so ready to peck
your eyes out if you happen to forget a card. That Miss Ruff is
dreadful." Here an awful note was heard, for the Lady Ruth had just
put her thirteenth trump on Miss Ruff's thirteenth heart. What
Littlebathian female soul could stand that unmoved?

"Oh, dear! that poor old woman!" continued Miss Todd. "You know one
lives in constant fear of her having a fit. Miss Ruff is horrible.
She has a way of looking with that fixed eye of hers that is almost
worse than her voice." The fact was, that Miss Ruff had one glass
eye. "I know she'll be the death of that poor old creature some of
these days. Lady Ruth will play, and she hardly knows one card from
another. And then Miss Ruff, she will scold. Good heavens! do you
hear that?"

"It's just seven minutes since I turned the last trick of the last
hand," Miss Ruff had said, scornfully. "We shall have finished the
two rubbers about six in the morning, I take it."

"Will your ladyship allow me to deal for you?" said Mr. Fuzzybell,
meaning to be civil.

"I'll allow you to do no such thing," croaked out Lady Ruth. "I can
deal very well myself; at any rate as well as Miss Ruff. And I'm not
the least in a hurry;" and she went on slobbering out the cards, and
counting them over and over again, almost as each card fell.

"That's a double and a treble against a single," said Lady Longspade,
cheerfully, from another table; "six points, and five--the other
rubber--makes eleven; and the two half-crowns is sixteen, and seven
odd tricks is nineteen and six. Here's sixpence, Mrs. Fuzzybell; and
now we'll cut again."

This was dreadful to Miss Ruff. Here had her rival played two
rubbers, won them both, pocketed all but a sovereign, and was again
at work; while she, she was still painfully toiling through her
second game, the first having been scored against her by her
partner's fatuity in having trumped her long heart. Was this to be
borne with patience? "Lady Ruth," she said, emitting fire out of her
one eye, "do you ever mean to have done dealing those cards?"

Lady Ruth did not condescend to make any answer, but recommenced her
leisurely counting; and then Miss Ruff uttered that terrific screech
which had peculiarly excited Miss Todd's attention.

"I declare I don't like it at all," said the tender-hearted Miss
Baker. "I think Mr. O'Callaghan was quite right."

"No, my dear, he was quite wrong, for he blamed the use of cards, not
the abuse. And after all, what harm comes of it? I don't suppose Miss
Ruff will actually kill her. I dare say if we were playing ourselves
we shouldn't notice it. Do you play cribbage? Shall we have a little
cribbage?" But Miss Baker did not play cribbage; or, at any rate, she
said that she did not.

"And do tell me something about dear Caroline," continued Miss Todd.
"I am so anxious to see her. But it has been a very long engagement,
hasn't it? and there ought to be lots of money, oughtn't there? But
I suppose it's all right. You know I was very much in love with young
Bertram myself; and made all manner of overtures to him, but quite
in vain; ha! ha! ha! I always thought him a very fine fellow, and I
think her a very lucky girl. And when is it to be? And, do tell me,
is she over head and ears in love with him?"

What was Miss Baker to say to this? She had not the slightest
intention of making Miss Todd a confidante in the matter: certainly
not now, as that lady was inclined to behave so very improperly with
Sir Lionel; and yet she did not know how to answer it.

"I hope it won't be put off much longer," continued Miss Todd. "Is
any day fixed yet?"

"No; no day is fixed yet," replied Miss Baker, blushing.

Miss Todd's ear was very quick. "There is nothing the matter, I
trust. Well, I won't ask any questions, nor say a word to anybody.
Come, there is a table vacant, and we will cut in." And then she
determined that she would get it all out from Sir Lionel.

The parties at some of the tables were now changed, and Miss Baker
and Miss Todd found themselves playing together. Miss Baker, too,
loved a gentle little rubber, if she could enjoy it quietly, without
fear of being gobbled up by any Ruff or any Longspade; and with Miss
Todd she was in this matter quite safe. She might behave as badly as
had the Lady Ruth, and Miss Todd would do no worse than laugh at her.
Miss Todd did not care about her points, and at her own house would
as soon lose as win; so that Miss Baker would have been happy had
she not still continued to sigh over her friend's very improper
flirtation with Sir Lionel.

And thus things went on for an hour or so. Every now and again a
savage yell was heard from some ill-used angry lady, and low growls,
prolonged sometimes through a whole game, came from different parts
of the room; but nobody took any notice of them; 'twas the manner at
Littlebath: and, though a stranger to the place might have thought,
on looking at those perturbed faces, and hearing those uncourteous
sounds, that there would be a flow of blood--such a flow as angry
nails may produce--the denizens of the place knew better. So the
rubbers went on with the amount of harmony customary to the place.

But the scene would have been an odd one for a non-playing stranger,
had a non-playing stranger been there to watch it. Every person in
the room was engaged at whist except Mrs. Flounce, who still remained
quiescent behind her tea and cakes. It did not happen that the party
was made up of a number of exact fours. There were two over; two
middle-aged ladies, a maiden and a widow: and they, perhaps more
happy than any of the others, certainly more silent for neither of
them had a partner to scold, were hard at work at double-dummy in a
corner.

It was a sight for a stranger! It is generally thought that a sad
_ennui_ pervades the life of most of those old ladies in England to
whom fate has denied the usual cares and burdens of the world, or
whose cares and burdens are done and gone. But there was no _ennui_
here. No stockjobber on 'Change could go about his exciting work with
more animating eagerness. There were those who scolded, and those who
were scolded. Those who sat silent, being great of mind, and those
who, being weak, could not restrain their notes of triumph or their
notes of woe; but they were all of them as animated and intense as
a tiger springing at its prey. Watch the gleam of joy that lights
up the half-dead, sallow countenance of old Mrs. Shortpointz as she
finds the ace of trumps at the back of her hand, the very last card.
Happy, happy Mrs. Shortpointz! Watch the triumph which illumines even
the painted cheeks and half-hidden wrinkles of Lady Longspade as she
brings in at the end of the hand three winning little clubs, and sees
kings and queens fall impotent at their call. Triumphant, successful
Lady Longspade! Was Napoleon more triumphant, did a brighter glow
of self-satisfied inward power cross his features, when at Ulm he
succeeded in separating poor Mack from all his friends?

Play on ladies. Let us not begrudge you your amusements. We do not
hold with pious Mr. O'Callaghan, that the interchange of a few
sixpences is a grievous sin. At other hours ye are still soft,
charitable, and tender-hearted; tender-hearted as English old ladies
are, and should be. But, dear ladies, would it not be well to
remember the amenities of life--even at the whist-table?

So things went on for an hour or so, and then Miss Baker and Sir
Lionel again found themselves separated from the card-tables, a
lonely pair. It had been Sir Lionel's cue this evening to select Miss
Todd for his special attentions; but he had found Miss Todd at the
present moment to be too much a public character for his purposes.
She had a sort of way of speaking to all her guests at once, which
had doubtless on the whole an extremely hilarious effect, but which
was not flattering to the _amour propre_ of a special admirer. So,
_faute de mieux_, Sir Lionel was content to sit down in a corner with
Miss Baker. Miss Baker was also content; but she was rather uneasy as
to how she should treat the subject of Caroline's quarrel with her
lover.

"Of course you saw George to-day?" she began.

"Yes, I did see him; but that was all. He seemed to be in a
tremendous hurry, and said he must be back in town to-night. He's not
staying, is he?"

"No; he's not staying."

"I didn't know: when I saw that dear Caroline was not with you, I
thought she might perhaps have better company at home."

"She was not very well. George went back to London before dinner."

"Nothing wrong, I hope?"

"Well, no; I hope not. That is--you haven't heard anything about it,
have you, Sir Lionel?"

"Heard anything! No, I have heard nothing; what is it?"

It may be presumed that such a conversation as this had not been
carried on in a very loud tone; but, nevertheless, low as Miss Baker
had spoken, low as Sir Lionel had spoken, it had been too loud. They
had chosen their places badly. The table at which Lady Ruth and
her party were sitting--we ought rather to say, Miss Ruff and her
party--was in one corner of the room, and our friends had placed
themselves on a cushioned seat fixed against the wall in this very
corner. Things were still going badly with Miss Ruff. As Sindbad
carried the old man, and could not shake him off, so did Miss Ruff
still carry Lady Ruth Revoke; and the weight was too much for her.

She manfully struggled on, however--womanfully would perhaps be a
stronger and more appropriate word. She had to calculate not only how
to play her own hand correctly, but she had also to calculate on her
partner's probable errors. This was hard work, and required that all
around her should be undisturbed and silent. In the midst of a maze
of uncontrollable difficulties, the buzz buzz of Miss Baker's voice
fell upon her ears, and up she rose from her chair.

"Miss Todd," she said, and Miss Todd, looking round from a
neighbouring table, shone upon her with her rosy face. But all the
shining was of no avail.

"Miss Todd, if this is to be a conversazione, we had better make it
so at once. But if it's whist, then I must say I never heard so much
talking in my life!"

"It's a little of both," said Miss Todd, not _sotto voce_.

"Oh, very well; now I understand," said Miss Ruff; and then she
resumed her work and went on with her calculations.

Miss Baker and Sir Lionel got up, of course, and going over to the
further part of the room continued their conversation. She soon told
him all she knew. She had hardly seen George herself, she said. But
Caroline had had a long interview with him, and on leaving him had
said that all--all now was over.

"I don't know what to make of it," said Miss Baker, with her
handkerchief to her eyes. "What do you think, Sir Lionel? You know
they say that lovers always do quarrel, and always do make it up
again."

"George is a very headstrong fellow," said Sir Lionel.

"Yes, that is what I have always felt; always. There was no being
sure with him. He is so wild, and has such starts."

"Has this been his doing?"

"Oh, yes, I think so. Not but that Caroline is very spirited too: I
suppose somehow it came about between them."

"He was tired of waiting."

"That might have been a reason twelve months ago, but there was to be
no more delay now; that is as I understood it. No, it has not been
that, Sir Lionel. It makes me very unhappy, I know;" and Miss Baker
again used her handkerchief.

"You mustn't distress yourself, my dearest friend," said Lionel. "For
my sake, don't. Oh, if you knew how it pains me to see you suffering
in that way! I think more of you in the matter than even of George;
I do indeed." And Sir Lionel contrived to give a little pinch to
the top of one of Miss Baker's fingers--not, however, without being
observed by the sharp eyes of his hostess.

"But, Caroline!" sobbed Miss Baker, behind her handkerchief. She was
nicely ensconced in the depth of a lounging-chair, so that she could
turn her face from the card-tables. It is so sweet to be consoled in
one's misery, especially when one really believes that the misery is
not incurable. So that on the whole Miss Baker was not unhappy.

"Yes, dear Caroline," said Sir Lionel; "of course I can say nothing
till I have heard more of the matter. But do you think Caroline
really loves him? Sometimes I have thought--"

"So have I, sometimes; that is I used. But she does love him, Sir
Lionel; that is, if I know anything about it."

"Ah, dearest friend, do you know anything about it? that is the very
question I want to ask you. Do you know anything about it? Sometimes
I have thought you knew nothing. And then sometimes I have thought,
been bold enough to think--" And Sir Lionel looked intently at the
handkerchief which covered her face; and Miss Todd looked furtively,
ever and anon, at Sir Lionel. "I declare I think it would do very
well," said Miss Todd to herself good-naturedly.

Miss Baker did not quite understand him, but she felt herself much
consoled. Sir Lionel was a remarkably handsome man; as to that
she had made up her mind long since: then he was a peculiarly
gentlemanlike man, a very friendly man, and a man who exactly suited
all her tastes. She had for some weeks past begun to think the day
tedious in which she did not see him; and now it was driven in upon
her mind that conversation was a much pleasanter occupation than
whist; that is, conversation with so highly-polished a man as Sir
Lionel Bertram. But, nevertheless, she did not quite understand what
he meant, nor did she know how she ought to answer it. Why need she
answer him at all? Could she not sit there, wiping her eyes softly
and comfortably, and listen to what might come next?

"I sometimes think that some women never love," said Sir Lionel.

"Perhaps they don't," said Miss Baker.

"And yet in the depth of many a heart there may be a fund of
passion."

"Oh, there may, certainly," said Miss Baker.

"And in your own, my friend? Is there no such fund there? Are there
no hidden depths there unexplored, still fresh, but still, perhaps
still to be reached?"

Again Miss Baker found it easiest to lie well back into her chair,
and wipe her eyes comfortably. She was not prepared to say much about
the depths of her own heart at so very short a notice.

Sir Lionel was again about to speak--and who can say what might have
come next, how far those hidden depths might have been tried?--when
he was arrested in the midst of his pathos by seeing Mrs. Garded
and Mr. Fuzzybell each rush to a shoulder of Lady Ruth Revoke. The
colonel quitted his love for the moment, and hurried to the distant
table; while Miss Baker, removing her handkerchief, sat up and gazed
at the scene of action.

The quarrelling had been going on unabated, but that had caused
little surprise. It is astonishing how soon the ear becomes used to
incivilities. They were now accustomed to Miss Ruff's voice, and
thought nothing of her exclamations. "Well, I declare--what, the ten
of spades!--ha! ha! ha! well, it is an excellent joke--if you could
have obliged me, Lady Ruth, by returning my lead of trumps, we
should have been out," &c., &c., &c. All this and more attracted no
attention, and the general pity for Lady Ruth had become dead and
passive.

But at last Miss Ruff's tongue went faster and faster, and her words
became sharper and sharper. Lady Ruth's countenance became very
strange to look at. She bobbed her head about slowly in a manner
that frightened Mr. Fuzzybell, and ceased to make any remark to her
partner. Then Mrs. Garded made two direct appeals to Miss Ruff for
mercy.

But Miss Ruff could not be merciful. Perhaps on each occasion she
refrained for a moment, but it was only for a moment; and Mrs. Garded
and Mr. Fuzzybell ceased to think of their cards, and looked only at
the Lady Ruth; and then of a sudden they both rose from their seats,
the colonel, as we have said, rushed across the room, and all the
players at all the tables put down their cards and stood up in alarm.

Lady Ruth was sitting perfectly still, except that she still bobbed
her old head up and down in a strange unearthly manner. She had about
ten cards in her hand which she held motionless. Her eyes seemed
to be fixed in one continued stare directly on the face of her foe.
Her lower jaw had fallen so as to give a monstrous extension to her
cadaverous face. There she sat apparently speechless; but still she
bobbed her head, and still she held her cards.

It was known at Littlebath that she had suffered from paralysis, and
Mrs. Garded and Mr. Fuzzybell thinking that she was having or about
to have a fit, naturally rushed to her assistance.

"What is the matter with her?" said Miss Ruff. "Is anything the
matter with her?"

Miss Todd was now at the old lady's side. "Lady Ruth," said she, "do
you find yourself not well? Shall we go into my room? Sir Lionel,
will you help her ladyship?" And between them they raised Lady Ruth
from her chair. But she still clutched the cards, still fixed her
eyes on Miss Ruff, and still bobbed her head.

"Do you feel yourself ill, Lady Ruth?" said Miss Todd. But her
ladyship answered nothing.

It seemed, however, that her ladyship could walk, for with her two
supporters she made her way nearly to the door of the room. There
she stood, and having succeeded in shaking off Sir Lionel's arm, she
turned and faced round upon the company. She continued to bob her
head at them all, and then made this little speech, uttering each
word very slowly.

"I wish she had a glass tongue as well, because then perhaps she'd
break it." And having so revenged herself, she suffered Miss Todd to
lead her away into the bedroom. It was clear at least that she had no
fit, and the company was thankful.

Sir Lionel, seeing how it was, left them at the door of the bedroom,
and a few minutes afterwards Miss Todd, Mrs. Flounce, and Lady Ruth's
own maid succeeded in getting her into a cab. It is believed that
after a day or two she was none the worse for what had happened, and
that she made rather a boast of having put down Miss Ruff. For the
moment, Miss Ruff was rather put down.

When Miss Todd returned to the drawing-room that lady was sitting
quite by herself on an ottoman. She was bolt upright, with her hands
before her on her lap, striving to look as though she were perfectly
indifferent to what had taken place. But there was ever and again a
little twitch about her mouth, and an involuntary movement in her eye
which betrayed the effort, and showed that for this once Lady Ruth
had conquered. Mr. Fuzzybell was standing with a frightened look at
the fireplace; while Mrs. King Garded hung sorrowing over her cards,
for when the accident happened she had two by honours in her own
hand.

When Miss Todd returned some few of her guests were at work again;
but most of the tables were broken up. "Poor dear old lady," said
Miss Todd, "she has gone home none the worse. She is very old, you
know, and a dear good creature."

"A sweet dear creature," said Mrs. Shortpointz, who loved the
peerage, and hated Miss Ruff.

"Come," said Miss Todd, "Parsnip has got a little supper for us
downstairs; shall we go down? Miss Ruff, you and I will go and call
on Lady Ruth to-morrow. Sir Lionel, will you give your arm to Lady
Longspade? Come, my dear;" and so Miss Todd took Miss Baker under
her wing, and they all went down to supper. But Miss Ruff said not
another word that night.

"Ha! ha!" said Miss Todd, poking her fan at Miss Baker, "I see all
about it, I assure you; and I quite approve."

Miss Baker felt very comfortable, but she did not altogether
understand her friend's joke.



CHAPTER VIII.

THREE LETTERS.


George Bertram, as we have seen, returned to town after his interview
with Miss Waddington without seeing his father. Neither to his mind
nor to hers was any comfort brought by that grammatical rule in
which Miss Baker had found so much consolation. For both of them the
separation was now a thing completed. Each knew enough of the other
to feel that that other's pride was too high to admit of his or her
making any first fresh advancement.

George endeavoured to persuade himself that he was glad of what he
had done; but he failed utterly. He had loved her, did love her
dearly, and found that he never valued her as he did now. She had
behaved shamefully to him. He said that to himself over and over
again. But what had that to do with love? He did not love her the
less because she had made public his letter, the secrets of his
heart, that which should have been as private as the passion of
her own bosom. He could not love her less because she talked over
these with another man, however much he might feel himself bound to
cast her off for doing so. So he shut himself up in his chambers;
wrote pages for his new book that were moody, misanthropical, and
unbelieving; and on the whole was very unhappy.

Nor was Caroline much better able to bear the shock; though with her
there was more propriety of demeanour under the blow, and a better
mental control. That was of course, for she was a woman--and being a
woman, she had to take care that the world knew nothing of what was
going on within her heart.

For two days she remained perfectly calm. She allowed herself no vent
whatever for her feelings. She made the breakfast; sat close at her
tambour frame, or more frequently close at her book; read aloud to
her aunt; went out and made calls; and attended minutely to all the
ordinary occupations of her life. Her aunt never once caught her with
a tear in her eye, never saw her sitting thoughtful, unoccupied, with
her head leaning on her arm. Had she done so, she would have spoken
to her about George. As it was, she did not dare to do so. There was
during these days, and indeed outwardly for many days afterwards,
an iron stubbornness about Caroline which frightened Miss Baker
and altogether prevented her from alluding to the possibility of a
reconciliation. Nothing could be more gentle, nay, more obedient,
than Caroline's manner and way with her aunt at this time: she
yielded to her in everything; but her aunt perceived that all
utterance as to the one subject which was nearest to both their
hearts was effectually forbidden.

Caroline allowed two whole days to pass before she would allow
herself to think of what had taken place. She read through half the
nights, so as to secure sleep for herself when she lay down. But on
the third morning she opened her desk in her own room, and sat down
and wrote to Adela Gauntlet.


   Littlebath, Friday.

   Dearest Adela,

   An occurrence has taken place of which I have not yet
   allowed myself to think, and which I shall first realize
   and bring home to myself in writing to you; and yet before
   it happened I had thought of it very often--even talked of
   it with aunt Mary; and sometimes thought of it and talked
   of it as though it were almost desirable. I wish I may
   teach myself so to think of it now.

   All is over between me and Mr. Bertram. He came down here
   on Tuesday and told me so. I do not blame him. Nor can I
   blame him; not at least for what he has done, though his
   manner in doing it was very harsh.

   I would tell you all if I could, but it is so hard in a
   letter. I wish you were here. But no; you would drive me
   mad by advice which I could not, would not take. Last
   summer, when I was so unhappy in London, aunt and I had
   some conversation about our affairs with a person there.
   Mr. Bertram heard of this while he was in Paris. He did
   not approve of it; and he wrote me, oh! such a letter. I
   should have thought it impossible for him to have written
   such words to me. I was mad with grief, and I showed this
   letter to the same person. There, Adela, I must tell you
   all. It was Mr. Harcourt, George's intimate friend. George
   particularly begged me in that letter not to talk to him
   any more; and yet I did this. But I was half frenzied
   with grief; and why was I to obey one who had no right
   to command me, and who made his commands so harsh? His
   request would have been a law to me.

   But I know I was wrong, Adela. I have known it every
   minute since I showed the letter. I was sure I was wrong,
   because I could not tell him that I had done so. It made
   me afraid of him, and I never before was afraid of any
   one. Well; I did not tell him, and now he has found it
   out. I would not condescend to ask him how; but I think I
   know. This at least I know, that he did so in no ignoble
   way, by no mean little suspicions. He did not seek to
   discover it. It had come upon him like a great blow, and
   he came at once to me to learn the truth. I told him the
   truth, and this has been the end of it.

   Now you know it all; all except his look, his tone, his
   manner. These I cannot tell you--cannot describe. I seem
   now to know him better, understand him more thoroughly
   than ever I did. He is a man for a tender-hearted woman
   to love to madness. And I-- Ah! never mind, dearest; I
   think--nay, I am sure I can get over it. You never could.
   Yes; he is a man for a woman to worship; but yet he is
   so rough, so stern, so harsh in his anger. He does not
   measure his words at all. I don't think he knows the kind
   of things he says. And yet the while his heart is so
   tender, so soft; I could see it all. But he gives one no
   time to acknowledge it--at least, he gave me none. Were
   you ever scolded, upbraided, scorned by a man you loved?
   and did you ever feel that you loved him the better for
   all his scorn? I felt so. I could so feel, though it
   was impossible to confess it. But he was wrong there.
   He should not have upbraided me unless he intended to
   forgive. I think I have read that it is not kingly for a
   king to receive a suppliant for pardon unless he intends
   to forgive. I can understand that. If his mind was made
   up to condemn me altogether, he should have written and
   so have convicted me. But in such matters he considers
   nothing. He acts altogether from the heart.

   I am, however, sure of this, dear Adela, that it is
   all better as it is. There; with you, I will scorn all
   falsehood. For once, and, if possible, only for once, the
   truth shall stand out plainly. I love him as I never,
   never can love another man. I love him as I never thought
   to love any man. I feel at this moment as though I could
   be content to serve him as his menial. For she who is his
   wife must so serve him--and how long should I be content
   to do so?

   But yet I wrong him in this. He is most imperious,
   absolutely imperious--must be altogether master in all
   things; that is what I mean. But to one who loved him
   well, and would permit this, he would be the tenderest,
   gentlest, most loving of masters. He would not permit the
   wind to blow too harshly on his slave. I have loved him
   well, but I could not permit this. I could not permit it
   for a whole lifetime; and therefore it is well that we
   have parted.

   You will hardly believe this of him, for he seems in
   general company to be so good-humoured. With people that
   are indifferent to him, no man is less exacting; but with
   those near to him in life he never bends, not an inch.
   It is this that has estranged his uncle from him. But
   yet how noble, how grand a man he is! To all pecuniary
   considerations he is absolutely indifferent. A falsehood,
   even a concealment, is impossible with him. Who that
   either of us knows is equal to or approaches him in
   talent? He is brave, generous, simple-hearted beyond all
   that I have ever known. Who is like him? And yet--. To
   you, once for all, I say all this. But, Adela, do not take
   advantage of me. You ought to know that were it not all
   over, I should not say it.

   I wish that you had been betrothed to him. Oh, how I wish
   it! You are not worldly, as I am; not stubborn, nor proud
   of heart. Not that you have not pride, a truer, better
   pride. You could have brought yourself to submit, to be
   guided, to be a secondary portion of himself--and then how
   he would have loved you!

   I have often wondered that he should have thought of me.
   No two persons were ever less suited for each other. I
   knew that when I accepted him, foolishly accepted him
   because I liked him, and now I am rightly punished. But,
   ah! that he should be punished too! for he is punished.
   I know he loves me; though I know nothing would now
   induce him to take me. And I know this also, that
   nothing--nothing--nothing would induce me to be so taken.
   Not if he were begging--as he never will beg to any woman.
   I would be too true to him, too true to what I now know to
   be his happiness.

   As for me, I dare say I shall marry yet. I have some
   little money, and that sort of manner which many men
   think most becoming for the top of their tables and the
   management of their drawing-rooms. If I do, there shall be
   no deceit. I certainly shall not marry for love. Indeed,
   from early years I never thought it possible that I should
   do so. I have floundered unawares into the pitfall, and
   now I must flounder out. I have always thought that there
   was much in the world well worth the living for besides
   love. Ambition needs not be a closed book for women,
   unless they choose to close it. I do not see but that a
   statesman's wife may stand nearly as high in the world as
   the statesman stands himself. Money, position, rank are
   worth the having--at any rate, the world thinks so, or why
   else do they so scramble for them? I will not scramble for
   them; but if they come in my way, why, I may probably pick
   them up.

   This will be odious to you. I know it will. A
   potato-paring and a true heart are your beau-ideal for
   this world. I am made of viler stuff. I have had the true
   heart, and see what I have made of it!

   You will answer me, of course. I could find it in my heart
   to beg you not to do so, only now I could not afford to
   think that you were cold to me. I know you will write to
   me; but, pray, pray do not advise me to submit myself to
   him under the idea that a reconciliation is possible. A
   reconciliation is not possible, and I will not submit
   myself to him. I know I speak the truth when I say that
   our marriage is not to be desired. I acknowledge his
   merits; I confess his superiority: but these very merits,
   this great superiority, make it impossible that I should
   suit him as a wife.

   On that matter I have made up my mind. I will never marry
   him. I only say this to deter you from wasting your energy
   in endeavouring to bring us again together. I know very
   well that I shall not be asked--that his mind is equally
   firm.

   And now, good-bye. You know all my heart, and, as far
   as I can tell them, all my feelings. A long letter from
   you will give me much delight if you will comply with my
   earnest request.

   This letter has been a very selfish one, for it is all
   about myself. But you will forgive that now. God bless
   you.

   Your affectionate friend,

   CAROLINE.

   P.S. I have said nothing to aunt Mary, except to tell
   her that the match is broken off; and she has kindly--so
   kindly, abstained from any questions.


Adela Gauntlet was all alone when she received this letter at West
Putford. In these days she generally was all alone. That she should
answer it, answer it at once, was of course certain. But how should
she answer it? Her mind was soon made up, with many tears, partly
for her friend and partly for herself. Caroline's happiness had been,
nay, probably still was, in her own hands, and she was going to throw
it away. For herself, happiness had never been within her own reach.
"Be his menial servant!" she repeated to herself, as she read and
re-read the letter. "Yes; of course she should if he required it. It
would be for her to make him know that she could be something better
to him!"

Her judgment was soon formed. She condemned Caroline altogether on
Caroline's own showing. In such matters one woman almost always
condemns another. She took no notice of the allusion to Bertram's
harshness; she almost overlooked the generosity with which her
friend had written of the lover who had rejected her. She only saw
Caroline's great fault. How could she have brought herself to talk
with Mr. Harcourt--with a young unmarried man--on such a subject?
And, oh! how was it possible that she could have brought herself to
show him such a letter? She wrote her answer that same night, as
follows:--


   West Putford, Saturday night.

   Dearest Caroline,

   Your letter has made me most unhappy. I almost think that
   I have suffered more in reading it than you did in writing
   it. You have made a request to me with which I cannot,
   will not comply. I can only write to you the truth, as I
   think it. What else can I write? How can I frame my letter
   in any other way?

   But I will acknowledge this, that it is useless for me
   to suggest anything to you as to your own happiness. But
   there is more than that to be thought of. There is that
   which you are bound to think of before that. Whether you
   have broken with Mr. Bertram or not, there has been that
   between you which makes it your duty in this matter to
   regard his happiness as your first consideration.

   Dearest, dearest Caroline, I fear that you have been wrong
   throughout in this affair. I do not dread your being angry
   with me for saying so. In spite of what you say, I know
   your heart is so warm that you would be angry with me if
   I blamed him. You were wrong in talking to Mr. Harcourt;
   doubly wrong in showing to him that letter. If so, is it
   not your business to put that wrong right? to remedy if
   you can the evil that has come of it?

   I feel quite sure that Mr. Bertram loves you with all his
   heart, and that he is one who will be wretched to his
   heart's core at losing what he loves. It is nothing to say
   that it is he who has rejected you. You understand his
   moods; even I understand them well enough to know in what
   temper that last visit was made. Answer this to yourself.
   Had you then asked his pardon, do you not know that he
   would have given it you with a rapture of joy? Do you not
   feel that he was then at that moment only too anxious to
   forgive? And are you, you who have sinned against him, are
   you to let him break his heart against a rock, because
   you are too proud to own to him the fault which you
   acknowledge to yourself? Is that your return for the love
   which he has borne you?

   You wish that he had loved me, you say. Do not wish away
   the sweetest gift which God can give to a woman in this
   world. It was not possible that I should have loved him.
   It is quite impossible now that you should not do so.

   Try to think in this affair with severity towards
   yourself, and ask yourself what justice requires of you.
   My advice to you is to write to him. Tell him, with frank
   humility and frank affection, that you ask his pardon
   for the injury that you had done him. Say no more
   than that. If it shall still please him to consider
   that the engagement between you is at an end, such an
   acknowledgment from you will in no way constrain him to
   violate that resolve. But if he relent--and I know that
   this other "if" will be the true one--the first train that
   runs will bring him back to you; and he, who I am sure is
   now wretched, will again be happy; ah! happier than he has
   been for so long.

   I implore you to do this, not for your own sake, but for
   his. You have done wrong, and it is he that should be
   considered. You will think what will be your sufferings if
   he does not notice your letter; should he not be softened
   by your humility. But you have no right to think of that.
   You have done him wrong, and you owe him reparation. You
   cannot expect that you should do wrong and not suffer.

   I fear I have written savagely. Dear, dear Caroline, come
   to me here, and I will not talk savagely. I too am not
   happy. I have not my happiness so much in my own hands as
   you have. Do come to me. Papa will be delighted to see
   you. I am sure Miss Baker could spare you for a fortnight.
   Do, do come to

   Your true friend,

   ADELA.


There was much of craft in Adela Gauntlet's letter; but if craft
could ever be pardonable, then was hers pardonable in this case.
She had written as though her sole thought was for Mr. Bertram. She
had felt that in this way only could she move her friend. In her
mind--Adela's mind--it was a settled conviction, firm as rocks, that
as Caroline and Mr. Bertram loved each other, neither of them could
be happy unless they were brought together. How could she best aid in
doing this? That had been her main thought, and so thinking, she had
written this letter, filled to overflowing with womanly craft.

And her craft was nearly successful; but only nearly; that was all.
Caroline sat in her solitude and cried over this letter till her
eyes were weary with tears. She strove, strove valiantly to take
her friend's advice; strove to do so in spite of all her former
protestations. She got pen and ink and sat herself down to write the
letter of humiliation; but the letter would not be written; it was
impossible to her; the words would not form themselves: for two days
she strove, and then she abandoned the task as for ever hopeless. And
thus this third short epistle must be laid before the reader.

"I cannot do it, Adela. It is not in my nature. You could do it,
because you are good, and high, and pure. Do not judge others by
yourself. I cannot do it, and will not madden myself by thinking of
it again. Good-bye; God bless you. If I could cure your grief I would
come to you; but I am not fit. God in his own time will cure yours,
because you are so pure. I could not help you, nor you me; I had
better, therefore, remain where I am. A thousand thousand kisses. I
love you so now, because you and you only know my secret. Oh, if you
should not keep it! But I know you will; you are so true."

This was all. There was no more; no signature. "May God help them
both!" said Adela as she read it.



CHAPTER IX.

BIDDING HIGH.


I hope to press all the necessary records of the next three or four
months into a few pages. A few pages will be needed in order that we
may know how old Mr. Bertram behaved when he heard of this rupture
between his nephew and his granddaughter.

George, when he found himself back in town, shut himself up in his
chambers and went to work upon his manuscript. He, too, recognized
the necessity of labour, in order that the sorrow within his heart
might thus become dull and deadened.

But it was deep, true sorrow--to him at some periods almost
overwhelming: he would get up from his desk during the night, and
throwing himself on the sofa, lie there writhing in his agony. While
he had known that Caroline was his own, he had borne his love more
patiently than does many a man of less intensity of feeling. He had
been much absent from her; had not abridged those periods of absence
as he might have done; had, indeed, been but an indifferent lover, if
eagerness and _empressement_ are necessary to a lover's character.
But this had arisen from two causes, and lukewarmness in his love had
not been either of them. He had been compelled to feel that he must
wait for the fruition of his love; and therefore had waited. And then
he had been utterly devoid of any feeling of doubt in her he loved.
She had decided that they should wait. And so he had waited as secure
away from her as he could have been with her.

But his idea of a woman's love, of the purity and sanctity of her
feelings, had been too high. He had left his betrothed to live
without him, frequently without seeing him for months, and yet he
had thought it utterly impossible that she should hold confidential
intercourse with another man. We have seen how things fell out with
him. The story need not be repeated. He was shocked, outraged, torn
to the heart's core; but he loved as warmly, perhaps more warmly than
ever.

What he now expected it is impossible to describe; but during that
first fortnight of seclusion in the midst of London, he did half
expect, half hope that something would turn up. He waited and waited,
still assuring himself that his resolve was inviolable, and that
nothing should make him renew his engagement: and yet he hoped for
something. There was a weight on his heart which then might have been
removed.

But no sign was made. We have seen how Adela, who felt for him, had
striven in vain. No sign was made; and at the end of the fortnight he
roused himself, shook his mane, and asked himself what he should do.

In the first place, there should be no mystery. There were those
among his friends to whom he had felt himself bound to speak of his
engagement when it was made, and to them he felt himself bound to
communicate the fact now that it was unmade. He wrote accordingly to
Arthur Wilkinson; he wrote to Harcourt; and determined to go down to
Hadley. He would have written also to his uncle, but he had never
done so, and hardly knew how to commence a correspondence.

His letter to Harcourt had been a difficult task to him, but at last
it was finished in a very few words. He did not at all refer to what
had taken place at Richmond, or allude in any way to the nature of
the cause which had produced this sudden disrupture. He merely said
that his engagement with Miss Waddington was broken off by mutual
consent, and that he thought it best to let his friend know this in
order that mistakes and consequent annoyance might be spared. This
was very short; but, nevertheless, it required no little effort in
its accomplishment.

On the very next day Harcourt came to him at his chambers. This
surprised him much. For though he had no intention of absolutely
quarrelling with the rising legal luminary, he had taught himself to
look upon any renewal of their real intimacy as out of the question.
They were sailing on essentially different tacks in their life's
voyages. They had become men of different views in everything. Their
hours, their habits, their friends, their ways were in all things
unlike. And then, moreover, Bertram no longer liked the successful
barrister. It may be said that he had learned positively to dislike
him. It was not that Harcourt had caused this wound which was tearing
his heart to pieces; at least, he thought that it was not that. He
declared to himself a dozen times that he did not blame Harcourt. He
blamed no one but Caroline--her and himself. Nor was it because the
man was so successful. Bertram certainly did not envy him. But the
one as he advanced in manhood became worldly, false, laborious,
exact, polished, rich, and agreeable among casual acquaintances. The
other was the very reverse. He was generous and true; but idle--idle
at any rate for any good; he was thoughtful, but cloudy in his
thoughts, indifferent as to society, poor, much poorer than he
had been as a lad at college, and was by no means gifted with the
knack of making pretty conversation for the world at large. Of late
whenever they had met, Harcourt had said something which grated
painfully on the other's inner sensibilities, and hence had arisen
this dislike.

But the dislike seemed to be all on one side. Harcourt now was a man
whose name was frequent in other men's mouths. Great changes were
impending in the political world, and Harcourt was one of the men
whom the world regarded as sure to be found swimming on the top of
the troubled waters. The people of the Battersea Hamlets were proud
of him, the House of Commons listened to him, suitors employed him,
and men potent in the Treasury chambers, and men also who hoped to be
potent there, courted and flattered him.

All this made him busy; but, nevertheless, he found time to come to
his dear friend.

"I am sorry for this; very sorry," he said, as he put out his hand
in a manner that seemed to his friend to be almost patronizing. "Can
nothing be done?"

"Nothing at all," said Bertram, rather curtly.

"Can I do nothing?" said the cunning, legal man.

"Nothing at all," said Bertram, very curtly.

"Ah, I wish I could. I should be so happy to rearrange matters if it
be at all possible." There are some men who are so specially good at
rearranging the domestic disarrangements of others.

"It is an affair," said Bertram, "which admits of no interference.
Perhaps it is unnecessary that I should have troubled you on the
matter at all, for I know that you are very busy; but--"

"My dear fellow--busy, indeed! What business could be more important
to me than my friend's happiness?"

"But," continued George, "as the affair had been talked over so often
between you and me, I thought it right to tell you."

"Of course--of course; and so nothing can be done. Ah, well! it is
very sad, very. But I suppose you know best. She is a charming girl.
Perhaps, rather--"

"Harcourt, I had rather not hear a word spoken about her in any way;
but certainly not a word in her dispraise."

"Dispraise! no, certainly not. It would be much easier to praise her.
I always admired her very much; very much indeed."

"Well, there's an end of it."

"So be it. But I am sorry, very sorry; heartily sorry. You are a
little rough now, Bertram. Of course I see that you are so. Every
touch goes against the hair with you; every little blow hits you on
the raw. I can understand that; and therefore I do not mind your
roughness. But we are old friends, you know. Each is perhaps the
other's oldest friend; and I don't mean to lose such a friend because
you have a shade of the misanthrope on you just now. You'll throw the
bile off in another essay, rather more bitter than the last, and then
you'll be all right."

"I'm right enough now, thank you. Only a man can't always be in high
spirits. At least, some men cannot."

"Well, God bless you, old fellow! I know you want me gone; so I'll go
now. But never talk to me about my business. I do get through a good
deal of business, but it shall never stand between you and me."

And so the cunning legal man went his way.

And then there remained the journey to Hadley. After that it was
his purpose to go abroad again, to go to Paris, and live in dingy
lodgings there _au cinquième_, to read French free-thinking books, to
study the wild side of politics, to learn if he could, among French
theatres and French morals, French freedom of action, and freedom
of speech, and freedom of thought--France was a blessed country for
freedom in those days, under the paternal monarchy of that paternal
monarch, Louis Philippe--to learn to forget, among these sources of
inspiration, all that he had known of the sweets of English life.

But there remained the journey to Hadley. It had always been his
custom to go to Mr. Pritchett in the city before he went to his
uncle's house, and he did so now. Everybody who wished to see Mr.
Bertram always went to Mr. Pritchett first, and Mr. Pritchett would
usually send some _avant-courier_ to warn his patron of the invasion.

"Ah, Mr. George," said Pritchett, wheezing, with his most melancholy
sigh. "You shouldn't have left the old gentleman so long, sir. Indeed
you shouldn't."

"But he does not want to see me," said George.

"Think what a sight of money that is!" continued Pritchett. "One
would really think, Mr. George, that you objected to money. There
is that gentleman, your particular friend, you know, the member of
Parliament. He is down there constantly, paying his respects, as he
calls it."

"What, Mr. Harcourt?"

"Yes, Mr. Harcourt. And he sends grapes in spring, and turkeys in
summer, and green peas in winter."

"Green peas in winter! they must cost something."

"Of course they do; sprats to catch big fish with, Mr. George. And
then the old gentleman has got a new lawyer; some sharp new light
of Mr. Harcourt's recommending. Oh, Mr. George, Mr. George! do be
careful, do now! Could not you go and buy a few ducks, or pigeons,
and take them in a basket? The old gentleman does seem to like that
kind of thing, though ten years since he was so different. Half a
million of money, Mr. George! It's worth a few grapes and turkeys."
And Mr. Pritchett shook his head and wrung his hands; for he saw that
nothing he said produced any effect.

George went to Hadley at last without ducks or pigeons, grapes or
turkeys. He was very much amused however with the perpetual industry
of his friend. "_Labor omnia vincit improbus_" said he to himself.
"It is possible that Harcourt will find my uncle's blind side at
last."

He found the old gentleman considerably changed. There were,
occasionally, flashes of his former customary, sarcastic pungency;
now and again he would rouse himself to be ill-natured, antagonistic,
and self-willed. But old age and illness had sadly told upon him;
and he was content for the most part to express his humour by little
shrugs, shakes of the head, and an irritable manner he had lately
acquired of rubbing his hands quickly together.

"Well, George," he said, when his nephew shook hands with him and
asked after his health.

"I hope you are better than you were, sir. I was sorry to hear that
you had been again suffering."

"Suffer, yes; a man looks to suffer when he gets to my age. He's a
fool if he doesn't, at least. Don't trouble yourself to be sorry
about it, George."

"I believe you saw my father not long since?" Bertram said this, not
quite knowing how to set the conversation going, so that he might
bring in the tidings he had come there to communicate.

"Yes, I did," said Mr. Bertram senior; and his hands went to work as
he sat in the arm-chair.

"Did you find him much altered since you last met? It was a great
many years since, I believe?"

"Not in the least altered. Your father will never alter."

George now knew enough of his father's character to understand the
point of this; so he changed the subject, and did that which a man
who has anything to tell should always do at once; he commenced the
telling of it forthwith.

"I have come down here, to-day, sir, because I think it right to let
you know at once that Miss Waddington and I have agreed that our
engagement shall be at an end."

Mr. Bertram turned sharp round in his chair. "What?" said he. "What?"

"Our engagement is at an end. We are both aware that it is better for
us it should be so."

"What do you mean? Better for you! How can it be better for you? You
are two fools."

"Very likely, sir. We have been two fools; or, at any rate, I have
been one."

Mr. Bertram sat still in his chair, silent for a few moments. He
still kept rubbing his hands, but in meditation rather than in anger.
Though his back reached to the back of his chair, his head was
brought forward and leaned almost on his chest. His cheeks had fallen
in since George had seen him, and his jaw hung low, and gave a sad,
thoughtful look to his face, in which also there was an expression of
considerable pain. His nephew saw that what he had said had grieved
him, and was sorry for it.

"George," he said, in a softer voice than had ever been usual with
him. "I wish you to marry Caroline. Go back to her, and make it up.
Tell her that I wish it, if it be necessary to tell her anything."

"Ah, sir, I cannot do that. I should not have come to you now if
there had been any room for doubt."

"There must be no room for doubt. This is nonsense; sheer nonsense.
I shall send to Mary." George had never before heard him call Miss
Baker by her Christian name.

"It cannot be helped, sir. Miss Baker can do nothing in the matter
now; nor can any one else. We both know that the marriage would not
suit us."

"Not suit you! nonsense. Two babies; two fools! I tell you it will
suit you; it will suit me!"

Now had George Bertram junior not been an absolute ass, or a mole
rather with no eyesight whatever for things above ground, he would
have seen from this that he might not only have got back his love,
but have made sure of being his uncle's heir into the bargain. At
any rate, there was sufficient in what he said to insure him a very
respectable share of those money-bags. How would Pritchett have
rejoiced had he heard the old man speak so! and then how would he
have sighed and wheezed when he saw the young man's indifference!

But George would not take the hint. He must have been blind and dull,
and dead and senseless. Who before had ever heard Mr. Bertram senior
speak out in that way? "It will suit _me_!" And that from an old
bachelor, with uncountable money-bags, to his only nephew! and such
a request, too, as it conveyed--that he would again make himself
agreeable to a beautiful girl whom he thoroughly loved, and by whom
also he was thoroughly loved! But George was an ass, as we have said;
and a mole, a blind mole; and a mule, a stiff-necked, stubborn mule.
He would not yield an inch to his uncle; nor an inch to his own
feelings.

"I am sorry to vex you, sir," he said, coldly, "but it is
impossible."

"Oh, very well," said the uncle, as he compressed his lips, and moved
his hands. "Very well." And so they parted.

George went back to town and commenced his preparations for Paris.
But on the following day he received the unwonted honour of a visit
from Mr. Pritchett, and the honour was very pointed; in this wise.
Mr. Pritchett, not finding him at home, had gone to a neighbouring
tavern "to get a bit of dinner," as he told the woman at the
chambers; and stated, that he should go on calling till he did find
Mr. George. And in this way, on his third or fourth visit, Mr. George
was found.

Mr. Pritchett was dressed in his best, and was very sad and solemn.
"Mr. George," said he, "your uncle wishes to see you at Hadley,
particular."

"Why, I was there yesterday."

"I know you was, Mr. George; and that's just it. Your uncle, Mr.
George, is an old man, and it will be only dutiful you should be with
him a good deal now. You'd wish to be a comfort to your uncle in his
last days. I know that, Mr. George. He's been good to you; and you've
your duty to do by him now, Mr. George; and you'll do it." So said
Mr. Pritchett, having thoroughly argued the matter in his own mind,
and resolved, that as Mr. George was a wilful young horse, who would
not be driven in one kind of bridle, another must be tried with him.

"But has my uncle sent to say that he wants to see me again at once?"

"He has, Mr. George; sent to say that he wants to see you again at
once, particular."

There was nothing of course for Mr. George to do but to obey, seeing
that the order was so particular. On that same evening, therefore, he
put his dressing-things into a bag, and again went down to Hadley.

On his first arrival his uncle shook hands with him with much more
than ordinary kindness, and even joked with him.

"So Pritchett came to you, did he? and sent you down at a moment's
notice? ha! ha! He's a solemn old prig, is Pritchett; but a good
servant; a very good servant. When I am gone, he'll have enough to
live on; but he'll want some one to say a word to him now and again.
Don't forget what I say about him. It's not so easy to find a good
servant."

George declared that he always had had, and would have, a regard for
Mr. Pritchett; "though I wish he were not quite so sad."

"Poor Pritchett! well; yes, he is sad," said the uncle, laughing; and
then George went upstairs to get ready for dinner.

The dinner, considering the house in which it was spread, was
quite _recherché_. George said to himself that the fat fowls which
he saw must have come from Harcourt's larder. Roast mutton and
boiled beef--not together, but one on one day and the other on
the next--generally constituted the fare at Mr. Bertram's house
when he did not sit down to dinner alone. But now there was quite
a little banquet. During dinner, he made sundry efforts to be
agreeable; pressed his nephew to eat, and drank wine with him in
the old-fashioned affectionate manner of past days. "Your health,
George," he said. "You'll find that sherry good, I think. It ought to
be, if years can make it so."

It was good; and George was very sorry to find that the good wine had
been brought out for him. He felt that something would be required in
return, and that he could not give that something.

After dinner that something was soon asked for. "George," said the
old man, "I have been thinking much since you went away the other day
about you and Caroline. I have taken it into my stupid old head to
wish that you two should be married."

"Ah, sir!"

"Now listen to me. I do wish it, and what you have said has disturbed
me. Now I do believe this of you, that you are an honest lad; and
though you are so fond of your own way, I don't think you'd wish to
grieve me if you could help it."

"Not if I could help it, sir; not if I could help it, certainly."

"You can help it. Now listen to me. An old man has no right to
have his fancies unless he chooses to pay for them. I know that
well enough. I don't want to ask you why you have quarrelled with
Caroline. It's about money, very likely?"

"No, sir, no; not in the least."

"Well, I don't want to inquire. A small limited income is very likely
to lead to misunderstandings. You have at any rate been honest and
true to me. You are not a bit like your father."

"Sir! sir!"

"And, and--I'll tell you what I'll do. Caroline is to have six
thousand pounds, isn't she?"

"Pray believe me, sir, that money has nothing whatever to do with
this matter."

"Yes, six," continued Mr. Bertram; "four of her own, and two from me.
Now I'll tell you what I'll do. Let me see. You have two hundred a
year; that's settled on you. And you had a thousand pounds the other
day. Is that all gone yet?"

"I am in no want of money, uncle; none whatever."

"No, not as a bachelor; but as a married man you would be. Now do
tell me--how much of that thousand pounds did the colonel get out of
you?"

"Dear uncle, do remember that he is my father."

"Well, well; two hundred a year, and two thousand pounds, and one,
and Pritchett's account. I'll tell you what, George, I should like to
see you comfortable; and if you and Caroline are married before next
October, I'll give you--"

"I can't tell you how you pain me, sir."

"I'll give you-- I wonder how much income you think you'll want?"

"None, sir; none. As our marriage is out of the question, we shall
want no income. As I am, and am likely to remain unmarried, my
present income is sufficient for me."

"I'll give you--let me see." And the old miser--for though capable
of generosity to a great extent, as he had certainly shown with
reference to his nephew's early years, he certainly was a miser--the
old miser again recapitulated to himself all that he had already
done, and tried to calculate at what smallest figure, at what lowest
amount of ready money to be paid down, he could purchase the object
which he now desired. "I'll give you four thousand pounds on the day
you are married. There, that will be ten thousand beside your own
income, and whatever your profession will bring you."

"What am I to say, sir? I know how generous you are; but this is not
an affair of money."

"What is it then?"

"We should not be happy together."

"Not happy together! You shall be happy, I tell you; you will be
happy if you have enough to live on. Remember, I may leave you
something more than that when I die; that is, I may do so if you
please me. You will understand, however, that I make no promise."

"Dear uncle," said George, and as he spoke he rose from his seat, and
crossing over to his uncle, took the old man's hand in his own. "You
shall be asked for no promise; you shall be asked for nothing. You
have been most liberal, most kind to me; too kind, I know, for I have
not returned it by that attention which you deserved from me. But,
believe me, I cannot do as you ask me. If you will speak to Miss
Waddington, she will tell you the same."

"Miss Waddington! Pshaw!"

"Caroline, I mean. It is impossible, sir. And it adds greatly to my
own suffering--for I have suffered in all this--that you also should
be grieved."

"Why, you were so much in love with her the other day! Mary told me
that you were dying for her."

"I cannot explain it all. But she--Caroline--doubtless will. However,
pray, pray take this for granted: the engagement between us cannot be
renewed."

Old Mr. Bertram still kept his nephew's hand, and it seemed as though
he liked to hold it. He continued to look up into George's face as
though striving to read there something different from the words
which he heard, something which might yet give him some consolation.
He had said that George was honest, and he believed it, as far as he
could believe in honesty. But, nevertheless, he was still meditating
at what price he could buy over his nephew to his purpose. After
such a struggle as that of his whole lifetime, could he have any
other faith but that money were omnipotent? No; this of course,
this necessarily was his belief. As to the sufficient quantity--on
that point it was possible for him to doubt. His nephew's manner
to him was very touching; the tone of his voice, the look of his
countenance, the grief which sat on his brow, did touch him. But they
touched him in this manner; they made him feel that a few thousands
were not sufficient. He had at last a desire at his heart, a family
domestic warm desire; and he began to feel that if he were not
prepared to give up his desire, he must bid high for its fulfilment.

"George," said he, "after all, you and Caroline are the nearest
relatives I have; the nearest and the dearest."

"Caroline is your own child's child, sir."

"She is but a girl; and it would all go to some spendthrift, whose
very name would be different. And, I don't know, but I think I like
you better than her. Look here now. According to my present will,
nine-tenths of my property will go to build a hospital that shall
bear my name. You'll not repeat that to anybody, will you?"

"No, sir; I will not."

"If you'll do as I would have you about this marriage, I'll make a
new will, and you and your children shall have-- I'll let you say
yourself how much you shall have; there--and you shall see the will
yourself before the wedding takes place."

"What can I say to him? what can I say to him?" said George, turning
away his face. "Sir, it is quite impossible. Is not that enough?
Money has nothing to do with it; can have nothing to do with it."

"You don't think I'd deceive you, do you, and make another
will afterwards? It shall be a deed of gift if you like, or a
settlement--to take effect of course after my death." On hearing this
George turned away his face. "You shall have half, George; there, by
G---- you shall have half; settled on you--there--half of it, settled
on you." And then only did the uncle drop his nephew's hand. He
dropped it, and closing his eyes, began to meditate on the tremendous
sacrifice he had made.

There was something terrible in this to young Bertram. He had almost
ceased to think of himself in watching his uncle's struggles. It
was dreadful to see how terribly anxious the old man was, and more
dreadful still to witness the nature of the thoughts which were
running through his mind. He was making lavish tenders of his heaven,
his god, his blessings; he was offering to part with his paradise,
seeing that nature would soon imperatively demand that he should part
with it. But useless as it must soon be to him, he could not bring
himself to believe that it was not still all-powerful with others.

"Mr. Bertram, it is clearly necessary that we should understand each
other," said George, with a voice that he intended should be firm,
but which in truth was stern as well as firm. "I thought it right
to come and tell you that this match was broken off. But seeing
that that has once been told, there is no longer room for further
conversation on the matter. We have made up our minds to part; and,
having done so, I can assure you that money can have no effect upon
our resolution."

"Then you want it all--all!" said the uncle, almost weeping.

"Not all, nor ten times all would move me one inch--not one inch,"
said George, in a voice that was now loud, and almost angry.

Mr. Bertram turned towards the table, and buried his face in his
hands. He did not understand it. He did not know whence came all this
opposition. He could not conceive what was the motive power which
caused his nephew thus to thwart and throw him over, standing forward
as he did with thousands and tens of thousands in his hand. But he
knew that his request was refused, and he felt himself degraded and
powerless.

"Do not be angry with me, uncle," said the nephew.

"Go your own way, sir; go your own way," said the uncle. "I have
done with you. I had thought--but never mind--" and he rang the bell
violently. "Sarah, I will go to bed--are my things ready? Woman, is
my room ready, I say?" and then he had himself led off, and George
saw him no more that night.

Nor did he see him the next morning; nor for many a long day
afterwards. When the morning came, he sent in his love, with a hope
that his uncle was better. Sarah, coming out with a long face, told
George that his uncle had only muttered between his teeth--"That it
was nothing to him"--to his nephew, namely--"whether he were better
or worse." And so, having received this last message, he went his
way, and returned to town.



CHAPTER X.

DOES HE KNOW IT YET?


Almost immediately after this George Bertram did go to Paris;
but before he went he received a letter from Arthur Wilkinson,
begging him to go down to Hurst Staple. This was Arthur's answer
to the letter in which Bertram had communicated the last news from
Littlebath. There were not as many words in the letter as there had
been in that from Adela to Caroline; but they were much to the same
effect. "This is an important step, old fellow; very: pray--pray be
careful; for your own sake and hers. I am not good at letter-writing,
as you know; but come down here and talk it over. I have other things
of my own I want to talk about. The spare bedroom is empty." That was
nearly the whole of it. In answer to this, Bertram had declared his
intention of going to Paris, but had promised to go down to Hurst
Staple as soon as he returned home.

At this time the popularity of Louis Philippe was on the wane. The
grocers of Paris were becoming sick of their paternal citizen king,
who, in spite of his quiet family costume and citizen umbrella,
seemed to think as much as some other kings of crowds of soldiers,
of fortifications, and war taxes; who seemed to think also that
free-spoken deputies might be judiciously controlled, that a
paternally-royal family might be judiciously enriched, and that
a good many of the old crown tenets and maxims might again be
judiciously brought to bear upon the commonwealth. Poor grocers! too
much prosperity had made them over-nice. When Mr. Smith had been
about six months gone from them, how gladly would they have had him
back again!

But they are again satisfied. The grocer interest, which on the
whole may perhaps be looked on as predominant in Paris, is once more
swathed in rose-leaves. The swathings certainly are somewhat tight;
and rose-leaves may be twisted till there is no breaking them.
But there will still remain the fragrance, the _pot-pourri_ odour
which is so delectable to ancient housewives, the oily savour of
plenteousness. If a king can so devise that chocolate shall be
sold--and paid for--what more can a grocer interest need? What more
than this, that having sold its daily quantum of chocolate, it shall
have a theatre to go to, a spectacle to look at, ices, coffee, and
_eau sucrée!_ Since the world began to open its young eyes and look
about it with any understanding, what else has been desirable? What
does a man and a grocer want? _Panem et circenses_; soup that shall
not be too maigre; and a seat at the Porte St. Martin that shall not
be too dear. Is it not all written in that?

England a nation of shopkeepers! No, let us hope not; not as yet,
at any rate. There have been nations to whom the buying and selling
of bread and honey--especially of honey--has been everything; lost
nations--people deadened, whose souls were ever sleeping, whose
mouths only and gastric organs attested that life was in them. There
were such people in the latter days of ancient Rome; there were such
also in that of Eastern Rome upon the Bosphorus; rich and thriving
people, with large mouths and copious bellies, wanting merely the
salt of life. But let us hope that no English people will be such as
long as the roads are open to Australia, to Canada, and New Zealand.

A young man whose life was to be spent in writing politico-religious
pamphlets had much to learn in Paris in those days. Indeed, Paris
has ever been a school for such writers since men began to find that
something was wrong, even under the reign of the great Dubarry. Since
those days it has been the laboratory of the political alchemist,
in which everything hitherto held precious has been reduced to a
residuum, in order that from the ashes might be created that great
arcanum, a fitting constitution under which thinking men may live
contented. The secret had been hardly solved in those latter days of
poor Louis Philippe. Much had certainly been done when a citizen king
was thought of and set agoing; but even a citizen king required to be
wound up, and the alchemist was still at his crucibles.

Now, indeed, the work has been finished. The laboratory is closed.
The philosopher, his task all done, has retired to his needed rest.
Thinking men, even thinking Frenchmen, can live contented. Chocolate
is sold--and paid for. And a score and a half of daily theatres are
open at the most moderate of prices.

Intent on such things, and on his coming volume, our young
broken-hearted philosopher stayed out three months at Paris. We need
not follow him very closely in his doings there. His name was already
sufficiently known to secure his admittance amongst those learned
men who, if they had hitherto established little, had at any rate
achieved the doubting of much. While he was here the British Ministry
went out of office. Sir Robert, having repealed the corn laws,
fell to the ground between two stools, and the number of the
"Daily Jupiter" which gave the first authentic list of the members
of the new government, contained, among the few new names that
were mentioned, that of Sir Henry Harcourt as Her Majesty's
solicitor-general.

At the end of the three months Bertram returned to England, enriched
by many new ideas as to the government of mankind in general. His
volume was not yet finished. So he packed up his papers in his
portmanteau and took them down with him to Hurst Staple. He saw
no one as he passed through London. The season was then over,
and his friend Sir Henry was refreshing himself with ten days'
grouse-shooting after the successful campaign of the last session.
But had he been in London, Bertram would not have seen him, for he
saw no one. He asked no questions about Caroline, nor any about his
uncle. He did not even call on his sincere friend Pritchett. Had he
done so, he would have learned that Miss Baker and her niece were
both staying at Hadley. He might also have learned other news, which,
however, was not long in following him.

He went down to Hurst Staple, merely writing a line the day before he
started, to prepare his friend for his advent. But when he reached
the vicarage, Arthur Wilkinson was not there. He was at Oxford; but
had left word that he was to be summoned home as soon as Bertram
arrived. The ladies, however, expected him, and there would have
been nothing for him to remark in the state of the quiet household
had there not been another visitor in the house. Adela Gauntlet was
staying there, and she was dressed in the deepest mourning.

The story was soon told to him. Mr. Gauntlet had one morning been
found dead in his dressing-room. The good old man had been full
of years, and there was nothing frightful in his death but its
suddenness. But sudden death is always frightful. Overnight he had
been talking to his daughter with his usual quiet, very quiet, mirth;
and in the morning she was woke with the news that his spirit had
fled. His mirth for this world was over. His worldly duties were
done. He had received his daughter's last kiss, had closed for the
last time the book which had been his life's guide, had whispered to
heaven his last prayer, and his soul was now at rest.

There was nothing in this that the world need regard as mournful.
There was no pain, no mental pangs, no dire remorse. But for Adela
the suddenness had been very dreadful.

Among her other miseries had been the great misery of having to seek
a home. An Englishman's house is his castle. And a rector's parsonage
is as much the rector's castle, his own freehold castle, as is the
earl's family mansion that of the earl. But it is so with this
drawback, that the moment the rector's breath is out of his body, all
right and claim to the castle as regards his estate and family cease
instantly. If the widow and children remain there one night, they
remain there on sufferance.

Adela's future home would now necessarily be with her aunt, Miss
Penelope Gauntlet; but it happened most unfortunately that at the
moment of her brother's death, Miss Gauntlet was absent with other
relatives in Italy. Nor was her address accurately known. Her party
had been at Rome; but it was supposed that they had left the holy
city before the end of May: and now, at the end of August, when her
presence in England was so necessary, Adela had no more than a faint
belief that her aunt was at the baths of Lucca. In the meantime
it was absolutely necessary that she should somewhere find a
resting-place for herself.

Both Caroline Waddington and Miss Baker wrote to her at once.
Unfortunately they were at Hadley; but if Adela would come to them,
they would return to Littlebath. They, or at any rate, one of them
would do so. There was much that was really generous in this offer,
as will be seen when we come in the next page or two to narrate
what had lately occurred at Hadley. But Adela already knew what had
occurred; and much as she then longed for a home, she knew that she
could not allow either of them to go to Littlebath.

Immediately that Mr. Gauntlet's death was known at Hurst Staple--and
it was known there two hours after Adela knew it herself--Mrs.
Wilkinson went over to bring her to the vicarage. The reader will
know that there were reasons why Adela should be most unwilling to
choose that house as her temporary residence. She was most unwilling;
and for a day or two, much to Mrs. Wilkinson's surprise, she refused
to leave West Putford. But it was necessary that she should leave it.
She could not remain alone in the house on the day that her father's
body was carried to his grave; and so at last she submitted, and
allowed herself to be taken over to Hurst Staple.

"It is provoking, dear," said Mrs. Wilkinson to her, "and I am
sure you will think it very uncivil, but Arthur went off to Oxford
yesterday. And it was uncivil. I am sure he needs not have gone at
this very moment."

Then Adela felt very grateful to her neighbour, and acknowledged in
her heart that he had been kind to her.

"But he must be back on Saturday," continued the widow, "for he could
get no clergyman to take his duty. Indeed, he has to take the evening
service at West Putford as well."

On the day following this, George Bertram arrived at the vicarage.

His first evening in the house was not very bright. Mrs. Wilkinson
had never been a bright woman. She had certain motherly good
qualities, which had been exerted in George's favour in his earliest
years; and on this account she was still able to speak to him in a
motherly way. She could talk to him about his breakfasts and dinners,
and ask after his buttons and linen, and allude to his bachelor
habits. And in such conversation the first evening was chiefly
passed. Adela said almost nothing. The Wilkinson girls, who were
generally cheerful themselves, were depressed by Adela's sorrow--and
depressed also somewhat by what they knew of Bertram's affairs. On
this matter Mrs. Wilkinson was burning to speak; but she had made
up her mind to leave it in silence for one evening. She confined
herself, therefore, to the button question, and to certain allusions
to her own griefs. It appeared that she was not quite so happy with
reference to Arthur as one would have wished her to be. She did not
absolutely speak against him; but she said little snubbing things of
him, and seemed to think him by no means sufficiently grateful for
all the care she took of him.

That night, in the privacy of Adela's own room, something was said
about George Bertram. "I am sure he does not know it yet," said
Sophia.

"Caroline told me she would write to him," said Adela: "she would be
very wrong not to do so--very wrong."

"You may be sure he has not heard it," repeated the other. "Did you
not observe the way he spoke of Mr. Harcourt?"

"Sir Henry Harcourt," said Mary.

"I did not hear it," said Adela.

"Oh, he did speak of him. He said something about his great good
fortune. He never would have spoken in that way had he known it."

"Do you know," said Mary, "I do not think he would have come down
here had he heard it--not yet, at least."

The next morning two letters were laid before George Bertram as they
were sitting at breakfast. Then he did know it; then he did learn it,
and not till then. It was now the end of August, and in the coming
month of November--about the end of November--Sir Henry Harcourt, Her
Majesty's solicitor-general, and member for the Battersea Hamlets,
was to lead to the hymeneal altar Miss Caroline Waddington, the
granddaughter and presumed heiress of the great millionaire, Mr.
Bertram. Who so high now on the ladder of fortune as the fortunate
Sir Henry Harcourt? In love and politics and the realms of Plutus, he
carried all before him. Yes, Sir Henry Harcourt was the coming man.
Quidnuncs at the clubs began to say that he would give up the legal
side of politics and devote himself to statesmanship. He would be the
very man for a home secretary. Old Bertram, they observed, was known
to be dying. Old Bertram, they also observed, had made a distinct
promise to Sir Henry and his granddaughter. The marriage was to take
place at Hadley, from the old man's house; the old man was delighted
with the match, &c., &c., &c.; who so happy, who so great, who so
fortunate as Sir Henry Harcourt?

That habit of bringing in letters at the breakfast-table has its good
points, certainly. It is well that one should have one's letters
before the work or pleasure of the day commences: it is well to be
able to discuss the different little subjects of mutual interest as
they are mentioned. "Eliza's baby has got her first tooth: it's all
right. There's nothing like Daffy's Elixir after all." "My dear,
the guano will be here to-day; so the horses will be wanted all the
week--remember that." "What a bore, papa; for here's a letter to say
that Kate Carnabie's coming; and we must go over to the Poldoodles.
Frank Poldoodle is quite smitten with Kate." This is all very
convenient; but the plan has its drawbacks. Some letters will be in
their nature black and brow-compelling. Tidings will come from time
to time at which men cannot smile. There will be news that ruffles
the sweetest temper, and at receipt of which clouds will darken the
most kindly face. One would fain receive such letters in private.

Two such letters Bertram received that morning, and read while the
eyes of the parsonage breakfast-table were--not fixed on him, but
which under such circumstances is much worse--were purposely turned
away. He knew well the handwriting of each, and would fain have
escaped with them from the room. But this he felt to be cowardly; and
so he read them both, sitting there in the family circle. They were
from Caroline and Sir Henry. We will give precedence to the lady; but
Bertram did not so read them. The lady's letter was the most trying
to his nerves, and was therefore taken the last. It can hardly be
said that their contents surprised him. When they both came into his
hands together, he seemed to feel by intuition what was the news
which they contained. That from Caroline was very fairly written.
But how many times had it been rewritten before that fair copy was
prepared?


   Hadley, August, 184--.

   My dear Mr. Bertram,

   I do not know whether I am right in thinking that I ought
   myself to tell you of the step which I am going to take.
   If it is unnecessary, I know you will forgive me, and will
   be certain that I have intended to do what is right. Sir
   Henry Harcourt has proposed to me, and I have accepted
   him. I believe we shall be married some time before
   Christmas.

   We are staying here with grandpapa. I think he approves
   of what I am doing; but you know that he is not very
   communicative. At any rate, I shall be married from this
   house, and I think that he likes Sir Henry. Aunt Mary is
   reconciled to all this now.

   I do not know that I need say any more, excepting that
   I shall always--always hope for your welfare; and be so
   happy if I can hear of your happiness. I pray you also to
   forgive me what injuries I may have done you.

   It may be that at some future time we shall meet as
   friends in London. I hope we may. It is a comfort to me
   that Sir Henry Harcourt knows exactly all that there has
   been between us.

   Believe me to be,
   Yours most sincerely,

   CAROLINE WADDINGTON.


Harcourt's letter was written in faster style, and a more running
hand. Solicitors-general have hardly time to stop and pick their
words. But though the manner of it was free and easy, it seemed to
Bertram that the freedom and easiness were but affected.


   My dear Bertram,

   I hope and trust that the news I have to tell you will
   be no interruption to our friendship. I am sure that it
   should not be, seeing that I am doing you no injury.
   Caroline Waddington and I have agreed to put our fortunes
   into the same boat. We shall feel much more comfortable on
   the seas if you will be gracious enough to say, "God save
   the bark."

   Caroline has of course told me all that has occurred; as,
   indeed, you had done previously. As far as I am concerned,
   I must say she has behaved gloriously. I always admired
   her greatly, as you know; though of course till lately I
   never thought it possible I should possess what I so much
   admired.

   Speaking plainly, I think that she will be happier with
   me than she would have been with you; and that I shall be
   happier with her than you would have been. We are better
   adapted to each other. There is a dash of worldliness
   about us both from which your more ethereal composition is
   happily free.

   God bless you, old fellow. Pray write a line in answer,
   saying as much to me. Of course, you will let us see you
   in London. Caroline wishes it particularly; and so do I.

   I believe I shall be turned off in December. Such a
   mill-horse as I am cannot choose my time. I am going to
   Scotland for ten days, and shall then be hard at work till
   our marriage. I must of course be back when the session
   commences. We talk of going to Nice, and thence to Genoa.

   The old gentleman is very civil; but there has been no
   word of money, nor will there be a word. However, thank
   God, I don't want it.

   Always your sincerest friend,

   HENRY HARCOURT.

   Reform Club--August, 184--.


These letters did not take long in the reading. Within five minutes
Bertram was spreading the butter on his toast; and within two minutes
more he was asking what news there was from Arthur--when would he be
home? He had received a great blow, a stunning blow; but he was able
to postpone the faintness which would follow it till he should be
where no eye could see him.

The breakfast passed away very silently. They all knew what those two
letters contained. One of the girls had had them in her hand, and had
known the handwriting of one and guessed that of the other. But even
without this they would have known. Are not most of our innermost
secrets known to all the world?

And then Bertram skulked off--or endeavoured rather to do so; for
Mrs. Wilkinson detected him in the act, and stopped him. She had said
nothing hitherto about his matrimonial or non-matrimonial affairs.
She had abstained with wonderful discretion; and she now intended
that her discretion should be rewarded.

"George, George," she said, as he turned from the breakfast-parlour
door to the rack in the hall on which his hat was hanging, "I want
you just for a minute." So George returned into the parlour as the
girls passed across the hall into the drawing-room.

"I'm afraid you'll think me unkind because I've said nothing about
this sad affair of yours."

"Not at all, aunt," he said: though she was no aunt of his, he had
always called her so when he had been at Hurst Staple as a child.
"There are some things which had, perhaps, better not be talked
about." Mrs. Wilkinson, however, was not the woman to be deterred by
such a faint repulse as this.

"Exactly so; except among intimate family friends. But I was very
sorry to hear about your breaking off the affair with Caroline
Waddington. I was, indeed; very. It would have been so suitable as
regards the old gentleman--I know all about that you know--" and
the lady nodded her head, as ladies will do sometimes when they
flatter themselves that they know more about such things than their
neighbours.

"It was necessary," said Bertram.

"Necessary--ah, yes: I dare say. I don't in the least mean to blame
you, George. I am sure you would not behave badly to any girl--and,
from what I have heard, I am quite sure--quite sure it was not your
fault. Indeed, I know very well--" and in lieu of finishing her
speech, Mrs. Wilkinson again nodded her head.

"Nobody was to blame, aunt; nobody, and it is much better to say
nothing about it."

"That is very good of you, George; very. But I always shall say--"

"Dear aunt, pray say nothing. We had thought when we knew little of
each other that it would suit us to live together. As we learnt each
other's characters more thoroughly, we found that we had been wrong.
It was better for us, therefore, to part; and we did part."

"And so now she is going to be Lady Harcourt?"

"Yes; it seems so."

"Well, at any rate, we must all say this: she hasn't lost any time. I
don't know what Sir Henry may think of it; but it certainly does seem
to me--"

"Dear aunt, pray do not talk to me about this. I think Miss
Waddington quite right to accept Sir Henry Harcourt. That is, I think
her right under the circumstances. He is a rising man, and she will
grace any station in which he can place her. I do not at all blame
her, not in the least; it would be monstrous if I did."

"Oh, of course--we all know that it was you broke off the other
match; all the world knows that. But what I want to speak about is
this. The old gentleman's money, George! Now Sir Henry of course is
looking to that."

"He has my permission."

"And of course he will get some of it. That's to be expected--she's
his grandchild--of course I know that," and Mrs. Wilkinson again
nodded her head. "But, George, you must look very close after the old
gentleman. It won't at all do to let Harcourt cut you out altogether.
I do hope you mean to be a good deal down at Hadley. It won't last
for long, you know."

Bertram would not condescend to explain to Mrs. Wilkinson that he had
no intention of going near his uncle again, and that he was sick of
the very name of the old man's money. So he hummed and hawed, and
changed the conversation by saying that he should be so glad to see
Arthur on his return.

"Yes, I am sure you will. But you'll find Arthur much changed--very
much." And it was clear from the tone of Mrs. Wilkinson's voice that
she did not think that this change in her son was for the better.

"He is growing older, I suppose; like the rest of us," said Bertram,
attempting to laugh.

"Oh, yes; he's growing older, of course. But people should grow
better, George, and more contented; particularly when they have
everything about them that they can possibly want."

"Is not Arthur contented? He should get married then. Look at Adela
Gauntlet there!"

"Nonsense, George; pray don't put that into his head. What has he to
marry on? And as for Adela, if she has fifteen hundred pounds it will
be every farthing. And what's that for a family?"

"But Arthur has a living."

"Now, George, don't you be talking in that way to him. In one sense
he has a living; for, situated as things at present are, of course
I cannot hold it in my own hands. But in real truth he has not a
living--not of his own. Lord Stapledean, whom I shall always regard
as the very first nobleman in the land, and a credit to the whole
peerage, expressly gave the living to me."

"To you, aunt?"

"Yes, expressly to me. And now I fear Arthur is discontented because
he knows that I choose to remain mistress of my own house. I have
done everything I can to make the house pleasant to him. He has the
same study his dear father always had; and he has his own separate
horse in the stable, which is more than his father had."

"But Arthur has his fellowship."

"And where would his fellowship be if he married Adela Gauntlet? I
do hope you'll say something to him to make him more contented. I
say nothing about his conduct to me. I don't suppose he means to be
undutiful."

And then Bertram did manage to escape; and taking his hat he walked
away along that same river-path which led to West Putford--that same
path which Arthur Wilkinson had used to take when he went fishing
in those happy early days before promotion had come to him, and the
glories of manhood.

But George was not thinking now of Arthur or of Adela. He had
enough of sorrow in his own breast to make his mind selfish for the
present--Caroline Waddington was to be married! to be married so soon
after getting quit of her former bondage; to be married to Henry
Harcourt. There was no chance left now, no hope, no possibility that
he might regain the rich prize which he had flung away.

And did he wish to regain it? Was it not now clear enough that she
had never loved him? In May, while the fruits were filling, they had
separated; and now before they were well ripe she had given herself
to another! Love him! no, indeed. Was it possible that she should
love any man?--that she, who could so redeem herself and so bestow
herself, should have any heart, any true feeling of what love is?

And yet this was not the worst of it. Such love as she had to give,
had she not given it to this Harcourt even before she had rescued
herself from her former lover? Had she not given this man her
preference, such preference as she had to give, then, then when she
was discussing with him how best to delay her nuptials with her
acknowledged suitor? This successful, noisy, pushing, worldly man had
won her by his success and his worldliness. The glitter of the gold
had caught her; and so she had been unhappy, and had pined, and worn
herself with grief till she could break away from her honest troth,
and bind herself to the horn of the golden calf.

'Twas thus that he now thought of her, thus that he spoke of her to
himself out loud, now that he could wander alone, with no eye to
watch him, no ear to hear him. And yet he loved her with a strong
love, with a mad passion such as he had never felt before. Much as he
blamed her, thoroughly as he despised her for being so venal; yet he
blamed, nay, scorned, himself more vehemently in that he had let this
plausible knave with his silken words rob from him the only treasure
worth his having. Why had he not toiled? Why had he not made a name
for himself? Why had he not built a throne on which his lady-love
might sit and shine before the world?



CHAPTER XI.

HURST STAPLE.


The next three or four days passed by heavily enough, and then Arthur
Wilkinson returned. He returned on a Saturday evening; as clergymen
always do, so as to be ready for their great day of work. There
are no Sabbath-breakers to be compared, in the vehemence of their
Sabbath-breaking, to hard-worked parochial clergymen--unless, indeed,
it be Sunday-school children, who are forced on that day to learn
long dark collects, and stand in dread catechismal row before their
spiritual pastors and masters.

In the first evening there was that flow of friendship which always
exists for the few first hours of meeting between men who are really
fond of each other. And these men were fond of each other; the fonder
perhaps because each of them had now cause for sorrow. Very little
was said between Arthur and Adela. There was not apparently much to
alarm the widow in their mutual manner, or to make her think that
Miss Gauntlet was to be put in her place. Adela sat among the other
girls, taking even less share in the conversation than they did; and
Arthur, though he talked as became the master of the house, talked
but little to her.

On the following morning they all went to church, of course. Who has
courage to remain away from church when staying at the clergyman's
house? No one ever; unless it be the clergyman's wife, or perhaps an
independent self-willed daughter. At Hurst Staple, however, on this
Sunday they all attended. Adela was in deepest mourning. Her thick
black veil was down, so as to hide her tears. The last Sunday she had
been at church her father had preached his last sermon.

Bertram, as he entered the door, could not but remember how long it
was since he had joined in public worship. Months and months had
passed over him since he had allowed himself to be told that the
Scriptures moved him in sundry places to acknowledge and confess his
sins. And yet there had been a time when he had earnestly poured
forth his frequent prayers to heaven; a time not long removed. It
was as yet hardly more than three years since he had sworn within
himself on the brow of Olivet to devote himself to the service of his
Saviour. Why had that oath been broken? A girl had ridiculed it; a
young girl had dissipated all that by the sheen of her beauty, by the
sparkle of her eye, by the laughter of her ruddy lip. He had promised
himself to his God, but the rustling of silks had betrayed his heart.
At her instance, at her first word, that promise had been whistled
down the wind.

And to what had this brought him now? As for the bright eyes, and
the flashing beauty, and the ruddy lips, they were made over in
fee-simple to another, who was ready to go further than he had gone
in seeking this world's vanities. Even the price of his apostasy had
vanished from him.

But was this all? was this nearly all? was this as anything to that
further misery which had come upon him? Where was his faith now,
his true, youthful, ardent faith; the belief of his inner heart;
the conviction of a God and a Saviour, which had once been to him
the source of joy? Had it all vanished when, under the walls of
Jerusalem, over against that very garden of Gethsemane, he had
exchanged the aspirations of his soul for the pressure of a soft
white hand?

No one becomes an infidel at once. A man who has really believed does
not lose by a sudden blow the firm convictions of his soul. But when
the work has been once commenced, when the first step has been taken,
the pace becomes frightfully fast. Three years since his belief had
been like the ardour of young love, and now what were his feelings?
Men said that he was an infidel; but he would himself deny it with a
frigid precision, with the stiffest accuracy of language; and then
argue that his acknowledgment of a superhuman creative power was not
infidelity. He had a God of his own, a cold, passionless, prudent
God; the same God, he said, to whom others looked; with this only
difference, that when others looked with fanatic enthusiasm, he
looked with well-balanced reason. But it was the same God, he said.
And as to the Saviour, he had a good deal also to say on that
subject; a good deal which might show that he was not so far from
others as others thought. And so he would prove that he was no
infidel.

But could he thus satisfy himself now that he again heard the psalms
of his youth? and remembered as he listened, that he had lost for
ever that beauty which had cost him so dear? Did he not now begin to
think--to feel perhaps rather than to think--that, after all, the
sound of the church bells was cheering, that it was sweet to kneel
there where others knelt, sweet to hear the voices of those young
children as they uttered together the responses of the service?
Was he so much wiser than others that he could venture on his own
judgment to set himself apart, and to throw over as useless all that
was to others so precious?

Such were his feelings as he sat, and knelt, and stood
there--mechanically as it were, remembering the old habits. And then
he tried to pray. But praying is by no means the easiest work to
which a man can set himself. Kneeling is easy; the repetition of the
well-known word is easy; the putting on of some solemnity of mind is
perhaps not difficult. But to remember what you are asking, why you
are asking, of whom you are asking; to feel sure that you want what
you do ask, and that this asking is the best way to get it;--that on
the whole is not easy. On this occasion Bertram probably found it
utterly beyond his capacity.

He declined to go to afternoon church. This is not held to be _de
rigueur_ even in a parson's house, unless it be among certain of the
strictly low-church clergymen. A very high churchman may ask you
to attend at four o'clock of a winter morning, but he will not be
grievously offended if, on a Sunday afternoon, you prefer your
arm-chair, and book--probably of sermons; but that is between you and
your conscience.

They dined early, and in the evening, Bertram and his host walked
out. Hitherto they had had but little opportunity of conversation,
and Bertram longed to talk to some one of what was within his breast.
On this occasion, however, he failed. Conversation will not always go
exactly as one would have it.

"I was glad to see you at church to-day," said the parson. "To tell
you the truth, I did not expect it. I hope it was not intended as a
compliment to me."

"I rather fear it was, Arthur."

"You mean that you went because you did not like to displease us by
staying away?"

"Something like it," said Bertram, affecting to laugh. "I do not want
your mother and sisters, or you either, to regard me as an ogre. In
England, at any rate in the country in England, one is an ogre if one
doesn't go to church. It does not much matter, I believe, what one
does when one is there; so long as one is quiet, and lets the parson
have his say."

"There is nothing so easy as ridicule, especially in matters of
religion."

"Quite true. But then it is again true that it is very hard to laugh
at anything that is not in some point ridiculous."

"And God's worship is ridiculous?"

"No; but any pretence of worshipping God is so. And as it is but a
step from the ridiculous to the sublime, and as the true worship of
God is probably the highest sublimity to which man can reach; so,
perhaps, is he never so absolutely absurd, in such a bathos of the
ridiculous, as when he pretends to do so."

"Every effort must sometimes fall short of success."

"I'll explain what I mean," said Bertram, attending more to himself
than his companion. "What idea of man can be so magnificent as that
which represents him with his hands closed, and his eyes turned to
that heaven with which he holds communion? But imagine the man so
placed, and holding no such communion! You will at once have run down
the whole gamut of humanity from St. Paul to Pecksniff."

"But that has nothing to do with belief. It is for the man to take
care that he be, if possible, nearer to St. Paul than to Pecksniff."

"No, it has nothing to do with belief; but it is a gauge, the only
gauge we have, of what belief a man has. How many of those who were
sitting by silently while you preached really believed?"

"All, I hope; all, I trust. I firmly trust that they are all
believers; all, including yourself."

"I wonder whether there was one; one believer in all that which you
called on us to say that we believed? one, for instance, who believes
in the communion of saints? one who believes in the resurrection of
the body?"

"And why should they not believe in the communion of saints? What's
the difficulty?"

"Very little, certainly; as their belief goes--what they and you call
belief. Rumtunshid gara shushabad gerostophat. That is the shibboleth
of some of the Caucasian tribes. Do you believe in Rumtunshid?"

"If you will talk gibberish when talking on such a matter, I had
rather change the subject."

"Now you are unreasonable, and want to have all the gibberish to
yourself. That you should have it all to yourself in your own pulpit
we accede to you; but out here, on the heath, surely I may have
my turn. You do not believe in Rumtunshid? Then why should farmer
Buttercup be called on to believe in the communion of the saints?
What does he believe about it? Or why should you make little Flora
Buttercup tell such a huge fib as to say, that she believes in the
resurrection of the body?"

"It is taught her as a necessary lesson, and will be explained to her
at the proper age."

"No; there is no proper age for it. It will never be explained to
her. Neither Flora nor her father will ever understand anything about
it. But they will always believe it. Am I old enough to understand
it? Explain it to me. No one yet has ever attempted to do so; and yet
my education was not neglected."

Wilkinson had too great a fear of his friend's powers of ridicule to
venture on an explanation; so he again suggested that they should
change the subject.

"That is always the way," said Bertram. "I never knew a clergyman who
did not want to change the subject when that subject is the one on
which he should be ever willing to speak."

"If there be anything that you deem holy, you would not be willing to
hear it ridiculed."

"There is much that I deem holy, and for that I fear no laughter. I
am ready to defy ridicule. But if I talk to you of the asceticism of
Stylites, and tell you that I admire it, and will imitate it, will
you not then laugh at me? Of course we ridicule what we think is
false. But ridicule will run off truth like water from a duck's back.
Come, explain to me this about the resurrection of the body."

"Yet, in my flesh, shall I see God," said Arthur, in a solemn tone.

"But I say, no. It is impossible."

"Nothing is impossible with God."

"Yes; it is impossible that his own great laws should change. It
is impossible that they should remain, and yet not remain. Your
body--that which we all call our body--that which Flora Buttercup
believes to be her body (for in this matter she does believe) will
turn itself, through the prolific chemistry of nature, into various
productive gases by which other bodies will be formed. With which
body will you see Christ? with that which you now carry, or that you
will carry when you die? For, of course, every atom of your body
changes."

"It little matters which. It is sufficient for me to believe as the
Scriptures teach me."

"Yes; if one could believe. A Jew, when he drags his dying limbs to
the valley of Jehoshaphat, he can believe. He, in his darkness, knows
nothing of these laws of nature. But we will go to people who are not
in darkness. If I ask your mother what she means when she says--'Not
by confusion of substance; but by unity of person,' what will she
answer me?"

"It is a subject which it will take her some time to explain."

"Yes, I think so; and me some time longer to understand."

Wilkinson was determined not to be led into argument, and so he
remained silent. Bertram was also silent for awhile, and they
walked on, each content with his own thoughts. But yet not content.
Wilkinson would have been contented to be let alone; to have his
mind, and faith, and hopes left in the repose which nature and
education had prepared for them. But it was not so with Bertram. He
was angry with himself for not believing, and angry with others that
they did believe. They went on in this way for some ten minutes, and
then Bertram began again.

"Ah, that I could believe! If it were a thing to come at, as a man
wishes, who would doubt? But you, you, the priest, the teacher of
the people, you, who should make it all so easy, you will make it so
difficult, so impossible. Belief, at any rate, should be easy, though
practice may be hard."

"You should look to the Bible, not to us."

"Yes; it is there that is our stumbling-block. A book is given
to us, not over well translated from various languages, part of
which is history hyperbolically told--for all Eastern language is
hyperbolical; part of which is prophecy, the very meaning of which
is lost to us by the loss of those things which are intended to be
imaged out; and part of which is thanksgiving uttered in the language
of men who knew nothing, and could understand nothing of those rules
by which we are to be governed."

"You are talking of the Old Testament?"

"It is given to us as one whole. Then we have the story of a mystery
which is above, or, at least, beyond the utmost stretch of man's
comprehension; and the very purport of which is opposed to all our
ideas of justice. In the jurisprudence of heaven can that be just
which here, on earth, is manifestly unjust?"

"Is your faith in God so weak then, and your reliance on yourself so
firm, that you can believe nothing beyond your own comprehension?"

"I believe much that I do not understand. I believe the distance of
the earth from the sun. I believe that the seed of a man is carried
in a woman, and then brought forth to light, a living being. I do not
understand the principle of this wondrous growth. But yet I believe
it, and know that it is from God. But I cannot believe that evil is
good. I cannot believe that man placed here by God shall receive or
not receive future happiness as he may chance to agree or not to
agree with certain doctors who, somewhere about the fourth century,
or perhaps later, had themselves so much difficulty in coming to any
agreement on the disputed subject."

"I think, Bertram, that you are going into matters which you know are
not vital to faith in the Christian religion."

"What is vital, and what is not? If I could only learn that! But you
always argue in a circle. I am to have faith because of the Bible;
but I am to take the Bible through faith. Whence is the first spring
of my faith to come? where shall I find the fountain-head?"

"In prayer to God."

"But can I pray without faith? Did any man ever kneel before a log,
and ask the log that he might believe in the log? Had he no faith in
the log, could it be possible that he should be seen there kneeling
before it?"

"Has the Bible then for you no intrinsic evidence of its truth?"

"Yes, most irrefragable evidence; evidence that no thinking man can
possibly reject. Christ's teaching, the words that I have there as
coming from his mouth are irresistible evidence of his fitness to
teach. But you will permit me to use no such evidence. I must take
it all, from the beginning of my career, before I can look into its
intrinsic truth. And it must be all true to me: the sun standing
still upon Gibeon no less than the divine wisdom which showed that
Cæsar's tribute should be paid to Cæsar."

"If every man and every child is to select, how shall we ever have a
creed? and if no creed, how shall we have a church?"

"And if no church, how then parsons? Follow it on, and it comes to
that. But, in truth, you require too much; and so you get--nothing.
Your flocks do not believe, do not pray, do not listen to you. They
are not in earnest. In earnest! Heavens! if a man could believe all
this, could be in earnest about it, how possibly could he care for
other things? But no; you pride yourselves on faith; but you have no
faith. There is no such thing left. In these days men do not know
what faith is."

In the evening, when the ladies had gone to their rooms, they were
again together; and Bertram thought that he would speak of Caroline.
But he was again foiled. There had been some little bickering on the
part of Mrs. Wilkinson. She had been querulous, and had not cared to
hide it, though George and Adela were sitting there as guests. This
had made her son unhappy, and he now spoke of it.

"I am sorry you should hear my mother speak in that way, George. I
hope I am not harsh to her. I try to refrain from answering her. But
unless I go back to my round jackets, and take my food from her hand
like a child, I cannot please her."

"Perhaps you are too careful to please her. I think you should let
her know that, to a certain extent, you must be master in your own
house."

"Ah! I have given that up long since. She has an idea that the house
is hers. I do not care to thwart her in that. Perhaps I should have
done it at first; but it is too late now. To-night she was angry with
me because I would not read a sermon."

"And why then didn't you?"

"I have preached two to-day." And the young clergyman yawned somewhat
wearily. "She used to read them herself. I did put a stop to that."

"Why so? why not let her read them?"

"The girls used to go to sleep, always--and then the servants slept
also, I don't think she has a good voice for sermons. But I am sure
of this, George--she has never forgiven me."

"And never will."

"Sometimes, I almost think she would wish to take my place in the
pulpit."

"The wish is not at all unnatural, my dear fellow."

"The truth is, that Lord Stapledean's message to her, and his
conduct about the living, has quite upset her. I cannot blame Lord
Stapledean. What he did was certainly kind. But I do blame myself. I
never should have accepted the living on those terms--never, never.
I knew it when I did it, and I have never since ceased to repent it."
And so saying he got up and walked quickly about the room. "Would you
believe it now; my mother takes upon herself to tell me in what way
I should read the absolution; and feels herself injured because I do
not comply?"

"I can tell you but of one remedy, Arthur; but I can tell you of
one."

"What remedy?"

"Take a wife to yourself; one who will not mind in what way you read
the absolution to her."

"A wife!" said Wilkinson, and he uttered a long sigh as he continued
his walk.

"Yes, a wife; why not? People say that a country clergyman should
never be without a wife; and as for myself, I firmly think that they
are right."

"Every curate is to marry, then?"

"But you are not a curate."

"I should only have the income of a curate. And where should I put a
wife? The house is full of women already. Who would come to such a
house as this?"

"There is Adela; would not she come if you asked her?"

"Adela!" said the young vicar. And now his walk had brought him to
the further end of the table; and there he remained for a minute or
two. "Adela!"

"Yes, Adela," said Bertram.

"What a life my mother would lead her! She is fond of her now; very.
But in that case I know that she would hate her."

"If I were you, I would make my wife the mistress of my house, not my
mother."

"Ah! you do not understand, George."

"But perhaps you do not like Adela--perhaps you could not teach
yourself to love her?"

"Perhaps not," said Wilkinson. "And perhaps she could not teach
herself to like me. But, ah! that is out of the question."

"There is nothing between you and Adela then?" asked Bertram.

"Oh, no; nothing."

"On your honour, nothing?"

"Nothing at all. It is quite out of the question. My marrying,
indeed!"

And then they took their bedroom candlesticks and went to their own
rooms.



CHAPTER XII.

THE WOUNDED DOE.


It was a weary, melancholy household just then, that of Hurst Staple,
and one may almost wonder that Bertram should have remained there;
but still he did remain. He had been there a fortnight, when he
learnt that in three days' time Adela was to go to Littlebath. She
was to go down with Miss Baker; and was to remain there with her, or
with Miss Todd if Miss Baker should go back to Hadley, till her own
aunt should have returned.

"I don't know why you should be in such a hurry to get to
Littlebath," said Mrs. Wilkinson. "We have been very glad to have
you; and I hope we have shown it." As Arthur had evinced no symptoms
of making love to Miss Gauntlet, the good lady had been satisfied,
and now she felt somewhat slighted that her hospitality was not more
valued.

But Adela explained in her own soft manner that it would be better
for her to leave that neighbourhood; that her heart was sore there;
that her sorrow for her father would be lighter if she were away.
What hypocrites women are! Even Ophelia in her madness would pretend
that she raved for her murdered father, when it was patent to all the
world that she was mad for love for Hamlet. And now Adela must leave
Hurst Staple because, forsooth, her poor old father lay buried at
West Putford. Would not ten words have quieted that ghost for ever?
But then, what is the use of a lady's speech but to conceal her
thoughts?

Bertram had spoken to Arthur about Caroline's marriage, but he had as
yet said no word on the subject to any one else. Mrs. Wilkinson had
tried him once or twice, but in vain. He could not bare his bosom to
Mrs. Wilkinson.

"So you are going, Adela?" he said the morning he had heard the news.
They had all called her Adela in that house, and he had learned to do
as others did. These intimacies will sometimes grow up in five days,
though an acquaintance of twenty years will often not produce them.

"Yes, Mr. Bertram. I have been a great trouble to them here, and it
is time that I should be gone."

"'Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.' Had I a house, I
should endeavour to act on that principle. I would never endeavour
to keep a person who wished to go. But we shall all regret you. And
then, Littlebath is not the place for you. You will never be happy at
Littlebath."

"Why not?"

"Oh, it is a wretched place; full of horse-jockeys and hags--of
card-tables and false hair."

"I shall have nothing to do with the card-tables, and I hope not with
the false hair--nor yet much, I suppose, with the horse-jockeys."

"There will still remain the worst of the four curses."

"Mr. Bertram, how can you be so evil-minded? I have had many happy
days at Littlebath." And then she paused, for she remembered that her
happy days there had all been passed with Caroline Waddington.

"Yes, and I also have had happy days there," said he; "very happy.
And I am sure of this--that they would have been happy still but for
the influence of that wretched place."

Adela could make no answer to this at the moment, so she went on
hemming at her collar. Then, after a pause, she said, "I hope it will
have no evil influence on me."

"I hope not--I hope not. But you are beyond such influences. It seems
to me, if I may say so, that you are beyond all influences."

"Yes; as a fool is," she said, laughing.

"No; but as a rock is. I will not say as ice, for ice will always
melt."

"And do I never melt, Mr. Bertram? Has that which has made you so
unhappy not moved me? Do you think that I can love Caroline as I do,
and not grieve, and weep, and groan in the spirit? I do grieve; I
have wept for it. I am not stone."

And in this also there had been some craft. She had been as it were
forced to guard the thoughts of her own heart; and had, therefore,
turned the river of the conversation right through the heart of her
companion.

"For whom do you weep? for which of us do you weep?" he asked.

"For both; that, having so much to enjoy, you should between you have
thrown it all away."

"She will be happy. That at any rate is a consolation to me. Though
you will hardly believe that."

"I hope she will. I hope she will. But, oh! Mr. Bertram, it is so
fearful a risk. What--what if she should not be? What if she shall
find, when the time will be too late for finding anything--what if
she shall then find that she cannot love him?"

"Love him!" said the other with a sneer. "You do not know her. What
need is there for love?"

"Ah! do not be harsh to her; do not you be harsh to her."

"Harsh, no; I will not be harsh to her. I will be all kindness. And
being kind, I ask what need is there for love? Looking at it in any
light, of course she cannot love him."

"Cannot love him! why not?"

"How is it possible? Had she loved me, could she have shaken off one
lover and taken up another in two months? And if she never loved me;
if for three years she could go on, never loving me--then what reason
is there to think she should want such excitement now?"

"But you--could you love her, and yet cast her from you?"

"Yes; I could do it. I did do it--and were it to do again, it should
be done again. I did love her. If I know what love is, if I can at
all understand it, I did love her with all my heart. And yet--I will
not say I cast her off; it would be unmanly as well as false; but I
let her go."

"Ah! you did more than that, Mr. Bertram."

"I gave her back her troth; and she accepted it;--as it was her duty
to do, seeing that her wishes were then changed. I did no more than
that."

"Women, Mr. Bertram, well know that when married they must sometimes
bear a sharp word. But the sharp word before marriage; that is very
hard to be borne."

"I measure my words-- But why should I defend myself? Of course your
verdict will be on your friend's side. I should hate you if it were
not so. But, oh! Adela, if I have sinned, I have been punished. I
have been punished heavily. Indeed, indeed, I have been punished."
And sitting down, he bowed himself on the table, and hid his face
within his hands.

This was in the drawing-room, and before Adela could venture to speak
to him again, one of the girls came into the room.

"Adela," said she, "we are waiting for you to go down to the school."

"I am coming directly," said Adela, jumping up, and still hoping that
Mary would go on, so as to leave her one moment alone with Bertram.
But Mary showed no sign of moving without her friend. Instead of
doing so, she asked her cousin whether he had a headache?

"Not at all," said he, looking up; "but I am half asleep. This Hurst
Staple is a sleepy place, I think. Where's Arthur?"

"He's in the study."

"Well, I'll go into the study also. One can always sleep there
without being disturbed."

"You're very civil, master George." And then Adela followed her
friend down to the school.

But she could not rest while the matter stood in this way. She felt
that she had been both harsh and unjust to Bertram. She knew that
the fault had been with Caroline; and yet she had allowed herself to
speak of it as though he, and he only, had been to blame. She felt,
moreover, an expressible tenderness for his sorrow. When he declared
how cruel was his punishment, she could willingly have given him the
sympathy of her tears. For were not their cases in many points the
same?

She was determined to see him again before she went, and to tell him
that she acquitted him;--that she knew the greater fault was not with
him. This in itself would not comfort him; but she would endeavour so
to put it that he might draw comfort from it.

"I must see you for a moment alone, before I go," she said to him
that evening in the drawing-room. "I go very early on Thursday
morning. When can I speak to you? You are never up early, I know."

"But I will be to-morrow. Will you be afraid to come out with me
before breakfast?"

"Oh no! she would not be at all afraid," she said: and so the
appointment was made.

"I know you'll think me very foolish for giving this trouble," she
began, in rather a confused way, "and making so much about nothing."

"No man thinks there is much ado about nothing when the ado is about
himself," said Bertram, laughing.

"Well, but I know it is foolish. But I was unjust to you yesterday,
and I could not leave you without confessing it."

"How unjust, Adela?"

"I said you had cast Caroline off."

"Ah, no! I certainly did not do that."

"She wrote to me, and told me everything. She wrote very truly, I
know; and she did not say a word--not a word against you."

"Did she not? Well--no--I know she would not. And remember this,
Adela: I do not say a word against her. Do tell her, not from me, you
know, but of your own observation, that I do not say one word against
her. I only say she did not love me."

"Ah! Mr. Bertram."

"That is all; and that is true. Adela, I have not much to give; but I
would give it all--all--everything to have her back--to have her back
as I used to think her. But if I could have her now--as I know her
now--by raising this hand, I would not take her. But this imputes no
blame to her. She tried to love me, but she could not."

"Ah! she did love you."

"Never!" He almost shouted as he said this; and as he did so, he
stood across his companion's path. "Never! She never loved me. I know
it now. What poor vile wretches we are! It is this I think that most
torments me."

And then they walked on. Adela had come there expressly to speak to
him, but now she was almost afraid to speak. Her heart had been full
of what it would utter, but now all utterance seemed to have left
her. She had intended to console, but she did not dare to attempt it.
There was a depth, almost a sublimity about his grief which kept her
silent.

"Oh! Adela," he said, "if you knew what it is to have an empty
heart--or rather a heart not empty--that would fain be empty that you
might again refill it. Dear Adela!" And he put out his hand to take
her own. She hardly knew why, but she let him take her hand. "Dear
Adela; have you never sighed for the comfort of an empty heart? You
probe my wounds to the bottom; may I not search your own?"

She did not answer him. Was it possible that she should answer such
a question? Her eyes became suffused with tears, and she was unable
to raise them from the ground. She could not recall her hand--not
at that moment. She had come there to lecture him, to talk to him,
to comfort him; and now she was unable to say a word. Did he know
the secret of her heart; that secret which once and but once had
involuntarily broken from out her lips? Had Caroline told him? Had
she been so false to friendship--as false to friendship as she had
been to love?

"Adela! Adela! I would that we had met earlier in our lives. Yes, you
and I." These last words he added after she had quickly rescued her
hand from his grasp. Very quickly she withdrew it now. As quickly she
lifted up her face, all covered as it was with tears, and endured the
full weight of his gaze. What! was it possible that he knew how she
had loved, and thought that her love had been for him!

"Yes, you and I," he continued. "Even though your eyes flash upon
me so sternly. You mean to say that had it been ever so early, that
prize would have been impossible for me. Speak out, Adela. That is
what you mean?"

"Yes; it would have been impossible; impossible every way;
impossible, that is, on both sides."

"Then you have not that empty heart, Adela? What else should make it
impossible?"

"Mr. Bertram, when I came here, I had no wish, no intention to talk
about myself."

"Why not of yourself as well as of me? I say again, I would we had
both met earlier. It might have been that I should have been saved
from this shipwreck. I will speak openly to you, Adela. Why not?"
he added, seeing that she shrunk from him, and seemed as though she
would move on quickly--away from his words.

"Mr. Bertram, do not say that which it will be useless for you to
have said."

"It shall not be useless. You are my friend, and friends should
understand each other. You know how I have loved Caroline. You
believe that I have loved her, do you not?"

"Oh, yes; I do believe that."

"Well, you may; that at any rate is true. I have loved her. She will
now be that man's property, and I must love her no longer."

"No; not with that sort of love."

"That sort! Are there two sorts on which a man may run the changes,
as he may from one room to another? I must wipe her out of my
mind--out of my heart--or burn her out. I would not wish to love
anything that he possesses."

"No!" said she, "not his wife."

"Wife! she will never be his wife. She will never be bone of his
bone, and flesh of his flesh, as I would have made her. It will be
but a partnership between them, to be dissolved when they have made
the most of their world's trading."

"If you love her, Mr. Bertram, do not be so bitter in speaking of
her."

"Bitter! I tell you that I think her quite right in what she does.
If a woman cannot love, what better can she do than trade upon her
beauty? But, there; let her go; I did not wish to speak of her."

"I was very wrong in asking you to walk with me this morning."

"No, Adela, not wrong; but very, very right. There, well, I will not
ask you for your hand again, though it was but in friendship."

"In friendship I will give it you," and she stretched out her hand to
him. It was ungloved, and very white and fair; a prettier hand than
even Caroline could boast.

"I must not take it. I must not lie to you, Adela. I am
broken-hearted. I have loved; I have loved that woman with all my
heart, with my very soul, with the utmost strength of my whole
being--and now it has come to this. If I know what a broken heart
means, I have it here. But yet--yet--yet. Oh, Adela! I would fain try
yet once again. I can do nothing for myself; nothing. If the world
were there at my feet, wealth, power, glory, to be had for the
stooping, I would not stoop to pick them, if I could not share them
with--a friend. Adela, it is so sad to be alone!"

"Yes, it is sad. Is not sadness the lot of many of us?"

"Yes; but nature bids us seek a cure when a cure is possible."

"I do not know what you wish me to understand, Mr. Bertram?"

"Yes, Adela, you do; I think you do. I think I am honest and open. At
any rate, I strive to be so. I think you do understand me."

"If I do, then the cure which you seek is impossible."

"Ah!"

"Is impossible."

"You are not angry with me?"

"Angry; no, not angry."

"And do not be angry now, if I speak openly again. I thought--I
thought. But I fear that I shall pain you."

"I do not care for pain if any good can come of it."

"I thought that you also had been wounded. In the woods, the stricken
harts lie down together and lick each other's wounds while the herd
roams far away from them."

"Is it so? Why do we hear then 'of the poor sequestered stag, left
and abandoned of his velvet friend?' No, Mr. Bertram, grief, I fear,
must still be solitary."

"And so, unendurable."

"God still tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, now as he has ever
done. But there is no sudden cure for these evils. The time will come
when all this will be remembered, not without sorrow, but with a
calm, quiet mourning that will be endurable; when your heart, now
not broken as you say, but tortured, will be able to receive other
images. But that time cannot come at once. Nor, I think, is it well
that we should wish it. Those who have courage to love should have
courage to suffer."

"Yes, yes, yes. But if the courage be wanting? if one have it not?
One cannot have such courage for the asking."

"The first weight of the blow will stun the sufferer. I know that,
Mr. Bertram. But that dull, dead, deathly feeling will wear off at
last. You have but to work; to read, to write, to study. In that
respect, you men are more fortunate than we are. You have that which
must occupy your thoughts."

"And you, Adela--?"

"Do not speak of me. If you are generous, you will not do so.
If I have in any way seemed to speak of myself, it is because
you have made it unavoidable. What God has given me to bear is
bearable;--though I would that he could have spared my poor father."
And, so saying, Adela at last gave way to tears. On that subject she
might be allowed to weep.

Bertram said nothing to disturb her till they were near the house,
and then he again held out his hand to her. "As a true friend; I hope
as a dear friend. Is it not so?" said he.

"Yes," she answered, in her lowest voice, "as a dear friend.
But remember that I expect a friend's generosity and a friend's
forbearance." And so she made her way back to her own room, and
appeared at breakfast in her usual sober guise, but with eyes that
told no tales.

On the next morning she took her departure. The nearest station on
the railway by which she was to go to Littlebath was distant about
twelve miles, and it was proposed that she should be sent thither in
Mrs. Wilkinson's phaëton. This, indeed, except the farm-yard cart,
was the only vehicle which belonged to the parsonage, and was a low
four-wheeled carriage, not very well contrived for the accommodation
of two moderate-sized people in front, and of two immoderately-small
people on the hind seat. Mrs. Wilkinson habitually drove it herself,
with one of her daughters beside her, and with two others--those
two whose legs had been found by measurement to be the shortest--in
durance vile behind; but when so packed, it was clear to all men that
the capacity of the phaëton was exhausted. Now the first arrangement
proposed was, that Arthur should drive the phaëton, and that Sophy
should accompany Adela to the station. But Sophy, in so arranging,
had forgotten that her friend had a bag, a trunk, and a bonnet-box,
the presence of which at Littlebath would be indispensable; and,
therefore, at the last moment, when the phaëton came to the door with
the luggage fastened on the hinder seat, it was discovered for the
first time that Sophy must be left behind.

Arthur Wilkinson would willingly have given up his position, and
George Bertram would willingly have taken it. Adela also would have
been well pleased at such a change. But though all would have been
pleased, it could not be effected. The vicar could not very well
proclaim that, as his sister was not to accompany him and shield
him, he would not act as charioteer to Miss Gauntlet; nor could the
lady object to be driven by her host. So at last they started from
the vicarage door with many farewell kisses, and a large paper of
sandwiches. Who is it that consumes the large packets of sandwiches
with which parting guests are always laden? I imagine that
station-masters' dogs are mainly fed upon them.

The first half-mile was occupied, on Wilkinson's part, in little
would-be efforts to make his companion more comfortable. He shifted
himself about into the furthest corner so as to give her more room;
he pulled his cloak out from under her, and put it over her knees to
guard her from the dust; and recommended her three times to put up
her parasol. Then he had a word or two to say to the neighbours; but
that only lasted as long as he was in his own parish. Then he came to
a hill which gave him an opportunity of walking; and on getting in
again he occupied half a minute in taking out his watch, and assuring
Adela that she would not be too late for the train.

But when all this was done, the necessity for conversation still
remained. They had hardly been together--thrown for conversation on
each other as they now were--since that day when Arthur had walked
over for the last time to West Putford. Reader, do you remember it?
Hardly; for have not all the fortunes and misfortunes of our more
prominent hero intervened since that chapter was before you?

"I hope you will find yourself comfortable at Littlebath," he said at
last.

"Oh, yes; that is, I shall be when my aunt comes home. I shall be at
home then, you know."

"But that will be some time?"

"I fear so; and I dread greatly going to this Miss Todd, whom I have
never seen. But you see, dear Miss Baker must go back to Hadley soon,
and Miss Todd has certainly been very good-natured in offering to
take me."

Then there was another silence, which lasted for about half a mile.

"My mother would have been very glad if you would have stayed at the
parsonage till your aunt's return; and so would my sisters--and so
should I."

"You are all very kind--too kind," said Adela.

Then came another pause, perhaps for a quarter of a mile, but it was
up-hill work, and the quarter of a mile passed by very slowly.

"It seems so odd that you should go away from us, whom you have known
so long, to stay with Miss Todd, whom you never have even seen."

"I think change of scene will be good for me, Mr. Wilkinson."

"Well, perhaps so." And then the other quarter of a mile made away
with itself. "Come, get along, Dumpling." This was said to the fat
steed; for they had now risen to level ground.

"Our house, I know, must be very stupid for you. It is much changed
from what it was; is it not?"

"Oh, I don't know."

"Yes, it is. There is neither the same spirit, nor the same
good-will. We miss my father greatly."

"Ah, yes. I can feel for you there. It is a loss; a great loss."

"I sometimes think it unfortunate that my mother should have remained
at the vicarage after my father's death."

"You have been very good to her, I know."

"I have done my best, Adela." It was the first time she had
distinctly heard him call her by her Christian name since she had
come to stay with them. "But I have failed. She is not happy there;
nor, indeed, for that matter, am I."

"A man should be happy when he does his duty."

"We none of us do that so thoroughly as to require no other source of
happiness. Go on, Dumpling, and do your duty."

"I see that you are very careful in doing yours."

"Perhaps you will hardly believe me, but I wish Lord Stapledean had
never given me the living."

"Well; it is difficult to believe that. Think what it has been for
your sisters."

"I know we should have been very poor, but we should not have
starved. I had my fellowship, and I could have taken pupils. I am
sure we should have been happier. And then--"

"And then--well?" said Adela; and as she spoke, her heart was not
quite at rest within her breast.

"Then I should have been free. Since I took that living, I have been
a slave." Again he paused a moment, and whipped the horse; but it was
only now for a moment that he was silent. "Yes, a slave. Do you not
see what a life I live? I could be content to sacrifice myself to my
mother if the sacrifice were understood. But you see how it is with
her. Nothing that I can do will satisfy her; and yet for her I have
sacrificed everything--everything."

"A sacrifice is no sacrifice if it be agreeable. The sacrifice
consists in its being painful."

"Well, I suppose so. I say that to myself so often. It is the only
consolation I have."

"Not that I think your home should be made uncomfortable to you.
There is no reason why it should be. At least, I should think not."
She spoke with little spasmodic efforts, which, however, did not
betray themselves to her companion, who seemed to her to be almost
more engaged with Dumpling than with the conversation. It certainly
had been through no wish of hers that they were thus talking of his
household concerns; but as they were speaking of them, she was forced
into a certain amount of hypocrisy. It was a subject on which she
could not speak openly.

There was then another hill to be walked up, and Adela thought there
would be no more of it. The matter had come up by accident, and would
now, probably, drop away. But no. Whether by design, or from chance,
or because no other topic presented itself, Arthur went back to the
subject, and did so now in a manner that was peculiarly startling to
Miss Gauntlet.

"Do you remember my calling once at West Putford, soon after I got
the living? It is a long time ago now, and I don't suppose you do
remember it."

"Yes, I do; very well."

"And do you remember what I told you then?"

"What was it?" said Adela. It clearly is the duty of a young lady on
very many occasions to be somewhat hypocritical.

"If there be any man to whose happiness marriage is more necessary
than to that of another, it is a country clergyman."

"Yes, I can believe that. That is, if there be not ladies of his own
family living with him."

"I do not know that that makes any difference."

"Oh, yes; it must make a difference. I think that a man must be very
wretched who has no one to look after his house."

"And is that your idea of the excellence of a wife? I should have
expected something higher from you, Adela. I suppose you think, then,
that if a man have his linen looked after, and his dinner cooked,
that is sufficient." Poor Adela! It must be acknowledged that this
was hard on her.

"No, I do not think that sufficient."

"It would seem so from what you say."

"Then what I said belied my thoughts. It seems to me, Mr. Wilkinson,
since you drive me to speak out, that the matter is very much in
your own hands. You are certainly a free agent. You know better than
I can tell you what your duty to your mother and sisters requires.
Circumstances have made them dependent on you, and you certainly are
not the man to disacknowledge the burden."

"Certainly not."

"No, certainly not. But, having made up my mind to that, I would not,
were I you, allow myself to be a slave."

"But what can I do?"

"You mean that you would be a poor man, were you--were you to give up
your fellowship and at the same time take upon yourself other cares
as well. Do as other poor men do."

"I know no other man situated as I am."

"But you know men who are much worse situated as regards their
worldly means. Were you to give your mother the half of your income,
you would still, I presume, be richer than Mr. Young." Mr. Young was
the curate of a neighbouring parish, who had lately married on his
curacy.

It will be said by my critics, especially by my female critics, that
in saying this, Adela went a long way towards teaching Mr. Wilkinson
the way to woo. Indeed, she brought that accusation against herself,
and not lightly. But she was, as she herself had expressed it, driven
in the cause of truth to say what she had said. Nor did she, in her
heart of hearts, believe that Mr. Wilkinson had any thought of her in
saying what she did say. Her mind on that matter had been long made
up. She knew herself to be "the poor sequestered stag, left and
abandoned by his velvet friend." She had no feeling in the matter
which amounted to the slightest hope. He had asked her for her
counsel, and she had given him the only counsel which she honestly
could give.

Therefore, bear lightly on her, oh my critics! Bear lightly on her
especially, my critics feminine. To the worst of your wrath and scorn
I willingly subject the other lovers with whom my tale is burthened.

"Yes, I should be better off than Young," said Wilkinson, as though
he were speaking to himself. "But that is not the point. I do not
know that I have ever looked at it exactly in that light. There is
the house, the parsonage I mean. It is full of women"--'twas thus
irreverently that he spoke of his mother and sisters--"what other
woman would come among them?"

"Oh, that is the treasure for which you have to search"--this she
said laughingly. The bitterness of the day was over with her; or at
least it then seemed so. She was not even thinking of herself when
she said this.

"Would you come to such a house, Adela? You, you yourself?"

"You mean to ask whether, if, as regards other circumstances, I was
minded to marry, I would then be deterred by a mother-in-law and
sister-in-law?"

"Yes, just so," said Wilkinson, timidly.

"Well, that would depend much upon how well I might like the
gentleman; something also upon how much I might like the ladies."

"A man's wife should always be mistress in his own house."

"Oh yes, of course."

"And my mother is determined to be mistress in that house."

"Well, I will not recommend you to rebel against your mother. Is that
the station, Mr. Wilkinson?"

"Yes--that's the station. Dear me, we have forty minutes to wait
yet!"

"Don't mind me, Mr. Wilkinson. I shall not in the least dislike
waiting by myself."

"Of course, I shall see you off. Dumpling won't run away; you may be
sure of that. There is very little of the runaway class to be found
at Hurst Staple Parsonage; except you, Adela."

"You don't call me a runaway, I hope?"

"You run away from us just when we are beginning to feel the comfort
of your being with us. There, he won't catch cold now;" and so
having thrown a rug over Dumpling's back, he followed Adela into the
station.

I don't know anything so tedious as waiting at a second-class station
for a train. There is the ladies' waiting-room, into which gentlemen
may not go, and the gentlemen's waiting-room, in which the porters
generally smoke, and the refreshment room, with its dirty counter
covered with dirtier cakes. And there is the platform, which you walk
up and down till you are tired. You go to the ticket-window half a
dozen times for your ticket, having been warned by the company's
bills that you must be prepared to start at least ten minutes before
the train is due. But the man inside knows better, and does not open
the little hole to which you have to stoop your head till two minutes
before the time named for your departure. Then there are five fat
farmers, three old women, and a butcher at the aperture, and not
finding yourself equal to struggling among them for a place, you make
up your mind to be left behind. At last, however, you do get your
ticket just as the train comes up; but hearing that exciting sound,
you nervously cram your change into your pocket without counting it,
and afterwards feel quite convinced that you have lost a shilling in
the transaction.

'Twas somewhat in this way that the forty minutes were passed by
Wilkinson and Adela. Nothing of any moment was spoken between them
till he took her hand for the last time. "Adela," he then whispered
to her, "I shall think much of what you have said to me, very much.
I do so wish you were not leaving us. I wonder whether you would be
surprised if I were to write to you?" But the train was gone before
she had time to answer.

Two days afterwards, Bertram also left them. "Arthur," he said, as
he took leave of the vicar, "if I, who have made such a mess of it
myself, may give advice on such a subject, I would not leave Adela
Gauntlet long at Littlebath if I were you."



CHAPTER XIII.

THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL IN LOVE.


Caroline Waddington was at Hadley when she received and accepted the
proposal made to her by Sir Henry Harcourt. It may be conceived that
the affair was arranged without any very great amount of romance. Sir
Henry indeed was willing, in a hurried manner, to throw himself at
the lady's feet, to swear by her fair hand that he loved her as man
never yet had loved, and to go to work in the fashion usually most
approved by young ladies. In a hurried manner, I say; for just at
this moment he was being made solicitor-general, and had almost
too many irons in the fire to permit of a prolonged dallying. But
Caroline would have none of it, either hurried or not hurried.
Whatever might be the case with Sir Henry, she had gone through that
phase of life, and now declared to herself that she did not want any
more of it.

Sir Henry did not find the task of gaining his bride very difficult.
He had succeeded in establishing a sort of intimacy with old Mr.
Bertram, and it appeared that permission to run down to Hadley and
run back again had already been accorded to him before Miss Baker and
Caroline arrived there. He never slept, though he sometimes dined in
the house; but he had always something to talk about when an excuse
for going to Hadley was required. Mr. Bertram had asked him something
about some investment, and he had found out this something; or
he wanted to ask Mr. Bertram's advice on some question as to his
political career. At this period he was, or professed to be, very
much guided in his public life by Mr. Bertram's opinion.

And thus he fell in with Caroline. On the first occasion of his doing
so, he contrived to whisper to her his deep sympathy with her sorrow;
on his second visit, he spoke more of himself and less of Bertram;
on his third, he alluded only to her own virtues; on his fourth, he
asked her to be Lady Harcourt. She told him that she would be Lady
Harcourt; and, as far as she was concerned, there was an end of it
for the present.

Then Sir Henry proposed that the day should be named. On this subject
also he found her ready to accommodate him. She had no coy scruples
as to the time. He suggested that it should be before Christmas.
Very well; let it be before Christmas. Christmas is a cold time for
marrying; but this was to be a cold marriage. Christmas, however,
for the fortunate is made warm with pudding, ale, and spiced beef.
They intended to be among the fortunate, the fortunate in place, and
money, and rank; and they would, as best they might, make themselves
warm with the best pudding, ale, and spiced beef which the world
could afford them.

Sir Henry was alive to the delight of being the possessor of so many
charms, and was somewhat chagrined that for the present he was so
cruelly debarred from any part of his legitimate enjoyment. Though
he was a solicitor-general, he could have been content to sit for
ten minutes with his arm round Caroline's waist; and--in spite of
the energy with which he was preparing a bill for the regulation of
County Courts, as to which he knew that he should have that terrible
demi-god, Lord Boanerges, down upon his shoulders--still he would
fain have stolen a kiss or two. But Caroline's waist and Caroline's
kisses were to be his only after Christmas; and to be his only as
payment accorded for her new rank, and for her fine new house in
Eaton Square.

How is it that girls are so potent to refuse such favours at one
time, and so impotent in preventing their exaction at another? Sir
Henry, we may say, had every right to demand some trifling payment in
advance; but he could not get a doit. Should we be violating secrecy
too much if we suggested that George Bertram had had some slight
partial success even when he had no such positive claim--some success
which had of course been in direct opposition to the lady's will?

Miss Baker had now gone back to Littlebath, either to receive Adela
Gauntlet, or because she knew that she should be more comfortable in
her own rooms than in her uncle's dismal house--or perhaps because
Sir Lionel was there. She had, however, gone back, and Caroline
remained mistress for the time of her grandfather's household.

The old man now seemed to have dropped all mystery in the matter. He
generally, indeed, spoke of Caroline as Miss Waddington; but he heard
her talked of as his granddaughter without expressing anger, and
with Sir Henry he himself so spoke of her. He appeared to be quite
reconciled to the marriage. In spite of all his entreaties to George,
all his attempted bribery, his broken-hearted sorrow when he failed,
he seemed to be now content. Indeed, he had made no opposition to the
match. When Caroline had freely spoken to him about it, he made some
little snappish remark as to the fickleness of women; but he at the
same time signified that he would not object.

Why should he? Sir Henry Harcourt was in every respect a good match
for his granddaughter. He had often been angry with George Bertram
because George had not prospered in the world. Sir Henry had
prospered signally--would probably prosper much more signally. Might
it not be safely predicated of a man who was solicitor-general
before he was thirty, that he would be lord-chancellor or lord
chief-justice, or at any rate some very bigwig indeed before he was
fifty? So of course Mr. Bertram did not object.

But he had not signified his acquiescence in any very cordial way.
Rich old men, when they wish to be cordial on such occasions, have
but one way of evincing cordiality. It is not by a pressure of the
hand, by a kind word, by an approving glance. Their embrace conveys
no satisfaction; their warmest words, if unsupported, are very cold.
An old man, if he intends to be cordial on such an occasion, must
speak of _thousands of pounds_. "My dear young fellow, I approve
altogether. She shall have _twenty thousand pounds_ the day she
becomes yours." Then is the hand shaken with true fervour; then is
real cordiality expressed and felt. "What a dear old man grandpapa
is! Is there any one like him? Dear old duck! He is going to be so
generous to Harry."

But Mr. Bertram said nothing about twenty thousand pounds, nothing
about ten, nothing about money at all till he was spoken to on the
subject. It was Sir Henry's special object not to be pressing on
this point, to show that he was marrying Caroline without any sordid
views, and that his admiration for Mr. Bertram had no bearing at all
on that gentleman's cash-box. He did certainly make little feints
at Mr. Pritchett; but Mr. Pritchett merely wheezed and said nothing.
Mr. Pritchett was not fond of the Harcourt interest; and seemed to
care but little for Miss Caroline, now that she had transferred her
affections.

But it was essentially necessary that Sir Henry Harcourt should know
what was to be done. If he were to have nothing, it was necessary
that he should know that. He had certainly counted on having
something, and on having something immediately. He was a thoroughly
hard-working man of business, but yet he was not an economical man. A
man who lives before the world in London, and lives chiefly among men
of fortune, can hardly be economical. He had not therefore any large
sum of money in hand. He was certainly in receipt of a large income,
but then his expenses were large. He had taken and now had to furnish
an expensive house in Eaton Square, and a few thousand pounds in
ready money were almost indispensable to him.

One Friday--this was after his return to town from the ten days'
grouse-shooting, and occurred at the time when he was most busy with
the County Courts--he wrote to Caroline to say that he would go down
to Hadley on Saturday afternoon, stay there over the Sunday, and
return to town on the Monday morning; that is to say, he would do so
if perfectly agreeable to Mr. Bertram.

He went down, and found everything prepared for him that was suitable
for a solicitor-general. They did not put before him merely roast
mutton or boiled beef. He was not put to sleep in the back bedroom
without a carpet. Such treatment had been good enough for George
Bertram; but for the solicitor-general all the glories of Hadley were
put forth. He slept in the best bedroom, which was damp enough no
doubt, seeing that it was not used above twice in the year; and went
through at dinner a whole course of _entrées_, such as _entrées_
usually are in the suburban districts. This was naturally gratifying
to him as a solicitor-general, and fortified him for the struggle he
was to make.

He had some hope that he should have a _tête-à-tête_ with Caroline
on the Saturday evening. But neither fate nor love would favour him.
He came down just before dinner, and there was clearly no time then:
infirm as the old man was, he sat at the dinner-table; and though
Sir Henry was solicitor-general, there was no second room, no
withdrawing-room prepared for his reception.

"Grandpapa does not like moving," said Caroline, as she got up to
leave the room after dinner; "so perhaps, Sir Henry, you will allow
me to come down to tea here? We always sit here of an evening."

"I never could bear to live in two rooms," said the old man. "When
one is just warm and comfortable, one has to go out into all the
draughts of the house. That's the fashion, I know. But I hope you'll
excuse me, Sir Henry, for not liking it."

Sir Henry of course did excuse him. There was nothing he himself
liked so much as sitting cosy over a dining-room fire.

In about an hour Caroline did come down again; and in another hour,
before the old man went, she again vanished for the night. Sir Henry
had made up his mind not to speak to Mr. Bertram about money that
evening; so he also soon followed Caroline, and sat down to work upon
the County Courts in his own bedroom.

On the next morning Sir Henry and Caroline went to church. All the
Hadleyians of course knew of the engagement, and were delighted
to have an opportunity of staring at the two turtle-doves. A
solicitor-general in love is a sight to behold; and the clergyman
had certainly no right to be angry if the attention paid to his
sermon was something less fixed than usual. Before dinner, there
was luncheon; and then Sir Henry asked his betrothed if she would
take a walk with him. "Oh, certainly, she would be delighted." Her
church-going bonnet was still on, and she was quite ready. Sir Henry
also was ready; but as he left the room he stooped over Mr. Bertram's
chair and whispered to him, "Could I speak to you a few words before
dinner, sir; on business? I know I ought to apologize, this being
Sunday."

"Oh, I don't care about Sunday," said the stubborn-minded old man. "I
shall be here till I go to bed, I suppose, if you want me."

And then they started on their walk. Oh, those lovers' rambles! A man
as he grows old can perhaps teach himself to regret but few of the
sweets which he is compelled to leave behind him. He can learn to
disregard most of his youth's pleasures, and to live contented though
he has outlived them. The polka and the waltz were once joyous; but
he sees now that the work was warm, and that one was often compelled
to perform it in company for which one did not care. Those picnics
too were nice; but it may be a question whether a good dinner at his
own dinner-table is not nicer. Though fat and over forty he may still
ride to hounds, and as for boating and cricketing, after all they
were but boy's play. For those things one's soul does not sigh. But,
ah! those lovers' walks, those loving lovers' rambles. Tom Moore is
usually somewhat sugary and mawkish; but in so much he was right. If
there be an Elysium on earth, it is this. They are done and over for
us, oh, my compatriots! Never again, unless we are destined to rejoin
our houris in heaven, and to saunter over fields of asphodel in
another and a greener youth--never again shall those joys be ours!
And what can ever equal them? 'Twas then, between sweet hedgerows,
under green oaks, with our feet rustling on the crisp leaves, that
the world's cold reserve was first thrown off, and we found that
those we loved were not goddesses made of buckram and brocade, but
human beings like ourselves, with blood in their veins, and hearts in
their bosoms--veritable children of Adam like ourselves.

"Gin a body meet a body comin' through the rye." Ah, how delicious
were those meetings! How convinced we were that there was no
necessity for loud alarm! How fervently we agreed with the poet! My
friends, born together with me in the consulship of Lord Liverpool,
all that is done and over for us. We shall never gang that gait'
again.

There is a melancholy in this that will tinge our thoughts, let us
draw ever so strongly on our philosophy. We can still walk with our
wives;--and that is pleasant too, very--of course. But there was
more animation in it when we walked with the same ladies under other
names. Nay, sweet spouse, mother of dear bairns, who hast so well
done thy duty; but this was so, let thy brows be knit never so
angrily. That lord of thine has been indifferently good to thee, and
thou to him has been more than good. Up-hill together have ye walked
peaceably labouring; and now arm-in-arm ye shall go down the gradual
slope which ends below there in the green churchyard. 'Tis good and
salutary to walk thus. But for the full cup of joy, for the brimming
spring-tide of human bliss, oh, give me back, give me back-- -- --!
Well, well, well; it is nonsense; I know it; but may not a man dream
now and again in his evening nap and yet do no harm?

_Vici puellis nuper idoneus, et militavi._ How well Horace knew all
about it! But that hanging up of the gittern--. One would fain have
put it off, had falling hairs, and marriage-vows, and obesity have
permitted it. Nay, is it not so, old friend of the grizzled beard?
Dost thou not envy that smirk young knave with his five lustrums,
though it goes hard with him to purchase his kid-gloves? He dines for
one-and-twopence at an eating-house; but what cares Maria where he
dines? He rambles through the rye with his empty pockets, and at the
turn of the field-path Maria will be there to meet him. Envy him not;
thou hast had thy walk; but lend him rather that thirty shillings
that he asks of thee. So shall Maria's heart be glad as she accepts
his golden brooch.

But for our friend Sir Henry every joy was present. Youth and
wealth and love were all his, and his all together. He was but
eight-and-twenty, was a member of Parliament, solicitor-general,
owner of a house in Eaton Square, and possessor of as much
well-trained beauty as was to be found at that time within the magic
circle of any circumambient crinoline within the bills of mortality.
Was it not sweet for him to wander through the rye? Had he not
fallen upon an Elysium, a very paradise of earthly joys? Was not his
spring-tide at the full flood?

And so they started on their walk. It was the first that they had
ever taken together. What Sir Henry may have done before in that
line this history says not. A man who is solicitor-general at
eight-and-twenty can hardly have had time for much. But the practice
which he perhaps wanted, Caroline had had. There had been walks
as well as rides at Littlebath; and walks also, though perhaps of
doubtful joy, amidst those graves below the walls of Jerusalem.

And so they started. There is--or perhaps we should say was; for
time and railways, and straggling new suburban villas, may now have
destroyed it all; but there is, or was, a pretty woodland lane,
running from the back of Hadley church, through the last remnants of
what once was Enfield Chase. How many lovers' feet have crushed the
leaves that used to lie in autumn along that pretty lane! Well, well;
there shall not be another word in that strain. I speak solely now
of the time here present to Sir Henry; all former days and former
roamings there shall be clean forgotten. The solicitor-general now
thither wends his way, and love and beauty attend upon his feet. See
how he opens the gate that stands by the churchyard paling? Does it
stand there yet, I wonder? Well, well; we will say it does.

"It is a beautiful day for a walk," said Sir Henry.

"Yes, very beautiful," said Caroline.

"There is nothing I am so fond of as a long walk," said the
gentleman.

"It is very nice," said the lady. "But I do not know that I care for
going very far to-day. I am not quite strong at present."

"Not strong?" And the solicitor-general put on a look of deep alarm.

"Oh, there is nothing the matter with me; but I am not quite strong
for walking. I am out of practice; and my boots are not quite of the
right sort."

"They don't hurt you, I hope."

"Oh, no; they don't actually hurt me. They'll do very well for
to-day." And then there was a short pause, and they got on the green
grass which runs away into the chase in front of the parsonage
windows. I wonder whether wickets are ever standing there now on the
summer afternoons!

They were soon as much alone--or nearly so--as lovers might wish
to be; quite enough so for Caroline. Some curious eyes were still
peeping, no doubt, to see how the great lawyer looked when he was
walking with the girl of his heart; to see how the rich miser's
granddaughter looked when she was walking with the man of her
heart. And perhaps some voices were whispering that she had changed
her lover; for in these rural seclusions everything is known by
everybody. But neither the peepers nor the whisperers interfered with
the contentment of the fortunate pair.

"I hope you are happy, Caroline?" said Sir Henry, as he gently
squeezed the hand that was so gently laid upon his arm.

"Happy! oh yes--I am happy. I don't believe you know in a great deal
of very ecstatic happiness. I never did."

"But I hope you are rationally happy--not discontented--at any rate,
not regretful? I hope you believe that I shall do my best, my very
best, to make you happy?"

"Oh, yes; I quite believe that. We must each think of the other's
comfort. After all, that I take it is the great thing in married
life."

"I don't expect you to be passionately in love with me--not as yet,
Caroline."

"No. Let neither of us expect that, Sir Henry. Passionate love, I
take it, rarely lasts long, and is very troublesome while it does
last. Mutual esteem is very much more valuable."

"But, Caroline, I would have you believe in my love."

"Oh, yes; I do believe in it. Why else should you wish to marry me?
I think too well of myself to feel it strange that you should love
me. But love with you, and with me also for the future, will be
subordinate to other passions."

Sir Henry did not altogether like that reference to the past which
was conveyed in the word future; but, however, he bore it without
wincing.

"You know so thoroughly the history of the last three years," she
continued, "that it would be impossible for me to deceive you if I
could. But, if I know myself, under no circumstances would I have
done so. I have loved once, and no good has come of it. It was
contrary to my nature to do so--to love in that mad passionate
self-sacrificing manner. But yet I did. I think I may say with
certainty that I never shall be so foolish again."

"You have suffered lately, Caroline; and as the sore still smarts,
you hardly yet know what happiness may be in store for you."

"Yes; I have suffered," and he felt from the touch on his arm that
her whole body shuddered.

He walked on in silence for awhile considering within himself. Why
should he marry this girl, rejected of her former lover, who now hung
upon his arm? He was now at the very fullest tide of his prosperity;
he had everything to offer which mothers wish for their daughters,
and which daughters wish for themselves. He had income, rank, name,
youth, and talent. Why should he fling his rich treasures at the feet
of a proud minx who in taking them swore that she could not love him?
Would it not be better for him to recede? A word he well knew would
do it; for her pride was true pride. He felt in his heart that it was
not assumed. He had only to say that he was not contented with this
cold lack of love, and she would simply desire him to lead her back
to her home and leave her there. It would be easy enough for him to
get his head from out the noose.

But it was this very easiness, perhaps, which made him hesitate. She
knew her own price, and was not at all anxious to dispose of herself
a cheap bargain. If you, sir, have a horse to sell, never appear
anxious for the sale. That rule is well understood among those who
deal in horses. If you, madam, have a daughter to sell, it will be
well for you also to remember this. Or, my young friend, if you have
yourself to sell, the same rule holds good. But it is hard to put an
old head on young shoulders. Hard as the task is, however, it would
seem to have been effected as regards Caroline Waddington.

And then Sir Henry looked at her. Not exactly with his present
eyesight as then at that moment existing; for seeing that she was
walking by his side, he could not take the comprehensive view which
his taste and mind required. But he looked at her searchingly with
the eyesight of his memory, and found that she exactly tallied with
what his judgment demanded. That she was very beautiful, no man had
ever doubted. That she was now in the full pride of her beauty was
to him certain. And then her beauty was of that goddess class which
seems for so long a period to set years at defiance. It was produced
by no girlish softness, by no perishable mixture of white and red;
it was not born of a sparkling eye, and a ripe lip, and a cherry
cheek. To her face belonged lines of contour, severe, lovely, and of
ineradicable grace. It was not when she smiled and laughed that she
most pleased. She did not charm only when she spoke; though, indeed,
the expression of her speaking face was perfect. But she had the
beauty of a marble bust. It would not be easy even for Sir Henry
Harcourt, even for a young solicitor-general, to find a face more
beautiful with which to adorn his drawing-room.

And then she had that air of fashion, that look of being able to look
down the unfashionable, which was so much in the eyes of Sir Henry;
though in those of George Bertram it had been almost a demerit. With
Caroline, as with many women, this was an appearance rather than a
reality. She had not moved much among high people; she had not taught
herself to despise those of her own class, the women of Littlebath,
the Todds and the Adela Gauntlets; but she looked as though she would
be able to do so. And it was fitting she should have such a look if
ever she were to be the wife of a solicitor-general.

And then Sir Henry thought of Mr. Bertram's coffers. Ah! if he could
only be let into that secret, it might be easy to come to a decision.
That the old man had quarrelled with his nephew, he was well aware.
That George, in his pig-headed folly, would make no overtures towards
a reconciliation; of that also he was sure. Was it not probable that
at any rate a great portion of that almost fabulous wealth would go
to the man's granddaughter? There was doubtless risk; but then one
must run some risk in everything, It might be, if he could play his
cards wisely, that he would get it all--that he would be placed in a
position to make even the solicitor-generalship beneath his notice.

And so, in spite of Caroline's coldness, he resolved to persevere.

Having thus made up him mind, he turned the conversation to another
subject.

"You liked the house on the whole; did you?" Caroline during the past
week had been up to see the new house in Eaton Square.

"Oh, yes; very much. Nothing could be nicer. Only I am afraid it's
expensive." This was a subject on which Caroline could talk to him.

"Not particularly," said Sir Henry. "Of course one can't get a house
in London for nothing. I shall have rather a bargain of that if I can
pay the money down. The great thing is whether you like it."

"I was charmed with it. I never saw prettier drawing-rooms--never.
And the bedrooms for a London house are so large and airy."

"Did you go into the dining-room?"

"Oh, yes; I went in."

"There's room for four-and-twenty, is there not?"

"Well, I don't know. I can't give an opinion about that. You could
have three times that number at supper."

"I'm not thinking of suppers; but I'm sure you could. Kitchen's
convenient, eh?"

"Very--so at least aunt Mary said."

"And now about the furniture. You can give me two or three days in
town, can't you?"

"Oh, yes; if you require it. But I would trust your taste in all
those matters."

"My taste! I have neither taste nor time. If you won't mind going to
----"

And so the conversation went on for another fifteen minutes, and then
they were at home. Caroline's boots had begun to tease her, and their
walk, therefore, had not been prolonged to a great distance.

Ah, me! again I say how pleasant, how delightful were those lovers'
walks!

Then Caroline went up to her bedroom, and Sir Henry sat himself down
near Mr. Bertram's chair in the dining-room.

"I wanted to speak to you, sir," said he, rushing at once into the
midst of his subject, "about Caroline's settlement. It is time
that all that should be arranged. I would have made my lawyer see
Pritchett; but I don't know that Pritchett has any authority to act
for you in such matters."

"Act for me! Pritchett has no authority to act--nor have I either."
This little renunciation of his granddaughter's affairs was no more
than Sir Henry expected. He was, therefore, neither surprised nor
disgusted.

"Well! I only want to know who has the authority. I don't anticipate
any great difficulty. Caroline's fortune is not very large; but of
course it must be settled. Six thousand pounds, I believe."

"Four, Sir Henry. That is, if I am rightly informed."

"Four, is it? I was told six--I think by George Bertram in former
days. I should of course prefer six; but if it be only four, why we
must make the best of it."

"She has only four of her own," said the old man, somewhat mollified.

"Have you any objection to my telling you what I would propose to
do?"

"No objection in life, Sir Henry."

"My income is large; but I want a little ready money at present to
conclude the purchase of my house, and to furnish it. Would you
object to the four thousand pounds being paid into my hands, if I
insure my life for six for her benefit? Were her fortune larger, I
should of course propose that my insurance should be heavier."

Sir Henry was so very reasonable that Mr. Bertram by degrees thawed.
He would make his granddaughter's fortune, six thousand as he had
always intended. This should be settled on her, the income of course
going to her husband. He should insure his life for four thousand
more on her behalf; and Mr. Bertram would lend Sir Henry three
thousand for his furniture.

Sir Henry agreed to this, saying to himself that such a loan from Mr.
Bertram was equal to a gift. Mr. Bertram himself seemed to look at it
in a different light. "Mind, Sir Henry, I shall expect the interest
to the day. I will only charge you four per cent. And it must be made
a bond debt."

"Oh, certainly," said Sir Henry.

And so the affair of the settlement was arranged.



CHAPTER XIV.

MRS. LEAKE OF RISSBURY.


Adela Gauntlet reached Littlebath without any adventures, and at the
station she met Miss Baker ready to take her and her boxes in charge.
She soon learned what was to be her fate for that autumn. It was
imperatively necessary that Miss Baker should go up to town in a week
or two. "There are such hundreds of things to be done about furniture
and all that, you know," said Miss Baker, looking rather grand as she
spoke of her niece's great match; and yet doing so with the least
possible amount of intentional pride or vanity. Adela, of course,
acknowledged that there must be hundreds of things, and expressed her
deepest regret that she should be so much in the way. Perhaps she
almost wished that she had remained at Hurst Staple.

"Not at all in the way, my dear," said Miss Baker; "I shall be back
again in a week at the furthest, and Miss Todd will be delighted to
have you for that time. Indeed, she would be very much disappointed
now, and offended too if you did not go. But all the same, I would
not leave you, only that Sir Henry insists that Caroline should
choose all the things herself; and of course he has not time to go
with her--and then the responsibility is so great. Why, I suppose she
will have to lay out about two thousand pounds!"

"But what sort of a person is Miss Todd?" asked Adela.

"Oh, an extremely nice person; you'll like her amazingly--so lively,
so good-natured, so generous; and very clever too. Perhaps, for her
age, she's a little too fond--"

"Too fond of what? You were going to say dress, I suppose."

"No, indeed. I can't say that there's anything to blame her for in
that. She dresses very handsomely, but always plain. No; what I was
going to say is, that perhaps for a woman of her age--she is a little
too fond of gentlemen's attention."

"Caroline told me that she was the most confirmed old maid she
knew--an old maid who gloried in being an old maid."

"I don't know about that, my dear; but if a certain gentleman were
to ask her, I don't think she'd glory in it much longer. But she's a
very nice person, and you'll like her very much."

Miss Baker did go up to town, leaving Adela to Miss Todd's
hospitality. She did go up, but in doing so resolved to return as
soon as possible. Sir Lionel was now in the Paragon nearly every
other day. To be sure, he did generally call in Montpellier Terrace
on the alternate days. But then there was a reason for that. They had
to talk about George and Caroline. What possible reason could there
be for his going to the Paragon?

Adela was rather frightened when she found herself left at Miss
Todd's lodgings; though that lady's manner to her was not such as
need have inspired much awe.

"Now, my dear," she said, "don't mind me in the least. Do just
whatever you like. If I only knew what you did like, you should have
it if I could get it. What are you fond of now? Shall I ask some
young people here to-night?"

"Oh, no, Miss Todd; not for me. I have never been much in society,
and certainly do not wish for it at present."

"Well, society is not a bad thing. You don't play cards, I suppose?"

"I don't know one card from another."

"You'd just suit Mr. O'Callaghan then. Are you fond of young
clergymen? There's one here might just suit you. All the young ladies
are dying for him."

"Then pray don't let me interfere with them, Miss Todd."

"Perhaps you like officers better. There are heaps of them here. I
don't know where they come from, and they never seem to have anything
to do. The young ladies, however--those who don't run after Mr.
O'Callaghan--seem to think them very nice."

"Oh, Miss Todd, I don't want clergymen or officers."

"Don't you? Well then, we'll get some novels from the circulating
library. At three o'clock I always drive out, and we'll go to the
pastrycook's. Oh, I declare, here's Sir Lionel Bertram, as usual. You
know Sir Lionel, don't you?"

Adela said that she had met Sir Lionel at Miss Baker's.

"What a pity that match should have gone off, isn't it? I mean dear
Miss Waddington. But though that match is off, another may come on.
I for one should be very happy. You don't know anything about it,
I see. I'll tell you some of these days. How do, Sir Lionel? You
mustn't stay long, because Miss Gauntlet and I am going out. Or I'll
tell you what. You shall take care of us. It's a beautiful day; and
if Miss Gauntlet likes, we'll walk instead of having the fly." Miss
Todd never aped grandeur, and always called her private carriage a
fly, because it had only one horse.

Sir Lionel, having made his salutations to Miss Gauntlet, declared
that he should be most happy to be trusted with their custody through
the streets of Littlebath.

"But we can't walk either, Miss Gauntlet, to-day, because I must call
on old Mrs. Leake, at Rissbury. I quite forgot Mrs. Leake. So you
see, Sir Lionel, we shan't want you after all."

Sir Lionel declared that this last decision made him quite miserable.

"You'll be recovered by dinner-time, I don't doubt," said Miss Todd.
"And now I'll go upstairs and put my bonnet on. As Miss Gauntlet has
got hers, you can stay and talk to her."

"Charming creature, Miss Todd; isn't she?" said Sir Lionel, before
the door was well closed. "Such freshness of character, so much
bonhommie--a little odd sometimes." These last words were not added
till Miss Todd's footsteps, heavier than Camilla's, were heard well
up the stairs.

"She seems to be a very good-natured person. I never saw her before
to-day."

"Did you not? We knew her very intimately in the Holy Land"--as if
any land ever was or could be holy to Sir Lionel and such as he.
"That is, George and I, and Caroline. Of course, you know all about
that Miss Waddington."

Adela signified to him that she did know the circumstances to which
he alluded.

"It is very sad, is it not? and then the connection between them
being so near; and their being the joint-heirs to such an enormous
property! I know the people here take Caroline's part, and say that
she has been hardly used. But I cannot say that I blame George; I
cannot, indeed."

"It is one of those cases in which no one should be blamed."

"Exactly--that is just what I say. My advice to George was this.
Don't let money influence your conduct in any way. Thank God, there's
enough of that for all of us! What you have to think of, is her
happiness and your own. That's what I said; and I do believe he took
my advice. I don't think he had any sordid views with reference to
Caroline's fortune."

"I am sure he had not."

"Oh, no, never. What Sir Henry's views may be, I don't pretend to
know. People here do say that he has been ingratiating himself with
my brother for some time past. He has my leave, Miss Gauntlet. I am
an old man, old enough to be your father"--the well-preserved old
beau might have said grandfather--"and my experience of life is this,
that money is never worth the trouble that men take to get it. They
say my brother is fond of it; if so, I think he has made a mistake in
life--a great mistake."

All this sounded very nice, but even to Adela's inexperienced ears
it was not like the ring of genuine silver. After all, mock virtue
imposes on but few people. The man of the world is personally known
for such; as also are known the cruel, the griping, the avaricious,
the unjust. That which enables the avaricious and the unjust to pass
scatheless through the world is not the ignorance of the world as to
their sins, but the indifference of the world whether they be sinful
or no.

"And now, Sir Lionel, you may just put us into the fly, and then we
won't keep you any longer," said Miss Todd, as she re-entered the
room with her bonnet and shawl.

Mrs. Leake, who lived at Rissbury, was a deaf old lady, not very
popular among other old ladies at Littlebath. All the world, of
course, knows that the village of Rissbury is hardly more than a
suburb of Littlebath, being distant from the High Street not above a
mile and a half. It will be remembered that the second milestone on
Hinchcombe Road is altogether beyond the village, just as you begin
to ascend the hill near the turnpike.

Mrs. Leake was not very popular, seeing that though her ear was
excessively dull, her tongue was peculiarly acute. She had the repute
of saying the most biting things of any lady in Littlebath--and many
of the ladies of Littlebath were apt to say biting things. Then Mrs.
Leake did not play cards, nor did she give suppers, nor add much in
any way to the happiness of the other ladies, her compatriots. But
she lived in rather a grand house of her own, whereas others lived in
lodgings; she kept a carriage with a pair of horses, whereas others
kept flies; and she had some mysterious acquaintance with the
countyocracy which went a long way with the ladies of Littlebath;
though what good it even did to Mrs. Leake herself was never very
apparent.

It is a terrible bore to have to talk to people who use
speaking-trumpets, and who are so fidgety themselves that they won't
use their speaking-trumpets properly. Miss Todd greatly dreaded the
speaking-trumpet; she did not usually care one straw for Mrs. Leake's
tongue, nor much for her carriage and horses, or county standing; but
the Littlebath world called on Mrs. Leake; and Miss Todd being at
Rome did as Romans do.

"I'll take her for five minutes," said Miss Todd, as, driving through
the village of Rissbury, she finished her description of the lady;
"and then do you take her up for five more; and then I'll go on
again; and then we'll go away." Adela agreed, though with a heavy
heart; for what subject of conversation could she find on which to
dilate to Mrs. Leake through a speaking-trumpet for five minutes?

"Miss who?" said Mrs. Leake, putting her trumpet down from her ear
that she might stare the better at Adela. "Oh, Miss Gaunt--very
well--I hope you'll like Littlebath, Miss Gaunt."

"Miss Gaunt-let!" shouted Miss Todd, with a voice that would have
broken the trumpet into shivers had it not been made of the very best
metal.

"Never hollo, my dear. When you do that I can't hear at all. It
only makes a noise like a dog barking. You'll find the young men
about Littlebath very good-natured, Miss Gaunt. They are rather
empty-headed--but I think young ladies generally like them all the
better for that."

Adela felt herself called on to make no answer to this, as it was not
her turn at the trumpet.

"What news have you heard lately, Mrs. Leake?" asked Miss Todd. The
great thing was to make Mrs. Leake talk instead of having to talk to
her.

"Amuse! No, I don't think they do amuse any one very much. But then
that's not their line. I suppose they can dance, most of them; and
those who've got any money may do for husbands--as the world goes. We
musn't be too particular; must we, Miss Gaunt?"

"Miss Gaunt--let," whispered Miss Todd into the trumpet, separating
the sounds well, so that they should not clash on the unsusceptible
tympanum of her friend's ear.

"Let, let, let! I think I can hear anybody almost better than I can
you, Miss Todd. I don't know how it is, but I never can hear the
people out of the town as well as I can my own set. It's habit I take
it."

"They're used to deaf people in the country, I suppose," said Miss
Todd, who, with all her good nature, didn't choose to be over much
put upon.

"Ah, I can't hear you," said Mrs. Leake. She had, however, heard
this. "But I want you to tell me something about this Caroline
Waddington. Isn't it true she's got another lover already?"

"Oh, quite true; she's going to be married."

"Wants to be married. Yes, I don't doubt she wants to be married.
That's what they all want, only some are not able to manage it. Ha!
ha! ha! I beg your pardon, Miss Gaunt; but we old women must have our
joke about the young ones; mustn't we, Miss Todd?" Mrs. Leake, be it
noticed, was past seventy, whereas, our dear Miss Todd, was only just
forty-four.

"Miss Gauntlet can tell you all about Miss Waddington," said Miss
Todd, in her very plainest voice. "They are very great friends, and
correspond with each other." So Miss Todd handed over the spout of
the trumpet.

"She was corresponding with another! I dare say she was; with half a
dozen at once. Do you know anything about it, Miss Gaunt?"

Poor Adela! what was she to say or do. Her hand absolutely trembled
as she put it lightly to the instrument. Thrice she bent her head
down before she was able to say anything, and thrice she lifted it up
in despair.

"Is it the lady or the gentleman that is a friend of yours, my dear?
or which of the gentlemen? I hope she has not robbed you of a beau."

"Miss Waddington is a very dear friend of mine, ma'am."

"Oh; she is, is she?"

"And I know Mr. Bertram also."

"Is he a dear friend too? Well, I suppose he's disengaged now. But
they tell me he's got nothing, eh?"

"I really don't know."

"It's very hard to know; very. I don't much admire such jilts myself,
but--"

"Miss Waddington did not jilt him, madam."

"Then he jilted her. That's just what I want to come at. I'm very
much obliged to you, my dear. I see you can tell me all about it. It
was about money, wasn't it?"

"No," shouted Adela, with an energy that quite surprised herself.
"Money had nothing to do with it."

"I did not say you had anything to do with it. But don't take up that
habit of holloing from Miss Todd. I suppose the truth was that he
found out what he wasn't meant to find out. Men shouldn't be too
inquisitive; should they, Miss Todd? You are quite right, Miss Gaunt,
don't have anything to do with it; it's a bad affair."

"I think you are very much mistaken, madam," said Adela, again
shouting. But it was all thrown away. "I can't hear a word, when you
hollo in that way, not a word," said Mrs. Leake. And then Adela, with
an imploring look at Miss Todd, relinquished her seat.

Miss Todd rose with the usual little speech about leave-taking. She
had, as we have seen, intended to have gone in for a second innings
herself, but all hope of winning the game against Mrs. Leake was
over; even her courage was nearly upset; so making a little whisper
to Adela, she held out her hand to the old lady, and prepared to
depart.

"Dear me, you are in a great hurry to go," said Mrs. Leake.

"Yes; we are rather in a hurry this morning," said Miss Todd,
neglectful of the trumpet, "we have so many people to see."

"Well, good-bye; I'm very much obliged to you for coming, and Miss
Todd"--and here Mrs. Leake affected to whisper; but her whisper would
have been audible to a dozen, had a dozen been there--"I mustn't
forget to wish you joy about Sir Lionel. Good morning to you, Miss
Gaunt," and then Mrs. Leake dropt an old-fashioned gracious curtsy.

To say that Miss Todd blushed would be to belie the general rosiness
of that lady's complexion. She was all blush always. Over her face
colour of the highest was always flying. It was not only that her
cheeks carried a settled brilliant tint, but at every smile--and
Miss Todd was ever smiling--this tint would suffuse her forehead and
her neck; at every peal of laughter--and her peals of laughter were
innumerable--it would become brighter and brighter, coming and going,
or rather ever coming fresh and never going, till the reflection
from her countenance would illumine the whole room, and light up the
faces of all around her. But now she almost blushed black. She had
delighted hitherto in all the little bits of libellous tittle tattle
to which her position as a young old maid had given rise, and had
affected always to assist their propagation; but there was a poison
about this old female snake, a sting in the tongue of this old adder
which reached even her.

"The old fool!" said Miss Todd, by no means _sotto voce_.

Mrs. Leake heard her though the speaking trumpet was not in action.
"No, no, no," she said, in her most good-natured voice, "I don't
think he's such a fool at all. Of course he is old, and in want of
an income, no doubt. But then he's a knight you know, my dear, and a
colonel;" and then the two ladies, waiting for no further courtesies,
went back to their fly.

Miss Todd had quite regained her good-humour by the time she was
seated. "Well," said she, "what do you think of my friend, Mrs.
Leake?"

"What makes her so very spiteful?" asked Adela.

"Why, you see, my dear, she'd be nothing if she wasn't spiteful. It's
her fate. She's very old, and she lives there by herself, and she
doesn't go out much, and she has nothing to amuse her. If she didn't
do that, she couldn't do anything. I rather like it myself."

"Well, I can't say I like it," said Adela; and then they sat silent
for a time, Miss Todd the while reflecting whether she would, in any
way, defend herself from that imputation about Sir Lionel.

"But you see what sort of a woman she is, Miss Gauntlet; and, of
course, you must not believe a word that she says."

"How very dreadful!"

"Oh; it does not mean anything. I call all those white lies. Nobody
notices them. But what she said about Sir Lionel, you know--"

"I really shall not think of anything she said."

"But I must explain to you," said Miss Todd, in whose mind, in spite
of her blushing, a certain amount of pleasure was mixed with the
displeasure which Mrs. Leake's scandal had caused her. For at this
moment Sir Lionel was not a little thought of at Littlebath, and
among the Lucretias there assembled, there was many a one who would
have felt but small regret in abandoning her maiden meditations at
the instance of Sir Lionel Bertram.

"But I must explain to you. Sir Lionel does come to see me very
often; and I should think there was something in it--or, rather, I
shouldn't be surprised at others thinking so--only that I am quite
sure that he's thinking of somebody else."

"Is he?" asked Adela, perhaps not with a great deal of animation.

"Yes; and I'll tell you who that somebody else is. Mind, I shouldn't
say anything about it if I wasn't sure; that is almost sure; for one
never can be quite sure about anything."

"Then I don't think one ought to talk about people."

"Oh, that's all very well. But then, at such a place as Littlebath,
one would have to hold one's tongue altogether. I let people talk of
me, and so I talk about them. One can't live without it, my dear. But
I don't say things like Mrs. Leake."

"I'm sure you don't."

"But now about Sir Lionel; can't you guess who it is?"

"How should I, Miss Todd? I don't know a person in Littlebath except
you and Miss Baker."

"There; now you have guessed it; I knew you would. Don't say I told
you."

"Miss Baker marry Sir Lionel!"

"Yes, Miss Baker marry Sir Lionel! and why not? Why shouldn't she?
and why shouldn't he? I think it would be very wise. I think those
sort of marriages often make people very happy."

"Do you think he loves her?" said Adela, whose ideas of marriage were
of very primitive description.

"Well, I don't see why he shouldn't; that is in a sort of a way. He
won't write poetry about her eyebrows, if you mean that. But I think
he'd like her to keep his house for him; and now that Caroline is
going away, I think she'd like to have some one to live with. She's
not born to be a solitary wild beast as I am."

Adela was surprised, but she had nothing to say. She was aware of
no reason which it suited her to allege why Miss Baker should not
marry Sir Lionel Bertram. Had she been asked before, she would have
said that Miss Baker seemed settled in her maiden life; and that
she was but little likely to be moved by the civil speeches of an
old military beau. But silence was perhaps the more prudent, and,
therefore, she said nothing.

Her fortnight with Miss Todd passed without much inconvenience to
her. She had to sit out one or two card-parties; and to resist,
at last with peremptory decision, her host's attempts to take her
elsewhere. But Miss Todd was so truly kind, so generous, so fond of
making others happy, that she won upon Adela at last, and they parted
excellent friends.

"I am so fond of Miss Baker," Miss Todd said, on the last morning;
"and I do so truly hope she'll be happy; but don't you say a word
about what I was saying. Only you watch if it isn't true. You'll see
quite as much of Sir Lionel there as you have here:" and so they
parted, and Adela was transferred over to Montpellier Terrace.

There had been some probability that Caroline would return to
Littlebath with her aunt; but such was not the case. The autumn was
advancing to its close. It was now November, and hardly a month
remained before that--may we say happy day?--on which Miss Waddington
was to become Lady Harcourt. There was, as Miss Baker said, so much
to do, and so little time to do it! It had therefore been decided
that Caroline should not return to Littlebath.

"And you have come back only on my account?" said Adela.

"Not at all; I should have come back any way, for many reasons. I
like to see Mr. Bertram from time to time, especially now that he
has acknowledged Caroline; but it would kill me to stay long at that
house. Did you see much of Sir Lionel while you were at Miss Todd's?"

"Yes, a good deal," said Adela, who could hardly keep from smiling as
she answered the question.

"He is always there, I believe. My idea is, that they mean to make a
match of it. It is, indeed."

"Oh, no; I don't think that."

"Don't you now? Well, you have been in the house, and must have seen
a great deal. But what else can bring him there so much?"

"Miss Todd says he's always talking about you."

"About me; what nonsense!" And Miss Baker went up to her room rather
better pleased than she had been.

Caroline, as will be remembered, had written to Adela with the
tidings of her new engagement. Adela had answered that letter
affectionately, but shortly; wishing her friend every happiness,
and saying what little in the cheerful vein she could allow herself
to say on such an occasion. The very shortness of her letter had
conveyed condemnation, but that Adela could not help.

Caroline had expected condemnation. She knew that she would be
condemned, either by words or by the lack of them; it was nearly
equal to her by which. Her mind was in that state, that having half
condemned herself, she would have given anything for a cordial
acquittal from one she loved and valued. But she did not expect it
from Adela, and she did not receive it.

She carried herself with a brave face, however. To her grandfather,
to Miss Baker, and to her betrothed, she showed no sign of sorrow, no
sign of repentance; but though there was, perhaps, no repentance in
her heart, there was much sorrow and much remorse, and she could not
keep herself wholly silent.

She wrote again to Adela, almost imploring her for pity. We need not
give the whole letter, but a portion of it will show how the poor
girl's mind was at work. "I know you have judged me, and found me
guilty," she said. "I can tell that from the tone of your letter,
though you were generous enough to endeavour to deceive me. But you
have condemned me because you do not know me. I feel sure that what
I am doing, is prudent, and, I think I may say, right. Had I refused
Sir Henry's offer, or some other such offer--and any offer to me
would have been, and must have been open to the same objections--what
should I have done? what would have been my career? I am not now
speaking of happiness. But of what use could I have been to any one?

"You will say that I do not love Sir Henry. I have told him that in
the usual acceptation of the word, I do not love him. But I esteem
his high qualities; and I shall marry him with the full intention of
doing my duty, of sacrificing myself to him if needs be, of being
useful in the position in which he will place me. What better can I
do than this? You can do better, Adela. I know you will do better. To
have loved, and married for love the poorest gentleman on God's earth
would be to have done better. But I cannot do that now. The power of
doing that has been taken from me. The question with me was, whether
I should be useful as a wife, or useless as an unmarried woman? For
useless I should have been, and petulant, and wretched. Employment,
work, duty, will now save me from that. Dear Adela, try to look at
it in this way if it be possible. Do not throw me over without an
attempt. Do not be unmerciful.  *  *  *  At any rate," she ended her
letter by saying--"At any rate you will come to me in London in the
early, early spring. Say that you will do so, or I shall think that
you mean to abandon me altogether!"

Adela answered this as sweetly and as delicately as she could.
Natures, she said, were different, and it would be presumptuous in
her to set herself up as judge on her friend's conduct. She would
abstain from doing so, and would pray to God that Caroline and Sir
Henry might be happy together. And as to going to London in the
spring, she would do so if her aunt Penelope's plans would allow of
it. She must of course be governed by her aunt Penelope, who was now
hurrying home from Italy on purpose to give her a home.

Nothing further occurred this year at Littlebath sufficiently
memorable to need relation, unless it be necessary further to relate
Miss Baker's nervous apprehensions respecting Sir Lionel. She was,
in truth, so innocent that she would have revealed every day to her
young friend the inmost secrets of her heart if she had had secrets.
But, in truth, she had none. She was desperately jealous of Miss
Todd, but she herself knew not why. She asked all manner of questions
as to his going and coming, but she never asked herself why she
was so anxious about it. She was in a twitter of sentimental
restlessness, but she did not understand the cause of her own
uneasiness. On the days that Sir Lionel came to her, she was happy,
and in good spirits; when, however, he went to Miss Todd, she was
fretful. Sometimes she would rally him on his admiration for her
rival, but she did it with a bad grace. Wit, repartee, and sarcasm
were by no means her forte. She could not have stood up for five
minutes against deaf old Mrs. Leake; and when she tried her hand
on Sir Lionel, her failure was piteous. It merely amounted to a
gentle rebuke to him for going to the Paragon instead of coming to
Montpellier Terrace. Adela saw it all, and saw also that Sir Lionel
was in no way sincere. But what could she do, or what could she say?

"I hope Miss Todd was quite well yesterday, Sir Lionel?" Miss Baker
would say.

"I don't think there was much the matter with her," Sir Lionel would
answer. "She was talking a great deal about you while I was with
her."

"About me; he! he! he! I'm sure you had something better than me to
talk of."

"There could be nothing better," the gallant colonel would say.

"Oh, couldn't there? and when is it to be? Adela here is most anxious
to know."

"How can you say so, Miss Baker? You know I am not anxious at all."

"Well, if you're not, I am. I hope we shall be asked--ha! ha! ha!"

And why did not Sir Lionel make up his mind and put an end, in one
way or the other, to the torment of this poor lady? Many reasons
guided him in his high policy. In the first place, he could not make
himself certain whether Miss Todd would accept him or refuse him.
Her money was by far the safer; her fortune was assured; what she
possessed, Sir Lionel already knew to a fraction.

But Miss Baker, he was sure, would accept him; and having accepted
him, would be amenable to all his little reasons in life, obedient,
conformable, and, in money matters, manageable. Miss Todd, on the
other hand, might, nay, certainly would have a will of her own. He
would sooner have taken Miss Baker with half the money.

But then would Miss Baker have half the money? If that stupid old
man at Hadley would only go, and tell the only tale with which it
was now possible that he should interest the world, then Sir Lionel
would know how to act. At any rate, he would wait till after the
solicitor-general's marriage. It might appear on that occasion
whether or no Sir Henry was to be regarded as the old man's heir
in all things. If so, Sir Lionel would be prepared to run all
matrimonial risks, and present Miss Todd to the world as Lady
Bertram.



CHAPTER XV.

MARRIAGE-BELLS.


And now came the day of execution. "A long day, my lord, a long day,"
screams the unfortunate culprit from the dock when about to undergo
the heaviest sentence of the law. But the convicted wretch is a
coward by his profession. Caroline Waddington was no coward. Having
made up her mind to a long martyrdom, she would not condescend to ask
for one short month of grace.

"I don't like to press you unfairly," Sir Henry had said, "but you
know how I am situated with regard to business."

"It shall be as you wish," Caroline had said. And so the day had been
settled; a day hardly more than six months distant from that on which
she had half permitted the last embrace from her now forfeited, but
not forgotten lover.

Duty was now her watchword to herself. For the last six weeks she had
been employed--nay, more than employed--hard at work--doing the best
she could for her future husband's happiness and welfare. She had
given orders with as much composure as a woman might do who had been
the mistress of her lord's purse and bosom for the last six years.
Tradesmen, conscious of the coming event, had had their little
delicacies and made their little hints. But she had thrown all
these to the wind. She had spoken of Sir Henry as Sir Henry, and
of herself as being now Miss Waddington, but soon about to be Lady
Harcourt, with a studied openness. She had looked to carriages and
broughams--and horses also under Sir Henry's protection--as though
these things were dear to her soul. But they were not dear, though in
her heart she tried to teach herself that they were so. For many a
long year--many at least in her still scanty list of years--she had
been telling herself that these things were dear; that these were the
prizes for which men strive and women too; that the wise and prudent
gained them; and that she too would be wise and prudent, that she too
would gain them. She had gained them; and before she had essayed to
enjoy them, they turned into dust before her eyes, into ashes between
her teeth.

Gilding and tinsel were no longer bright to her, silks and velvet
were no longer soft. The splendour of her drawing-room, the richness
of her draperies, the luxurious comfort of the chamber that was
prepared for her, gave her no delight. She acquiesced in these things
because her lord desired that they should be there, and she intended
that her lord should be among the rich ones of the earth. But not for
one moment did she feel even that trumpery joy which comes from an
elated spirit.

Her lord! there was the misery; there was the great rock against
which she feared that the timbers of her bark would go in pieces. If
she could only have the three first years done and over. If she could
only jump at once to that time in which habit would have made her
fate endurable! Her lord! Who was her lord truly? Had she not in her
heart another lord, whom her whole soul would worship, despite her
body's efforts?

And then she began to fear for her beauty; not for her own sake;
not with that sort of sorrow which must attend the waning roses of
those ladies who, in early years, have trusted too much to their
loveliness. No; it was for the sake of him to whom she had sold her
beauty. She would fain perform her part of that bargain. She would
fain give him on his marriage-day all that had been intended in his
purchase. If, having accepted him, she allowed herself to pine and
fade away because she was to be his, would she not in fact be robbing
him? Would not that be unjust? All that she could give him he should
have.

But neither did Sir Henry see any change, nor did Mr. Bertram, nor
those others who were round her. Indeed, hers was not a beauty that
would fade in such manner. When she saw her own eyes heavy with
suppressed wretchedness, she feared for herself. But her power over
herself was great, and that look was gone as soon as others were with
her.

But her worst sufferings were at night. She would wake from her short
slumbers, and see him, him always before her; that him who in the
essence of things was still her lord, the master of her woman's mind,
the lord of her woman's soul. To screen her eyes from that sight, she
would turn her moistened face to the pillow; but her eyeballs would
flash in the darkness, and she would still see him there, there
before her. She would see him as he stood beside her with manly
bashfulness, when on the side of Olivet he first told her that he
loved her. She would see him as he had sometimes sat, in his sweetest
moods, in that drawing-room at Littlebath, talking to her with rapid
utterance, with sweet, but energetic utterance, saying words which
she did not always fully understand, but which she felt to be full of
wit, full of learning, full of truth. Ah, how proud she had been of
him then--so proud of him, though she would never say so! And then
she would see him, as he came to her on that fatal day, boiling in
his wrath, speaking such words as had never before reached her ears;
words, however, of which so many had been tinged by an inexpressible
tenderness.

Then she would turn herself in her bed, and, by a strong effort of
her will, she would for a while throw off such thoughts. She would
count over to herself the chairs and tables she had ordered, the cups
and china bowls which were to decorate her room, till sleep would
come again--but in sleep she would still dream of him. Ah, that there
might have been no waking from such dreams!

But in the morning she would come down to breakfast with no trouble
on her outward brow. She was minutely particular in her dress, even
when no one but her grandfather was to see the effects of her toilet.
Her hair was scrupulously neat, her dresses were rich and in the
newest fashion. Her future career was to be that of Lady Harcourt, a
leader of ton; and she was determined to commence her new duties with
a good grace.

And so from week to week, and day to day, she prepared herself for
the sacrifice.

Miss Baker of course returned to Hadley a day or two before the
ceremony. The recent death of old Mr. Gauntlet was Adela's excuse for
not being present. Had there been no such excuse, she would have been
forced to act a bridesmaid's part. It was much better for both of
them that she had not to perform the task.

Bridesmaids were chosen in London--eight of them. These were not
special friends of Caroline's; indeed, it had not been her instinct
to attach to herself special friends. Circumstances had created
friendship between her and Adela, unlike in all things as they were
to each other. But other bosom-friends Caroline had not; nor had she
felt the want of them.

This was perhaps well for her now. It would have driven her to
madness if among the bevy of attendant nymphs there had been any to
whom it would have been necessary for her to open her heart--to open
it, or to pretend to open it. Much she could do; much she was now
doing; much she was prepared to do. But she could not have spoken
with missish rapture of her coming happiness; nor could she, to any
ears, have laid bare the secrets of her bosom.

So eight young ladies were had from London. Two were second-cousins
by her father's side; one, who was very full of the universal joy
that was to follow this happy event, was a sister of Sir Henry's;
a fourth was the daughter of an old crony of Miss Baker's; and the
other four were got to order--there being no doubt a repertory for
articles so useful and so ornamental.

Old Mr. Bertram behaved well on the occasion. He told Miss Baker that
nothing was to be spared--in moderation; and he left her to be sole
judge of what moderation meant. She, poor woman, knew well enough
that she would have at some future day to fight over with him the
battle of the bills. But for the moment he affected generosity, and
so a fitting breakfast was prepared.

And then the bells were rung, the Hadley bells, the merry
marriage-bells.


I know full well the tone with which they toll when the soul is
ushered to its last long rest. I have stood in that green churchyard
when earth has been laid to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust--the
ashes and the dust that were loved so well.


But now the scene was of another sort. How merrily they rang, those
joyous marriage-bells! Youth was now to know the full delight of
matured happiness. Soul should be joined to soul, heart to heart,
hand to hand, manly strength and vigour to all the grace and beauty
of womanhood. The world was pleasant with its most joyous smile as it
opened its embraces to the young pair--about to be two no longer--now
to become one bone and one flesh. Out rung the Hadley bells, the
happy marriage-bells.

And when should bells ring so joyously? Do they not give promise of
all that this world knows of happiness? What is love, sweet pure
love, but the anticipation of this, the natural longing for this, the
consummation of our loving here? To neither man nor woman does the
world fairly begin till seated together in their first mutual home
they bethink themselves that the excitement of their honeymoon is
over. It would seem that the full meaning of the word marriage can
never be known by those who, at their first out-spring into life,
are surrounded by all that money can give. It requires the single
sitting-room, the single fire, the necessary little efforts of
self-devotion, the inward declaration that some struggle shall be
made for that other one, some world's struggle of which wealth can
know nothing. One would almost wish to be poor, that one might work
for one's wife; almost wish to be ill used, that one might fight for
her.

He, as he goes forth to his labour, swears within his heart that, by
God's help on his endeavours, all shall go well with her. And she,
as she stands musing alone in her young home, with a soft happy tear
in her bright eye, she also swears in her heart that, by God's help,
his home shall be to him the sweetest spot on the earth's surface.
Then should not marriage-bells ring joyously? Ah, my friends, do not
count too exactly your three hundreds a year--your four hundreds. Try
the world. But try it with industry and truth, not with idleness and
falsehood.

And now Sir Henry and Lady Harcourt were to try the world in sweet
communion together. One may say that, as to doubt about the trial,
there was need of none. He had more than won his spurs. He was
already a practised knight in the highest flight of the world's
tourneys. And for her, too, there was little cause of fear. They who
saw her arrayed in that bright frosty marriage morning, and watched
the majesty of her brow, the brilliancy of her eye, the grace and
dignity of her step, all swore that the young lawyer had done well.
He had found for himself a meet companion for his high career; a
proper bride for his coming greatness. And so the marriage-bells rang
on, with all their merriness, with all their joy.

And now the words have been said, the vows have been plighted, the
magic circlet of pure gold has done its wondrous work. The priest
smiles and grasps their hands as he gives them his parting friendly
blessing. Laughing bridesmaids press in to sign the book, and all
observe that no signature was ever written with more decision than
that of Caroline Waddington.

Caroline Waddington now no longer! Yes; the deed had, in truth, been
done. The vows had been plighted. She had taken this man to be her
wedded husband, to live together with him after God's ordinance. She
had sworn to obey him, and serve him, and-- Ah! ah! ah! How had she
lived while that word was uttered to her! how had she lived to swear
that falsest oath!

But it was not then, while standing at the altar, that the struggle
had been made. Then she did but act her part, as some stage-queen
acts hers. She acted it well; that was all. There was no meaning in
her words then. Though her lips moved, she swore no oath. Her oath
had been sworn before that.

No educated woman, we may suppose, stands at the altar as a bride,
without having read and re-read those words till they are closely
fixed on her memory. It is a great oath, and a woman should know
well what that is to which she is about to pledge herself. Caroline
Waddington had studied them well. She would live with him after God's
ordinance; that is, as his wife. Yes, she was prepared for that. She
would obey him. Yes; if obedience were required, she would give it.
Serve him? oh, yes, certainly; to the best of her power of mind and
body. Love him? No; she was bold, at least, if not righteous. No; she
could not love him. But, then, how few who were married complied with
all those behests? How many were undutiful, disobedient, careless?
Might not she except for herself one point? be false on one article
if she were true in so many? She would honour him, for honour was
possible to her; she would keep him in sickness and health, and
forsaking all other--yes, all other, in body certainly, in heart
too if God would give her ease--and keep herself only to him, her
husband. And so she swore to it all before she went there--all, with
the one exception.

And Sir Henry swore too--with a light, indifferent oath, which,
however, he had no intention of breaking in any part. He would
live with her, and love her, and comfort her, and all that sort of
thing;--and very well she would look at the top of his table, in
black velvet.

And the merry bells went on ringing as they trooped back to the old
man's house. They went in gay carriages, though the distance was but
some hundred yards. But brides and bridegrooms cannot walk on their
wedding-days in all their gala garments, though it be but a few
hundred yards.

And then, as they entered the breakfast-room, the old man met them,
and blessed them. He was too infirm to go to church, and had seen
none of them before the ceremony; but now that the deed was done, he
also was there, dressed in his best, his last new coat, not more than
twelve years old, his dress waistcoat sent home before the Reform
Bill, his newest shoes, which creaked twice worse than any of their
older brethren. But when a man can shower thousands on a wedded pair,
what do they, or even the bridesmaids, care about his clothes?

And then after this fashion he blessed them--not holding each a hand
as he might otherwise have done; for his infirmities compelled him to
use two crutches.

"I wish you joy, Sir Henry--of your bride--with all my heart.
And a bonny bride she is, and well able to take her place in the
world. Though you'll be rich and well to do, you'll not find her
over-extravagant. And though her fortune's not much for a man like
you, perhaps, she might have had less, mightn't she? ha! ha! ha!
Little as it is, it will help--it will help. And you'll not find
debts coming home after her; I'm sure of that. She'll keep your house
well together; and your money too--but I guess you'll not leave that
to her keeping.

"And I wish you joy with all my heart, my Lady Harcourt. You've done
very well--much better doubtless than we were thinking of; you and
me too. And as for me, I was an old fool." Mr. Bertram was doubtless
thinking of that interview with his nephew. "Much better, much
better. Your husband's a rising man, and he'll live to be a rich man.
I have always thought a lawyer's profession very good for a man who
would know how to make money at it. Sir Henry knows how to do that
well. So I wish you joy with all my heart, Lady Bertram--Harcourt,
I mean. And now we'll sit down and have a bit of something to
eat." Such was the marriage-blessing of this old man, who knew and
understood the world so well. To be Lady Harcourt, and have the
spending of three or four thousand a year! What a destiny was that
for his granddaughter! And to have achieved that without any large
call upon his own purse!

It was not intended that Sir Henry and his bride were to sit down to
the breakfast. That is, I believe, now voted to be a bore--and always
should have been so voted. They had done, or were now to do their
necessary eating in private, and the company was to see no more of
them. An effort had been made to explain this to Mr. Bertram, but it
had not been successful. So when Caroline kissed him, and bade him
adieu after his little speech, he expressed himself surprised.

"What, off before the breakfast! What's the good of the breakfast
then?" His idea, in his extravagance, had been that he would give
a last feed to the solicitor-general. But he had another piece of
extravagance in his mind, which he had been unable to bring himself
to perpetrate till the last moment; but which now he did perpetrate.

"Sir Henry, Sir Henry," and he toddled to a window. "Here; you'll be
spending a lot of money on her in foreign parts, and I think you have
behaved well; here," and he slipped a bit of paper into his hands.
"But, remember, it will be the last. And, Sir Henry, remember the
interest of the three thousand--punctually--eh, Sir Henry?"

Sir Henry nodded--thanked him--slipped the bit of paper into his
pocket, and followed his bride to the carriage.

"Your grandfather has just given me five hundred pounds," was his
first word in private to his wife.

"Has he?" said Lady Harcourt, "I'm very glad of it; very." And so
she was. What else had she to be glad of now, except hundreds--and
hundreds--and hundreds of pounds?

And so they were whisked away to London, to Dover, to Paris, to Nice.


   "Sed post equitem sedet atra cura."


The care was very black that sat behind that female knight. But we
will not now follow either her thoughts or her carriage-wheels.


END OF VOL. II.


Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.



      *      *      *      *      *



THE BERTRAMS.

A Novel.

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

Author of "Barchester Towers," "Doctor Thorne," etc.

In Three Volumes

VOL. III.

Second Editon



London:
Chapman & Hall, 193 Piccadilly.
1859.

[The right of Translation is reserved.]

London: Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.



CONTENTS OF VOL. III.

      I. SIR LIONEL GOES TO HIS WOOING.
     II. HE TRIES HIS HAND AGAIN.
    III. A QUIET LITTLE DINNER.
     IV. MRS. MADDEN'S BALL.
      V. CAN I ESCAPE?
     VI. A MATRIMONIAL DIALOGUE.
    VII. THE RETURN TO HADLEY.
   VIII. CAIRO.
     IX. THE TWO WIDOWS.
      X. REACHING HOME.
     XI. I COULD PUT A CODICIL.
    XII. MRS. WILKINSON'S TROUBLES.
   XIII. ANOTHER JOURNEY TO BOWES.
    XIV. MR. BERTRAM'S DEATH.
     XV. THE WILL.
    XVI. EATON SQUARE.
   XVII. CONCLUSION.



THE BERTRAMS.


VOLUME III.

CHAPTER I.

SIR LIONEL GOES TO HIS WOOING.


Yes, they were off. All the joys of that honeymoon shall be left to
the imagination of the reader. Their first conversation, as it took
place in the carriage which bore them from Mr. Bertram's door, has
been given. Those which followed were probably more or less of the
same nature. Sir Henry, no doubt, did strive to give some touch of
romance to the occasion; but in no such attempt would his wife assist
him. To every material proposition that he made, she gave a ready
assent; in everything she acceded to his views; she would dine at
two, or at eight, as he pleased; she was ready to stay two weeks, or
only two days in Paris, as best suited him; she would adapt herself
to pictures, or to architecture, or to theatres, or to society, or to
going on and seeing nothing, exactly as he adapted himself. She never
frowned, or looked black, or had headaches, or couldn't go on, or
wouldn't stay still, or turned herself into a Niobean deluge, as some
ladies, and very nice ladies too, will sometimes do on their travels.
But she would not talk of love, or hold his hand, or turn her cheek
to his. She had made her bargain, and would keep to it. Of that which
she had promised him, she would give him full measure; of that which
she had not promised him--of which she had explained to him that
she had nothing to give--of that she would make no attempt to give
anything.

So they spent their Christmas and opened the new year at Nice, and
made an excursion along the Cornice road to Genoa, during which Lady
Harcourt learned for the first time that the people of Italy are not
so free from cold winds as is generally imagined; and then, early
in February, they returned to their house in Eaton Square. How she
soon became immersed in society, and he in Parliament and the County
Courts, we may also leave to the imagination of the reader. In a
month or two from that time, when the rigours of a London May shall
have commenced, we will return to them again. In the meantime, we
must go back to Hadley--the two old Bertrams, and dear Miss Baker.

The marriage-feast, prepared by Miss Baker for the wedding guests,
did not occupy very long; nor was there any great inducement for
those assembled to remain with Mr. Bertram. He and Miss Baker soon
found themselves again alone; and were no sooner alone than the
business of life recommenced.

"It's a very splendid match for her," said Mr. Bertram.

"Yes, I suppose it is," said Miss Baker. Miss Baker in her heart of
hearts had never quite approved of the marriage.

"And now, Mary, what do you mean to do?"

"Oh, I'll see and get these things taken away," said she.

"Yes, yes; stop a minute; that's of course. But what I mean is,
what do you mean to do with yourself? you can't go back and live at
Littlebath all alone?"

If I were to use the word "flabbergasted" as expressing Miss Baker's
immediate state of mind, I should draw down on myself the just anger
of the critics, in that I had condescended to the use of slang; but
what other word will so well express what is meant? She had fully
intended to go back to Littlebath, and had intended to do so at the
earliest moment that would be possible. Was not Sir Lionel still at
Littlebath? And, moreover, she fully intended to live there. That she
would have some little difficulty in the matter, she had anticipated.
Her own income--that which was indefeasibly her own--was very small;
by far too small to admit of her permanently keeping on those rooms
in Montpellier Terrace. Hitherto their income, her own and Caroline's
put together, had been very comfortable; for Mr. Bertram had annually
paid to her a sum which of itself would have been sufficient for her
own living. But she had not known what difference Caroline's marriage
might make in this allowance. It had been given to herself without
any specification that it had been so given for any purpose; but yet
it had been an understood thing that Caroline was to live with her
and be supported. And though Caroline's income had also been used, it
had gone rather in luxurious enjoyments than in necessary expenses;
in the keep of a horse, for instance, in a journey to Jerusalem, in a
new grand piano, and such like. Now there might naturally be a doubt
whether under altered circumstances this allowance from Mr. Bertram
would remain unaltered.

But it had never occurred to her that she would be asked to live
at Hadley. That idea did now occur to her, and therefore she stood
before her uncle hesitating in her answer, and--may my inability to
select any better word be taken in excuse?--"flabbergasted" in her
mind and feelings.

But her doom followed quickly on her hesitation. "Because," said
Mr. Bertram, "there is plenty of room here. There can be no need of
two houses and two establishments now; you had better send for your
things and fix yourself here at once."

"But I couldn't leave the rooms at Littlebath without a quarter's
notice;"--the coward's plea; a long day, my lord, a long day--"that
was particularly understood when I got them so cheap."

"There will be no difficulty in reletting them at this time of the
year," growled Mr. Bertram.

"Oh, no, I suppose not; one would have to pay something, of course.
But, dear me! one can hardly leave the place where one has lived so
long all of a moment."

"Why not?" demanded the tyrant.

"Well, I don't know. I can hardly say why not; but one has so many
people to see, and so many things to do, and so much to pack up."

It may be easily conceived that in such an encounter Miss Baker
would not achieve victory. She had neither spirit for the fight, nor
power to use it even had the spirit been there; but she effected a
compromise by the very dint of her own weakness. "Yes, certainly,"
she said. "As Mr. Bertram thought it best, she would be very happy
to live with him at Hadley--most happy, of course; but mightn't she
go down and pack up her things, and settle with everybody, and say
good-bye to her friends?" Oh, those friends! that horrible Miss Todd!

And thus she got a month of grace. She was to go down immediately
after Christmas-day, and be up again at Hadley, and fixed there
permanently, before the end of January.

She wrote to Caroline on the subject, rather plaintively; but owning
that it was of course her duty to stay by her uncle now that he was
so infirm. It would be very dull, of course, she said; but any place
would be dull now that she, Caroline, was gone. And it would be sad
giving up her old friends. She named one or two, and among them Sir
Lionel. "It would be a great pleasure to me," she went on to say, "if
I could be the means of reconciling the two brothers--not but what
Sir Henry Harcourt will always be Mr. Bertram's favourite; I am
sure of that. I don't think I shall mind leaving Miss Todd, though
she does pretend to be so friendly; I was never quite sure she was
sincere; and then she does talk so very loud; and, in spite of all
she says, I am not sure she's not looking out for a husband."

And then she went back to Littlebath, intent on enjoying her short
reprieve. Something might happen; she did not ask herself what.
The old gentleman might not last long; but she certainly did not
speculate on his death. Or;--she had a sort of an idea that there
might be an "or," though she never allowed herself to dwell on it
as a reality. But on one point she did make up her mind, that if
it should be her destiny to keep house for either of those two
gentlemen, she would much rather keep house for Sir Lionel than for
his brother.

Her absolute money-dealings had always been with Mr. Pritchett; and
as she passed through town, Mr. Pritchett came to her and made her
the usual quarterly payment.

"But, Mr. Pritchett," said she, "I am going to live with Mr. Bertram
after another month or so."

"Oh, ma'am; yes, ma'am; that will be very proper, ma'am. I always
supposed it would be so when Miss Caroline was gone," said Pritchett,
in a melancholy tone.

"But will it be proper for me to have this money now?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am. It wouldn't be my duty to stop any payments till I
get orders. Mr. Bertram never forgets anything, ma'am. If he'd meant
me to stop it, he wouldn't have forgot to say so."

"Oh, very well, Mr. Pritchett;" and Miss Baker was going away.

"But, one word, if you please, ma'am. I don't detain you, ma'am, do
I?" and you might have guessed by Pritchett's voice that he was quite
willing to let her go if she wished, even though his own death on the
spot might be the instant result.

"Oh dear, no, Mr. Pritchett," said Miss Baker.

"We all see how things have gone, ma'am, now;--about Miss Caroline, I
mean."

"Yes, she is Lady Harcourt now."

"Oh, yes, I know that, ma'am," and Mr. Pritchett here sank to the
lowest bathos of misery. "I know she's Lady Harcourt very well. I
didn't mean her ladyship any disrespect."

"Oh dear, no, of course not, Mr. Pritchett. Who would think such a
thing of you, who's known her from a baby?"

"Yes, I have know'd her from a babby, ma'am. That's just it; and I've
know'd you from amost a babby too, ma'am."

"That was a very long time ago, Mr. Pritchett."

"Yes, it is some years now, certainly, Miss Baker. I'm not so young
as I was; I know that." Mr. Pritchett's voice at this juncture would
have softened the heart of any stone that had one. "But this is what
it is, ma'am; you're going to live with the old gentleman now."

"Yes, I believe I am."

"Well, now; about Mr. George, ma'am."

"Mr. George!"

"Yes, Mr. George, Miss Baker. It ain't of course for me to say
anything of what goes on between young ladies and young gentlemen. I
don't know anything about it, and never did; and I don't suppose I
never shall now. But they two was to have been one, and now they're
two." Mr. Pritchett could not get on any further without pausing for
breath.

"The match was broken off, you know."

"It was broke off. I say nothing about that, nor about them who did
it. I know nothing, and therefore I say nothing; but this I do say:
that it will be very hard--very hard, and very cruel if so that the
old gentleman is set against Mr. George because Sir Henry Harcourt
has got a handle to his name for himself."

The conference ended in a promise on Miss Baker's part that she, at
least, would say nothing against Mr. George; but with an assurance,
also, that it was impossible for her to say anything in his favour.

"You may be sure of this, Mr. Pritchett, that my uncle will never
consult me about his money."

"He'll never consult any human being, ma'am. He wouldn't consult
Solomon if Solomon were to go to Hadley o' purpose. But you might
slip in a word that Mr. George was not in fault; mightn't you,
ma'am?"

Miss Baker reiterated her promise that she would not at any rate say
anything evil of George Bertram.

"He is such a foolish young man, ma'am; so like a baby about money.
It's that's why I feel for him, because he is so foolish."

And then Miss Baker prosecuted her journey, and reached Littlebath in
safety.

She had not been long there before Sir Lionel had heard all the
news. Miss Baker, without knowing that a process of pumping had been
applied to her, soon made him understand that for the present Sir
Harcourt had certainly not been received into the place of heir. It
was clear that but a very moderate amount of the old gentleman's
wealth--he was usually now called the old gentleman by them all; Sir
Lionel, Miss Baker, Mr. Pritchett, and others--had been bestowed on
the rising lawyer; and that, as far as that point was concerned, the
game was still open. But then, if it was open to him, Sir Lionel,
through Miss Baker, it was also open to his son George. And it
appeared from Miss Baker's testimony that, during the whole period
of these wedding doings, no word had escaped the mouth of the old
gentleman in vituperation or anger against George. Perhaps George
after all might be the best card. Oh, what an excellent card might he
be if he would only consent to guide himself by the commonest rules
of decent prudence! But then, as Mr. Pritchett had truly observed,
Mr. George was so foolish! Moreover, Sir Lionel was not blind to
the reflection that the old gentleman would never countenance his
marriage with Miss Baker. Whatever Mr. Bertram's good intentions Miss
Baker-wards might be, they would undoubtedly be frustrated by such
a marriage. If Sir Lionel decided on Miss Baker, things must be so
arranged that the marriage should be postponed till that tedious old
gentleman should move himself off the scene; and the tedious old
gentleman, moreover, must not be allowed to know anything about it.

But with Miss Todd there need be no secrecy, no drawback, no
delay--no drawback but that of doubtful reception; and after
reception, of doubtful masterdom.

On thorough review of all the circumstances, much balancing them
in his high mind, Sir Lionel at last thus resolved. He would throw
himself, his heart, and his fortune at the feet of Miss Todd. If
there accepted, he would struggle with every muscle of the manhood
which was yet within him for that supremacy in purse and power which
of law and of right belongs to the man. He thought he knew himself,
and that it would not be easy for a woman to get the better of him.
But if there rejected--and he could not confess but what there was a
doubt--he would immediately fall back upon Miss Baker. Whatever he
did must be done immediately, for in less than a month's time, Miss
Baker would be out of his reach altogether. As to seeking Miss Baker
at Hadley, that would be above even his courage. All must be done
within the next month. If on Miss Baker was to fall the honour of
being Lady Bertram, she must not only receive him within the month,
but, having done so, must also agree to wear her vestal zone yet
a little longer, till that troublesome old gentleman should have
departed.

Such being his month's work--he had not quite four weeks left when he
came to this resolution--he wisely resolved to commence it at once.

So on one Monday morning he sallied out to the Paragon about two
o'clock. At that hour he knew Miss Todd would be surely at home; for
at half-past one she ate her lunch. In the regularity of her eatings
and her drinkings, Miss Todd might have been taken as an example
by all the ladies of Littlebath. Sir Lionel's personal appearance
has been already described. Considering his age, he was very well
preserved. He was still straight; did not fumble much in his walk;
and had that decent look of military decorum which, since the days of
Cæsar and the duke, has been always held to accompany a hook-nose. He
had considered much about his toilet; indeed, he did that habitually;
but on this occasion he had come to the conclusion that he had better
make no unusual sacrifice to the Graces. A touch of the curling-iron
to his whiskers, or a surtout that should be absolutely fresh from
the tailor's hands, might have an effect with Miss Baker; but if
any impression was to be made on Miss Todd, it would not be done by
curled whiskers or a new coat. She must be won, if won at all, by the
unsophisticated man.

So the unsophisticated man knocked at the door in the Paragon. Yes;
Miss Todd was at home. Up he went, and found not only Miss Todd, but
also with Miss Todd the venerable Mrs. Shortpointz, settling all the
details for a coming rubber of whist for that evening.

"Ah, Sir Lionel; how do? Sit down. Very well, my dear,"--Miss Todd
called everybody my dear, even Sir Lionel himself sometimes; but on
the present occasion she was addressing Mrs. Shortpointz--"I'll be
there at eight; but mind this, I won't sit down with Lady Ruth, nor
yet with Miss Ruff." So spoke Miss Todd, who, by dint of her suppers
and voice, was becoming rather autocratic at Littlebath.

"You shan't, Miss Todd. Lady Ruth--"

"Very well; that's all I bargain for. And now here's Sir Lionel; how
lucky! Sir Lionel, you can be so civil, and so useful. Do give Mrs.
Shortpointz your arm home. Her niece was to call; but there's been
some mistake. And Mrs. Shortpointz does not like walking alone. Come,
Sir Lionel."

Sir Lionel strove against the order; but it was in vain. He had to
yield; and walked away with old Mrs. Shortpointz on his arm. It
was hard, we must acknowledge, that a man of Sir Lionel's age and
standing should be so employed at such a moment, because that flirt,
Maria Shortpointz, had gone out to see young Mr. Garded ride by in
his pink coat and spattered boots. He would have let her fall and
break her leg, only that by doing so he would have prolonged the time
of his own attendance on her. She lived half across Littlebath; and
her step, ordinarily slow, was slower then usual now that she was
leaning on a knight's arm. At last she was deposited at home; and the
gallant colonel, having scornfully repudiated her offer of cake and
sherry, flew back to the Paragon on the wings of love--in a street
cab, for which he had to pay eighteenpence.

But he was all too late. Miss Todd had gone out in her fly just three
minutes since; and thus a whole day was lost.

On the Tuesday, in proper course, he was due at Miss Baker's. But for
this turn, Miss Baker must be neglected. At the same hour he again
knocked at the door of the Paragon, and was again admitted, and
now Miss Todd was all alone. She was rarely left so very long, and
the precious moments must be seized at once. Sir Lionel, with that
military genius which was so peculiarly his own, determined to use
his yesterday's defeat in aid of to-day's victory. He would make even
Mrs. Shortpointz serviceable.

When gentlemen past sixty make love to ladies past forty, it may
be supposed that they are not so dilatory in their proceedings
as younger swains and younger maidens. Time is then behind them,
not before them; and urges them on to quick decisions. It may be
presumed, moreover, that this pair knew their own minds.

"How cruel you were to me yesterday!" said Sir Lionel, seating
himself not very close to her--nor yet very far from her.

"What! about poor Mrs. Shortpointz? Ha! ha! ha! Poor old lady; she
didn't think so, I am sure. One ought to be of use sometimes, you
know, Sir Lionel."

"True, true, Miss Todd; quite true. But I was particularly
unfortunate yesterday. I wished that Mrs. Shortpointz was
hanging--anywhere except on my arm. I did, indeed."

"Ha! ha! ha! Poor Mrs. Shortpointz! And she was so full of you last
night. The beau ideal of manly beauty! that was what she called you.
She did indeed. Ha! ha! ha!"

"She was very kind."

"And then we all quizzed her about you; and Miss Finesse called her
Lady Bertram. You can't think how funny we old women are when we get
together. There wasn't a gentleman in the room--except Mr. Fuzzybell;
and he never seems to make any difference. But I tell you what, Sir
Lionel; a certain friend of yours didn't seem to like it when we
called Mrs. Shortpointz Lady Bertram."

"And were you that friend, Miss Todd?"

"I! Ha! ha! ha! No; not I, but Miss Baker. And I'll tell you what,
Sir Lionel," said Miss Todd, intending to do a kinder act for Miss
Baker than Miss Baker would have done for her. "And I'll tell you
what; Miss Baker is the nicest-looking woman of her time of life
in Littlebath. I don't care who the other is. I never saw her look
better than she did last night; never." This was good-natured on the
part of Miss Todd; but it sounded in Sir Lionel's ears as though it
did not augur well for his hopes.

"Yes; she's very nice; very nice indeed. But I know one, Miss Todd,
that's much nicer." And Sir Lionel drew his chair a little nearer.

"What, Mrs. Shortpointz, I suppose. Ha! ha! ha! Well, every man to
his taste."

"I wonder whether I may speak to you seriously, Miss Todd, for five
minutes?"

"Oh laws, yes; why not? But don't tell me any secrets, Sir Lionel;
for I shan't keep them."

"I hope what I may say need not be kept a secret long. You joke with
me about Miss Baker; but you cannot really believe that my affections
are placed there? You must, I think, have guessed by this time--"

"I am the worst hand in the world at guessing anything."

"I am not a young man, Miss Todd--"

"No; and she isn't a young woman. She's fifty. It would all be very
proper in that respect."

"I'm not thinking of Miss Baker, Miss Todd."

"Dear! well now, I really thought you were thinking of her. And I'll
tell you this, Sir Lionel; if you want a wife to look after you,
you couldn't do better than think of her--a nice, good-tempered,
cheerful, easy, good-looking woman; with none of the Littlebath
nastiness about her;--and a little money too, I've no doubt. How
could you do better than think of her?" Would it not have softened
Miss Baker's heart towards her friend if she could have heard all
this?

"Ah; you say this to try me. I know you do."

"Try you! no; but I want you to try Miss Baker."

"Well; I am going to make an attempt of that kind, certainly;
certainly I am. But it is not with Miss Baker, as I cannot but think
you know;" and then he paused to collect his ideas, and take in at
a _coup d'oeil_ the weak point to which his attack should be turned.
Meanwhile, Miss Todd sat silent. She knew by this time what was
coming; and knew also, that in courtesy the gentleman should be
allowed to have his say. Sir Lionel drew his chair again nearer--it
was now very near--and thus began:--

"Dear Sarah!--" How he had found out that Miss Todd's name was Sarah
it might be difficult to say. Her signature was S. Todd; and Sir
Lionel had certainly never heard her called by her Christian name.
But facts were with him. She undoubtedly had been christened Sarah.

"Dear Sarah!--"

"Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Miss Todd, with terrible loudness,
with a shaking of her sides, throwing herself backwards and forwards
in the corner of her sofa. It was not civil, and so Sir Lionel felt.
When you first call your lady-love by her Christian name, you do not
like to have the little liberty made a subject of ridicule--you feel
it by far less if the matter be taken up seriously against you as a
crime on your part.

"Ha! ha! ha!" continued Miss Todd, roaring in her laughter louder
than ever; "I don't think, Sir Lionel, I was ever called Sarah before
since the day I was born; and it does sound so funny. Sarah! Ha! ha!
ha!"

Sir Lionel was struck dumb. What could he say when his little
tenderness was met in such a manner?

"Call me Sally, if you like, Sir Lionel. My brothers and sisters,
and uncles and aunts, and all those sort of people, always called
me Sally. But, Sarah! Ha! ha! ha! Suppose you call me Sally, Sir
Lionel."

Sir Lionel tried, but he could not call her Sally; his lips at that
moment would not form the sound.

But the subject had now been introduced. If he should ever be able to
claim her as his own, he might then call her Sarah, or Sally, or use
any other term of endearment which the tenderness of the moment might
suggest. When that day should come, perhaps he might have his own
little joke; but, in the meantime, the plunge had been taken, and he
could now swim on.

"Miss Todd, you now know what my feelings are, and I hope that you
will at any rate not disapprove of them. We have known each other
for some time, and have, I hope, enjoyed and valued each other's
society." Miss Todd here made a little bow, but she said nothing. She
had a just perception that Sir Lionel should be permitted to have his
say, and that, as matters had become serious, it would be well for
her to wait till he had done, and then she might have her say. So she
merely bowed, by way of giving a civil acquiescence in Sir Lionel's
last little suggestion.

"I have hoped so, dear Miss Todd"--he had taken a moment to consider,
and thought that he had better drop the Sarah altogether for the
present. "In myself, I can safely say that it has been so. With you,
I feel that I am happy, and at my ease. Your modes of thought and
way of life are all such as I admire and approve,"--Miss Todd again
bowed--"and--and--what I mean is, that I think we both live very much
after the same fashion."

Miss Todd, who knew everything that went on in Littlebath, and was
_au fait_ at every bit of scandal and tittle-tattle in the place,
had probably heard more of the fashion of Sir Lionel's life than he
was aware. In places such as Littlebath, ladies such as Miss Todd do
have sources of information which are almost miraculous. But still
she said nothing. She merely thought that Sir Lionel was a good deal
mistaken in the opinion which he had last expressed.

"I am not a young man," continued Sir Lionel. "My brother, you know,
is a very old man, and there are but fifteen years' difference
between us." This was a mistake of Sir Lionel's; the real difference
being ten years. "And you, I know, are hardly yet past your youth."

"I was forty-five last Guy Fawkes' day," said Miss Todd.

"Then there are fifteen years difference between us." The reader will
please to read "twenty." "Can you look over that difference, and take
me, old as I am, for your companion for life? Shall we not both be
happier if we have such a companion? As to money--"

"Oh, Sir Lionel, don't trouble about that; nor yet about your age.
If I wanted to marry, I'd as lief have an old man as a young one;
perhaps liefer: and as to money, I've got enough for myself, and I
have no doubt you have too"--nevertheless, Miss Todd did know of that
heavy over-due bill at the livery stables, and had heard that the
very natty groom who never left Sir Lionel's phaëton for a moment was
a sworn bailiff; sworn to bring the carriage and horses back to the
livery-stable yard--"but the fact is, I don't want to marry."

"Do you mean, Miss Todd, that you will prefer to live in solitude for
ever?"

"Oh, as for solitude, I'm not much of a Robinson Crusoe, nor yet an
Alexander Selkirk. I never found any of its charms. But, Lord bless
you, Sir Lionel, people never leave me in solitude. I'm never alone.
My sister Patty has fifteen children. I could have half of them to
live with me if I liked it." This view of the case did throw some
cold water on Sir Lionel's ardour.

"And you are quite resolved on this?" he said, with a dash of
expiring sentiment in his tone.

"What! to have Patty's children? No, I find it more convenient to pay
for their schooling."

"But you are quite resolved to--to--to give me no other, no more
favourable answer?"

"Oh! about marrying. On that subject, Sir Lionel, my mind is
altogether made up. Miss Todd I am, and Miss Todd I mean to remain.
To tell the truth plainly, I like to be number one in my own house.
Lady Bertram, I am quite sure, will be a fortunate and happy woman;
but then, she'll be number two, I take it. Eh, Sir Lionel?"

Sir Lionel smiled and laughed, and looked at the ground, and then
looked up again; but he did not deny the imputation. "Well," said he,
"I trust we shall still remain friends."

"Oh, certainly; why not?" replied Miss Todd.

And so they parted. Sir Lionel took his hat and stick, and went his
way.



CHAPTER II.

HE TRIES HIS HAND AGAIN.


Miss Todd shook hands with him as he went, and then, putting on her
bonnet and cloak, got into her fly.

She felt some little triumph at her heart in thinking that Sir Lionel
had wished to marry her. Had she not, she would hardly have been a
woman. But by far her strongest feeling was one of dislike to him for
not having wished to marry Miss Baker. She had watched the gallant
soldier closely for the last year, and well knew how tenderly he had
been used to squeeze Miss Baker's hand. He had squeezed her own hand
too; but what was that? She made others the subject of jokes, and
was prepared to be joked upon herself. Whatever Oliver Sir Lionel,
or other person, might give her, she would give back to him or to
her--always excepting Mrs. Leake--a Rowland that should be quite as
good. But Miss Baker was no subject for a joke, and Sir Lionel was in
duty bound to have proposed to her.

It is perhaps almost true that no one can touch pitch and not be
defiled. Miss Todd had been touching pitch for many years past, and
was undoubtedly defiled to a certain extent. But the grime with her
had never gone deep; it was not ingrained; it had not become an
ineradicable stain; it was dirt on which soap-and-water might yet
operate. May we not say that her truth and good-nature, and love
of her fellow-creatures, would furnish her at last with the means
whereby she might be cleansed?

She was of the world, worldly. It in no way disgusted her that Sir
Lionel was an old rip, and that she knew him to be so. There were a
great many old male rips at Littlebath and elsewhere. Miss Todd's
path in life had brought her across more than one or two such. She
encountered them without horror, welcomed them without shame, and
spoke of them with a laugh rather than a shudder. Her idea was, that
such a rip as Sir Lionel would best mend his manners by marriage; by
marriage, but not with her. She knew better than trust herself to any
Sir Lionel.

And she had encountered old female rips; that is, if dishonesty in
money-dealings, selfishness, coarseness, vanity, absence of religion,
and false pretences, when joined to age, may be held as constituting
an old female rip. Many such had been around her frequently. She
would laugh with them, feed them, call on them, lose her money to
them, and feel herself no whit degraded. Such company brought on her
no conviction of shame. But yet she was not of them. Coarse she was;
but neither dishonest, nor selfish, nor vain, nor irreligious, nor
false.

Such being the nature of the woman, she had not found it necessary to
display any indignation when Sir Lionel made his offer; but she did
feel angry with him on Miss Baker's behalf. Why had he deceived that
woman, and made an ass of himself? Had he had any wit, any knowledge
of character, he would have known what sort of an answer he was
likely to get if he brought his vows and offers to the Paragon. There
he had been received with no special favour. No lures had been there
displayed to catch him. He had not been turned out of the house when
he came there, and that was all. So now, as she put on her bonnet,
she determined to punish Sir Lionel.

But in accusing her suitor of want of judgment, she was quite in
the dark as to his real course of action. She little knew with how
profound a judgment he was managing his affairs. Had she known, she
would hardly have interfered as she now did. As she put her foot on
the step of the fly she desired her servant to drive to Montpellier
Terrace.

She was shown into the drawing-room, and there she found Miss Baker
and Miss Gauntlet; not our friend Adela, but Miss Penelope Gauntlet,
who was now again settled in Littlebath.

"Well, ladies," said Miss Todd, walking up the room with well-assured
foot and full comfortable presence, "I've news to tell you."

They both of them saw at a glance that she had news. Between Miss P.
Gauntlet and Miss Todd there had never been cordiality. Miss Todd
was, as we have said, of the world, worldly; whereas Miss Gauntlet
was of Dr. Snort, godly. She belonged plainly to the third set of
which we have spoken; Miss Todd was an amalgamation of the two
first. Miss Baker, however, was a point of union, a connecting rod.
There was about her a savouring of the fragrance of Ebenezer, but
accompanied, it must be owned, by a whiff of brimstone. Thus these
three ladies were brought together; and as it was manifest that Miss
Todd had news to tell, the other two were prepared to listen.

"What do you think, ladies?" and she sat herself down, filling an
arm-chair with her goodly person. "What do you think has happened to
me to-day?"

"Perhaps the doctor has been with you," said Miss P. Gauntlet, not
alluding to the Littlebath Galen, but meaning to insinuate that Miss
Todd might have come thither to tell them of her conversion from the
world.

"Better than ten doctors, my dear"--Miss Penelope drew herself up
very stiffly--"or twenty! I've had an offer of marriage. What do you
think of that?"

Miss P. Gauntlet looked as though she thought a great deal of it. She
certainly did think that had such an accident happened to her, she
would not have spoken of it with such a voice, or before such an
audience. But now her face, which was always long and thin, became
longer and thinner, and she sat with her mouth open, expecting
further news.

Miss Baker became rather red, then rather pale, and then red again.
She put out her hand, and took hold of the side of the chair in which
she sat; but she said nothing. Her heart told her that that offer had
been made by Sir Lionel.

"You don't wish me joy, ladies," said Miss Todd.

"But you have not told us whether you accepted it," said Miss
Penelope.

"Ha! ha! ha! No, that's the worst of it. No, I didn't accept it. But,
upon my word, it was made."

Then it was not Sir Lionel, thought Miss Baker, releasing her hold
of the chair, and feeling that the blood about her heart was again
circulating.

"And is that all that we are to know?" asked Miss Penelope.

"Oh, my dears, you shall know it all. I told my lover that I should
keep no secrets. But, come, you shall guess. Who was it, Miss Baker?"

"I couldn't say at all," said Miss Baker, in a faint voice.

"Perhaps Mr. O'Callaghan," suggested Miss Penelope, conscious,
probably, that an ardent young evangelical clergyman is generally in
want of an income.

"Mr. O'Callaghan!" shouted Miss Todd, throwing up her head with
scorn. "Pho! The gentleman I speak of would have made me a lady.
Lady--! Now who do you think it was, Miss Baker?"

"Oh, I couldn't guess at all," said poor Miss Baker. But she now knew
that it was Sir Lionel. It might have been worse, however, and that
she felt--much worse!

"Was it Sir Lionel Bertram?" asked the other.

"Ah! Miss Gauntlet, you know all about the gentlemen of Littlebath. I
can see that. It was Sir Lionel. Wasn't that a triumph?"

"And you refused him?" asked Miss Penelope.

"Of course I did. You don't mean to say that you think I would have
accepted him?"

To this Miss Penelope made no answer. Her opinions were of a mixed
sort. She partly misbelieved Miss Todd--partly wondered at her.
Unmarried ladies of a certain age, whatever may be their own feelings
in regard to matrimony on their own behalf, seem always impressed
with a conviction that other ladies in the same condition would
certainly marry if they got an opportunity. Miss Penelope could not
believe that Miss Todd had rejected Sir Lionel; but at the same
time she could not but be startled also by the great fact of such a
rejection. At any rate her course of duty was open. Littlebath should
be enlightened on the subject before the drawing-room candles were
lit that evening; or at any rate that set in Littlebath to which she
belonged. So she rose from her chair, and, declaring that she had sat
an unconscionable time with Miss Baker, departed, diligent, about her
work.

"Well, what do you think of that, my dear?" said Miss Todd, as soon
as the two of them were left alone.

It was strange that Miss Todd, who was ordinarily so good-natured,
who was so especially intent on being good-natured to Miss Baker,
should have thus roughly communicated to her friend tidings which
were sure to wound. But she had omitted to look at it in this light.
Her intention had been to punish Sir Lionel for having been so
grossly false and grossly foolish. She had seen through him--at
least, hardly through him; had seen at least that he must have been
doubting between the two ladies, and that he had given up the one
whom he believed to be the poorer. She did not imagine it possible
that, after having offered to her, he should then go with a similar
offer to Miss Baker. Had such an idea arisen in her mind, she would
certainly have allowed Miss Baker to take her chance of promotion
unmolested.

Miss Baker gave a long sigh. Now that Miss Gauntlet was gone she felt
herself better able to speak; but, nevertheless, any speech on the
subject was difficult to her. Her kind heart at once forgave Miss
Todd. There could now be no marriage between that false one and her
friend; and therefore, if the ice would only get itself broken, she
would not be unwilling to converse upon the subject. But how to break
the ice!

"I always thought he would," at last she said.

"Did you?" said Miss Todd. "Well, he certainly used to come there,
but I never knew why. Sometimes I thought it was to talk about you."

"Oh, no!" said Miss Baker, plaintively.

"I gave him no encouragement--none whatever;--used to send him here
and there--anything to get rid of him. Sometimes I thought--" and
then Miss Todd hesitated.

"Thought what?" asked Miss Baker.

"Well, I don't want to be ill-natured; but sometimes I thought that
he wanted to borrow money, and didn't exactly know how to begin."

"To borrow money!" He had once borrowed money from Miss Baker.

"Well, I don't know; I only say I thought so. He never did."

Miss Baker sighed again, and then there was a slight pause in the
conversation.

"But, Miss Todd--"

"Well, my dear!"

"Do you think that--"

"Think what? Speak out, my dear; you may before me. If you've got any
secret, I'll keep it."

"Oh! I've got no secret; only this. Do you think that Sir Lionel
is--is poor--that he should want to borrow money?"

"Well; poor! I hardly know what you call poor. But we all know that
he is a distressed man. I suppose he has a good income, and a little
ready money would, perhaps, set him up; but there's no doubt about
his being over head and ears in debt, I suppose."

This seemed to throw a new and unexpected light on Miss Baker's mind.
"I thought he was always so very respectable," said she.

"Hum-m-m!" said Miss Todd, who knew the world.

"Eh?" said Miss Baker, who did not.

"It depends on what one means by respectable," said Miss Todd.

"I really thought he was so very--"

"Hum-m-m-m," repeated Miss Todd, shaking her head.

And then there was a little conversation carried on between these
ladies so entirely _sotto voce_ that the reporter of this scene was
unable to hear a word of it. But this he could see, that Miss Todd
bore by far the greater part in it.

At the end of it, Miss Baker gave another, and a longer, and a
deeper sigh. "But you know, my dear," said Miss Todd, in her most
consolatory voice, and these words were distinctly audible, "nothing
does a man of that sort so much good as marrying."

"Does it?" asked Miss Baker.

"Certainly; if his wife knows how to manage him."

And then Miss Todd departed, leaving Miss Baker with much work for
her thoughts. Her female friend Miss Baker had quite forgiven; but
she felt that she could never quite forgive him. "To have deceived
me so!" she said to herself, recurring to her old idea of his great
respectability. But, nevertheless, it was probably his other sin that
rankled deepest in her mind.

Of Miss Baker it may be said that she had hardly touched the pitch;
at any rate, that it had not defiled her.

Sir Lionel was somewhat ill at ease as he walked from the Paragon to
his livery stables. He had certainly looked upon success with Miss
Todd as by no means sure; but, nevertheless, he was disappointed. Let
any of us, in any attempt that we may make, convince ourselves with
ever so much firmness that we shall fail, yet we are hardly the less
down-hearted when the failure comes. We assure ourselves that we are
not sanguine, but we assure ourselves falsely. It is man's nature to
be sanguine; his nature, and perhaps his greatest privilege.

And Sir Lionel, as he walked along, began to fear that his own
scruples would now stand in the way of that other marriage--of
that second string to his bow. When, in making his little private
arrangements within his own mind, he had decided that if Miss Todd
rejected him he would forthwith walk off to Miss Baker, it never
occurred to him that his own feelings would militate against such
a proceeding. But such was now absolutely the fact. Having talked
about "dear Sarah," he found that even he would have a difficulty in
bringing himself to the utterance of "dear Mary."

He went to bed, however, that night with the comfortable reflection
that any such nonsense would be dissipated by the morning. But when
the morning came--his morning, one P.M.--his feeling he found was
the same. He could not see Miss Baker that day.

He was disgusted and disappointed with himself. He had flattered
himself that he was gifted with greater firmness; and now that he
found himself so wanting in strength of character, he fretted and
fumed, as men will do, even at their own faults. He swore to himself
that he would go to-morrow, and that evening went to bed early,
trying to persuade himself that indigestion had weakened him. He did
great injustice, however, to as fine a set of internal organs as ever
blessed a man of sixty.

At two o'clock next day he dressed himself for the campaign in
Montpellier Terrace; but when dressed he was again disorganised. He
found that he could not do it. He told himself over and over again
that with Miss Baker there need be no doubt; she, at least, would
accept him. He had only to smile there, and she would smile again. He
had only to say "dear Mary," and those soft eyes would be turned to
the ground and the battle would be won.

But still he could not do it. He was sick; he was ill; he could not
eat his breakfast. He looked in the glass, and found himself to be
yellow, and wrinkled, and wizened. He was not half himself. There
were yet three weeks before Miss Baker would leave Littlebath. It
was on the whole better that his little arrangement should be made
immediately previous to her departure. He would leave Littlebath for
ten days, and return a new man. So he went up to London, and bestowed
his time upon his son.

At the end of the ten days much of his repugnance had worn off. But
still the sound of that word "Sarah," and the peal of laughter which
followed, rang in his ears. That utterance of the verbiage of love
is a disagreeable task for a gentleman of his years. He had tried it,
and found it very disagreeable. He would save himself a repetition of
the nuisance and write to her.

He did so. His letter was not very long. He said nothing about "Mary"
in it, but contented himself with calling her his dearest friend. A
few words were sufficient to make her understand what he meant, and
those few words were there. He merely added a caution, that for both
their sakes, the matter had better not at present be mentioned to
anybody.

Miss Baker, when she received this letter, had almost recovered her
equanimity. Hers had been a soft and gentle sorrow. She had had
no fits of bursting grief; her wailings had been neither loud nor
hysterical. A gentle, soft, faint tinge of melancholy had come upon
her; so that she had sighed much as she sat at her solitary tea, and
had allowed her novel to fall uncared for to the ground. "Would it
not be well for her," she said to herself more than once, "to go to
Hadley? Would not any change be well for her?" She felt now that
Caroline's absence was a heavy blow to her, and that it would be well
that she should leave Littlebath. It was astonishing how this affair
of Miss Todd's reconciled her to her future home.

And then, when she was thus tranquil, thus resigned, thus all but
happy, came this tremendous letter, upsetting her peace of mind, and
throwing her into a new maze of difficulties.

She had never said to herself at any time that if Sir Lionel did
propose she would accept him. She had never questioned herself as to
the probability of such an event. That she would have accepted him a
fortnight ago, there can be no doubt; but what was she to do now?

It was not only that Sir Lionel had made another tender of his hand
to another lady ten or twelve days since, but to this must be added
the fact that all Littlebath knew that he had done so. Miss Todd,
after the first ebullition of her comic spleen, had not said much
about it; but Miss P. Gauntlet's tongue had not been idle. She,
perhaps, had told it only to the godly; but the godly, let them be
ever so exclusive, must have some intercourse with the wicked world;
and thus every lady in Littlebath now knew all about it. And then
there were other difficulties. That whispered conversation still rang
in her ears. She was not quite sure how far it might be her mission
to reclaim such a man as Sir Lionel--this new Sir Lionel whom Miss
Todd had described. And then, too, he was in want of money. Why, she
was in want of money herself!

But was there not something also to be said on the other side? It is
reported that unmarried ladies such as Miss Baker generally regret
the forlornness of their own condition. If so, the fault is not
their own, but must be attributed to the social system to which they
belong. The English world is pleased to say that an unmarried lady
past forty has missed her hit in life--has omitted to take her tide
at the ebb; and what can unmarried ladies do but yield to the world's
dictum? That the English world may become better informed, and learn
as speedily as may be to speak with more sense on the subject, let us
all pray.

But, in the meantime, the world's dictum was strong at Littlebath,
and did influence this dear lady. She would prefer the name of Lady
Bertram to that of Miss Baker for the remainder of the term of years
allotted to her. It would please her to walk into a room as a married
woman, and to quit herself of that disgrace, which injustice and
prejudice, and the folly of her own sex rather than of the other, had
so cruelly attached to her present position. And then, to be _Lady_
Bertram! There were but few angels at this time in Littlebath, and
Miss Baker was not one of them: she had a taint of vanity in her
composition; but we doubt if such female vanity could exist in any
human breast in a more pardonable form than it did in hers.

And then, perhaps, this plan of marrying might have the wished-for
effect on Sir Lionel's way of living;--and how desirable was this!
Would it not be a splendid work for her to reclaim a lost colonel?
Might it not be her duty to marry him with this special object?

There certainly did appear to be some difficulty as to money. If, as
Miss Todd assured her, Sir Lionel were really in difficulties, her
own present annuity--all that she could absolutely call her own--her
one hundred and eighty-nine pounds, seventeen shillings and
threepence per annum--would not help them much. Sir Lionel was at any
rate disinterested in his offer; that at least was clear to her.

And then a sudden light broke in upon her meditations. Sir Lionel and
the old gentleman were at variance. We allude to the old gentleman
at Hadley: with the other old gentleman, of whom we wot, it may be
presumed that Sir Lionel was on tolerably favourable terms. Might not
she be the means of bringing the two brothers together? If she were
Lady Bertram, would not the old gentleman receive Sir Lionel back
to his bosom for her sake--to his bosom, and also to his purse? But
before she took any step in the dark, she resolved to ask the old
gentleman the question.

It is true that Sir Lionel had desired her to speak to no person on
the subject; but that injunction of course referred to strangers. It
could not but be expected that on such a matter she should consult
her best friends. Sir Lionel had also enjoined a speedy answer;
and in order that she might not disappoint him in this matter,
she resolved to put the question at once to Mr. Bertram. Great
measures require great means. She would herself go to Hadley on the
morrow--and so she wrote a letter that night, to beg that her uncle
would expect her.

"So; you got tired of Littlebath before the month was out?" said he.

"Oh! but I am going back again."

"Going back again! Then why the d---- have you come up now?" Alas!
it was too clear that the old gentleman was not in one of his more
pacific moods.

As these words were spoken, Miss Baker was still standing in the
passage, that she might see her box brought in from the fly. She of
course had on her bonnet, and thickest shawl, and cloak. She had
thick boots on also, and an umbrella in her hand. The maid was in the
passage, and so was the man who had driven her. She was very cold,
and her nose was blue, and her teeth chattered. She could not tell
her tale of love in such guise, or to such audience.

"What the d---- has brought you up?" repeated the old gentleman,
standing with his two sticks at the sitting-room door. He did not
care who heard him, or how cold it was, or of what nature might be
her present mission. He knew that an extra journey from Littlebath to
London and back, flys and porters included, would cost two pounds ten
shillings. He knew, or thought that he knew, that this might have
been avoided. He also knew that his rheumatism plagued him, that his
old bones were sore, that he could not sleep at night, that he could
not get into the city to see how things went, and that the game was
coming to an end with him, and that the grave was claiming him. It
was not surprising that the old gentleman should be cross.

"I'll tell you if you'll let me come into the room," said Miss Baker.
"Take the box upstairs, Mary. Half a crown! oh no, two shillings
will be quite enough." This economy was assumed to pacify the
old gentleman; but it did not have the desired effect. "One and
sixpence," he holloed out from his crutches. "Don't give him a
halfpenny more."

"Please, sir, the luggage, sir," said the fly driver.

"Luggage!" shouted the old man. His limbs were impotent, but his
voice was not; and the fly-driver shook in his shoes.

"There," said Miss Baker, insidiously giving the man two and
threepence. "I shall not give you a farthing more." It is to be
feared that she intended her uncle to think that his limit had not
been exceeded.

And then she was alone with Mr. Bertram. Her nose was still blue, and
her toes still cold; but at any rate she was alone with him. It was
hard for her to tell her tale; and she thoroughly wished herself back
at Littlebath; but, nevertheless, she did tell it. The courage of
women in some conditions of life surpasses anything that man can do.

"I want to consult you about that," said she, producing Sir Lionel's
letter.

The old gentleman took it, and looked at it, and turned it. "What!
it's from that swindler, is it?" said he.

"It's from Sir Lionel," said Miss Baker, trembling. There were as yet
no promising auspices for the fraternal reconciliation.

"Yes; I see who it's from--and what is it all about? I shan't read
it. You can tell me, I suppose, what's in it."

"I had hoped that perhaps, sir, you and he might--"

"Might what?"

"Be brought together as brothers and friends."

"Brothers and friends! One can't choose one's brother; but who would
choose to be the friend of a swindler? Is that what the letter is
about?"

"Not exactly that, Mr. Bertram."

"Then what the d---- is it?"

"Sir Lionel, sir, has made me--"

"Made you what? Put your name to a bill, I suppose."

"No; indeed he has not. Nothing of that kind."

"Then what has he made you do?"

"He has not made me do anything; but he has sent me--an--an offer
of marriage." And poor Miss Baker, with her blue nose, looked up
so innocently, so imploringly, so trustingly, that any one but Mr.
Bertram would have comforted her.

"An offer of marriage from Sir Lionel!" said he.

"Yes," said Miss Baker, timidly. "Here it is; and I have come up to
consult you about the answer." Mr. Bertram now did take the letter,
and did read it through.

"Well!" he said, closing his eyes and shaking his head gently.
"Well!"

"I thought it better to do nothing without seeing you. And that is
what has brought me to Hadley in such a hurry."

"The audacious, impudent scoundrel!"

"You think, then, that I should refuse him?"

"You are a fool, an ass! a downright old soft-headed fool!" Such was
the old gentleman's answer to her question.

"But I didn't know what to say without consulting you," said Miss
Baker, with her handkerchief to her face.

"Not know! Don't you know that he's a swindler, a reprobate, a
penniless adventurer? Good heavens! And you are such a fool as that!
It's well that you are not to be left at Littlebath by yourself."

Miss Baker made no attempt to defend herself, but, bursting into
tears, assured her uncle that she would be guided by him. Under his
absolute dictation she wrote the enclosed short answer to Sir Lionel.


   Hadley, January --, 184--.

   Dear Sir,

   Mr. Bertram says that it will be sufficient to let you
   know that he would not give me a penny during his life,
   or leave me a penny at his death if I were to become your
   wife.

   Yours truly,

   MARY BAKER.


That was all that the old gentleman would allow; but as she folded
the letter, she surreptitiously added the slightest imaginable
postscript to explain the matter--such words as occurred to her at
the spur of the moment.

"He is so angry about it all!"

After that Miss Baker was not allowed back to Littlebath, even to
pack up or pay her bills, or say good-bye to those she left behind.
The servant had to do it all. Reflecting on the danger which had been
surmounted, Mr. Bertram determined that she should not again be put
in the way of temptation.

And this was the end of Sir Lionel's wooing.



CHAPTER III.

A QUIET LITTLE DINNER.


Sir Henry Harcourt was married and took his bride to Paris and Nice;
and Sir Lionel Bertram tried to get married, but his bride--bride
as he hoped her to have been--ran away by herself to Hadley. In the
meantime George Bertram lived alone in his dark dull chambers in
London.

He would fain have been all alone; but at what was perhaps the worst
moment of his misery, his father came to him. It may be remembered
how anxiously he had longed to know his father when he first
commenced that journey to Jerusalem, how soon he became attached to
him, how fascinated he had been by Sir Lionel's manners, how easily
he forgave the first little traits of un-paternal conduct on his
father's part, how gradually the truth forced itself upon his mind.
But now, at this time, the truth had forced itself on his mind. He
knew his father for what he was.

And his mind was not one which could reject such knowledge, or alter
the nature of it because the man was his father. There are those
to whom a father's sins, or a husband's sins, or a brother's sins
are no sins at all. And of such one may say, that though we must of
compulsion find their judgment to be in some sort delinquent, that
their hearts more than make up for such delinquency. One knows that
they are wrong, but can hardly wish them to be less so.

But George Bertram was not one of them: he had been in no hurry to
condemn his father; but, having seen his sins, he knew them for sins,
and did condemn them. He found that his uncle had been right, and
that Sir Lionel was a man whom he could in no wise respect, and could
hardly love. Money he perceived was his father's desire. He would
therefore give him what money he could spare; but he would not give
him his society.

When, therefore, Sir Lionel announced his arrival in town and his
intention to remain there some little time, George Bertram was by no
means solaced in his misery. In those days he was very miserable. It
was only now that he knew how thoroughly he loved this woman--now
that she was so utterly beyond his reach. Weak and wavering as he was
in many things, he was not weak enough to abandon himself altogether
to unavailing sorrow. He knew that work alone could preserve him
from sinking--hard, constant, unflinching work, that one great cure
for all our sorrow, that only means of adapting ourselves to God's
providences.

So he set himself to work--not a lazy, listless reading of counted
pages; not history at two volumes a week, or science at a treatise a
day; but to such true work as he found it in him to do, working with
all his mind and all his strength. He had already written and was
known as a writer; but he had written under impulse, carelessly,
without due regard to his words or due thought as to his conclusions.
He had written things of which he was already ashamed, and had put
forth with the _ex cathedra_ air of an established master ideas which
had already ceased to be his own. But all that should be altered now.
Then he had wanted a quick return for his writing. It had piqued him
to think that the names of others, his contemporaries, were bruited
about the world, but that the world knew nothing of his own. Harcourt
was already a noted man, while he himself had done no more than
attempted and abandoned a profession. Harcourt's early success had
made him an early author; but he already felt that his authorship
was unavailing. Harcourt's success had been solid, stable, such as
men delight in; his had as yet resulted only in his all but forced
withdrawal from the only respectable position which he had achieved.

And now Harcourt's success was again before him. Harcourt had now as
his own that which he had looked to as the goal of all his success,
the worldly reward for which he had been willing to work. And yet
what was Harcourt as compared with him? He knew himself to be of
a higher temperament, of a brighter genius, of greater powers. He
would not condescend even to compare himself to this man who had so
thoroughly distanced him in the world's race.

Thinking, and feeling, and suffering thus, he had begun to work
with all the vehemence of which he was master. He would ask for no
speedy return now. His first object was to deaden the present misery
of his mind; and then, if it might be so, to vindicate his claim
to be regarded as one of England's worthy children, letting such
vindication come in its own time.

Such being the state of his mind, his father's arrival did not
contribute much to his comfort. Sir Lionel was rather petulant
when he was with him; objected to him that he had played his cards
badly; would talk about Caroline, and, which was almost worse, about
the solicitor-general; constantly urged him to make overtures of
reconciliation to his uncle; and wanted one day five pounds, on
another ten pounds, and again on a third fifteen pounds. At this
moment George's fixed income was but two hundred pounds a year, and
any other wealth of which he was possessed was the remainder of his
uncle's thousand pounds. When that was gone, he must either live on
his income, small as it was, or write for the booksellers. Such being
the case, he felt himself obliged to decline when the fifteen pounds
was mentioned.

"You can let me have it for a couple of months?" said Sir Lionel.

"Not conveniently," said his son.

"I will send it you back immediately on my return to Littlebath,"
said the father; "so if you have got it by you, pray oblige me."

"I certainly have got it," said the son--and he handed him the
desired check; "but I think you should remember, sir, how very small
my income is, and that there is no prospect of its being increased."

"It must be altogether your own fault then," said the colonel,
pocketing the money. "I never knew a young man who had a finer hand
of cards put into his hand--never; if you have played it badly, it
is your own fault, altogether your own fault." In truth, Sir Lionel
did really feel that his son had used him badly, and owed him
some amends. Had George but done his duty, he might now have been
the actual recognized heir of his uncle's wealth, and the actual
possessor of as much as would have been allowed to a dutiful,
obedient son. To a man of Sir Lionel's temperament, it was annoying
that there should be so much wealth so near him, and yet absolutely,
and, alas! probably for ever out of his reach.

Sir Lionel had resolved to wait in London for his answer, and there
he received it. Short as was poor Miss Baker's letter, it was quite
sufficiently explicit. She had betrayed him to the old gentleman,
and after that all hopes of money from that source were over.
It might still be possible for him to talk over Miss Baker, but
such triumph would be but barren. Miss Baker with a transferred
allegiance--transferred from the old gentleman to him--would be but
a very indifferent helpmate. He learnt, however, from Littlebath
that she was still away, and would probably not return. Then he went
back in fancied security, and found himself the centre of all those
amatory ovations which Miss Todd and Miss Gauntlet had prepared for
him.

It was about two months after this that George Bertram saw Sir Henry
Harcourt for the first time after the marriage. He had heard that
Sir Henry was in town, had heard of the blaze of their new house in
Eaton Square, had seen in the papers how magnificently Lady Harcourt
had appeared at court, how well she graced her brilliant home, how
fortunate the world esteemed that young lawyer who, having genius,
industry, and position of his own, had now taken to himself in
marriage beauty, wealth, and social charms. All this George Bertram
heard and read, and hearing it and reading it had kept himself from
the paths in which such petted children of fortune might probably be
met.

Twice in the course of these two months did Sir Henry call at
Bertram's chambers; but Bertram was now at home to no one. He lived
in a great desert, in which was no living being but himself--in a
huge desert without water and without grass, in which there was
no green thing. He was alone; to one person only had he spoken of
his misery; once only had he thought of escaping from it. That
thought had been in vain: that companion was beyond his reach; and,
therefore, living there in his London chambers, he had been all
alone.

But at last they did meet. Sir Henry, determined not to be beaten in
his attempt to effect a reconciliation, wrote to him, saying that he
would call, and naming an hour. "Caroline and you," he said, "are
cousins; there can be no reason why you should be enemies. For her
sake, if not for mine, do oblige me in this."

Bertram sat for hours with that note beneath his eyes before he could
bring himself to answer it. Could it really be that she desired
to see him again? That she, in her splendour and first glow of
prosperous joy, would wish to encounter him in his dreary, sad,
deserted misery? And why could she wish it? and, ah! how could she
wish it?

And then he asked himself whether he also would wish to see her. That
he still loved her, loved her as he never had done while she was yet
his own, he had often told himself. That he could never be at rest
till he had ceased to make her the first object of his thoughts he
had said as often. That he ought not to see her, he knew full well.
The controversy within his own bosom was carried on for two hours,
and then he wrote to Sir Henry, saying that he would be at his
chambers at the hour named. From that moment the salutary effort was
discontinued, the work was put aside, and the good that had been done
was all revoked.

Sir Henry came, true to his appointment. Whatever might be
his object, he was energetic in it. He was now a man of many
concernments; hours were scanty with him, and a day much too short.
The calls of clients, and the calls of party, joined to those other
calls which society makes upon men in such brilliant stations, hardly
left him time for sleeping; but not the less urgent was he in his
resolve to see his beaten rival who would so willingly have left him
to his brilliant joy. But was not all this explained long even before
Christianity was in vogue? "Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat."
Whom God will confound, those he first maddens.

Nothing could exceed the bland friendship, the winning manners, and
the frank courtesy of Sir Henry. He said but little about what was
past; but that little went to show that he had been blessed with the
hand of Caroline Waddington only because Bertram had rejected that
blessing as not worthy his acceptance. Great man as he was, he almost
humbled himself before Bertram's talent. He spoke of their mutual
connection at Hadley as though they two were his heirs of right, and
as though their rights were equal; and then he ended by begging that
they might still be friends.

"Our careers must be widely different," said Bertram, somewhat
touched by his tone; "yours will be in the light; mine must be in the
dark."

"Most men who do any good live in the dark for some period of their
lives," said Harcourt. "I, too, have had my dark days, and doubtless
shall have them again; but neither with you nor with me will they
endure long."

Bertram thought that Harcourt knew nothing about it, and sneered when
the successful man talked of his dark days. What darkness had his
mental eyesight ever known? We are all apt to think when our days are
dark that there is no darkness so dark as our own.

"I know what your feelings are," continued Sir Henry; "and I hope
you will forgive me if I speak openly. You have resolved not to meet
Caroline. My object is to make you put aside that resolve. It is
my object and hers also. It is out of the question that you should
continue to avoid the world. Your walk in life will be that of
a literary man: but nowadays literary men become senators and
statesmen. They have high rank, are well paid, and hold their own
boldly against men of meaner capacities. This is the career that we
both foresee for you; and in that career we both hope to be your
friends."

So spoke the great advocate with suasive eloquence--with eloquence
dangerously suasive as regarded his own happiness. But in truth this
man knew not what love meant--not that love which those two wretched
lovers understood so well. That his own wife was cold to him, cold as
ice--that he well knew. That Bertram had flung her from him because
she had been cold to him--that he believed. That he himself could
live without any passionate love--that he acknowledged. His wife was
graceful and very beautiful--all the world confessed that. And thus
Sir Henry was contented. Those honeymoon days had indeed been rather
dreary. Once or twice before that labour was over he had been almost
tempted to tell her that he had paid too high for the privilege of
pressing such an icicle to his bosom. But he had restrained himself;
and now in the blaze of the London season, passing his mornings
in courts of law and his evenings in the House of Parliament, he
flattered himself that he was a happy man.

"Come and dine with us in a quiet way the day after to-morrow," said
Sir Henry, "and then the ice will be broken." George Bertram said
that he would; and from that moment his studies were at an end.

This occurred on the Monday. The invitation was for the following
Wednesday. Sir Henry explained that from some special cause he would
be relieved from parliamentary attendance, at any rate till ten
o'clock; that at the quiet dinner there would be no other guests
except Mr. and Mrs. Stistick, and Baron Brawl, whose wife and family
were not yet in town.

"You'll like the baron," said Harcourt; "he's loud and arrogant, no
doubt; but he's not loud and arrogant about nothing, as some men are.
Stistick is a bore. Of course you know him. He's member for Peterloo,
and goes with us on condition that somebody listens to him about once
a week. But the baron will put him down."

"And Mrs. Stistick?" said George.

"I never heard of her till yesterday, and Caroline has gone to call
on her to-day. It's rather a bore for her, for they live somewhere
half-way to Harrow, I believe. Half-past seven. Good-bye, old fellow.
I ought to have been before Baron Brawl at Westminster twenty minutes
since." And so the solicitor-general, rushing out from the Temple,
threw himself into a cab; and as the wheels rattled along the Strand,
he made himself acquainted with the contents of his brief.

Why should Caroline have expressed a wish to see him? That was the
thought that chiefly rested in Bertram's mind when Sir Henry left
him. Why should it be an object to her to force a meeting between her
and him? Would it not be better for them both that they should be far
as the poles asunder?

"Well," he said to himself, "if it be no difficulty to her, neither
shall it be a difficulty to me. She is strong-minded, and I will be
so no less. I will go and meet her. It is but the first plunge that
gives the shock."

And thus he closed his work, and sat moodily thinking. He was angry
with her in that she could endure to see him; but, alas! half-pleased
also that she should wish to do so. He had no thought, no most
distant thought, that she could ever now be more to him than the wife
of an acquaintance whom he did not love too well. But yet there was
in his heart some fragment of half-satisfied vanity at hearing that
she did look forward to see him once again.

And how shall we speak of such a wish on her part? "Caroline," her
husband had said to her at breakfast, "it will be all nonsense
for you and George Bertram to keep up any kind of quarrel. I hate
nonsense of that sort."

"There is no quarrel between us," she replied.

"There ought to be none; and I shall get him to come here."

The colour of her face became slightly heightened as she answered:
"If you wish it, Sir Henry, and he wishes it also, I shall not
object."

"I do wish it, certainly. I think it absolutely necessary as regards
my position with your grandfather."

"Do just as you think best," said his wife. 'Twas thus that Lady
Harcourt had expressed her desire to see George Bertram at her house.
Had he known the truth, that fragment of half-satisfied vanity would
have been but small.

In those early days of her marriage, Lady Harcourt bore her triumphs
very placidly. She showed no great elation at the change that had
come over her life. Her aunt from Hadley was frequently with her, and
wondered to find her so little altered, or rather, in some respects,
so much altered; for she was more considerate in her manner, more
sparing of her speech, much less inclined to domineer now, as
Lady Harcourt, than in former days she had ever been as Caroline
Waddington. She went constantly into society, and was always much
considered; but her triumphs were mainly of that quiet nature which
one sometimes sees to be achieved with so little effort by beautiful
women. It seemed but necessary that she should sit still, and
sometimes smile, and the world was ready to throw itself at her feet.
Nay, the smile was but too often omitted, and yet the world was
there.

At home, though more employed, she was hardly more energetic. Her
husband told her that he wished his house to be noted for the
pleasantness of his dinner-parties, and, therefore, she studied the
subject as a good child would study a lesson. She taught herself what
the material of a dinner should be, she satisfied herself that her
cook was good, she looked to the brilliancy of her appointments, and
did her best to make the house shine brightly. The house did shine,
and on the whole Sir Henry was contented. It was true that his wife
did not talk much; but what little she did say was said with a sweet
manner and with perfect grace. She was always dressed with care, was
always beautiful, was always ladylike. Had not Sir Henry reason to be
contented? As for talking, he could do that himself.

And now that she was told that George Bertram was to come to her
house, she did not show much more excitement at the tidings than at
the promised advent of Mr. Baron Brawl. She took the matter with such
indifference that Sir Henry, at least, had no cause for jealousy. But
then she was indifferent about everything. Nothing seemed to wake
her either to joy or sorrow. Sir Henry, perhaps, was contented; but
lovely, ladylike, attractive as she was, he sometimes did feel almost
curious to know whether it were possible to rouse this doll of his to
any sense of life or animation. He had thought, nay, almost wished,
that the name of her old lover would have moved her, that the idea of
seeing him would have disturbed her. But, no; one name was the same
to her as another. She had been told to go and call on Mrs. Stistick,
and she had gone. She was told to receive Mr. Bertram, and she was
quite ready to do so. Angels from heaven, or spirits from below,
could Sir Henry have summoned such to his table, would have been
received by her with equal equanimity. This was dutiful on her part,
and naturally satisfactory to a husband inclined to be somewhat
exigeant. But even duty may pall on an exigeant husband, and a man
may be brought to wish that his wife would cross him.

But on this occasion Sir Henry had no such pleasure. "I saw Bertram
this morning," he said, when he went home for five minutes before
taking his seat in the House for the night. "He's to be here on
Wednesday."

"Oh, very well. There will be six, then." She said no more. It
was clear that the dinner, and that only, was on her mind. He had
told her to be careful about his dinners, and therefore could not
complain. But, nevertheless, he was almost vexed. Don't let any
wife think that she will satisfy her husband by perfect obedience.
Overmuch virtue in one's neighbours is never satisfactory to us
sinners.

But there were moments in which Lady Harcourt could think of her
present life, when no eye was by to watch her--no master there to
wonder at her perfections. Moments! nay, but there were hours, and
hours, and hours. There were crowds of hours; slow, dull, lingering
hours, in which she had no choice but to think of it. A woman may
see to her husband's dinners and her own toilet, and yet have too
much time for thinking. It would almost have been a comfort to Lady
Harcourt if Sir Henry could have had a dinner-party every day.

How should she bear herself; what should she say; how should she look
when George Bertram came there as a guest to her house? How could he
be so cruel, so heartless, so inhuman as to come there? Her path was
difficult enough for her poor weary feet. He must know that--should,
at any rate, have known it. How could he be so cruel as to add this
great stumbling-block to her other perils?

The Wednesday came, and at half-past seven she was in her
drawing-room as beautiful and as dignified as ever. She had a
peculiar place of her own in the corner of a peculiar sofa, and there
she lived. It was her goddess' shrine, and her worshippers came and
did reverence before her. None came and sat beside her. Hers was not
that gentle fascination which entices men, and women too, to a near
proximity. Her bow was very gracious, and said much; but "noli me
tangere" was part of its eloquence. And so Baron Brawl found, when on
entering her drawing-room he told her that the fame of her charms had
reached his ears, and that he was delighted to have an opportunity of
making her acquaintance.

Mr. and Mrs. Stistick were the next comers. Mrs. Stistick sat herself
down on an opposite sofa, and seemed to think that she did her duty
to society by sitting there. And so she did. Only permit her so to
sit, and there was no further labour in entertaining Mrs. Stistick.
She was a large, heavy woman, with a square forehead and a square
chin, and she had brought up seven children most successfully. Now,
in these days of her husband's parliamentary prosperity, she was
carried about to dinners; and in her way she enjoyed them. She was
not too shy to eat, and had no wish whatever either to be talked to
or to talk. To sit easily on a sofa and listen to the buzz of voices
was life and society to her. Perhaps in those long hours she was
meditating on her children's frocks or her husband's linen. But they
never seemed to be long to her.

Mr. Stistick was standing on the rug before the fire, preparing for
his first onslaught on Baron Brawl, when the servant announced Mr.
Bertram.

"Ah! Bertram, I'm delighted to see you," said Sir Henry;--"doubly
so, as dinner is ready. Judge, you know my friend Bertram, by name,
at any rate?" and some sort of half-introduction was performed.
"He who moved all Oxford from its propriety?" said the baron. But
Bertram neither saw him nor heard him. Neither his eyes nor his ears
were at his command.

As he took his host's proffered hand, he glanced his eyes for a
moment round the room. There she sat, and he had to speak to her as
best he might. At his last interview with her he had spoken freely
enough, and it all rushed now upon his mind. Then how little he had
made of her, how lightly he had esteemed her! Now, as she sat there
before him his spirit acknowledged her as a goddess, and he all
but feared to address her. His face, he knew, was hot and red; his
manner, he felt, was awkward. He was not master of himself, and when
such is the case with a man, the fact always betrays itself.

But he did speak to her. "How do you do, Lady Harcourt?" he said, and
he put his hand out, and he felt the ends of her fingers once more
within his own.

And she spoke too, probably. But pretty women can say almost as much
as is necessary on such occasions as this without opening their lips.
Whether she spoke, or whether she did not, it was the same to him.
He certainly did not hear her. But her fingers did touch his hand,
her eyes did rest upon his face; and then, in that moment of time,
he thought of Jerusalem, of the Mount of Olives, of those rides
at Littlebath, and of that last meeting, when all, all had been
shattered to pieces.

"There are five hundred and fifty-five thousand male children between
the ages of nine and twelve," said Mr. Stistick, pursuing some
wondrous line of argument, as Bertram turned himself towards the
fire.

"What a fine national family!" said the baron. "And how ashamed I
feel when I bethink myself that only one of them is mine!"

"Dinner is served," said the butler.

"Mrs. Stistick, will you allow me?" said Sir Henry. And then in half
a minute Bertram found himself walking down to dinner with the member
of Parliament. "And we have school accommodation for just one hundred
and fourteen," continued that gentleman on the stairs. "Now, will you
tell me what becomes of the other four hundred and forty-one?"

Bertram was not at that moment in a condition to give him any
information on the subject.

"I can tell you about the one," said the baron, as Sir Henry began
his grace.

"An odd thousand is nothing," said Mr. Stistick, pausing for a second
till the grace was over.

The judge and Mr. Stistick sat at Lady Harcourt's right and left, so
that Bertram was not called upon to say much to her during dinner.
The judge talked incessantly, and so did the member of Parliament,
and so also did the solicitor-general. A party of six is always a
talking party. Men and women are not formed into pairs, and do not
therefore become dumb. Each person's voice makes another person
emulous, and the difficulty felt is not as to what one shall say, but
how one shall get it in. Ten, and twelve, and fourteen are the silent
numbers.

Every now and again Harcourt endeavoured to make Bertram join in the
conversation; and Bertram did make some faint attempts. He essayed to
answer some of Mr. Stistick's very difficult inquiries, and was even
roused to parry some raillery from the judge. But he was not himself;
and Caroline, who could not but watch him narrowly as she sat there
in her silent beauty, saw that he was not so. She arraigned him in
her mind for want of courage; but had he been happy, and noisy, and
light of heart, she would probably have arraigned him for some deeper
sin.

"As long as the matter is left in the hands of the parents, nothing
on earth will be done," said Mr. Stistick.

"That's what I have always said to Lady Brawl," said the judge.

"And it's what I have said to Lord John; and what I intend to say to
him again. Lord John is all very well--"

"Thank you, Stistick. I am glad, at any rate, to get as much as that
from you," said the solicitor.

"Lord John is all very well," continued the member, not altogether
liking the interruption; "but there is only one man in the country
who thoroughly understands the subject, and who is able--"

"And I don't see the slightest probability of finding a second," said
the judge.

"And who is able to make himself heard."

"What do you say, Lady Harcourt," asked the baron, "as to the
management of a school with--how many millions of them, Mr.
Stistick?"

"Five hundred and fifty-five thousand male children--"

"Suppose we say boys," said the judge.

"Boys?" asked Mr. Stistick, not quite understanding him, but rather
disconcerted by the familiarity of the word.

"Well, I suppose they must be boys;--at least the most of them."

"They are all from nine to twelve, I say," continued Mr. Stistick,
completely bewildered.

"Oh, that alters the question," said the judge.

"Not at all," said Mr. Stistick. "There is accommodation for only--"

"Well, we'll ask Lady Harcourt. What do you say, Lady Harcourt?"

Lady Harcourt felt herself by no means inclined to enter into the
joke on either side; so she said, with her gravest smile, "I'm sure
Mr. Stistick understands very well what he's talking about."

"What do you say, ma'am?" said the judge, turning round to the lady
on his left.

"Mr. Stistick is always right on such matters," said the lady.

"See what it is to have a character. It absolutely enables one to
upset the laws of human nature. But still I do say, Mr. Solicitor,
that the majority of them were probably boys."

"Boys!" exclaimed the member of Parliament. "Boys! I don't think you
can have understood a word that we have been saying."

"I don't think I have," said the baron.

"There are five hundred and fifty-five thousand male children
between--"

"Oh--h--h! male children! Ah--h--h! Now I see the difference; I beg
your pardon, Mr. Stistick, but I really was very stupid. And you mean
to explain all this to Lord John in the present session?"

"But, Stistick, who is the one man?" said Sir Henry.

"The one man is Lord Boanerges. He, I believe, is the only man living
who really understands the social wants of this kingdom."

"And everything else also," sneered the baron. The baron always
sneered at cleverness that was external to his own profession,
especially when exhibited by one who, like the noble lord named,
should have confined his efforts to that profession.

"So Boanerges is to take in hand these male children? And very
fitting, too; he was made to be a schoolmaster."

"He is the first man of the age; don't you think so, Sir Henry?"

"He was, certainly, when he was on the woolsack," said Sir Henry.
"That is the normal position always assumed by the first man of his
age in this country."

"Though some of them when there do hide their lights under a bushel,"
said the judge.

"He is the first law reformer that perhaps ever lived," said Mr.
Stistick, enthusiastically.

"And I hope will be the last in my time," said his enemy.

"I hope he will live to complete his work," said the politician.

"Then Methuselah will be a child to him, and Jared and Lamech little
babies," said the judge.

"In such case he has got his work before him, certainly," said Mr.
Solicitor.

And so the battle was kept up between them, and George Bertram and
Lady Harcourt sat by and listened; or more probably, perhaps, sat by
and did not listen.

But when her ladyship and Mrs. Stistick had retreated--Oh, my
readers, fancy what that next hour must have been to Caroline
Harcourt!--How Gothic, how barbarous are we still in our habits,
in that we devote our wives to such wretchedness as that! O, lady,
has it ever been your lot to sit out such hour as that with some
Mrs. Stistick, who would neither talk, nor read, nor sleep; in whose
company you could neither talk, nor read, nor yet sleep? And if such
has been your lot, have you not asked yourself why in this civilized
country, in this civilized century, you should be doomed to such a
senseless, sleepless purgatory?--But when they were gone, and when
the judge, radiant with fun and happiness, hastened to fill his
claret beaker, then Bertram by degrees thawed, and began to feel that
after all the world was perhaps not yet dead around him.

"Well, Mr. Stistick," said the baron; "if Sir Henry will allow us,
we'll drink Lord Boanerges."

"With all my heart," said Mr. Stistick. "He is a man of whom it may
be said--"

"That no man knew better on which side his bread was buttered."

"He is buttering the bread of millions upon millions," said Mr.
Stistick.

"Or doing better still," said Bertram; "enabling them to butter their
own. Lord Boanerges is probably the only public man of this day who
will be greater in a hundred years than he is now."

"Let us at any rate hope," said the baron, "that he will at that time
be less truculent."

"I can't agree with you, Bertram," said Sir Henry. "I consider we are
fertile in statesmen. Do you think that Peel will be forgotten in
a hundred years?" This was said with the usual candour of a modern
turncoat. For Sir Henry had now deserted Peel.

"Almost, I should hope, by that time," said Bertram. "He will have a
sort of a niche in history, no doubt; as has Mr. Perceval, who did so
much to assist us in the war; and Lord Castlereagh, who carried the
Union. They also were heaven-sent ministers, whom Acheron has not as
yet altogether swallowed up."

"And Boanerges, you think, will escape Libitina?"

"If the spirit of the age will allow immortality to any man of these
days, I think he will. But I doubt whether public opinion, as now
existing, will admit of hero-worship."

"Public opinion is the best safeguard for a great man's great name,"
said Mr. Stistick, with intense reliance on the civilization of his
own era.

"Quite true, sir; quite true," said the baron,--"for the space of
twenty-four hours."

Then followed a calm, and then coffee. After that, the
solicitor-general, looking at his watch, marched off impetuous to the
House. "Judge," he said, "I know you will excuse me; for you, too,
have been a slave in your time: but you will go up to Lady Harcourt;
Bertram, you will not be forgiven if you do not go upstairs."

Bertram did go upstairs, that he might not appear to be unmanly, as
he said to himself, in slinking out of the house. He did go upstairs,
for one quarter of an hour.

But the baron did not. For him, it may be presumed, his club had
charms. Mr. Stistick, however, did do so; he had to hand Mrs.
Stistick down from that elysium which she had so exquisitely graced.
He did hand her down; and then for five minutes George Bertram found
himself once more alone with Caroline Waddington.

"Good-night, Lady Harcourt," he said, again essaying to take her
hand. This and his other customary greeting was all that he had yet
spoken to her.

"Good-night, Mr. Bertram." At last her voice faltered, at last her
eye fell to the ground, at last her hand trembled. Had she stood firm
through this trial all might have been well; but though she could
bear herself right manfully before stranger eyes, she could not alone
support his gaze; one touch of tenderness, one sign of weakness was
enough--and that touch was there, that sign she gave.

"We are cousins still, are we not?" said he.

"Yes, we are cousins--I suppose so."

"And as cousins we need not hate each other?"

"Hate each other!" and she shuddered as she spoke; "oh, no, I hope
there is no hatred!"

He stood there silent for a moment, looking, not at her, but at the
costly ornaments which stood at the foot of the huge pier-glass over
the fireplace. Why did he not go now? why did he stand there silent
and thoughtful? why--why was he so cruel to her?

"I hope you are happy, Lady Harcourt," at last he said.

There was almost a savage sternness in her face as she made an effort
to suppress her feelings. "Thank you--yes," she said; and then she
added, "I never was a believer in much happiness."

And yet he did not go. "We have met now," he said, after another
pause.

"Yes, we have met now;" and she even attempted to smile as she
answered him.

"And we need not be strangers?" Then there was again a pause; for
at first she had no answer ready. "Is it needful that we should be
strangers?" he asked.

"I suppose not; no; not if Sir Henry wishes it otherwise."

And then he put out his hand, and wishing her good-night a second
time, he went.

For the next hour, Lady Harcourt sat there looking at the smouldering
fire. "Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat." Not in such language,
but with some such thought, did she pass judgment on the wretched
folly of her husband.



CHAPTER IV.

MRS. MADDEN'S BALL.


Two days after the dinner, George Bertram called in Eaton Square and
saw Lady Harcourt; but, as it happened, she was not alone. Their
interview on this occasion was not in any great degree embarrassing
to either of them. He did not stay long; and as strangers were
present, he was able to talk freely on indifferent subjects. Lady
Harcourt probably did not talk much, but she looked as though she
did.

And then Adela Gauntlet came up to town for a month; and George,
though he was on three or four occasions in Eaton Square, never saw
Caroline alone; but he became used to seeing her and being with her.
The strangeness of their meeting wore itself away: he could speak to
her without reserve on the common matters of life, and found that he
had intense delight in doing so.

Adela Gauntlet was present at all these interviews, and in her heart
of hearts condemned them bitterly; but she could say nothing to
Caroline. They had been friends--real friends; but Caroline was now
almost like stone to her. This visit of Adela's had been a long
promise--yes, very long; for the visit, when first promised, was to
have been made to Mrs. Bertram. One knows how these promises still
live on. Caroline had pressed it even when she felt that Adela's
presence could no longer be of comfort to her; and Adela would not
now refuse, lest in doing so she might seem to condemn. But she felt
that Caroline Harcourt could never be to her what Caroline Bertram
would have been.

Lady Harcourt did whatever in her lay to amuse her guest; but Adela
was one who did not require much amusing. Had there been friendship
between her and her friend, the month would have run by all too
quickly; but, as it was, before it was over she wished herself again
even at Littlebath.

Bertram dined there twice, and once went with them to some concert.
He met them in the Park, and called; and then there was a great
evening gathering in Eaton Square, and he was there. Caroline was
careful on all occasions to let her husband know when she met
Bertram, and he as often, in some shape, expressed his satisfaction.

"He'll marry Adela Gauntlet; you'll see if he does not," he said to
her, after one of their dinners in Eaton Square. "She is very pretty,
very; and it will be all very nice; only I wish that one of them had
a little money to go on with."

Caroline answered nothing to this: she never did make him any
answers; but she felt quite sure in her own heart that he would not
marry Adela Gauntlet. And had she confessed the truth to herself,
would she have wished him to do so?

Adela saw and disapproved; she saw much and could not but disapprove
of all. She saw that there was very little sympathy between the
husband and wife, and that that little was not on the increase.--Very
little! nay, but was there any? Caroline did not say much of her lot
in life; but the few words that did fall from her seemed to be full
of scorn for all that she had around her, and for him who had given
it all. She seemed to say, "There--this is that for which I have
striven--these ashes on which I now step, and sleep, and feed, which
are gritty between my teeth, and foul to my touch! See, here is my
reward! Do you not honour me for having won it?"

And then it appeared that Sir Henry Harcourt had already learned how
to assume the cross brow of a captious husband; that the sharp word
was already spoken on light occasions--spoken without cause and
listened to with apparent indifference. Even before Adela such words
were spoken, and then Caroline would smile bitterly, and turn her
face towards her friend, as though she would say, "See, see what it
is to be the wife of so fine a man, so great a man! What a grand
match have I not made for myself!" But though her looks spoke thus,
no word of complaint fell from her lips--and no word of confidence.

We have said that Sir Henry seemed to encourage these visits which
Bertram made to Eaton Square; and for a time he did so--up to the
time of that large evening-party which was given just before Adela's
return to Littlebath. But on that evening, Adela thought she saw a
deeper frown than usual on the brows of the solicitor-general, as he
turned his eyes to a couch on which his lovely wife was sitting, and
behind which George Bertram was standing, but so standing that he
could speak and she could hear.

And then Adela bethought herself, that though she could say nothing
to Caroline, it might not be equally impossible to say something to
Bertram. There had been between them a sort of confidence, and if
there was any one to whom Adela could now speak freely, it was to
him. They each knew something of each other's secrets, and each of
them, at least, trusted the other.

But this, if it be done at all, must be done on that evening. There
was no probability that they would meet again before her departure.
This was the only house in which they did meet, and here Adela had no
wish to see him more.

"I am come to say good-bye to you," she said, the first moment she
was able to speak to him alone.

"To say good-bye! Is your visit over so soon?"

"I go on Thursday."

"Well, I shall see you again, for I shall come on purpose to make my
adieux."

"No, Mr. Bertram; do not do that."

"But I certainly shall."

"No;" and she put out her little hand, and gently--oh! so
gently--touched his arm.

"And why not? Why should I not come to see you? I have not so many
friends that I can afford to lose you."

"You shall not lose me, nor would I willingly lose you. But, Mr.
Bertram--"

"Well, Miss Gauntlet?"

"Are you right to be here at all?"

The whole tone, and temper, and character of his face altered as he
answered her quickly and sharply--"If not, the fault lies with Sir
Henry Harcourt, who, with some pertinacity, induced me to come here.
But why is it wrong that I should be here?--foolish it may be."

"That is what I mean. I did not say wrong; did I? Do not think that I
imagine evil."

"It may be foolish," continued Bertram, as though he had not heard
her last words. "But if so, the folly has been his."

"If he is foolish, is that reason why you should not be wise?"

"And what is it you fear, Adela? What is the injury that will come?
Will it be to me, or to her, or to Harcourt?"

"No injury, no real injury--I am sure of that. But may not
unhappiness come of it? Does it seem to you that she is happy?"

"Happy! Which of us is happy? Which of us is not utterly wretched?
She is as happy as you are? and Sir Henry, I have no doubt, is as
happy as I am."

"In what you say, Mr. Bertram, you do me injustice; I am not
unhappy."

"Are you not? then I congratulate you on getting over the troubles
consequent on a true heart."

"I did not mean in any way to speak of myself; I have cares, regrets,
and sorrows, as have most of us; but I have no cause of misery which
I cannot assuage."

"Well, you are fortunate; that is all I can say."

"But Caroline I can see is not happy; and, Mr. Bertram, I fear that
your coming here will not make her more so."

She had said her little word, meaning it so well. But perhaps she had
done more harm than good. He did not come again to Eaton Square till
after she was gone; but very shortly after that he did so.

Adela had seen that short, whispered conversation between Lady
Harcourt and Bertram--that moment, as it were, of confidence; and so,
also, had Sir Henry; and yet it had been but for a moment.

"Lady Harcourt," Bertram had said, "how well you do this sort of
thing!"

"Do I?" she answered. "Well, one ought to do something well."

"Do you mean to say that your excellence is restricted to this?"

"Pretty nearly; such excellence as there is."

"I should have thought--" and then he paused.

"You are not coming to reproach me, I hope," she said.

"Reproach you, Lady Harcourt! No; my reproaches, silent or expressed,
never fall on your head."

"Then you must be much altered;" and as she said these last words, in
what was hardly more than a whisper, she saw some lady in a distant
part of the room to whom some attention might be considered to be
due, and rising from her seat she walked away across the room. It was
very shortly after that Adela had spoken to him.

For many a long and bitter day, Bertram had persuaded himself that
she had not really loved him. He had doubted it when she had first
told him so calmly that it was necessary that their marriage should
be postponed for years; he had doubted it much when he found her,
if not happy, at least contented under that postponement; doubt had
become almost certainty when he learnt that she discussed his merits
with such a one as Henry Harcourt; but on that day, at Richmond, when
he discovered that the very secrets of his heart were made subject of
confidential conversation with this man, he had doubted it no longer.
Then he had gone to her, and his reception proved to him that his
doubts had been too well founded--his certainty only too sure. And so
he had parted with her--as we all know.

But now he began to doubt his doubts--to be less certain of his
certainty. That she did not much love Sir Henry, that was very
apparent; that she could not listen to his slightest word without
emotion--that, too, he could perceive; that Adela conceived that
she still loved him, and that his presence there was therefore
dangerous--that also had been told to him. Was it then possible that
he, loving this woman as he did--having never ceased in his love for
one moment, having still loved her with his whole heart, his whole
strength--that he had flung her from him while her heart was still
his own? Could it be that she, during their courtship, should have
seemed so cold and yet had loved him?

A thousand times he had reproached her in his heart for being
worldly; but now the world seemed to have no charms for her. A
thousand times he had declared that she cared only for the outward
show of things, but these outward shows were now wholly indifferent
to her. That they in no degree contributed to her happiness, or even
to her contentment, that was made manifest enough to him.

And then these thoughts drove him wild, and he began to ask himself
whether there could be yet any comfort in the fact that she had
loved him, and perhaps loved him still. The motives by which men are
actuated in their conduct are not only various, but mixed. As Bertram
thought in this way concerning Lady Harcourt--the Caroline Waddington
that had once belonged to himself--he proposed to himself no scheme
of infamy, no indulgence of a disastrous love, no ruin for her whom
the world now called so fortunate; but he did think that, if she
still loved him, it would be pleasant to sit and talk with her;
pleasant to feel some warmth in her hand; pleasant that there should
be some confidence in her voice. And so he resolved--but, no, there
was no resolve; but he allowed it to come to pass that his intimacy
in Eaton Square should not be dropped.

And then he bethought himself of the part which his friend Harcourt
had played in this matter, and speculated as to how that pleasant
fellow had cheated him out of his wife. What Adela had said might be
very true, but why should he regard Sir Henry's happiness? why regard
any man's happiness, or any woman's? Who had regarded him? So he
hired a horse, and rode in the Park when he knew Lady Harcourt would
be there, dined with Baron Brawl because Lady Harcourt was to dine
there, and went to a ball at Mrs. Madden's for the same reason. All
which the solicitor-general now saw, and did not press his friend to
take a part at any more of his little dinners.

What may have passed on the subject between Sir Henry and his wife
cannot be said. A man does not willingly accuse his wife of even the
first germ of infidelity; does not willingly suggest to her that
any one is of more moment to her than himself. It is probable that
his brow became blacker than it had been, that his words were less
courteous, and his manner less kind; but of Bertram himself, it may
be presumed that he said nothing. It might, however, have been easy
for Caroline to perceive that he no longer wished to have his old
friend at his house.

At Mrs. Madden's ball, Bertram asked her to dance with him, and
she did stand up for a quadrille. Mr. Madden was a rich young man,
in Parliament, and an intimate friend both of Sir Henry's and of
Bertram's. Caroline had danced with him--being her first performance
of that nature since her marriage; and having done so, she could not,
as she said to herself, refuse Mr. Bertram. So they stood up; and the
busy solicitor-general, who showed himself for five minutes in the
room, saw them moving, hand-in-hand together, in the figure of the
dance. And as he so moved, Bertram himself could hardly believe in
the reality of his position. What if any one had prophesied to him
three months since that he would be dancing with Caroline Harcourt!

"Adela did not stay with you long," said he, as they were standing
still.

"No, not very long. I do not think she is fond of London;" and then
they were again silent till their turn for dancing was over.

"No; I don't think she is," said Bertram, "nor am I. I should not
care if I were to leave it for ever. Do you like London, Lady
Harcourt?"

"Oh, yes; as well as any other place. I don't think it much
signifies--London, or Littlebath, or New Zealand."

They were then both silent for a moment, till Bertram again spoke,
with an effort that was evident in his voice.

"You used not to be so indifferent in such matters."

"Used!"

"Has all the world so changed that nothing is any longer of any
interest?"

"The world has changed, certainly--with me."

"And with me also, Lady Harcourt. The world has changed with both of
us. But Fortune, while she has been crushing me, has been very kind
to you."

"Has she? Well, perhaps she has--as kind, at any rate, as I deserve.
But you may be sure of this--I do not complain of her." And then they
were again silent.

"I wonder whether you ever think of old days?" he said, after a
pause.

"At any rate, I never talk of them, Mr. Bertram."

"No; I suppose not. One should not talk of them. But out of a full
heart the mouth will speak. Constant thoughts will break forth in
words. There is nothing else left to me of which I can think."

Any one looking at her face as she answered him would have little
dreamed how much was passing through her mind, how much was weighing
on her heart. She commanded not only her features, but even her
colour, and the motion of her eyes. No anger flashed from them; there
was no blush of indignation as she answered him in that crowded room.
And yet her words were indignant enough, and there was anger, too, in
that low tone which reached his ear so plainly, but which reached no
further.

"And whose doing has this been? Why is it that I may not think of
past times? Why is it that all thought, all memories are denied to
me? Who was it that broke the cup at the very fountain?"

"Was it I?"

"Did you ever think of your prayers? 'Forgive us our trespasses.' But
you, in your pride--you could forgive nothing. And now you dare to
twit me with my fortune!"

"Lady Harcourt!"

"I will sit down, if you please, now. I do not know why I speak
thus." And then, without further words, she caused herself to be
led away, and sitting down between two old dowagers, debarred him
absolutely from the power of another word.

Immediately after this he left the house; but she remained for
another hour--remained and danced with young Lord Echo, who was a
Whig lordling; and with Mr. Twisleton, whose father was a Treasury
secretary. They both talked to her about Harcourt, and the great
speech he was making at that moment; and she smiled and looked
so beautiful, that when they got together at one end of the
supper-table, they declared that Harcourt was out-and-out the
luckiest dog of his day; and questioned his right to monopolize such
a treasure.

And had he been cruel? had he been unforgiving? had he denied to her
that pardon which it behoved him so often to ask for himself? This
was the question which Bertram was now forced to put to himself. And
that other question, which he could now answer but in one way. Had he
then been the cause of his own shipwreck? Had he driven his own bark
on the rocks while the open channel was there clear before him? Had
she not now assured him of her love, though no word of tenderness had
passed her lips? And whose doing had it been? Yes, certainly; it had
been his own doing.

The conviction which thus came upon him did not add much to his
comfort. There was but little consolation to him now in the assurance
that she had loved, and did love him. He had hitherto felt himself
to be an injured man; but now he had to feel that he himself had
committed the injury. "Whose doing has it been? You--you in your
pride, could forgive nothing!" These words rang in his ears; his
memory repeated to him hourly the tone in which they had been spoken.
She had accused him of destroying all her hopes for this world--and
he had answered not a word to the accusation.

On the morning after that ball at Mrs. Madden's, Sir Henry came into
his wife's room while she was still dressing. "By-the-by," said he,
"I saw you at Mrs. Madden's last night."

"Yes; I perceived that you were there for a moment," Caroline
answered.

"You were dancing. I don't know that I ever saw you dancing before."

"I have not done so since I was married. In former days I used to be
fond of it."

"Ah, yes; when you were at Littlebath. It did not much matter then
what you did in that way; but--"

"Does it matter more now, Sir Henry?"

"Well, if it would entail no great regret, I would rather that you
did not dance. It is all very nice for girls."

"You do not mean to say that married women--"

"I do not mean to say anything of the kind. One man has one idea, and
another another. Some women also are not placed in so conspicuous a
position as you are."

"Why did you not tell me your wishes before?"

"It did not occur to me. I did not think it probable that you would
dance. May I understand that you will give it up?"

"As you direct me to do so, of course I shall."

"Direct! I do not direct, I only request."

"It is the same thing, exactly. I will not dance again. I should have
felt the prohibition less had I been aware of your wishes before I
had offended."

"Well, if you choose to take it in that light, I cannot help it.
Good-morning. I shall not dine at home to-day."

And so the solicitor-general went his way, and his wife remained
sitting motionless at her dressing-table. They had both of them
already become aware that the bargain they had made was not a wise
one.



CHAPTER V.

CAN I ESCAPE?


Had not George Bertram been of all men the most infirm of purpose, he
would have quitted London immediately after that ball--at any rate,
for many months. But he was lamentably infirm of purpose. He said
to himself over and over again, that it behoved him to go. What had
either of them done for him that he should regard them? That had
hitherto been the question within his own breast; but now it was
changed. Had he not greatly injured her? Had she not herself told
him that his want of mercy had caused all her misery? Ought he not,
at any rate, to spare her now? But yet he remained. He must ask her
pardon before he went; he would do that, and then he would go.

His object was to see her without going to Eaton Square. His instinct
told him that Sir Henry no longer wished to see him there, and he
was unwilling to enter the house of any one who did not wish his
presence. For two weeks he failed in his object. He certainly did see
Lady Harcourt, but not in such a way as to allow of conversation; but
at last fortune was propitious,--or the reverse, and he found himself
alone with her.

She was seated quite alone, turning over the engravings which lay in
a portfolio before her, when he came up to her.

"Do not be angry," he said, "if I ask you to listen to me for a few
moments."

She still continued to move the engravings before her, but with a
slower motion than before; and though her eye still rested on the
plates, he might have seen, had he dared to look at her, that her
mind was far away from them. He might have seen also that there was
no flash of anger now in her countenance: her spirit was softer than
on that evening when she had reproached him; for she had remembered
that he also had been deeply injured. But she answered nothing to the
request which he thus made.

"You told me that I was unforgiving," he continued, "I now come to
beg that you will not be unforgiving also; that is, if I have done
anything that has caused you--caused you to be less happy than you
might have been."

"Less happy!" she said; but not with that scorn with which she had
before repeated his words.

"You believe, I hope, that I would wish you to be happy; that I would
do anything in my power to make you so?"

"There can be nothing now in your power, Mr. Bertram." And as she
spoke she involuntarily put an emphasis on the now, which made her
words convey much more than she had intended.

"No," he said. "No. What can such a one as I do? What could I ever
have done? But say that you forgive me, Lady Harcourt."

"Let us both forgive," she whispered, and as she did so, she put out
her hand to him. "Let us both forgive. It is all that we can do for
each other."

"Oh, Caroline, Caroline!" he said, speaking hardly above his breath,
and with his eyes averted, but still holding her hand; or attempting
to hold it, for as he spoke she withdrew it.

"I was unjust to you the other night. It is so hard to be just
when one is so wretched. We have been like two children who have
quarrelled over their plaything, and broken it in pieces while it was
yet new. We cannot put the wheels again together, or made the broken
reed produce sweet sounds."

"No," he said. "No, no, no. No sounds are any longer sweet. There is
no music now."

"But as we have both sinned, Mr. Bertram, so should we both forgive."

"But I--I have nothing to forgive."

"Alas, yes! and mine was the first fault. I knew that you really
loved me, and--"

"Loved you! Oh, Caroline!"

"Hush, Mr. Bertram; not so; do not speak so. I know that you would
not wrong me; I know you would not lead me into trouble--not into
further trouble; into worse misery."

"And I, that might have led you--no; that might have been led to such
happiness! Lady Harcourt, when I think of what I have thrown away--"

"Think of it not at all, Mr. Bertram."

"And you; can you command your thoughts?"

"Sometimes; and by practice I hope always; at any rate, I make an
effort. And now, good-bye. It will be sweet to me to hear that you
have forgiven me. You were very angry, you know, when you parted from
me last at Littlebath."

"If there be anything for me to forgive, I do forgive it with all my
heart; with all my heart."

"And now, God bless you, Mr. Bertram. The thing that would most tend
to make me contented would be to see you married to some one you
could love; a weight would then be off my soul which now weighs on
it very heavily." And so saying, she rose from her seat and left him
standing over the engravings. He had thrown his pearl away; a pearl
richer than all his tribe. There was nothing for him now but to bear
the loss.

There were other sources of unpleasantness between Sir Henry and his
wife besides her inclination for dancing. Sir Henry had now paid one
half-year's interest on the sum of money which had been lent to him
by the old gentleman at Hadley, and had been rather disgusted at
finding that it was taken as a matter of course. He was not at the
present moment by any means over-burdened with money. His constant
devotion to politics interfered considerably with his practice. He
was also perhaps better known as a party lawyer than as a practical
or practising one; and thus, though his present career was very
brilliant, it was not quite so profitable as he had hoped. Most
lawyers when they begin to devote themselves to politics have
secured, if not fortune, at least the means of making it. And, even
at his age, Sir Henry might have been said to have done this had his
aspirations been in any way moderate. But they were not moderate. He
wished to shine with extreme brilliancy; to live up to the character
for wealth which the world gave him; and to give it out as a fact to
be understood by all men that he was to be the heir of the Hadley
Croesus.

There was, perhaps, a certain wisdom in this, a wisdom of a dashing
chancy nature. Fortune favours the brave; and the world certainly
gives the most credit to those who are able to give an unlimited
credit to themselves. But there was certainly risk in the life he
led. The giving of elegant little dinners two or three times a week
in London is an expensive amusement--and so he began to be very
anxious about the old gentleman.

But what was he to do that he might get near those money-bags? There
was the game. What best sportsman's dodge might he use so as to get
it into his bag? Perhaps to do nothing, to use no sportsman's dodge
would have been the best. But then it is so hard to do nothing when
so much might be gained by doing something very well.

Sir Henry, duly instructed as to the weaknesses customary to old men,
thought his wife would be his best weapon--his surest dodge. If she
could be got to be attentive and affectionate to her grandfather, to
visit him, and flatter him, and hover about him, much might be done.
So thought Sir Henry. But do what he might, Lady Harcourt would not
assist him. It was not part of her bargain that she should toady an
old man who had never shown any special regard for her.

"I think you ought to go down to Hadley," Sir Henry said to her one
morning.

"What, to stay there?" said Caroline.

"Yes; for a fortnight or so. Parliament will be up now in three
weeks, and I shall go to Scotland for a few days. Could not you make
it out with the old gentleman till you go to the Grimsdale's?"

"I would much rather remain at home, Sir Henry."

"Ah, yes; that is just like you. And I would much rather that you
went."

"If you wish to shut the house up, I shall not object to go to
Littlebath."

"Very probably not. But I should object to you going
there--exceedingly object to it. Of all places, it is the most
vulgar! the most--"

"You forget that I have dear friends living there."

"Dear friends! Yes; Miss Todd, I suppose. I think we may as well
leave Miss Todd alone. At the present moment, I am particularly
anxious that you should be attentive to your grandfather."

"But I have never been in the habit of staying at Hadley."

"Then the sooner you get into the habit the better."

"I cannot think why you should wish me to trouble an old man who
would not have the slightest pleasure in seeing me."

"That is all nonsense. If you behaved well to him, he would have
pleasure. Do you ever write to him?"

"Never."

"Write to him to-day then, and ask whether he would be glad to have
you."

Caroline did not answer her husband immediately, but went on
buttering her toast, and sipping her tea. She had never yet disobeyed
any positive order that he had given, and she was now thinking
whether she could obey this order; or, if not, how she would explain
to him that she could not do so.

"Well!" said he; "why do you not answer me? Will you write to him
to-day?"

"I had much rather not."

"Does that mean that you won't?"

"I fear, Sir Henry, that it must mean it. I have not been on terms
with my grandfather which would admit of my doing so."

"Nonsense!" said her lord and master.

"You are not very civil to me this morning."

"How can a man be civil when he hears such trash as that? You know
how I am situated--how great the stake is; and you will do nothing to
help me win it." To this she made no answer. Of what use would it be
for her to answer? She also had thrown away her pearl, and taken in
exchange this piece of brass. There was nothing for her, too, but to
bear her misery.

"Upon my word, you take it all very coolly," he continued; "you seem
to think that houses, and furniture, and carriages, and horses are to
grow up all round you without any effort on your own part. Does it
ever strike you that these things cost money?"

"I will give them all up to-morrow if you wish it."

"That you know is nonsense."

"It was your doing to surround me with these things, and your
reproach is not just. Nay, it is not manly."

"A woman's idea of manliness is very extended. You expect to get
everything, and to do nothing. You talk of justice! Do you not know
that when I married you, I looked to your uncle's fortune?"

"Certainly not: had I known it, I should have told you how vain I
believed any such hope to be."

"Then, why on earth--?" But he refrained from finishing his question.
Even he could not bring himself to tell her that he had married her
with no other view. He merely slammed the door behind him as he left
the room. Yes; she had certainly thrown her pearl away. What a life
was this to which she had doomed herself! what treatment was this for
that Caroline Waddington, who had determined to win the world and
wear it! She had given herself to a brute, who had taken her only
because she might perhaps be the heiress of a rich old man.

And then she thought of that lost pearl. How could she do other than
think of it? She thought of what her life would have been had she
bravely committed herself to his hands, fearing nothing, trusting
everything. She remembered his energy during those happy days in
which he had looked forward to an early marriage. She remembered his
tenderness of manner, the natural gallantry of his heart, the loving
look of his bold eye; and then she thought of her husband.

Yes, she thought of him long and wildly. And as she did so, the
indifference with which she had regarded him grew into hatred. She
shuddered as her imagination made that frightful contrast between the
picture which her eyes would have so loved to look on if it were only
lawful, and that other picture to look on which was her legal doom.
Her brow grew wildly black as she thought of his caresses, his love,
which were more hateful to her even than his coarse ill-humour. She
thought of all this; and, as she did so, she asked herself that
question which comes first to the mind of all creatures when in
misery: Is there no means of release; no way of escape? was her bark
utterly ruined, and for ever?

That marriage without love is a perilous step for any woman who has a
heart within her bosom. For those who have none--or only so much as
may be necessary for the ordinary blood-circulating department--such
an arrangement may be convenient enough. Caroline Waddington
had once flattered herself that that heart of hers was merely a
blood-circulating instrument. But she had discovered her mistake, and
learned the truth before it was too late. She had known what it was
to love--and yet she had married Henry Harcourt! Seldom, indeed, will
punishment be so lame of foot as to fail in catching such a criminal
as she had been.

Punishment--bitter, cruel, remorseless punishment--had caught her
now, and held her tight within its grasp. He, too, had said that he
was wretched. But what could his wretchedness be to hers? He was
not married to a creature that he hated: he was not bound in a foul
Mezentian embrace to a being against whom all his human gorge rose
in violent disgust. Oh! if she could only be alone, as he was alone!
If it could be granted to her to think of her love, to think of him
in solitude and silence--in a solitude which no beast with a front
of brass and feet of clay had a right to break, both by night and
day! Ah! if her wretchedness might only be as his wretchedness! How
blessed would she not think herself!

And then she again asked herself whether there might not be some
escape. That women had separated themselves from their husbands,
she well knew. That pleas of ill-usage, of neglect, of harshness
of temper, had been put forward and accepted by the world, to the
partial enfranchisement of the unhappy wife, she had often heard. But
she had also heard that in such cases cruelty must be proved. A hasty
word, a cross look, a black brow would not suffice. Nor could she
plead that she hated the man, that she had never loved him, that she
had married him in wounded pique, because her lover--he whom she did
love--had thrown her off. There was no ground, none as yet, on which
she could claim her freedom. She had sold herself as a slave, and
she must abide her slavery. She had given herself to this beast with
the face of brass and the feet of clay, and she must endure the cold
misery of his den. Separation--solitude--silence! He--that he whom
her heart worshipped--he might enjoy such things; but for her--there
was no such relief within her reach.

She had gone up into her room when Sir Henry left her, in order that
no one might see her wretchedness, and there she remained for hours.
"No!" at last she said aloud, lifting her head from the pillow on
which her face had been all but hid, and standing erect in the room;
"no! I will not bear it. I will not endure it. He cannot make me."
And with quick steps she walked across and along the room, stretching
forth her arms as though seeking aid from some one; ay, and as though
she were prepared to fight the battle herself if no one would come to
aid her.

At this moment there was a knock at her chamber-door, and her maid
came in.

"Mr. Bertram is in the drawing-room, my lady."

"Mr. Bertram! Which Mr. Bertram?"

"Mr. Bertram, my lady; the gentleman that comes here. Sir Henry's
friend."

"Oh, very well. Why did John say that I was at home?"

"Oh, my lady, I can't say that. Only he told me to tell your ladyship
that Mr. Bertram was in the drawing-room."

Lady Harcourt paused for a moment. Then she said, "I will be down
directly;" and the Abigail retired. During that moment she had
decided that, as he was there, she would meet him yet once again.

It has been said that Bertram was unwilling to go to Sir Henry's
house. As long as he had thought of remaining in town he was so. But
now he had resolved to fly, and had resolved also that before he did
so he would call in the ordinary way and say one last farewell. John,
the servant, admitted him at once; though he had on that same morning
sent bootless away a score of other suppliants for the honour of
being admitted to Lady Harcourt's presence.

Bertram was standing with his back to the door, looking into a small
conservatory that opened from the drawing-room, when the mistress
of the house entered. She walked straight up to him, after having
carefully closed the door, and just touching his hand, she said, "Mr.
Bertram, why are you here? You should be thousands and thousands of
miles away if that were possible. Why are you here?"

"Lady Harcourt, I will divide myself from you by any distance you may
demand. But may I not come to you to tell you that I am going?"

"To tell me that you are going!"

"Yes. I shall not trouble you much longer. I have become sure of
this: that to remain near you and not to love you, to remain near
you and not to say that I love you is impossible. And therefore I
am going." And he held out his hand, which she had as yet hardly
taken--had barely touched.

He was going; but she was to remain. He would escape; but her prison
bars could not be broken. Ah, that she could have gone with him! How
little now would wealth have weighed with her; or high worldly hopes,
or dreams of ambition! To have gone with him anywhere--honestly to
have gone with him--trusting to honest love and a true heart. Ah! how
much joy is there in this mortal, moribund world if one will but open
one's arms to take it!

Ah! young ladies, sweet young ladies, dear embryo mothers of our
England as it will be, think not overmuch of your lovers' incomes. He
that is true and honest will not have to beg his bread--neither his
nor yours. The true and honest do not beg their bread, though it may
be that for awhile they eat it without much butter. But what then? If
a wholesome loaf on your tables, and a strong arm round your waists,
and a warm heart to lean on cannot make you happy, you are not the
girls for whom I take you.

Caroline's bread was buttered, certainly; but the butter had been
mixed with gall, and she could not bring herself to swallow it. And
now he had come to tell her that he was going; he whose loaf, and
arm, and heart she might have shared. What would the world say of her
if she were to share his flight?

"Good-bye," she said, as she took his proffered hand.

"And is that all?"

"What would you have, Mr. Bertram?"

"What would I have? Ah, me! I would have that which is
utterly--utterly--utterly beyond my reach."

"Yes, utterly--utterly," she repeated. And as she said so, she
thought again, what would the world say of her if she were to share
his flight?

"I suppose that now, for the last time, I may speak truly--as a man
should speak. Lady Harcourt, I have never ceased to love you, never
for one moment; never since that day when we walked together among
those strange tombs. My love for you has been the dream of my life."

"But, why--why--why?--" She could not speak further, for her voice
was choked with tears.

"I know what you would say. Why was I so stern to you!"

"Why did you go away? Why did you not come to us?"

"Because you distrusted me; not as your lover, but as a man. But I
did not come here to blame you, Caroline."

"Nor to be blamed."

"No, nor to be blamed. What good can come of reproaches? We now know
each other's faults, if we never did before. And we know also each
other's truth--" He paused a moment, and then added, "For, Caroline,
your heart has been true."

She sat herself down upon a chair, and wept, with her face hidden
within her hands. Yes, her heart had been true enough; if only her
words, her deeds, her mind could have been true also.

He came up to her, and lightly put his hand upon her shoulder.
His touch was very light, but yet she felt that there was love in
it--illicit, dishonest love. There was treason in it to her lord's
rights. Her lord! Yes, he was her lord, and it was treason. But it
was very sweet that touch; it was as though a thrill of love passed
across her and embraced her whole body. Treason to such a creature as
that! a brute with a face of brass and feet of clay, who had got hold
of her with a false idea that by her aid he could turn his base brass
into gold as base! Could there be treason to such a one as he? Ah!
what would the world say of her were she to share that flight?

"Caroline," he murmured in her ear. "Caroline; dearest Caroline!"
Thus he murmured soft words into her ear, while his hand still
rested gently on her shoulder--oh, so gently! And still she answered
nothing, but the gurgling of her sobs was audible to him enough.
"Caroline," he repeated; "dearest, dearest Caroline." And then he was
on his knees beside her; and the hand which had touched her shoulder
was now pressed upon her arm.

"Caroline, speak to me--say one word. I will go if you bid me. Yes,
even alone. I will go alone if you have the heart to say so. Speak,
Caroline."

"What would you have me say?" and she looked at him through her
tears, so haggard, so wild, so changed, that he was almost frightened
at her countenance. "What would you have me say? what would you have
me do?"

"I will be your slave if you will let me," said he.

"No, George--you mean that I might be your slave--for awhile, till
you thought me too base even for that."

"Ah! you little know me."

"I should but little know you if I thought you could esteem me
in that guise. There; God's mercy has not deserted me. It is
over now. Go, George--go--go; thou, only love of my heart; my
darling; mine that might have been; mine that never can be
now--never--never--never. Go, George. It is over now. I have been
base, and vile, and cowardly--unworthy of your dear memory. But it
shall not be so again. You shall not blush that you have loved me."

"But, ah! that I have lost your love."

"You shall not blush that you have loved me, nor will I blush that
I, too, have loved you. Go, George; and remember this, the farther,
the longer, the more entirely we are apart, the better, the safer it
will be. There; there. Go now. I can bear it now; dearest, dearest
George."

He took her outstretched hands in his, and stood for awhile gazing
into her face. Then, with the strong motion of his arms, he drew her
close to his breast, pressed her to his heart, and imprinted one warm
kiss upon her brow. Then he left her, and got to the drawing-room
door with his fleetest step.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said John, who met him exactly on the
landing; "but I think my lady rang."

"Lady Bertram did not ring. She is not well, and you had better not
disturb her," said Bertram, trying to look as though he were no whit
disconcerted.

"Oh, very well, sir; then I'll go down again;" and so saying John
followed George Bertram into the hall, and opened the door for him
very politely.



CHAPTER VI.

A MATRIMONIAL DIALOGUE.


Sir Henry had said also on this day that he would not dine at home;
but he came home before dinner; and after being for a few minutes
in his own study, he sent for his wife. Abigail, coming up to her,
brought her Sir Henry's love, and would she be good enough to step
downstairs for five minutes? This was very civil; so she did step
down, and found Sir Henry alone in his study.

"George Bertram has been here to-day?" were the first words which the
husband spoke when he saw that the door had been fairly closed behind
his wife.

What communication there may have been between Sir Henry and his
servant John is, oh my reader, a matter too low for you and me. That
there had been some communication we must both fear. Not that Sir
Henry wished to find his wife guilty; not that he at all suspected
that he should find her guilty. But he did wish to have her entirely
in his power; and he wished also that Bertram should be altogether
banished from his house.

"George Bertram has been here to-day?" He did not look cruel, or
violent, or threatening as he spoke; but yet there was that in his
eye which was intended to make Caroline tremble. Caroline, however,
did not tremble; but looking up into his face with calm dignity
replied, that Mr. Bertram had called that morning.

"And would you object to telling me what passed between you?"

Caroline still looked him full in the face. He was sitting, but
she had not sat down. She was standing before him, faultless in
demeanour, in posture, and in dress. If it had been his aim to
confound her, he certainly had so far missed his object.

"Would I object to telling you what passed between us? The question
is a very singular one;" and then she paused a moment. "Yes, Sir
Henry, I should object."

"I thought as much," said he.

She still stood before him, perfectly silent; and he sat there,
silent also. He hardly knew how to go on with the interview. He
wanted her to defend herself, but this was the very thing which she
did not intend to do. "May I go now?" she asked, after awhile.

"No; not quite yet. Sit down, Caroline; sit down. I wish to speak to
you. George Bertram has been here, and there has been that between
you of which you are ashamed to speak!"

"I never said so, Sir Henry--nor will I allow you to say so. There
has been that between us to-day which I would rather bury in silence.
But if you command me, I will tell you all."

"Command! you are always talking of commands."

"I have to do so very often. In such marriages as ours they must be
spoken of--must be thought of. If you command me, I will tell you. If
you do not, I will be silent."

Sir Henry hardly knew what answer to make to this. His object was to
frighten his wife. That there had been words between her and George
Bertram of which she, as his wife, would be afraid to tell, he had
been thoroughly convinced. Yet she now offered to repeat to him
everything if he would only desire her to do so; and in making this
offer, she seemed to be anything but afraid.

"Sit down, Caroline." She then sat down just opposite to him. "I
should have thought that you would have felt that, circumstanced as
he, and you, and I are, the intercourse between you and him should
have been of the most restrained kind--should have had in it nothing
of the old familiarity."

"Who brought us again together?"

"I did so; trusting to your judgment and good taste."

"I did not wish to see him. I did not ask him here. I would have
remained at home month after month rather than have met him had I
been allowed my own way."

"Nonsense! Why should you have been so afraid to meet him?"

"Because I love him."

As she said this she still looked into his face fearlessly--we may
almost say boldly; so much so that Sir Henry's eyes almost quailed
before hers. On this she had at any rate resolved, that she would
never quail before him.

But by degrees there came across his brow a cloud that might have
made her quail had she not been bold. He had come there determined
not to quarrel with her. An absolute quarrel with her would not suit
him--would not further his plans, as they were connected with Mr.
Bertram at Hadley. But it might be that he could not fail to quarrel
with her. He was not a man without blood in his veins--without
feelings at his heart. He could have loved her in his way, could she
have been content to love him. Nay, he had loved her; and while she
was the acknowledged possession of another, he had thought that to
obtain her he would have been willing to give up many worldly goods.
Now he had obtained her; and there she sat, avowing to him that she
still loved his unsuccessful rival. It was no wonder that his brow
grew black, despite his own policy.

"And he has been here to-day in order that you might tell him so?"

"He has been here to-day, and I did tell him so," said Caroline,
looking still full up into her husband's eyes. "What brought him here
I cannot say."

"And you tell me this to my face?"

"Well; would you have me tell you a lie? Did I not tell you the same
when you first asked me to marry you? Did I not repeat it to you
again but a week before we were married? Do you think that a few
months could make the difference? Do you think that such months as
these have been could have effaced his memory?"

"And you mean, then, to entertain him as your lover?"

"I mean to entertain him not at all. I mean that he shall never again
enter any house in which I may be doomed to live. You brought him
here; and I--though I knew that the trial would be hard--I thought
that I could bear it. I find that I cannot. My memory is too clear;
my thoughts of other days too vivid; my remorse--"

"Go on, madam; pray go on."

"No, I shall not go on. I have said enough."

"Ah! you said more than that to him when he was here."

"Not half so much."

"Was he not kneeling at your feet?"

"Yes, sir, he did kneel at my feet;" and as she answered the question
she rose up, as though it were impossible for her any longer to sit
in the presence of a man who so evidently had set a spy upon her
actions.

"Well, and what then? Since you are so little ashamed of the truth,
tell it all."

"I am not at all ashamed of the truth. He came to tell me that he was
going--and I bade him go."

"And you allowed him to embrace you--to hold you in his arms--to kiss
you?"

"Ah me! yes--for the last time. He did kiss me. I feel his lips now
upon my brow. And then I told him that I loved him; loved none but
him; could love none other. Then I bade him begone; and he went. Now,
sir, I think you know it all. You seem to have had two accounts of
the interview; I hope they do not disagree?"

"Such audacious effrontery I never witnessed in my life--never heard
of before!"

"What, sir, did you think that I should lie to you?"

"I thought there was some sense of shame left in you."

"Too high a sense of shame for that. I wish you could know it all. I
wish I could tell you the tone of his voice, and the look of his eye.
I wish I could tell you how my heart drooped, and all but fainted, as
I felt that he must leave me for ever. I am a married woman, and it
was needful that he should go." After this there was a slight pause,
and then she added: "Now, Sir Henry, I think you know it all. Now may
I go?"

He rose from his chair and began walking the length of the room,
backwards and forwards, with quick step. As we have before said, he
had a heart in his bosom; he had blood in his veins; he had those
feelings of a man which make the scorn of a beautiful woman so
intolerable. And then she was his wife, his property, his dependent,
his own. For a moment he forgot the Hadley money-bags, sorely as he
wanted them, and the true man spoke out with full, unabated anger.

"Brazen-faced harlot!" he exclaimed, as he passed her in his walk;
"unmitigated harlot!"

"Yes, sir," she answered, in a low tone, coming up to him as she
spoke, laying her hand upon his arm, and looking still full into his
face--looking into it with such a gaze that even he cowered before
her. "Yes, sir, I was the thing you say. When I came to you, and sold
my woman's purity for a name, a house, a place before the world--when
I gave you my hand, but could not give my heart, I was--what you have
said."

"And were doubly so when he stood here slobbering on your neck."

"No, Sir Henry, no. False to him I have been; false to my own sex;
false, very false to my own inner self; but never false to you."

"Madam, you have forgotten my honour."

"I have at any rate been able to remember my own."

They were now standing face to face; and as she said these last
words, it struck Sir Henry that it might be well to take them as a
sign of grace, and to commence from them that half-forgiveness which
would be necessary to his projects.

"You have forgotten yourself, Caroline--"

"Stop a moment, Sir Henry, and let me finish, since you will not
allow me to remain silent. I have never been false to you, I say;
and, by God's help, I never will be--"

"Well, well."

"Stop, sir, and let me speak. I have told you often that I did not
love you. I tell you so now again. I have never loved you--never
shall love you. You have called me now by a base name; and in that I
have lived with you and have not loved you, I dare not say that you
have called me falsely. But I will sin no more."

"What is it you mean?"

"I will not deserve the name again--even from you."

"Nonsense; I do not understand you. You do not know what you are
saying."

"Yes, Sir Henry, I do know well what I am saying. It may be that I
have done you some injury; if so, I regret it. God knows that you
have done me much. We can neither of us now add to each other's
comfort, and it will be well that we should part."

"Do you mean me to understand that you intend to leave me?"

"That is what I intend you to understand."

"Nonsense; you will do no such thing."

"What! would you have us remain together, hating each other,
vilifying each other, calling each other base names as you just now
called me? And do you think that we could still be man and wife? No,
Sir Henry. I have made one great mistake--committed one wretched,
fatal error. I have so placed myself that I must hear myself so
called and bear it quietly; but I will not continue to be so used. Do
you think he would have called me so?"

"Damn him!"

"That will not hurt him. Your words are impotent against him, though
they may make me shudder."

"Do not speak of him, then."

"No, I will not. I will only think of him."

"By heavens! Caroline, your only wish is to make me angry."

"I may go now, I suppose?"

"Go--yes; you may go; I will speak to you to-morrow, when you will be
more cool."

"To-morrow, Sir Henry, I will not speak to you; nor the day
afterwards, nor the day after that. What you may wish to say now
I will hear; but remember this--after what has passed to-day, no
consideration on earth shall induce me to live with you again. In any
other respect I will obey your orders--if I find it possible."

She stayed yet a little while longer, leaning against the table,
waiting to hear whether or no he would answer her; but as he sat
silent, looking before him, but not at her, with his hands thrust
deep into his pockets, she without further words withdrew, and
quietly closed the door after her. As she did so, the faithful John
was seen moving away to the top of the kitchen stairs. She would
hardly have cared had the faithful John been present during the whole
interview.

Sir Henry sat silent for a quarter of an hour, meditating how he
would now play his game. As regarded merely personal considerations,
he was beginning to hate Caroline almost as much as she hated him. A
man does not like to be told by a beautiful woman that every hair of
his head is odious to her, while the very footsteps of another are
music in her ears. Perhaps it does not mend the matter when the hated
man is the husband.

But still Sir Henry wished to keep his wife. It has been quite clear
that Caroline had thrown up her game. She had flattered herself
that she could play it; but the very moment the cards went against
her, she discovered her own weakness and threw them away. Sir Henry
was of a stronger mind, and not so easily disgusted: he would try
yet another deal. Indeed, his stakes were too high to allow of his
abandoning them.

So arousing himself with some exertion, he dressed himself, went out
to dine, hurried down to the House, and before the evening was over
was again the happy, fortunate solicitor-general, fortune's pet, the
Crichton of the hour, the rising man of his day.



CHAPTER VII.

THE RETURN TO HADLEY.


We must now return for awhile to Hadley. Since the day on which Miss
Baker had written that letter to Sir Lionel, she had expressed no
wish to leave her uncle's house. Littlebath had no charms for her
now. The colonel was still there, and so was the colonel's first
love--Miss Todd: let them forgive and forget, and marry each other
at last if they so pleased. Miss Baker's fit of ambition was over,
and she was content to keep her uncle's house at Hadley, and to see
Caroline whenever she could spare a day and get up to London for that
purpose.

And the old gentleman was less bearish than she thought he would have
been. He occasionally became rusty about shillings and sixpences,
and scolded because his niece would have a second fire lighted; but
by degrees he forgot even this grievance, and did not make himself
more disagreeable or exacting than old age, wealth, and suffering
generally are when they come together.

And then when Adela left London, Miss Baker was allowed to ask her to
stop with them at Hadley--and Adela did as she was asked. She went
direct from Eaton Square to Mr. Bertram's house; and was still there
at the time alluded to in the last chapter.

It was on the second morning after Sir Henry's visit to his wife that
the postman brought to Miss Baker a letter from Lady Harcourt. The
two ladies were sitting at the time over the breakfast-table, and old
Mr. Bertram, propped up with pillows, with his crutches close to his
hand, was sitting over the fire in his accustomed arm-chair. He did
not often get out of it now, except when he was taken away to bed;
but yet both his eye and his voice were as sharp as ever when he so
pleased; and though he sat there paralyzed and all but motionless, he
was still master of his house, and master also of his money.

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Miss Baker, with startled voice before her
letter had been half read through.

"What's the matter?" demanded Mr. Bertram sharply.

"Oh, Miss Baker! what is it?" asked Adela.

"Goodness gracious! Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear!" And Miss Baker,
with her handkerchief to her eyes, began to weep most bitterly.

"What ails you? Who is the letter from?" said Mr. Bertram.

"Oh, dear! oh, dear! Read it, Adela. Oh, Mr. Bertram, here is such a
misfortune!"

"What is it, Miss Gauntlet? That fool will never tell me."

Adela took the letter, and read it through.

"Oh, sir," she said, "it is indeed a misfortune."

"Devil take it! what misfortune?"

"Caroline has quarrelled with Sir Henry," said Miss Baker.

"Oh, is that all?" said Mr. Bertram.

"Ah, sir; I fear this quarrel will prove serious," said Adela.

"Serious; nonsense; how serious? You never thought, did you, that he
and she would live together like turtle doves? He married for money,
and she for ambition; of course they'll quarrel." Such was the wisdom
of Mr. Bertram, and at any rate he had experience on his side.

"But, uncle; she wishes to leave him, and hopes that you'll let her
come here."

"Come here--fiddlestick! What should I do here with the wife of such
a man as him?"

"She declares most positively that nothing shall induce her to live
with him again."

"Fiddlestick!"

"But, uncle--"

"Why, what on earth did she expect? She didn't think to have it all
sunshine, did she? When she married the man, she knew she didn't care
for him; and now she determines to leave him because he won't pick up
her pocket-handkerchief! If she wanted that kind of thing, why did
not she marry my nephew?"

This was the first time that Mr. Bertram had been heard to speak of
George in a tone of affection, and both Miss Baker and Miss Gauntlet
were not a little surprised. They had never heard him speak of
Caroline as his granddaughter.

During the whole of that day, Mr. Bertram was obdurate; and he
positively refused to receive Lady Harcourt at his house unless
she came there with the full permission of her husband. Miss Baker,
therefore, was obliged to write by the first post, asking for a day's
delay before she sent her final answer. But on the next morning a
letter reached the old gentleman himself, from Sir Henry. Sir Henry
suggested that the loving grandchild should take the occasion of the
season being so nearly over to pay a much-desired visit to her loving
grandsire. He did not drop the quarrel altogether; but just alluded
to it as a passing cloud--an unfortunate cloud certainly, but one
that, without doubt, would soon pass away, and leave the horizon more
bright than ever.

The matter was at last arranged by Mr. Bertram giving the desired
permission. He took no notice himself of Sir Henry's letter, but
desired his niece to tell Caroline that she might come there if she
liked. So Caroline did come; and Sir Henry gave it out that the
London season had been too much for her, and that she, to her deep
regret, had been forced to leave town before it was over.

"Sir Omicron was quite imperative," said Sir Henry, speaking
confidentially to his intimate parliamentary friend Mr. Madden;
"and as she was to go, it was as well to do the civil to grandpapa
Croesus. I have no time myself; so I must do it by deputy."

Now Sir Omicron in those days was a great physician.

And so Caroline returned to Hadley; but no bells rang now to
greet her coming. Little more than six months had passed since
those breakfast speeches had been spoken, in which so much golden
prosperity had been promised to bride and bridegroom; and now that
vision of gold was at an end; that solid, substantial prosperity had
melted away. The bridal dresses of the maids had hardly lost their
gloss, and yet all that well-grounded happiness was gone.

"So, you are come back," said Mr. Bertram.

"Yes, sir," said Caroline, in a low voice. "I have made a mistake in
life, and I must hope that you will forgive me."

"Such mistakes are very foolish. The sooner you unmake it the
better."

"There will be no unmaking this mistake, sir, never--never--never.
But I blame no one but myself."

"Nonsense! you will of course go back to your husband."

"Never, Mr. Bertram--never! I will obey him, or you, or both, if that
be possible, in all things but in that. But in that I can obey no
one."

"Psha!" said Mr. Bertram. Such was Lady Harcourt's first greeting on
her return to Hadley.

Neither Miss Baker nor Adela said much to her on the matter on the
first day of her arrival. Her aunt, indeed, never spoke openly to
her on the subject. It seemed to be understood between them that it
should be dropped. And there was occasionally a weight of melancholy
about Lady Harcourt, amounting in appearance almost to savage
sternness, which kept all inquiry aloof. Even her grandfather
hesitated to speak to her about her husband, and allowed her to live
unmolested in the quiet, still, self-controlling mood which she
seemed to have adopted with a determined purpose.

For the first fortnight she did not leave the house. At the
expiration of that time, on one fine sunny Sunday morning she came
down dressed for church. Miss Baker remarked that the very clothes
she wore were things that had belonged to her before her marriage,
and were all of them of the simplest that a woman can wear without
making herself conspicuous before the world. All her jewelry she had
laid aside, and every brooch, and every ring that had come to her as
a married woman, or as a girl about to be married--except that one
ring from which an iron fate would not allow her to be parted. Ah, if
she could but have laid aside that also!

And then she went to church. There were the same persons there to
stare at her now, in her quiet wretchedness, who were there before
staring at her in her--triumph may I say? No, there had been no
triumph; little even then, except wretchedness; but that misery had
not been so open to the public eye.

She went through it very well; and seemed to suffer even less than
did her aunt. She had done nothing to spread abroad among the public
of Hadley that fiction as to Sir Omicron's opinion which her lord
had been sedulous to disseminate in London. She had said very little
about herself, but she had at any rate said nothing false. Nor had
she acted falsely; or so as to give false impressions. All that
little world now around her knew that she had separated herself
from her grand husband; and most of them had heard that she had no
intention of returning to him.

She had something, therefore, to bear as she sat out that service;
and she bore it well. She said her prayers, or seemed to say them, as
though unconscious that she were in any way a mark for other women's
eyes. And when the sermon was over, she walked home with a steady,
even step; whereas Miss Baker trembled at every greeting she
received, and at every step she heard.

On that afternoon, Caroline opened her heart to Adela. Hitherto
little had passed between them, but those pressings of the hand,
those mute marks of sympathy which we all know so well how to give
when we long to lighten the sorrows which are too deep to be probed
by words. But on this evening after their dinner, Caroline called
Adela into her room, and then there was once more confidence between
them.

"No, no, Adela, I will never go back to him." Caroline went on
protesting; "you will not ask me to do that?"

"Those whom God has joined together, let not man put asunder," said
Adela, solemnly.

"Ah, yes; those whom God _has_ joined. But did God join us?"

"Oh, Caroline; do not speak so."

"But, Adela, do not misunderstand me. Do not think that I want to
excuse what I have done; or even to escape the penalty. I have
destroyed myself as regards this world. All is over for me here. When
I brought myself to stand at that altar with a man I never loved;
whom I knew I never could love--whom I never tried, and never would
try to love--when I did that, I put myself beyond the pale of all
happines. Do not think that I hope for any release." And Lady
Harcourt looked stern enough in her resolution to bear all that fate
could bring on her.

"Caroline, God will temper the wind to the shorn lamb, now as always
if you will ask him."

"I hope so; I hope so, Adela."

"Say that you trust so."

"I do trust. I trust in this--that He will do what is best. Oh,
Adela! if you could know what the last month has been; since he came
to the house!"

"Ah! why did he ever come?"

"Why, indeed! Did a man ever behave so madly?"

The man she here alluded was Sir Henry Harcourt, not Mr. Bertram.

"But I am glad of it, dearest; very glad. Is it not better so? The
truth has been spoken now. I have told him all."

"You mean Sir Henry?"

"Yes, I told him all before I left. But it was nothing new, Adela. He
knew it before. He never dreamed that I loved him. He knew, he must
have known that I hated him."

"Oh, Caroline, Caroline! do not speak like that."

"And would not you have hated him had you been tied to him? Now that
sin will be over. I shall hate him no longer now."

"Such hatred is a crime. Say what you will, he is still your
husband."

"I deny it. What! when he called me by that name, was he my husband
then? Was that a husband's usage? I must carry his name, and wearily
walk with that burden to the grave. Such is my penalty for that day's
sin. I must abandon all hope of living as other women live. I shall
have no shoulder on which to lean, hear no words of love when I am
sick, have no child to comfort me. I shall be alone, and yet not
master of myself. This I must bear because I was false to my own
heart. But yet he is not my husband. Listen to me, Adela; sooner than
return to him again, I would put an end to all this world's misery at
once. That would be sinful, but the sin would be lighter than that
other sin."

When she spoke in this way, Adela no longer dared to suggest to her
that she and Sir Henry might even yet again live together. In Adela's
own mind, that course, and that alone, would have been the right one.
She looked on such unions as being literally for better or for worse;
and failing to reach the better, she would have done her best, with
God's assistance, to bear the worst. But then Adela Gauntlet could
never have placed herself in the position which Lady Harcourt now
filled.

But greatly as they differed, still there was confidence between
them. Caroline could talk to her, and to her only. To her grandfather
she was all submission; to her aunt she was gentle and affectionate;
but she never spoke of her fate with either of them. And so they went
on till Adela left them in July; and then the three that were left
behind lived together as quiet a household as might have been found
in the parish of Hadley, or perhaps in the county of Middlesex.

During this time Lady Harcourt had received two letters from her
husband, in both of which he urged her to return to him. In answer to
the first, she assured him, in the civilest words which she knew how
to use, that such a step was impossible; but, at the same time, she
signified her willingness to obey him in any other particular, and
suggested that as they must live apart, her present home with her
grandfather would probably be thought to be the one most suitable for
her. In answer to the second, she had simply told him that she must
decline any further correspondence with him as to the possibility of
her return.

His next letter was addressed to Mr. Bertram. In this he did not go
into the matter of their difference at all, but merely suggested that
he should be allowed to call at Hadley--with the object of having an
interview with Mr. Bertram himself.

"There," said the old man, when he found himself alone with his
granddaughter; "read that." And Caroline did read it. "What am I to
say to that?"

"What do you think you ought to say, sir?"

"I suppose I must see him. He'll bring an action against me else, for
keeping his wife from him. Mind, I tell you, you'll have to go back
to him."

"No, sir! I shall not do that," said Caroline, very quietly, with
something almost like a smile on her face. And then she left him, and
he wrote his answer to Sir Henry.

And then Sir Henry came down to Hadley. A day had been named, and
Caroline was sore put to it to know how she might best keep out of
the way. At last she persuaded her aunt to go up to London with her
for the day. This they did, both of them fearing, as they got out of
the train and returned to it, that they might unfortunately meet the
man they so much dreaded. But fortune was not so malicious to them;
and when they returned to Hadley they found that Sir Henry had also
returned to London.

"He speaks very fair," said Mr. Bertram, who sent for Caroline to
come to him alone in the dining-room.

"Does he, sir?"

"He is very anxious that you should go back."

"Ah, sir, I cannot do that."

"He says you shall have the house in Eaton Square to yourself for the
next three months."

"I shall never go back to Eaton Square, sir."

"Or he will take a small place for you anywhere at the sea-side that
you may choose."

"I shall want no place if you will allow me to remain here."

"But he has all your money, you know--your fortune is now his."

"Well, sir!"

"And what do you mean to do?"

"I will do what you bid me--except going back to him."

The old man sat silent for awhile, and then again he spoke.

"Well, I don't suppose you know your own mind, as yet."

"Oh, sir! indeed I do."

"I say I suppose you don't. Don't interrupt me--I have suggested
this: that you should remain here six months, and that then he should
come again and see--"

"You, sir."

"Well--see me, if I'm alive: at the end of that time you'll have to
go back to him. Now, good-night."

And so it was settled; and for the next six months the same dull,
dreary life went on in the old house at Hadley.



CHAPTER VIII.

CAIRO.


Men and women, or I should rather say ladies and gentlemen, used long
ago, when they gave signs of weakness about the chest, to be sent to
the south of Devonshire; after that, Madeira came into fashion; but
now they are all despatched to Grand Cairo. Cairo has grown to be so
near home, that it will soon cease to be beneficial, and then the
only air capable of revigorating the English lungs will be that of
Labuan or Jeddo.

But at the present moment, Grand Cairo has the vogue. Now it had so
happened during the last winter, and especially in the trying month
of March, that Arthur Wilkinson's voice had become weak; and he had
a suspicious cough, and was occasionally feverish, and perspired
o'nights; and on these accounts the Sir Omicron of the Hurst Staple
district ordered him off to Grand Cairo.

This order was given in October, with reference to the coming winter,
and in the latter end of November, Arthur Wilkinson started for the
East. Two articles he had first to seek--the one being a necessary,
and the other a luxury--and both he found. These were a curate and
a companion. The Reverend Gabriel Gilliflower was his curate; and
of him we need only hope that he prospered well, and lived happily
under the somewhat stern surveillance of his clerical superior, Mrs.
Wilkinson. His companion was George Bertram.

About the end of November they started through France, and got on
board the P. and O. Company's vessel at Marseilles. It is possible
that there may be young ladies so ignorant as not to know that the P.
and O. is the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, and
therefore the matter is now explained. In France they did not stop
long enough to do more than observe how much better the railway
carriages are there than in England, how much dearer the hotels are
in Paris than in London, and how much worse they are in Marseilles
than in any other known town in the world.

Nor need much be said of their journey thence to Alexandria. Of
Malta, I should like to write a book, and may perhaps do so some
day; but I shall hardly have time to discuss its sunlight, and
fortifications, and hospitality, and old magnificence, in the fag-end
of a third volume; so we will pass on to Alexandria.

Oh, Alexandria! mother of sciences! once the favoured seat of the
earth's learning! Oh, Alexandria! beloved by the kings! It is of no
use. No man who has seen the Alexandria of the present day can keep
a seat on a high horse when he speaks of that most detestable of
cities. How may it fitly be described? May we not say that it has all
the filth of the East, without any of that picturesque beauty with
which the East abounds; and that it has also the eternal, grasping,
solemn love of lucre which pervades our western marts, but wholly
unredeemed by the society, the science, and civilization of the West?

Alexandria is fast becoming a European city; but its Europeans are
from Greece and the Levant! "Auri sacra fames!" is the motto of
modern Greece. Of Alexandria it should be, "Auri fames sacrissima!"
Poor Arabs! poor Turks! giving way on all sides to wretches so much
viler than yourselves, what a destiny is before you!

"What income," I asked a resident in Alexandria, "what income
should an Englishman have to live here comfortably?" "To live here
_comfortably_, you should say ten thousand a year, and then let him
cut his throat first!" Such was my friend's reply.

But God is good, and Alexandria will become a place less detestable
than at present. Fate and circumstances must Anglicize it in spite of
the huge French consulate, in spite of legions of greedy Greeks; in
spite even of sand, musquitos, bugs, and dirt, of winds from India,
and of thieves from Cyprus.

The P. and O. Company will yet be the lords of Egypt; either that
or some other company or set of men banded together to make Egypt a
highway. It is one stage on our road to the East; and the time will
soon come when of all the stages it will neither be the slowest nor
the least comfortable. The railway from Alexandria to Suez is now
all opened within ten miles; will be all opened before these pages
can be printed. This railway belongs to the viceroy of Egypt; but
his passengers are the Englishmen of India, and his paymaster is an
English company.

But, for all that, I do not recommend any of my friends to make a
long sojourn at Alexandria.

Bertram and Wilkinson did not do so, but passed on speedily to Cairo.
They went to the Pharos and to Pompey's Pillar; inspected Cleopatra's
Needle, and the newly excavated so-called Greek church; watched the
high spirits of one set of passengers going out to India--young men
free of all encumbrances, and pretty girls full of life's brightest
hopes--and watched also the morose, discontented faces of another set
returning home, burdened with babies and tawny-coloured nurses, with
silver rings in their toes--and then they went off to Cairo.

There is no romance now, gentle readers, in this journey from
Alexandria to Cairo; nor was there much when it was taken by our two
friends. Men now go by railway, and then they went by the canal boat.
It is very much like English travelling, with this exception, that
men dismount from their seats, and cross the Nile in a ferry-boat,
and that they pay five shillings for their luncheon instead of
sixpence. This ferry does, perhaps, afford some remote chance of
adventure, as was found the other day, when a carriage was allowed
to run down the bank, in which was sitting a native prince, the heir
to the pasha's throne. On that occasion the adventure was important,
and the prince was drowned. But even this opportunity for incident
will soon disappear; for Mr. Brunel, or Mr. Stephenson, or Mr. Locke,
or some other British engineering celebrity, is building a railway
bridge over the Nile, and then the modern traveller's heart will be
contented, for he will be able to sleep all the way from Alexandria
to Cairo.

Mr. Shepheard's hotel at Cairo is to an Englishman the centre
of Egypt, and there our two friends stopped. And certainly our
countrymen have made this spot more English than England itself.
If ever John Bull reigned triumphant anywhere; if he ever shows
his nature plainly marked by rough plenty, coarseness, and good
intention, he does so at Shepheard's hotel. If there be anywhere a
genuine, old-fashioned John Bull landlord now living, the landlord of
the hotel at Cairo is the man. So much for the strange new faces and
outlandish characters which one meets with in one's travels.

I will not trouble my readers by a journey up the Nile; nor will
I even take them up a pyramid. For do not fitting books for such
purposes abound at Mr. Mudie's? Wilkinson and Bertram made both the
large tour and the little one in proper style. They got as least as
far as Thebes, and slept a night under the shade of King Cheops.

One little episode on their road from Cairo to the Pyramids, I will
tell. They had joined a party of which the conducting spirit was a
missionary clergyman, who had been living in the country for some
years, and therefore knew its ways. No better conducting spirit
for such a journey could have been found; for he joined economy to
enterprise, and was intent that everything should be seen, and that
everything should be seen cheaply.

Old Cairo is a village some three miles from the city, higher up the
river; and here, close to the Nilometer, by which the golden increase
of the river is measured, tourists going to the Pyramids are ferried
over the river. The tourists are ferried over, as also are the
donkeys on which the tourists ride. Now here arose a great financial
question. The reis or master of the ferry-boat to which the clerical
guide applied was a mighty man, some six feet high, graced with a
turban, as Arabs are; erect in his bearing, with bold eye, and fine,
free, supple limbs--a noble reis for that Nile ferry-boat. But, noble
as he was, he wanted too many piastres--twopence-halfpenny a head too
much for each donkey, with its rider.

And then there arose a great hubbub. The ordinary hubbub at this spot
is worse than the worst confusion of any other Babel. For the traffic
over the Nile is great, and for every man, woman, and child, for
every horse and every ass, for every bundle of grass, for every cock
and for every hen, a din of twenty tongues is put in motion, and a
perpetual fury rages, as the fury of a hurricane. But the hubbub
about the missionary's piastres rose higher than all the other
hubbubs. Indeed, those who were quarrelling before about their own
affairs came and stood round in a huge circle, anxious to know how
the noble reis and his clerical opponent would ultimately settle this
stiff financial difficulty.

In half an hour neither side would yield one point; but then at last
the Egyptian began to show that, noble as he looked, he was made
of stuff compressible. He gradually gave up, para by para, till he
allowed donkeys, men, and women to clamber over the sides of his boat
at the exact price named by him of the black coat. Never did the
church have a more perfect success.

But the battle was not yet over. No sooner was the vessel pushed
off into the stream, than the noble reis declared that necessity
compelled him to demand the number of piastres originally named by
him. He regretted it, but he assured the clergyman that he had no
other alternative.

And now how did it behove an ardent missionary to act in such a
contest with a subtle Egyptian? How should the eloquence of the
church prevail over this Eastern Mammon? It did prevail very
signally. The soldier of peace, scorning further argument in words
with such a crafty reis, mindful of the lessons of his youth, raised
his right hand, and with one blow between the eyes, laid the Arab
captain prostrate on his own deck.

"There," said he, turning to Wilkinson, "that is what we call a
pastoral visitation in this country. We can do nothing without it."

The poor reis picked himself up, and picked up also his turban, which
had been knocked off, and said not a word more about the piastres.
All the crew worked with double diligence at their oars, and the
party, as they disembarked from the boat, were treated with especial
deference. Even the donkeys were respected. In Egypt the donkeys of
a man are respected, ay, and even his donkey-boys, when he shows
himself able and willing to knock down all those around him.

A great man there, a native, killed his cook one morning in a rage;
and a dragoman, learned in languages, thus told the story to an
Englishman:--"De sahib, him vera respecble man. Him kill him cook,
Solyman, this morning. Oh, de sahib particklar respecble!" After
all, it may be questioned whether this be not a truer criterion of
respectability than that other one of keeping a gig.

Oh, those pyramid guides! foul, false, cowardly, bullying thieves! A
man who goes to Cairo _must_ see the Pyramids. Convention, and the
laws of society as arranged on that point, of course require it. But
let no man, and, above all, no woman, assume that the excursion will
be in any way pleasurable. I have promised that I will not describe
such a visit, but I must enter a loud, a screeching protest against
the Arab brutes--the schieks being the very worst of the brutes--who
have these monuments in their hands. Their numbers, the filthiness of
their dress--or one might almost say no dress--their stench, their
obscene indecency, their clattering noise, their rapacity, exercised
without a moment's intercession; their abuse, as in this wise: "Very
bad English-man; dam bad; dam, dam, dam! Him want to take all him
money to the grave; but no, no, no! Devil hab him, and money too!"
This, be it remembered, from a ferocious, almost blackened Arab, with
his face within an inch of your own. And then their flattery, as in
this wise: "Good English-man--very good!"--and then a tawny hand pats
your face, and your back, and the calves of your leg--"Him gib poor
Arab one shilling for himself--yes, yes, yes! and then Arab no let
him tumble down and break all him legs--yes, yes; break _all_ him
legs." And then the patting goes on again. These things, I say, put
together, make a visit to the Pyramids no delightful recreation. My
advice to my countrymen who are so unfortunate as to visit them is
this: Let the ladies remain below--not that they ever will do so, if
the gentlemen who are with them ascend--and let the men go armed with
stout sticks, and mercilessly belabour any Arab who attempts either
to bully or to wheedle.

Let every Englishman remember this also, that the ascent is not
difficult, though so much noise is made about the difficulty as
naturally to make a man think that it is so. And let this also be
remembered, that nothing is to be gained by entering the pyramid
except dirt, noise, stench, vermin, abuse, and want of air. Nothing
is to be seen there--nothing to be heard. A man may sprain his
ankle, and certainly will knock his head. He will encounter no other
delights but these.

But he certainly will come out a wiser man than he went in. He will
then be wise enough to know how wretched a place is the interior of
a pyramid--an amount of wisdom with which no teaching of mine will
imbue him.

Bertram and Wilkinson were sitting beneath the pyramid, with their
faces toward the desert, enjoying the cool night air, when they
first began to speak of Adela Gauntlet. Hitherto Arthur had hardly
mentioned her name. They had spoken much of his mother, much of the
house at Hurst Staple, and much also of Lady Harcourt, of whose
separation from her husband they were of course aware; but Arthur had
been shy of mentioning Adela's name.

They had been speaking of Mrs. Wilkinson, and the disagreeable
position in which the vicar found himself in his own house; when,
after sitting silent for a moment, he said, "After all, George,
I sometimes think that it would have been better for me to have
married."

"Of course it would--or rather, I should say, will be better. It is
what you will do when you return."

"I don't know about my health now."

"Your health will be right enough after this winter. I don't see much
the matter with it."

"I am better, certainly;" and then there was another pause.

"Arthur," continued Bertram, "I only wish that I had open before me
the same chance in life that you have--the same chance of happiness."

"Do not despair, George. A short time cures all our wounds."

"Yes; a short time does cure them all--and then comes chaos."

"I meant a short time in this world."

"Well, all things are possible; but I do not understand how mine are
to be cured. They have come too clearly from my own folly."

"From such folly," said Arthur, "as always impedes the working of
human prudence."

"Do you remember, Arthur, my coming to you the morning after the
degrees came down--when you were so low in spirits because you had
broken down--when I was so full of triumph?"

"I remember the morning well; but I do not remember any triumph on
your part."

"Ah! I was triumphant--triumphant in my innermost heart. I thought
then that all the world must give way to me, because I had taken a
double-first. And now--I have given way before all the world. What
have I done with all the jewels of my youth? Thrown them before
swine!"

"Come, George; you are hardly seven-and-twenty yet."

"No, hardly; and I have no profession, no fortune, no pursuit, and
no purpose. I am here, sitting on the broken stone of an old tomb,
merely because it is as well for me to be here as elsewhere. I have
made myself to be one as to whose whereabouts no man need make
inquiry--and no woman. If that black, one-eyed brute, whom I thrashed
a-top of the pyramid, had stuck his knife in me, who would have been
the worse for it? You, perhaps--for six weeks or so."

"You know there are many would have wept for you."

"I know but one. She would have wept, while it would be ten times
better that she should rejoice. Yes, she would weep; for I have
marred her happiness as I have marred my own. But who cares for me,
of whose care I can be proud? Who is anxious for me, whom I can dare
to thank, whom I may dare to love?"

"Do we not love you at Hurst Staple?"

"I do not know. But I know this, that you ought to be ashamed of me.
I think Adela Gauntlet is my friend; that is, if in our pig-headed
country a modest girl may love a man who is neither her brother nor
her lover."

"I am sure she is," said Arthur; and then there was another pause.
"Do you know," he continued, "I once thought--"

"Thought what?"

"That you were fond of Adela."

"So I am, heartily fond of her."

"But I mean more than that."

"You once thought that I would have married her if I could. That is
what you mean."

"Yes," said Wilkinson, blushing to his eyes. But it did not matter;
for no one could see him.

"Well, I will make a clean breast of it, Arthur. Men can talk here,
sitting in the desert, who would be as mute as death at home in
England. Yes; there was once a moment, once _one_ moment, in which I
would have married her--a moment in which I flattered myself that I
could forget Caroline Waddington. Ah! if I could tell you how Adela
behaved!"

"How did she behave? Tell me--what did she say?" said Arthur, with
almost feverish anxiety.

"She bade me remember, that those who dare to love must dare to
suffer. She told me that the wounded stag, 'that from the hunter's
aim has ta'en a hurt,' must endure to live, 'left and abandoned
of his velvet friends.'--And she told me true. I have not all
her courage; but I will take a lesson from her, and learn to
suffer--quietly, without a word, if that be possible."

"Then you did propose to her?"

"No; hardly that. I cannot tell what I said myself; but 'twas thus
she answered me."

"But what do you mean by taking a lesson from her? Has she any such
suffering?"

"Nay! You may ask her. I did not."

"But you said so just now; at any rate you left me to infer it. Is
there any one whom Adela Gauntlet really loves?"

George Bertram did not answer the question at once. He had plighted
his word to her as her friend that he would keep her secret; and
then, moreover, that secret had become known to him by mere guesses.
He had no right, by any law, to say it as a fact that Adela Gauntlet
was not heart-whole. But still he thought that he would say so. Why
should he not do something towards making these two people happy?

"Do you believe that Adela is really in love with any one?" repeated
Arthur.

"If I tell you that, will you tell me this--Are you in love with any
one--you yourself?"

The young clergyman was again ruby red up to his forehead. He could
dare to talk about Adela, but hardly about himself.

"I in love!" he said at last. "You know that I have been obliged to
keep out of that kind of thing. Circumstanced as I have been, I could
not marry."

"But that does not keep a man from falling in love."

"Does not it?" said Arthur, rather innocently.

"That has not preserved me--nor, I presume, has it preserved you.
Come, Arthur, be honest; if a man with thirty-nine articles round his
neck can be honest. Out with the truth at once. Do you love Adela, or
do you not?"

But the truth would not come out so easily. Whether it was
the thirty-nine articles, or the natural modesty of the man's
disposition, I will not say; but he did not find himself at the
moment able to give a downright answer to this downright question.
He would have been well pleased that Bertram should know the whole
truth; but the task of telling it went against the grain with him.

"If you do, and do not tell her so," continued Bertram, when he found
that he got no immediate reply, "I shall think you--. But no; a man
must be his own judge in such matters, and of all men I am the least
fit to be a judge of others. But I would that it might be so, for
both your sakes."

"Why, you say yourself that she likes some one else."

"I have never said so. I have said nothing like it. There; when
you get home, do you yourself ask her whom she loves. But remember
this--if it should chance that she should say that it is you, you
must be prepared to bear the burden, whatever may be urged to the
contrary at the vicarage. And now we will retire to roost in this
hole of ours."

Arthur had as yet made no reply to Bertram's question; but as he
crept along the base of the pyramid, feeling his steps among the sand
and loose stones, he did manage to say a word or two of the truth.

"God bless you, George. I do love her--very dearly." And then the two
cousins understood each other.

It has been said that Alexandria has nothing of an Eastern town
but its filth. This cannot at all be said of Cairo. It may be
doubted whether Bagdad itself is more absolutely oriental in its
appurtenances. When once the Englishman has removed himself five
hundred yards from Shepheard's hotel, he begins to feel that he is
really in the East. Within that circle, although it contains one
of the numerous huge buildings appropriated to the viceroy's own
purposes, he is still in Great Britain. The donkey-boys curse in
English, instead of Arabic; the men you meet sauntering about, though
they do wear red caps, have cheeks as red; and the road is broad and
macadamized, and Britannic. But anywhere beyond that circle Lewis
might begin to paint.

Cairo is a beautiful old city; so old in the realities of age that it
is crumbling into dust on every side. From time to time the houses
are patched up, but only patched; and, except on the Britannic soil
above alluded to, no new houses are built. It is full of romance, of
picturesque oriental wonders, of strange sights, strange noises, and
strange smells. When one is well in the town, every little narrow
lane, every turn--and the turns are incessant--every mosque and every
shop creates fresh surprise. But I cannot allow myself to write a
description of Cairo.

How the dervishes there spun and shook, going through their holy
exercises with admirable perseverance, that I must tell. This
occurred towards the latter end of the winter, when Wilkinson and
Bertram had nearly completed their sojourn in Cairo. Not but what the
dervishes had roared out their monotonous prayer to Allah, duly every
Friday, at 1 P.M., with as much precision as a service in one of your
own cathedrals; but our friends had put the thing off, as hardly
being of much interest, and at last went there when they had only one
Friday left for the performance.

I believe that, as a rule, a Mahomedan hates a Christian: regarding
him merely as Christian, he certainly does so. Had any tidings of
confirmed success on the part of the rebels in India reached the
furthermost parts of the Turkish empire, no Christian life would have
been safe there. The horrid outrage perpetrated at Jaffa, and the
massacre at Jeddah, sufficiently show us what we might have expected.
In Syria no Christian is admitted within a mosque, for his foot and
touch are considered to carry pollution.

But in Egypt we have caused ourselves to be better respected: we
thrash the Arabs and pay them, and therefore they are very glad to
see us anywhere. And even the dervishes welcome us to their most
sacred rites, with excellent coffee, and a loan of rush-bottomed
chairs. Now, when it is remembered that a Mahomedan never uses a
chair, it must be confessed that this is very civil. Moreover, let it
be said to their immortal praise, that the dervishes of Cairo never
ask for backsheish. They are the only people in the country that do
not.

So Bertram and Wilkinson had their coffee with sundry other
travelling Britons who were there; and then each, with his chair
in his hand went into the dervishes' hall. This was a large, lofty,
round room, the roof of which was in the shape of a cupola; on one
side, that which pointed towards Mecca, and therefore nearly due
east, there was an empty throne, or tribune, in which the head of
the college, or dean of the chapter of dervishes, located himself
on his haunches. He was a handsome, powerful man, of about forty,
with a fine black beard, dressed in a flowing gown, and covered by
a flat-topped black cap.

By degrees, and slowly, in came the college of the dervishes, and
seated themselves as their dean was seated; but they sat on the floor
in a circle, which spread away from the tribune, getting larger and
larger in its dimensions as fresh dervishes came in. There was not
much attention to regularity in their arrival, for some appeared
barely in time for the closing scene.

The commencement was tame enough. Still seated, they shouted out a
short prayer to Allah a certain number of times. The number was said
to be ninety-nine. But they did not say the whole prayer at once,
though it consisted of only three words. They took the first word
ninety-nine times; and then the second; and then the third. The only
sound to be recognized was that of Allah; but the deep guttural tone
in which this was groaned out by all the voices together, made even
that anything but a distinct word.

And so this was completed, the circle getting ever larger and larger.
And it was remarked that men came in as dervishes who belonged to
various ordinary pursuits and trades; there were soldiers in the
circle, and, apparently, common labourers. Indeed, any one may join;
though I presume he would do so with some danger were it discovered
that he were not a Mahomedan.

Those who specially belonged to the college had peculiar gowns and
caps, and herded together on one side of the circle; and it appeared
to our friends, that throughout the entertainment they were by far
the least enthusiastic of the performers.

When this round of groaning had been completed--and it occupied
probably half an hour--a young lad, perhaps of seventeen years, very
handsome, and handsomely dressed in a puce-coloured cloak, or rather
petticoat, with a purple hat on his head, in shape like an inverted
flower-pot, slipped forth from near the tribune into the middle of
the circle, and began to twirl. After about five or six minutes, two
other younger boys, somewhat similarly dressed, did the same, and
twirled also; so that there were three twirling together.

But the twirling of the elder boy was by far the more graceful. Let
any young lady put out both her hands, so as to bring the one to the
level of her waist, and the other with the crown of her head, and
then go round and round, as nearly as possible on the same spot; let
her do this so that no raising of either foot shall ever be visible;
and let her continue it for fifteen minutes, without any variation in
the attitude of her arms, or any sign of fatigue,--and then she may
go in for a twirling dervish. It is absurd to suppose that any male
creature in England could perform the feat. During this twirling, a
little black boy marked the time, by beating with two sticks on a
rude gong.

This dance was kept up at first for fifteen minutes. Then there was
another short spell of howling; then another dance, or twirl; and
then the real game began.

The circle had now become so large as to occupy the greater part of
the hall, and was especially swelled by sundry new arrivals at this
moment. In particular, there came one swarthy, tall, wretched-looking
creature, with wild eyes, wan face, and black hair of extraordinary
length, who took up his position, standing immediately opposite to
the tribune. Other new comers also stood near him, all of whom were
remarkable for the length of their hair. Some of them had it tied up
behind like women, and now proceeded to unloose it.

But at this period considerable toilet preparations were made for
the coming work. All those in the circle who had not come in from
the college with gowns and caps, and one or two even of them,
deliberately took off their outer clothing, and tied it up in
bundles. These bundles they removed to various corners, so that
each might again find his own clothes. One or two put on calico
dressing-gowns, which appeared to have been placed ready for the
purpose; and among these was the cadaverous man of the black hair.

And then they all stood up, the dean standing also before his
tribune, and a deep-toned murmur went round the circle. This also was
the word Allah, as was duly explained to Bertram by his dragoman; but
without such explanation it would have been impossible to detect that
any word was pronounced. Indeed, the sound was of such nature as to
make it altogether doubtful from whence it came. It was like no human
voice, or amalgamation of voices; but appeared as though it came
from the very bowels of the earth. At first it was exceedingly low,
but it increased gradually, till at last one might have fancied
that the legions of Lucifer were groaning within the very bowels of
Pandemonium.

And also, by slow degrees, a motion was seen to pervade the circle.
The men, instead of standing fixedly on their legs, leaned over,
first to the right and then to the left, all swaying backwards and
forwards together in the same direction, so that both sound and
motion were as though they came from one compact body.

And then, as the groan became louder, so did the motion become more
violent, till the whole body heaved backwards and forwards with the
regularity of a pendulum and the voice of a steam-engine. As the
excitement became strong, the head of the dervishes walked along the
inner circle, exciting those to more violence who already seemed the
most violent. This he did, standing for a few minutes before each
such man, bowing his own head rapidly and groaning deeply; and as he
did so, the man before whom he stood would groan and swing himself
with terrible energy. And the men with the long hair were especially
selected.

And by degrees the lateral motion was abandoned, and the dervishes
bowed their heads forwards instead of sideways. No one who has not
seen the operation can conceive what men may achieve in the way of
bowing and groaning. They bowed till they swept the floor with their
long hair, bending themselves double, and after each motion bringing
themselves up again to an erect posture. And the dean went backwards
and forwards from one to another, urging them on.

By this time the sight was terrible to behold. The perspiration
streamed down them, the sounds came forth as though their very hearts
were bursting, their faces were hidden by their dishevelled locks,
whatever clothes they wore were reeking wet. But still they flung
themselves about, the motion becoming faster and faster; and still
the sounds came forth as though from the very depths of Tartarus. And
still the venerable dean went backwards and forwards slowly before
them, urging them on, and still urging them on.

But at last, nature with the greater number of them had made her last
effort; the dean retired to his tribune, and the circle was broken
up. But those men with the long hair still persevered. It appeared,
both to Bertram and Wilkinson, that with them the effort was now
involuntary. They were carried on by an ecstatic frenzy; either
that or they were the best of actors. The circle had broken up, the
dervishes were lying listlessly along the walls, panting with heat,
and nearly lifeless with their exertions; but some four, remaining
with their feet fixed in the old place, still bowed and still howled.
"They will die," said Bertram.

"Will they not be stopped?" said Wilkinson to their dragoman.

"Five minutes, five minutes!" said the dragoman. "Look at him--look
at him with the black hair!" And they did look.

Three of them had now fallen, and the one remained still at his task.
He swept the ground with his hair, absolutely striking it with his
head; and the sounds came forth from him loudly, wildly, with broken
gasps, with terrible exertion, as though each would be his last, and
yet they did nothing to repress him.

At last it seemed as though the power of fully raising his head had
left him, and also that of lowering it to the ground. But still he
made as it were a quarter-circle. His hands were clutched behind his
back, and with this singular motion, and in this singular attitude,
he began to move his feet; and still groaning and half bowing, he
made a shuffling progress across the hall.

The dervishes themselves appeared to take no notice of him. The dean
stood tranquil under his tribune; those who had recovered from their
exertions were dressing themselves, the others lay about collecting
their breath. But the eyes of every stranger were on the still moving
black-haired devotee.

On he went, still howling and still swinging his head, right towards
the wall of the temple. His pace was not fast, but it seemed as
though he would inevitably knock his own brains out by the motion of
his own head; and yet nobody stopped him.

"He'll kill himself," said Wilkinson.

"No, no, no!" said the dragoman; "him no kill--him head berry hard."

Bertram rushed forward as though to stay the infuriate fanatic, but
one or two of the dervishes who stood around gently prevented him,
without speaking a word.

And then the finale came. Crack he went against the wall, rebounded
off, and went at it again, and then again. They were no mock blows,
but serious, heavy raps, as from a small battering-ram. But yet both
Bertram and Wilkinson were able to observe that he did not strike the
wall, as he would naturally have done had there been no precaution.
Had he struck it with his head in motion, as was intended to be
believed, the blow would have come upon his forehead and temples,
and must probably have killed him; but instead of this, just as
he approached the wall, he butted at it like a ram, and saved his
forehead at the expense of his pole. It may probably be surmised,
therefore, that he knew what he was about.

After these three raps, the man stood, still doubled up, but looking
as though he were staggered. And then he went again with his head
towards the wall. But the dean, satisfied with what had been done,
now interposed, and this best of dervishes was gently laid on his
back upon the floor, while his long matted hair was drawn from off
his face. As he so lay, the sight was not agreeable to Christian
eyes, whatever a true Mahomedan might think of it.

'Twas thus the dervishes practised their religious rites at Cairo.
"I wonder how much that black fellow gets paid every Friday," said
Bertram, as he mounted his donkey; "it ought to be something very
handsome."



CHAPTER IX.

THE TWO WIDOWS.


The winter was now nearly over, and the travellers had determined
to return to England. Whatever other good purpose the city of Cairo
might or might not serve, it had restored Wilkinson to health.
Bertram was sufficiently weary of living in a country in which the
women go about with their faces hidden by long dirty stripes of
calico, which they call veils, and in which that little which is seen
of the ladies by no means creates a wish to see more. And Wilkinson,
since the conversation which they had had at the Pyramids, was
anxious to assume his own rights in the vicarage-house at Hurst
Staple. So they decided on returning about the middle of March; but
they decided also on visiting Suez before doing so.

In these days men go from Cairo to Suez as they do from London to
Birmingham--by railway; in those days--some ten or twelve years back,
that is--they went in wooden boxes, and were dragged by mules through
the desert.

We cannot stay long at Suez, nor should I carry my reader there, even
for a day, seeing how triste and dull the place is, had not our hero
made an acquaintance there which for some time was likely to have a
considerable effect on his future life.

Suez is indeed a triste, unhappy, wretched place. It is a small
oriental town, now much be-Europeanized, and in the process of being
be-Anglicized. It is not so Beelzebub-ridden a spot as Alexandria,
nor falling to pieces like Cairo. But it has neither water, air, nor
verdure. No trees grow there, no rivers flow there. Men drink brine
and eat goats; and the thermometer stands at eighty in the shade in
winter. The oranges are the only luxury. There is a huge hotel, which
contains long rows of hot cells, and a vast cave in which people eat.
The interest of the place consists in Pharoah's passage over the
Red Sea; but its future prosperity will be caused by a transit of a
different nature:--the passage of the English to and from India will
turn even Suez into an important town.

Here the two travellers encountered a flood of Indians on their
return home. The boat from Calcutta came in while they were there,
and suddenly all the cells were tenanted, and the cave was full of
spoiled children, tawny nurses, pale languid mothers, and dyspeptic
fathers. These were to be fellow-travellers homewards with Bertram
and Wilkinson.

Neither of our friends regarded with favour the crowd which made them
even more uncomfortable than they had been before. As Englishmen in
such positions generally do, they kept themselves aloof and scowled,
frowned at the children who whined in the nearest neighbourhood
to them, and listened in disgust to the continuous chatter about
punkahs, tiffins, and bungalows.

But close to them, at the end of the long table, at the common
dinner, sat two ladies, on whom it was almost impossible for them to
frown. For be it known that at these hotels in Egypt, a man cannot
order his dinner when he pleases. He must breakfast at nine, and dine
at six, as others do--or go without. And whether he dine, or whether
he do not, he must pay. The Medes and Persians were lax and pliable
in their laws in comparison with these publicans.

Both George and Arthur would have frowned if they could have done
so; but on these two ladies it was impossible to frown. They were
both young, and both pretty. George's neighbour was uncommonly
pretty--was, indeed, one of the prettiest women that he had ever
seen;--that any man could see anywhere. She was full of smiles too,
and her smile was heavenly;--was full of words, and her words were
witty. She who sat next Arthur was perhaps less attractive; but she
had large soft eyes, which ever and anon she would raise to his face,
and then let fall again to her plate in a manner which made sparks
fly round the heart even of our somewhat sombre young Hampshire
vicar.

The four were soon in full conversation, apparently much to the
disgust of two military-looking gentlemen who sat on the other side
of the ladies. And it was evident that the military gentlemen and the
ladies were, or ought to be, on terms of intimacy; for proffers of
soup, and mutton, and wine were whispered low, and little attempts at
confidential intercourse were made. But the proffers were rejected,
and the attempts were in vain. The ladies preferred to have their
plates and glasses filled by the strangers, turned their shoulders on
their old friends with but scant courtesy, and were quite indifferent
to the frowns which at last clouded those two military brows.

And the brows of Major Biffin and Captain M'Gramm were clouded. They
had been filling the plates and glasses of these two ladies all the
way from Calcutta; they had walked with them every day on deck, had
fetched their chairs, picked up their handkerchiefs, and looked after
their bottled beer at tiffin-time with an assiduity which is more
than commendable in such warm latitudes. And now to be thrown on one
side for two travelling Englishmen, one in a brown coat and the other
in a black one--for two muffs, who had never drunk sangaree or sat
under a punkah!

This was unpleasant to Major Biffin and Captain M'Gramm. But then why
had the major and the captain boasted of the favours they had daily
received, to that soft-looking, superannuated judge, and to their
bilious friend, Dr. O'Shaughnessy? The judge and the doctor had of
course their female allies, and had of course repeated to them all
the boasts of the fortunate major and of the fortunate captain. And
was it not equally of course that these ladies should again repeat
the same to Mrs. Cox and Mrs. Price? For she who was so divinely
perfect was Mrs. Cox, and she of the soft, lustrous eyes was Mrs.
Price. Those who think that such a course was not natural know little
of voyages home from Calcutta to Southampton.

But the major, who had been the admirer of Mrs. Cox, had done more
than this--had done worse, we may say. The world of the good ship
"Lahore," which was bringing them all home, had declared ever since
they had left Point de Galle, that the major and Mrs. Cox were
engaged.

Now, had the major, in boasting of his favours, boasted also of
his engagement, no harm perhaps might have come of it. The sweet
good-nature of the widow might have overlooked that offence. But he
had boasted of the favours and pooh-poohed the engagement! "Hinc illæ
lacrymæ." And who shall say that the widow was wrong? And as to the
other widow, Mrs. Price, she was tired of Captain M'Gramm. A little
fact had transpired about Captain M'Gramm, namely, that he was going
home to his wife. And therefore the two ladies, who had conspired
together to be civil to the two warriors, now conspired together
to be uncivil to them. In England such things are done, as it were,
behind the scenes: there these little quarrels are managed in
private. But a passage home from India admits of but little privacy;
there is no behind the scenes. The two widows were used to this,
and quarrelled with their military admirers in public without any
compunction.

"Hinc illæ lacrymæ." But the major was not inclined to shed his tears
without an effort. He had pooh-poohed the idea of marrying Mrs. Cox;
but like many another man in similar circumstances, he was probably
willing enough to enter into such an arrangement now that the
facility of doing so was taken from him. It is possible that Mrs.
Cox, when she turned her pretty shoulder on Major Biffin, may herself
have understood this phasis of human nature.

The major was a handsome man, with well-brushed hair, well-trimmed
whiskers, a forehead rather low, but very symmetrical, a well-shaped
nose, and a small, pursy mouth. The worst of his face was that you
could by no means remember it. But he knew himself to be a handsome
man, and he could not understand how he could be laid aside for so
ugly a lout as this stranger from England. Captain M'Gramm was not a
handsome man, and he was aware that he fought his battle under the
disadvantage of a wife. But he had impudence enough to compensate him
for this double drawback.

During this first dinner, Arthur Wilkinson was not more than coldly
civil to Mrs. Price; but Bertram became after a while warmly civil to
Mrs. Cox. It is so very nice to be smiled on by the prettiest woman
in the room; and it was long since he had seen the smile of any
pretty woman! Indeed, for the last eighteen months he had had but
little to do with such smiles.

Before dinner was over, Mrs. Cox had explained to Bertram that both
she and her friend Mrs. Price were in deep affliction. They had
recently lost their husbands--the one, by cholera; that was poor
dear Cox, who had been collector of the Honourable Company's taxes
at Panjabee. Whereas, Lieutenant Price, of the 71st Native Bengal
Infantry, had succumbed to--here Mrs. Cox shook her head, and
whispered, and pointed to the champagne-glass which Bertram was in
the act of filling for her. Poor Cox had gone just eight months; but
Price had taken his last glass within six. And so Bertram knew all
about it.

And then there was a great fuss in packing the travellers into the
wooden boxes. It seems that they had all made up their own parties
by sixes, that being the number of which one box was supposed to be
capable. But pretty women are capricious, and neither Mrs. Price nor
Mrs. Cox were willing to abide by any such arrangement. When the
time came for handing them in, they both objected to the box pointed
out to them by Major Biffin--refused to be lifted in by the arms
of Captain M'Gramm--got at last into another vacant box with the
assistance of our friends--summoned their dingy nurses and babies
into the same box (for each was so provided)--and then very prettily
made way for Mr. Bertram and Mr. Wilkinson. And so they went across
the desert.

Then they all stayed a night at Cairo, and then they went on to
Alexandria. And by the time that they were embarked in a boat
together, on their way to that gallant first-class steamer, the
"Cagliari," they were as intimate as though they had travelled round
the world together, and had been as long about it as Captain Cook.

"What will you take with you, Mrs. Cox?" said Bertram, as he stood up
in the boat with the baby on one arm, while with the other he handed
the lady towards the ship's ladder.

"A good ducking," said Mrs. Cox, with a cheery laugh, as at the
moment a dashing wave covered them with its spray. "And I've got it
too, with a vengeance. Ha! ha! Take care of the baby, whatever you
do; and if she falls over, mind you go after her." And with another
little peal of silver ringing laughter, she tripped up the side of
the ship, and Bertram, with the baby, followed after her.

"She is such a giddy thing," said Mrs. Price, turning her soft eyes
on poor Arthur Wilkinson. "Oh, laws! I know I shall be drowned. Do
hold me." And Arthur Wilkinson did hold her, and nearly carried her
up into the ship. As he did so, his mind would fly off to Adela
Gauntlet; but his arms and legs were not the less at the service of
Mrs. Price.

"And now look after the places," said Mrs. Cox; "you haven't a moment
to lose. And look here, Mr. Bertram, mind, I won't sit next to Major
Biffin. And, for heaven's sake, don't let us be near that fellow
M'Gramm." And so Bertram descended into the _salon_ to place their
cards in the places at which they were to sit for dinner. "Two and
two; opposite to each other," sang out Mrs. Cox, as he went. There
was a sweetness in her voice, a low, mellow cheeriness in her tone,
which, combined with her beauty, went far to atone for the nature of
what she said; and Bertram not unwillingly obeyed her behests.

"Oh, my blessed baby!" said Mrs. Price, as the nurse handed her the
child--which, however, she immediately handed back. "How can I thank
you enough, Mr. Wilkinson? What should we have done without you? I
wonder whether it's near tiffin. I am so faint."

"Shall I fetch you anything?" said he.

"If you could get me a glass of porter. But I don't think they'll
give it you. They are so uncivil!"

Arthur went for the beer; but went in vain. The steward said that
lunch would be ready at twelve o'clock.

"They are such brutes!" said Mrs. Price. "Well, I suppose I must
wait." And she again turned her eyes upon Arthur, and he again
thought of Adela Gauntlet.

And then there was the ordinary confusion of a starting ship. Men and
women were hurrying about after their luggage, asking all manner of
unreasonable questions. Ladies were complaining of their berths, and
servants asking where on _h_earth they were to sleep. Gentlemen were
swearing that they had been shamefully doubled up--that is, made
to lie with two or three men in the same cabin; and friends were
contriving to get commodious seats for dinner. The officers of the
ship were all busy, treating with apparent indifference the thousand
questions that were asked them on every side; and all was bustle,
confusion, hurry, and noise.

And then they were off. The pistons of the engine moved slowly up
and down, the huge cranks revolved, and the waters under the bow
rippled and gave way. They were off, and the business of the voyage
commenced. The younger people prepared for their flirtations, the
mothers unpacked their children's clothes, and the elderly gentlemen
lighted their cigars.

"What very queer women they are!" said Arthur, walking the deck with
his cousin.

"But very pretty, and very agreeable. I like them both."

"Don't you think them too free and easy?"

"Ah, you must not judge of them by women who have lived in England,
who have always had the comfort of well-arranged homes. They have
been knocked about, ill used, and forced to bear hardships as men
bear them; but still there is about them so much that is charming.
They are so frank!"

"Yes, very frank," said Arthur.

"It is well to see the world on all sides," said George. "For myself,
I think that we are lucky to have come across them--that is, if Major
Biffin does not cut my throat."

"I hope Captain M'Gramm won't cut mine. He looked as though he
would."

"Did you ever see such an ass as that Biffin? I don't wonder that she
has become sick of him; and then he has behaved so very badly to her.
I really do pity her. She has told me all about it."

"And so has Mrs. Price told me all about Captain M'Gramm."

"Has she? Well! It seems that he, Biffin, has taken advantage of her
frank, easy manner, and talked of her to every man in the ship. I
think she has been quite right to cut him." And so they discussed the
two ladies.

And at last Mrs. Price got her porter, and Mrs. Cox got her pale ale.
"I do like pale ale," said she; "I suppose it's vulgar, but I can't
help that. What amuses me is,