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Title: The Duke's Children
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 Duke's Children" ***

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Loewenstein, M.D.



THE DUKE'S CHILDREN

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

First published in serial form in _All the Year Round_
in 1879 and 1880 and in book form in 1880



CONTENTS

         I. When the Duchess Was Dead
        II. Lady Mary Palliser
       III. Francis Oliphant Tregear
        IV. Park Lane
         V. "It Is Impossible"
        VI. Major Tifto
       VII. Conservative Convictions
      VIII. "He Is a Gentleman"
        IX. "In Medias Res"
         X. "Why Not Like Romeo If I Feel Like Romeo?"
        XI. "Cruel"
       XII. At Richmond
      XIII. The Duke's Injustice
       XIV. The New Member for Silverbridge
        XV. The Duke Receives a Letter,--and Writes One
       XVI. "Poor Boy"
      XVII. The Derby
     XVIII. One of the Results of the Derby
       XIX. "No; My Lord, I Do Not"
        XX. "Then He Will Come Again"
       XXI. Sir Timothy Beeswax
      XXII. The Duke in His Study
     XXIII. Frank Tregear Wants a Friend
      XXIV. "She Must Be Made to Obey"
       XXV. A Family Breakfast-Table
      XXVI. Dinner at the Beargarden
     XXVII. Major Tifto and the Duke
    XXVIII. Mrs. Montacute Jones's Garden-Party
      XXIX. The Lovers Meet
       XXX. What Came of the Meeting
      XXXI. Miss Boncassen's River-Party. No. 1
     XXXII. Miss Boncassen's River-Party. No. 2
    XXXIII. The Langham Hotel
     XXXIV. Lord Popplecourt
      XXXV. "Don't You Think--?"
     XXXVI. Tally-Ho Lodge
    XXXVII. Grex
   XXXVIII. Crummie-Toddie
     XXXIX. Killancodlem
        XL. "And Then!"
       XLI. Ischl
      XLII. Again at Killancodlem
     XLIII. What Happened at Doncaster
      XLIV. How It Was Done
       XLV. "There Shall Not Be Another Word About It"
      XLVI. Lady Mary's Dream
     XLVII. Miss Boncassen's Idea of Heaven
    XLVIII. The Party at Custins Is Broken Up
      XLIX. The Major's Fate
         L. The Duke's Arguments
        LI. The Duke's Guests
       LII. Miss Boncassen Tells the Truth
      LIII. "Then I Am As Proud As a Queen"
       LIV. "I Don't Think She Is a Snake"
        LV. Polpenno
       LVI. The News Is Sent to Matching
      LVII. The Meeting at "The Bobtailed Fox"
     LVIII. The Major Is Deposed
       LIX. No One Can Tell What May Come to Pass
        LX. Lord Gerald in Further Trouble
       LXI. "Bone of My Bone"
      LXII. The Brake Country
     LXIII. "I've Seen 'Em Like That Before"
      LXIV. "I Believe Him to Be a Worthy Young Man"
       LXV. "Do You Ever Think What Money Is?"
      LXVI. The Three Attacks
     LXVII. "He Is Such a Beast"
    LXVIII. Brook Street
      LXIX. "Pert Poppet!"
       LXX. "Love May Be a Great Misfortune"
      LXXI. "What Am I to Say, Sir?"
     LXXII. Carlton Terrace
    LXXIII. "I Have Never Loved You"
     LXXIV. "Let Us Drink a Glass of Wine Together"
      LXXV. The Major's Story
     LXXVI. On Deportment
    LXXVII. "Mabel, Good-Bye"
   LXXVIII. The Duke Returns to Office
     LXXIX. The First Wedding
      LXXX. The Second Wedding



CHAPTER I

When the Duchess Was Dead


No one, probably, ever felt himself to be more alone in the world
than our old friend, the Duke of Omnium, when the Duchess died. When
this sad event happened he had ceased to be Prime Minister. During
the first nine months after he had left office he and the Duchess
remained in England. Then they had gone abroad, taking with them
their three children. The eldest, Lord Silverbridge, had been at
Oxford, but had had his career there cut short by some more than
ordinary youthful folly, which had induced his father to agree with
the college authorities that his name had better be taken off the
college books,--all which had been cause of very great sorrow to
the Duke. The other boy was to go to Cambridge; but his father had
thought it well to give him a twelvemonth's run on the Continent,
under his own inspection. Lady Mary, the only daughter, was the
youngest of the family, and she also had been with them on the
Continent. They remained the full year abroad, travelling with a
large accompaniment of tutors, lady's-maids, couriers, and sometimes
friends. I do not know that the Duchess or the Duke had enjoyed it
much; but the young people had seen something of foreign courts and
much of foreign scenery, and had perhaps perfected their French. The
Duke had gone to work at his travels with a full determination to
create for himself occupation out of a new kind of life. He had
studied Dante, and had striven to arouse himself to ecstatic joy
amidst the loveliness of the Italian lakes. But through it all he
had been aware that he had failed. The Duchess had made no such
resolution,--had hardly, perhaps, made any attempt; but, in truth,
they had both sighed to be back among the war-trumpets. They had both
suffered much among the trumpets, and yet they longed to return. He
told himself from day to day, that though he had been banished from
the House of Commons, still, as a peer, he had a seat in Parliament,
and that, though he was no longer a minister, still he might be
useful as a legislator. She, in her career as a leader of fashion,
had no doubt met with some trouble,--with some trouble but with no
disgrace; and as she had been carried about among the lakes and
mountains, among the pictures and statues, among the counts and
countesses, she had often felt that there was no happiness except in
that dominion which circumstances had enabled her to achieve once,
and might enable her to achieve again--in the realms of London
society.

Then, in the early spring of 187--, they came back to England, having
persistently carried out their project, at any rate in regard to
time. Lord Gerald, the younger son, was at once sent up to Trinity.
For the eldest son a seat was to be found in the House of Commons,
and the fact that a dissolution of Parliament was expected served to
prevent any prolonged sojourn abroad. Lady Mary Palliser was at that
time nineteen, and her entrance into the world was to be her mother's
great care and great delight. In March they spent a few days in
London, and then went down to Matching Priory. When she left town the
Duchess was complaining of cold, sore throat, and debility. A week
after their arrival at Matching she was dead.

Had the heavens fallen and mixed themselves with the earth, had the
people of London risen in rebellion with French ideas of equality,
had the Queen persistently declined to comply with the constitutional
advice of her ministers, had a majority in the House of Commons lost
its influence in the country,--the utter prostration of the bereft
husband could not have been more complete. It was not only that his
heart was torn to pieces, but that he did not know how to look out
into the world. It was as though a man should be suddenly called upon
to live without hands or even arms. He was helpless, and knew himself
to be helpless. Hitherto he had never specially acknowledged to
himself that his wife was necessary to him as a component part of his
life. Though he had loved her dearly, and had in all things consulted
her welfare and happiness, he had at times been inclined to think
that in the exuberance of her spirits she had been a trouble
rather than a support to him. But now it was as though all outside
appliances were taken away from him. There was no one of whom he
could ask a question.

For it may be said of this man that, though throughout his life he
had had many Honourable and Right Honourable friends, and that though
he had entertained guests by the score, and though he had achieved
for himself the respect of all good men and the thorough admiration
of some few who knew him, he had hardly made for himself a single
intimate friend--except that one who had now passed away from him. To
her he had been able to say what he thought, even though she would
occasionally ridicule him while he was declaring his feelings. But
there had been no other human soul to whom he could open himself.
There were one or two whom he loved, and perhaps liked; but his
loving and his liking had been exclusively political. He had so
habituated himself to devote his mind and his heart to the service of
his country, that he had almost risen above or sunk below humanity.
But she, who had been essentially human, had been a link between him
and the world.

There were his three children, the youngest of whom was now nearly
nineteen, and they surely were links! At the first moment of his
bereavement they were felt to be hardly more than burdens. A more
loving father there was not in England, but nature had made him so
undemonstrative that as yet they had hardly known his love. In all
their joys and in all their troubles, in all their desires and all
their disappointments, they had ever gone to their mother. She had
been conversant with everything about them, from the boys' bills
and the girl's gloves to the innermost turn in the heart and the
disposition of each. She had known with the utmost accuracy the
nature of the scrapes into which Lord Silverbridge had precipitated
himself, and had known also how probable it was that Lord Gerald
would do the same. The results of such scrapes she, of course,
deplored; and therefore she would give good counsel, pointing out how
imperative it was that such evil-doings should be avoided; but with
the spirit that produced the scrapes she fully sympathised. The
father disliked the spirit almost worse than the results; and was
therefore often irritated and unhappy.

And the difficulties about the girl were almost worse to bear than
those about the boys. She had done nothing wrong. She had given no
signs of extravagance or other juvenile misconduct. But she was
beautiful and young. How was he to bring her out into the world? How
was he to decide whom she should or whom she should not marry? How
was he to guide her through the shoals and rocks which lay in the
path of such a girl before she can achieve matrimony?

It was the fate of the family that, with a world of acquaintance,
they had not many friends. From all close connection with relatives
on the side of the Duchess they had been dissevered by old feelings
at first, and afterwards by want of any similitude in the habits
of life. She had, when young, been repressed by male and female
guardians with an iron hand. Such repression had been needed, and had
been perhaps salutary, but it had not left behind it much affection.
And then her nearest relatives were not sympathetic with the Duke. He
could obtain no assistance in the care of his girl from that source.
Nor could he even do it from his own cousins' wives, who were his
nearest connections on the side of the Pallisers. They were women
to whom he had ever been kind, but to whom he had never opened his
heart. When, in the midst of the stunning sorrow of the first week,
he tried to think of all this, it seemed to him that there was
nobody.

There had been one lady, a very dear ally, staying in the house with
them when the Duchess died. This was Mrs. Finn, the wife of Phineas
Finn, who had been one of the Duke's colleagues when in office.
How it had come to pass that Mrs. Finn and the Duchess had become
singularly bound together has been told elsewhere. But there had been
close bonds,--so close that when the Duchess on their return from the
Continent had passed through London on her way to Matching, ill at
the time and very comfortless, it had been almost a thing of course,
that Mrs. Finn should go with her. And as she had sunk, and then
despaired, and then died, it was this woman who had always been at
her side, who had ministered to her, and had listened to the fears
and the wishes and hopes she had expressed respecting the children.

At Matching, amidst the ruins of the old Priory, there is a parish
burying-ground, and there, in accordance with her own wish, almost
within sight of her own bedroom-window, she was buried. On the day
of the funeral a dozen relatives came, Pallisers and M'Closkies, who
on such an occasion were bound to show themselves, as members of the
family. With them and his two sons the Duke walked across to the
graveyard, and then walked back; but even to those who stayed the
night at the house he hardly spoke. By noon on the following day they
had all left him, and the only stranger in the house was Mrs. Finn.

On the afternoon of the day after the funeral the Duke and his guest
met, almost for the first time since the sad event. There had been
just a pressure of the hand, just a glance of compassion, just some
murmur of deep sorrow,--but there had been no real speech between
them. Now he had sent for her, and she went down to him in the room
in which he commonly sat at work. He was seated at his table when she
entered, but there was no book open before him, and no pen ready to
his hand. He was dressed of course in black. That, indeed, was usual
with him, but now the tailor by his funereal art had added some
deeper dye of blackness to his appearance. When he rose and turned to
her she thought that he had at once become an old man. His hair was
grey in parts, and he had never accustomed himself to use that skill
in managing his outside person by which many men are able to preserve
for themselves a look, if not of youth, at any rate of freshness.
He was thin, of an adust complexion, and had acquired a habit of
stooping which, when he was not excited, gave him an appearance of
age. All that was common to him; but now it was so much exaggerated
that he who was not yet fifty might have been taken to be over sixty.

He put out his hand to greet her as she came up to him.
"Silverbridge," he said, "tells me that you go back to London
to-morrow."

"I thought it would be best, Duke. My presence here can be of no
comfort to you."

"I will not say that anything can be of comfort. But of course it
is right that you should go. I can have no excuse for asking you to
remain. While there was yet a hope for her--" Then he stopped, unable
to say a word further in that direction, and yet there was no sign of
a tear and no sound of a sob.

"Of course I would stay, Duke, if I could be of any service."

"Mr. Finn will expect you to return to him."

"Perhaps it would be better that I should say that I would stay were
it not that I know that I can be of no real service."

"What do you mean by that, Mrs. Finn?"

"Lady Mary should have with her at such a time some other friend."

"There was none other whom her mother loved as she loved you--none,
none." This he said almost with energy.

"There was no one lately, Duke, with whom circumstances caused
her mother to be so closely intimate. But even that perhaps was
unfortunate."

"I never thought so."

"That is a great compliment. But as to Lady Mary, will it not
be as well that she should have with her, as soon as possible,
someone,--perhaps someone of her own kindred if it be possible, or,
if not that, at least one of her own kind?"

"Who is there? Whom do you mean?"

"I mean no one. It is hard, Duke, to say what I do mean, but perhaps
I had better try. There will be,--probably there have been,--some
among your friends who have regretted the great intimacy which chance
produced between me and my lost friend. While she was with us no such
feeling would have sufficed to drive me from her. She had chosen for
herself, and if others disapproved her choice that was nothing to me.
But as regards Lady Mary, it will be better, I think, that from the
beginning she should be taught to look for friendship and guidance to
those--to those who are more naturally connected with her."

"I was not thinking of any guidance," said the Duke.

"Of course not. But with one so young, where there is intimacy there
will be guidance. There should be somebody with her. It was almost
the last thought that occupied her mother's mind. I could not tell
her, Duke, but I can tell you, that I cannot with advantage to your
girl be that somebody."

"Cora wished it."

"Her wishes, probably, were sudden and hardly fixed."

"Who should it be, then?" asked the father, after a pause.

"Who am I, Duke, that I should answer such a question?"

After that there was another pause, and then the conference was ended
by a request from the Duke that Mrs. Finn would stay at Matching for
yet two days longer. At dinner they all met,--the father, the three
children, and Mrs. Finn. How far the young people among themselves
had been able to throw off something of the gloom of death need not
here be asked; but in the presence of their father they were sad and
sombre, almost as he was. On the next day, early in the morning, the
younger lad returned to his college, and Lord Silverbridge went up to
London, where he was supposed to have his home.

"Perhaps you would not mind reading these letters," the Duke said to
Mrs. Finn, when she again went to him, in compliance with a message
from him asking for her presence. Then she sat down and read two
letters, one from Lady Cantrip, and the other from a Mrs. Jeffrey
Palliser, each of which contained an invitation for his daughter,
and expressed a hope that Lady Mary would not be unwilling to spend
some time with the writer. Lady Cantrip's letter was long, and went
minutely into circumstances. If Lady Mary would come to her, she
would abstain from having other company in the house till her young
friend's spirits should have somewhat recovered themselves. Nothing
could be more kind, or proposed in a sweeter fashion. There had,
however, been present to the Duke's mind as he read it a feeling that
a proposition to a bereaved husband to relieve him of the society
of an only daughter, was not one which would usually be made to
a father. In such a position a child's company would probably
be his best solace. But he knew,--at this moment he painfully
remembered,--that he was not as are other men. He acknowledged the
truth of this, but he was not the less grieved and irritated by the
reminder. The letter from Mrs. Jeffrey Palliser was to the same
effect, but was much shorter. If it would suit Mary to come to them
for a month or six weeks at their place in Gloucestershire, they
would both be delighted.

"I should not choose her to go there," said the Duke, as Mrs. Finn
refolded the latter letter. "My cousin's wife is a very good woman,
but Mary would not be happy with her."

"Lady Cantrip is an excellent friend for her."

"Excellent. I know no one whom I esteem more than Lady Cantrip."

"Would you wish her to go there, Duke?"

There came a wistful piteous look over the father's face. Why should
he be treated as no other father would be treated? Why should it
be supposed that he would desire to send his girl away from him?
But yet he felt that it would be better that she should go. It was
his present purpose to remain at Matching through a portion of the
summer. What could he do to make a girl happy? What comfort would
there be in his companionship?

"I suppose she ought to go somewhere," he said.

"I had not thought of it," said Mrs. Finn.

"I understood you to say," replied the Duke, almost angrily, "that
she ought to go to someone who would take care of her."

"I was thinking of some friend coming to her."

"Who would come? Who is there that I could possibly ask? You will not
stay."

"I certainly would stay, if it were for her good. I was thinking,
Duke, that perhaps you might ask the Greys to come to you."

"They would not come," he said, after a pause.

"When she was told that it was for her sake, she would come, I
think."

Then there was another pause. "I could not ask them," he said; "for
his sake I could not have it put to her in that way. Perhaps Mary had
better go to Lady Cantrip. Perhaps I had better be alone here for a
time. I do not think that I am fit to have any human being here with
me in my sorrow."



CHAPTER II

Lady Mary Palliser


It may as well be said at once that Mrs. Finn knew something of Lady
Mary which was not known to the father, and which she was not yet
prepared to make known to him. The last winter abroad had been passed
at Rome, and there Lady Mary Palliser had become acquainted with a
certain Mr. Tregear,--Francis Oliphant Tregear. The Duchess, who had
been in constant correspondence with her friend, had asked questions
by letter as to Mr. Tregear, of whom she had only known that he
was the younger son of a Cornish gentleman, who had become Lord
Silverbridge's friend at Oxford. In this there had certainly been but
little to recommend him to the intimacy of such a girl as Lady Mary
Palliser. Nor had the Duchess, when writing, ever spoken of him as a
probable suitor for her daughter's hand. She had never connected the
two names together. But Mrs. Finn had been clever enough to perceive
that the Duchess had become fond of Mr. Tregear, and would willingly
have heard something to his advantage. And she did hear something to
his advantage,--something also to his disadvantage. At his mother's
death this young man would inherit a property amounting to about
fifteen hundred a year. "And I am told," said Mrs. Finn, "that he is
quite likely to spend his money before it comes to him." There had
been nothing more written specially about Mr. Tregear; but Mrs. Finn
had feared not only that the young man loved the girl, but that the
young man's love had in some imprudent way been fostered by the
mother.

Then there had been some fitful confidence during those few days
of acute illness. Why should not the girl have the man if he were
lovable? And the Duchess referred to her own early days when she had
loved, and to the great ruin which had come upon her heart when she
had been severed from the man she had loved. "Not but that it has
been all for the best," she had said. "Not but that Plantagenet has
been to me all that a husband should be. Only if she can be spared
what I suffered, let her be spared." Even when these things had been
said to her, Mrs. Finn had found herself unable to ask questions.
She could not bring herself to inquire whether the girl had in truth
given her heart to this young Tregear. The one was nineteen and the
other as yet but two-and-twenty! But though she asked no questions
she almost knew that it must be so. And she knew also that the
father, as yet, was quite in the dark on the matter. How was it
possible that in such circumstances she should assume the part of the
girl's confidential friend and monitress? Were she to do so she must
immediately tell the father everything. In such a position no one
could be a better friend than Lady Cantrip, and Mrs. Finn had already
almost made up her mind that, should Lady Cantrip occupy the place,
she would tell her ladyship all that had passed between herself and
the Duchess on the subject.

Of what hopes she might have, or what fears, about her girl, the
Duchess had said no word to her husband. But when she had believed
that the things of the world were fading away from her, and when he
was sitting by her bedside,--dumb, because at such a moment he knew
not how to express the tenderness of his heart,--holding her hand,
and trying so to listen to her words, that he might collect and
remember every wish, she had murmured something about the ultimate
division of the great wealth with which she herself had been endowed.
"She had never," she said, "even tried to remember what arrangements
had been made by lawyers, but she hoped that Mary might be so
circumstanced, that if her happiness depended on marrying a poor
man, want of money need not prevent it." The Duke suspecting nothing,
believing this to be a not unnatural expression of maternal interest,
had assured her that Mary's fortune would be ample.

Mrs. Finn made the proposition to Lady Mary in respect to Lady
Cantrip's invitation. Lady Mary was very like her mother, especially
in having exactly her mother's tone of voice, her quick manner of
speech, and her sharp intelligence. She had also her mother's eyes,
large and round, and almost blue, full of life and full of courage,
eyes which never seemed to quail, and her mother's dark brown hair,
never long but very copious in its thickness. She was, however,
taller than her mother, and very much more graceful in her movement.
And she could already assume a personal dignity of manner which had
never been within her mother's reach. She had become aware of a
certain brusqueness of speech in her mother, a certain aptitude to
say sharp things without thinking whether the sharpness was becoming
to the position which she held, and, taking advantage of the example,
the girl had already learned that she might gain more than she would
lose by controlling her words.

"Papa wants me to go to Lady Cantrip," she said.

"I think he would like it,--just for the present, Lady Mary."

Though there had been the closest possible intimacy between the
Duchess and Mrs. Finn, this had hardly been so as to the intercourse
between Mrs. Finn and the children. Of Mrs. Finn it must be
acknowledged that she was, perhaps fastidiously, afraid of appearing
to take advantage of her friendship with the Duke's family. She would
tell herself that though circumstances had compelled her to be the
closest and nearest friend of a Duchess, still her natural place was
not among dukes and their children, and therefore in her intercourse
with the girl she did not at first assume the manner and bearing
which her position in the house would have seemed to warrant. Hence
the "Lady Mary."

"Why does he want to send me away, Mrs. Finn?"

"It is not that he wants to send you away, but that he thinks it will
be better for you to be with some friend. Here you must be so much
alone."

"Why don't you stay? But I suppose Mr. Finn wants you to be back in
London."

"It is not that only, or, to speak the truth, not that at all. Mr.
Finn could come here if it were suitable. Or for a week or two he
might do very well without me. But there are other reasons. There is
no one whom your mother respected more highly than Lady Cantrip."

"I never heard her speak a word of Lady Cantrip."

"Both he and she are your father's intimate friends."

"Does papa want to be--alone here?"

"It is you, not himself, of whom he is thinking."

"Therefore I must think of him, Mrs. Finn. I do not wish him to be
alone. I am sure it would be better that I should stay with him."

"He feels that it would not be well that you should live without the
companionship of some lady."

"Then let him find some lady. You would be the best, because he knows
you so well. I, however, am not afraid of being alone. I am sure he
ought not to be here quite by himself. If he bids me go, I must go,
and then of course I shall go where he sends me; but I won't say that
I think it best that I should go, and certainly I do not want to go
to Lady Cantrip." This she said with great decision, as though the
matter was one on which she had altogether made up her mind. Then she
added, in a lower voice: "Why doesn't papa speak to me about it?"

"He is thinking only of what may be best for you."

"It would be best for me to stay near him. Whom else has he got?"

All this Mrs. Finn repeated to the Duke as closely as she could, and
then of course the father was obliged to speak to his daughter.

"Don't send me away, papa," she said at once.

"Your life here, Mary, will be inexpressibly sad."

"It must be sad anywhere. I cannot go to college, like Gerald, or
live anywhere just as I please, like Silverbridge."

"Do you envy them that?"

"Sometimes, papa. Only I shall think more of poor mamma by being
alone, and I should like to be thinking of her always." He shook his
head mournfully. "I do not mean that I shall always be unhappy, as I
am now."

"No, my dear; you are too young for that. It is only the old who
suffer in that way."

"You will suffer less if I am with you; won't you, papa? I do not
want to go to Lady Cantrip. I hardly remember her at all."

"She is very good."

"Oh yes. That is what they used to say to mamma about Lady
Midlothian. Papa, pray do not send me to Lady Cantrip."

Of course it was decided that she should not go to Lady Cantrip at
once, or to Mrs. Jeffrey Palliser, and, after a short interval of
doubt, it was decided also that Mrs. Finn should remain at Matching
for at least a fortnight. The Duke declared that he would be glad
to see Mr. Finn, but she knew that in his present mood the society
of any one man to whom he would feel himself called upon to devote
his time, would be a burden to him, and she plainly said that Mr.
Finn had better not come to Matching at present. "There are old
associations," she said, "which will enable you to bear with me as
you will with your butler or your groom, but you are not as yet quite
able to make yourself happy with company." This he bore with perfect
equanimity, and then, as it were, handed over his daughter to Mrs.
Finn's care.

Very quickly there came to be close intimacy between Mrs. Finn
and Lady Mary. For a day or two the elder woman, though the place
she filled was one of absolute confidence, rather resisted than
encouraged the intimacy. She always remembered that the girl was the
daughter of a great duke, and that her position in the house had
sprung from circumstances which would not, perhaps, in the eyes of
the world at large, have recommended her for such friendship. She
knew--the reader may possibly know--that nothing had ever been
purer, nothing more disinterested than her friendship. But she knew
also,--no one knew better,--that the judgment of men and women
does not always run parallel with facts. She entertained, too, a
conviction in regard to herself, that hard words and hard judgments
were to be expected from the world,--were to be accepted by her
without any strong feeling of injustice,--because she had been
elevated by chance to the possession of more good things than she
had merited. She weighed all this with a very fine balance, and even
after the encouragement she had received from the Duke, was intent on
confining herself to some position about the girl inferior to that
which such a friend as Lady Cantrip might have occupied. But the
girl's manner, and the girl's speech about her own mother, overcame
her. It was the unintentional revelation of the Duchess's constant
reference to her,--the way in which Lady Mary would assert that
"Mamma used always to say this of you; mamma always knew that you
would think so and so; mamma used to say that you had told her." It
was the feeling thus conveyed, that the mother who was now dead had
in her daily dealings with her own child spoken of her as her nearest
friend, which mainly served to conquer the deference of manner which
she had assumed.

Then gradually there came confidences,--and at last absolute
confidence. The whole story about Mr. Tregear was told. Yes; she
loved Mr. Tregear. She had given him her heart, and had told him so.

"Then, my dear, your father ought to know it," said Mrs. Finn.

"No; not yet. Mamma knew it."

"Did she know all that you have told me?"

"Yes; all. And Mr. Tregear spoke to her, and she said that papa ought
not to be told quite yet."

Mrs. Finn could not but remember that the friend she had lost was
not, among women, the one best able to give a girl good counsel in
such a crisis.

"Why not yet, dear?"

"Well, because--. It is very hard to explain. In the first place,
because Mr. Tregear himself does not wish it."

"That is a very bad reason; the worst in the world."

"Of course you will say so. Of course everybody would say so. But
when there is one person whom one loves better than all the rest,
for whom one would be ready to die, to whom one is determined that
everything shall be devoted, surely the wishes of a person so dear as
that ought to have weight."

"Not in persuading you to do that which is acknowledged to be wrong."

"What wrong? I am going to do nothing wrong."

"The very concealment of your love is wrong, after that love has been
not only given but declared. A girl's position in such matters is so
delicate, especially that of such a girl as you!"

"I know all about that," said Lady Mary, with something almost
approaching to scorn in her tone. "Of course I have to be--delicate.
I don't quite know what the word means. I am not a bit ashamed of
being in love with Mr. Tregear. He is a gentleman, highly educated,
very clever, of an old family,--older, I believe, than papa's. And he
is manly and handsome; just what a young man ought to be. Only he is
not rich."

"If he be all that you say, ought you not to trust your papa? If he
approve of it, he could give you money."

"Of course he must be told; but not now. He is nearly broken-hearted
about dear mamma. He could not bring himself to care about anything
of that kind at present. And then it is Mr. Tregear that should speak
to him first."

"Not now, Mary."

"How do you mean not now?"

"If you had a mother you would talk to her about it."

"Mamma knew."

"If she were still living she would tell your father."

"But she didn't tell him though she did know. She didn't mean to tell
him quite yet. She wanted to see Mr. Tregear here in England first.
Of course I shall do nothing till papa does know."

"You will not see him?"

"How can I see him here? He will not come here, if you mean that."

"You do not correspond with him?" Here for the first time the girl
blushed. "Oh, Mary, if you are writing to him your father ought to
know it."

"I have not written to him; but when he heard how ill poor mamma was,
then he wrote to me--twice. You may see his letters. It is all about
her. No one worshipped mamma as he did."

Gradually the whole story was told. These two young persons
considered themselves to be engaged, but had agreed that their
engagement should not be made known to the Duke till something had
occurred, or some time had arrived, as to which Mr. Tregear was to be
the judge. In Mrs. Finn's opinion nothing could be more unwise, and
she said much to induce the girl to confess everything to her father
at once. But in all her arguments she was opposed by the girl's
reference to her mother. "Mamma knew it." And it did certainly seem
to Mrs. Finn as though the mother had assented to this imprudent
concealment. When she endeavoured, in her own mind, to make excuse
for her friend, she felt almost sure that the Duchess, with all
her courage, had been afraid to propose to her husband that their
daughter should marry a commoner without an income. But in thinking
of all that, there could now be nothing gained. What ought she to
do--at once? The girl, in telling her, had exacted no promise of
secrecy, nor would she have given any such promise; but yet she did
not like the idea of telling the tale behind the girl's back. It was
evident that Lady Mary had considered herself to be safe in confiding
her story to her mother's old friend. Lady Mary no doubt had had her
confidences with her mother,--confidences from which it had been
intended by both that the father should be excluded; and now she
seemed naturally to expect that this new ally should look at this
great question as her mother had looked at it. The father had been
regarded as a great outside power, which could hardly be overcome,
but which might be evaded, or made inoperative by stratagem. It was
not that the daughter did not love him. She loved him and venerated
him highly,--the veneration perhaps being stronger than the love. The
Duchess, too, had loved him dearly,--more dearly in late years than
in her early life. But her husband to her had always been an outside
power which had in many cases to be evaded. Lady Mary, though she did
not express all this, evidently thought that in this new friend she
had found a woman whose wishes and aspirations for her would be those
which her mother had entertained.

But Mrs. Finn was much troubled in her mind, thinking that it was her
duty to tell the story to the Duke. It was not only the daughter who
had trusted her, but the father also; and the father's confidence had
been not only the first but by far the holier of the two. And the
question was one so important to the girl's future happiness! There
could be no doubt that the peril of her present position was very
great.

"Mary," she said one morning, when the fortnight was nearly at an
end, "your father ought to know all this. I should feel that I had
betrayed him were I to go away leaving him in ignorance."

"You do not mean to say that you will tell?" said the girl, horrified
at the idea of such treachery.

"I wish that I could induce you to do so. Every day that he is kept
in the dark is an injury to you."

"I am doing nothing. What harm can come? It is not as though I were
seeing him every day."

"This harm will come; your father of course will know that you became
engaged to Mr. Tregear in Italy, and that a fact so important to him
has been kept back from him."

"If there is anything in that, the evil has been done already. Of
course poor mamma did mean to tell him."

"She cannot tell him now, and therefore you ought to do what she
would have done."

"I cannot break my promise to him." "Him" always meant Mr. Tregear.
"I have told him that I would not do so till I had his consent, and I
will not."

This was very dreadful to Mrs. Finn, and yet she was most unwilling
to take upon herself the part of a stern elder, and declare that
under the circumstances she must tell the tale. The story had been
told to her under the supposition that she was not a stern elder,
that she was regarded as the special friend of the dear mother who
was gone, that she might be trusted to assist against the terrible
weight of parental authority. She could not endure to be regarded at
once as a traitor by this young friend who had sweetly inherited the
affection with which the Duchess had regarded her. And yet if she
were to be silent how could she forgive herself? "The Duke certainly
ought to know at once," said she, repeating her words merely that she
might gain some time for thinking, and pluck up courage to declare
her purpose, should she resolve on betraying the secret.

"If you tell him now, I will never forgive you," said Lady Mary.

"I am bound in honour to see that your father knows a thing which is
of such vital importance to him and to you. Having heard all this
I have no right to keep it from him. If Mr. Tregear really loves
you"--Lady Mary smiled at the doubt implied by this suggestion--"he
ought to feel that for your sake there should be no secret from your
father." Then she paused a moment to think. "Will you let me see Mr.
Tregear myself, and talk to him about it?"

To this Lady Mary at first demurred, but when she found that in no
other way could she prevent Mrs. Finn from going at once to the
Duke and telling him everything, she consented. Under Mrs. Finn's
directions she wrote a note to her lover, which Mrs. Finn saw,
and then undertook to send it, with a letter from herself, to Mr.
Tregear's address in London. The note was very short, and was indeed
dictated by the elder lady, with some dispute, however, as to certain
terms, in which the younger lady had her way. It was as follows:


   DEAREST FRANK,

   I wish you to see Mrs. Finn, who, as you know, was dear
   mamma's most particular friend. Please go to her, as she
   will ask you to do. When you hear what she says I think
   you ought to do what she advises.

   Yours for ever and always,

   M. P.


This Mrs. Finn sent enclosed in an envelope, with a few words from
herself, asking the gentleman to call upon her in Park Lane, on a day
and at an hour fixed.



CHAPTER III

Francis Oliphant Tregear


Mr. Francis Oliphant Tregear was a young man who might not improbably
make a figure in the world, should circumstances be kind to him,
but as to whom it might be doubted whether circumstances would be
sufficiently kind to enable him to use serviceably his unquestionable
talents and great personal gifts. He had taught himself to regard
himself as a young English gentleman of the first water, qualified
by his birth and position to live with all that was most noble and
most elegant; and he could have lived in that sphere naturally
and gracefully were it not that the part of the "sphere" which he
specially affected requires wealth as well as birth and intellect.
Wealth he had not, and yet he did not abandon the sphere. As a
consequence of all this, it was possible that the predictions of his
friends as to that figure which he was to make in the world might be
disappointed.

He had been educated at Eton, from whence he had been sent to Christ
Church; and both at school and at college had been the most intimate
friend of the son and heir of a great and wealthy duke. He and Lord
Silverbridge had been always together, and they who were interested
in the career of the young nobleman had generally thought he had
chosen his friend well. Tregear had gone out in honours, having
been a second-class man. His friend Silverbridge, we know, had been
allowed to take no degree at all; but the terrible practical joke
by which the whole front of the Dean's house had been coloured
scarlet in the middle of the night, had been carried on without any
assistance from Tregear. The two young men had then been separated
for a year; but immediately after taking his degree, Tregear, at the
invitation of Lord Silverbridge, had gone to Italy, and had there
completely made good his footing with the Duchess,--with what effect
on another member of the Palliser family the reader already knows.

The young man was certainly clever. When the Duchess found that he
could talk without any shyness, that he could speak French fluently,
and that after a month in Italy he could chatter Italian, at any rate
without reticence or shame; when she perceived that all the women
liked the lad's society and impudence, and that all the young men
were anxious to know him, she was glad to find that Silverbridge
had chosen so valuable a friend. And then he was beautiful to look
at,--putting her almost in mind of another man on whom her eyes had
once loved to dwell. He was dark, with hair that was almost black,
but yet was not black; with clear brown eyes, a nose as regular as
Apollo's, and a mouth in which was ever to be found that expression
of manliness, which of all characteristics is the one which women
love the best. He was five feet ten in height. He was always well
dressed, and yet always so dressed as to seem to show that his
outside garniture had not been matter of trouble to him. Before the
Duchess had dreamed what might take place between this young man and
her daughter she had been urgent in her congratulations to her son as
to the possession of such a friend.

For though she now and then would catch a glimpse of the outer man,
which would remind her of that other beautiful one whom she had
known in her youth, and though, as these glimpses came, she would
remember how poor in spirit and how unmanly that other one had
been, though she would confess to herself how terrible had been the
heart-shipwreck which that other one had brought upon herself; still
she was able completely to assure herself that this man, though not
superior in external grace, was altogether different in mind and
character. She was old enough now to see all this and to appreciate
it. Young Tregear had his own ideas about the politics of the day,
and they were ideas with which she sympathised, though they were
antagonistic to the politics of her life. He had his ideas about
books too, as to manners of life, as to art, and even ethics. Whether
or no in all this there was not much that was superficial only, she
was not herself deep enough to discover. Nor would she have been
deterred from admiring him had she been told that it was tinsel. Such
were the acquirements, such the charms, that she loved. Here was a
young man who dared to speak, and had always something ready to be
spoken; who was not afraid of beauty, nor daunted by superiority of
rank; who, if he had not money, could carry himself on equal terms
among those who had. In this way he won the Duchess's heart, and
having done that, was it odd that he should win the heart of the
daughter also?

His father was a Cornwall squire of comfortable means, having joined
the property of his wife to his own for the period of his own life.
She had possessed land also in Cornwall, supposed to be worth fifteen
hundred a year, and his own paternal estate at Polwenning was said
to be double that value. Being a prudent man, he lived at home as a
country gentleman, and thus was able in his county to hold his head
as high as richer men. But Frank Tregear was only his second son; and
though Frank would hereafter inherit his mother's fortune, he was by
no means now in a position to assume the right of living as an idle
man. Yet he was idle. The elder brother, who was considerably older
than Frank, was an odd man, much addicted to quarrelling with his
family, and who spent his time chiefly in travelling about the world.
Frank's mother, who was not the mother of the heir also, would
sometimes surmise, in Frank's hearing, that the entire property must
ultimately come to him. That other Tregear, who was now supposed to
be investigating the mountains of Crim Tartary, would surely never
marry. And Frank was the favourite also with his father, who paid
his debts at Oxford with not much grumbling; who was proud of his
friendship with a future duke; who did not urge, as he ought to have
urged, that vital question of a profession; and who, when he allowed
his son four hundred pounds a year, was almost content with that
son's protestations that he knew how to live as a poor man among rich
men, without chagrin and without trouble.

Such was the young man who now, in lieu of a profession, had taken
upon himself the responsibility of an engagement with Lady Mary
Palliser. He was tolerably certain that, should he be able to
overcome the parental obstacles which he would no doubt find in his
path, money would be forthcoming sufficient for the purposes of
matrimonial life. The Duke's wealth was fabulous, and as a great
part of it, if not the greater, had come from his wife, there would
probably be ample provision for the younger children. And when the
Duchess had found out how things were going, and had yielded to her
daughter, after an opposition which never had the appearance even of
being in earnest, she had taken upon herself to say that she would
use her influence to prevent any great weight of trouble from
pecuniary matters. Frank Tregear, young and bright, and full of
hearty ambitions, was certainly not the man to pursue a girl simply
because of her fortune; nor was he weak enough to be attracted simply
by the glitter of rank; but he was wise enough with worldly wisdom
to understand thoroughly the comforts of a good income, and he was
sufficiently attached to high position to feel the advantage of
marrying a daughter of the Duke of Omnium.

When the Duchess was leaving Italy, it had been her declared purpose
to tell her husband the story as soon as they were at home in
England. And it was on this understanding that Frank Tregear had
explained to the girl that he would not as yet ask her father for
his permission to be received into the family as a suitor. Everyone
concerned had felt that the Duke would not easily be reconciled to
such a son-in-law, and that the Duchess should be the one to bell the
cat.

There was one member of the family who had hitherto been half-hearted
in the matter. Lord Silverbridge had vacillated between loyalty to
his friend and a certain feeling as to the impropriety of such a
match for his sister. He was aware that something very much better
should be expected for her, and still was unable to explain his
objections to Tregear. He had not at first been admitted into
confidence, either by his sister or by Tregear, but had questioned
his friend when he saw what was going on. "Certainly I love your
sister," Tregear had said; "do you object?" Lord Silverbridge was the
weaker of the two, and much subject to the influence of his friend;
but he could on occasion be firm, and he did at first object. But he
did not object strongly, and allowed himself at last to be content
with declaring that the Duke would never give his consent.

While Tregear was with his love, or near her, his hopes and fears
were sufficient to occupy his mind; and immediately on his return,
all the world was nothing to him, except as far as the world was
concerned with Lady Mary Palliser. He had come back to England
somewhat before the ducal party, and the pleasures and occupations
of London life had not abated his love, but enabled him to feel that
there was something in life over and beyond his love; whereas to
Lady Mary, down at Matching, there had been nothing over and beyond
her love--except the infinite grief and desolation produced by her
mother's death.

Tregear, when he received the note from Mrs. Finn, was staying at
the Duke's house in Carlton Terrace. Silverbridge was there, and, on
leaving Matching, had asked the Duke's permission to have his friend
with him. The Duke at that time was not well pleased with his son
as to a matter of politics, and gave his son's friend credit for
the evil counsel which had produced this displeasure. But still
he had not refused his assent to this proposition. Had he done so,
Silverbridge would probably have gone elsewhere; and though there
was a matter in respect to Tregear of which the Duke disapproved, it
was not a matter, as he thought, which would have justified him in
expelling the young man from his house. The young man was a strong
Conservative; and now Silverbridge had declared his purpose of
entering the House of Commons, if he did enter it, as one of the
Conservative party.

This had been a terrible blow to the Duke; and he believed that it
all came from this young Tregear. Still he must do his duty, and not
more than his duty. He knew nothing against Tregear. That a Tregear
should be a Conservative was perhaps natural enough--at any rate, was
not disgraceful; that he should have his political creed sufficiently
at heart to be able to persuade another man, was to his credit.
He was a gentleman, well educated, superior in many things to
Silverbridge himself. There were those who said that Silverbridge
had redeemed himself from contempt--from that sort of contempt which
might be supposed to await a young nobleman who had painted scarlet
the residence of the Head of his college--by the fact of his having
chosen such a friend. The Duke was essentially a just man; and
though, at the very moment in which the request was made, his heart
was half crushed by his son's apostasy, he gave the permission asked.

"You know Mrs. Finn?" Tregear said to his friend one morning at
breakfast.

"I remember her all my life. She used to be a great deal with my
grandfather. I believe he left her a lot of diamonds and money, and
that she wouldn't have them. I don't know whether the diamonds are
not locked up somewhere now, so that she can take them when she
pleases."

"What a singular woman!"

"It was odd; but she had some fad about it. What makes you ask about
Mrs. Finn?"

"She wants me to go and see her."

"What about?"

"I think I have heard your mother speak of her as though she loved
her dearly," said Tregear.

"I don't know about loving her dearly. They were intimate, and Mrs.
Finn used to be with her very much when she was in the country. She
was at Matching just now, when my poor mother died. Why does she want
to see you?"

"She has written to me from Matching. She wants to see me--"

"Well?"

"To tell you the truth, I do not know what she has to say to me;
though I can guess."

"What do you guess?"

"It is something about your sister."

"You will have to give that up, Tregear."

"I think not."

"Yes, you will; my father will never stand it."

"I don't know what there is to stand. I am not noble, nor am I rich;
but I am as good a gentleman as he is."

"My dear fellow," said the young lord, "you know very well what I
think about all that. A fellow is not any better to me because he
has got a title, nor yet because he owns half a county. But men have
their ideas and feelings about it. My father is a rich man, and of
course he'll want his daughter to marry a rich man. My father is
noble, and he'll want his daughter to marry a nobleman. You can't
very well marry Mary without his permission, and therefore you had
better let it alone."

"I haven't even asked his permission as yet."

"Even my mother was afraid to speak to him about it, and I never knew
her to be afraid to say anything else to him."

"I shall not be afraid," said Tregear, looking grimly.

"I should. That's the difference between us."

"He can't very well eat me."

"Nor even bite you;--nor will he abuse you. But he can look at you,
and he can say a word or two which you will find it very hard to
bear. My governor is the quietest man I know, but he has a way
of making himself disagreeable when he wishes, that I never saw
equalled."

"At any rate, I had better go and see your Mrs. Finn." Then Tregear
wrote a line to Mrs. Finn, and made his appointment.



CHAPTER IV

Park Lane


From the beginning of the affair Tregear had found the necessity
of bolstering himself up inwardly in his great attempt by mottoes,
proverbs, and instigations to courage addressed to himself. "None but
the brave deserve the fair." "De l'audace, et encore de l'audace, et
toujours de l'audace." He was a man naturally of good heart in such
matters, who was not afraid of his brother-men, nor yet of women,
his sisters. But in this affair he knew very much persistence would
be required of him, and that even with such persistence he might
probably fail, unless he should find a more than ordinary constancy
in the girl. That the Duke could not eat him, indeed that nobody
could eat him as long as he carried himself as an honest man and a
gentleman, was to him an inward assurance on which he leaned much.
And yet he was conscious, almost with a feeling of shame, that in
Italy he had not spoken to the Duke about his daughter because he was
afraid lest the Duke might eat him. In such an affair he should have
been careful from the first to keep his own hands thoroughly clean.
Had it not been his duty as a gentleman to communicate with the
father, if not before he gained the girl's heart, at any rate as soon
as he knew he had done so? He had left Italy thinking that he would
certainly meet the Duchess and her daughter in London, and that then
he might go to the Duke as though this love of his had arisen from
the sweetness of those meetings in London. But all these ideas had
been dissipated by the great misfortune of the death of Lady Mary's
mother. From all this he was driven to acknowledge to himself that
his silence in Italy had been wrong, that he had been weak in
allowing himself to be guided by the counsel of the Duchess, and that
he had already armed the Duke with one strong argument against him.

He did not doubt but that Mrs. Finn would be opposed to him. Of
course he could not doubt but that all the world would now be opposed
to him,--except the girl herself. He would find no other friend so
generous, so romantic, so unworldly as the Duchess had been. It was
clear to him that Lady Mary had told the story of her engagement to
Mrs. Finn, and that Mrs. Finn had not as yet told it to the Duke.
From this he was justified in regarding Mrs. Finn as the girl's
friend. The request made was that he should at once do something
which Mrs. Finn was to suggest. He could hardly have been so
requested, and that in terms of such warm affection, had it been Mrs.
Finn's intention to ask him to desist altogether from his courtship.
This woman was regarded by Lady Mary as her mother's dearest friend.
It was therefore incumbent on him now to induce her to believe in him
as the Duchess had believed.

He knocked at the door of Mrs. Finn's little house in Park Lane a
few minutes before the time appointed, and found himself alone when
he was shown into the drawing-room. He had heard much of this lady
though he had never seen her, and had heard much also of her husband.
There had been a kind of mystery about her. People did not quite
understand how it was that she had been so intimate with the Duchess,
nor why the late Duke had left to her an enormous legacy, which as
yet had never been claimed. There was supposed, too, to have been
something especially romantic in her marriage with her present
husband. It was believed also that she was very rich. The rumours of
all these things together had made her a person of note, and Tregear,
when he found himself alone in the drawing-room, looked round about
him as though a special interest was to be attached to the belongings
of such a woman. It was a pretty room, somewhat dark, because the
curtains were almost closed across the windows, but furnished with
a pretty taste, and now, in these early April days, filled with
flowers.

"I have to apologise, Mr. Tregear, for keeping you waiting," she said
as she entered the room.

"I fear I was before my time."

"I know that I am after mine,--a few minutes," said the lady.

He told himself that though she was not a young woman, yet she was
attractive. She was dark, and still wore her black hair in curls,
such as are now seldom seen with ladies. Perhaps the reduced light of
the chamber had been regulated with some regard to her complexion and
to her age. The effect, however, was good, and Frank Tregear felt at
once interested in her.

"You have just come up from Matching?" he said.

"Yes; only the day before yesterday. It is very good of you to come
to me so soon."

"Of course I came when you sent for me. I am afraid the Duke felt his
loss severely."

"How should he not, such a loss as it was? Few people knew how much
he trusted her, and how dearly he loved her."

"Silverbridge has told me that he is awfully cut up."

"You have seen Lord Silverbridge then?"

"Just at present I am living with him, at Carlton Terrace."

"In the Duke's house?" she asked, with some surprise.

"Yes; in the Duke's house. Silverbridge and I have been very
intimate. Of course the Duke knows that I am there. Is there any
chance of his coming to town?"

"Not yet, I fear. He is determined to be alone. I wish it were
otherwise, as I am sure he would better bear his sorrow, if he would
go about among other men."

"No doubt he would suffer less," said Tregear. Then there was a
pause. Each wished that the other should introduce the matter which
both knew was to be the subject of their conversation. But Tregear
would not begin. "When I left them all at Florence," he said, "I
little thought that I should never see her again."

"You had been intimate with them, Mr. Tregear?"

"Yes; I think I may say I have been intimate with them. I had been at
Eton and at Christ Church with Silverbridge, and we have always been
much together."

"I have understood that. Have you and the Duke been good friends?"

"We have never been enemies."

"I suppose not that."

"The Duke, I think, does not much care about young people. I hardly
know what he used to do with himself. When I dined with them, I saw
him, but I did not often do that. I think he used to read a good
deal, and walk about alone. We were always riding."

"Lady Mary used to ride?"

"Oh yes; and Lord Silverbridge and Lord Gerald. And the Duchess used
to drive. One of us would always be with her."

"And so you became intimate with the whole family?"

"So I became intimate with the whole family."

"And especially so with Lady Mary?" This she said in her sweetest
possible tone, and with a most gracious smile.

"Especially so with Lady Mary," he replied.

"It will be very good of you, Mr. Tregear, if you endure and forgive
all this cross-questioning from me, who am a perfect stranger to
you."

"But you are not a perfect stranger to her."

"That is it, of course. Now, if you will allow me, I will explain to
you exactly what my footing with her is. When the Duchess returned,
and when I found her to be so ill as she passed through London, I
went down with her into the country,--quite as a matter of course."

"So I understand."

"And there she died,--in my arms. I will not try to harass you by
telling you what those few days were; how absolutely he was struck to
the ground, how terrible was the grief of the daughter, how the boys
were astonished by the feeling of their loss. After a few days they
went away. It was, I think, their father's wish that they should go.
And I too was going away,--and had felt, indeed, directly her spirit
had parted from her, that I was only in the way in his house. But I
stayed at his request, because he did not wish his daughter to be
alone."

"I can easily understand that, Mrs. Finn."

"I wanted her to go to Lady Cantrip who had invited her, but she
would not. In that way we were thrown together in the closest
intercourse, for two or three weeks. Then she told me the story of
your engagement."

"That was natural, I suppose."

"Surely so. Think of her position, left as she is without a mother!
It was incumbent on her to tell someone. There was, however, one
other person in whom it would have been much better that she should
have confided."

"What person?"

"Her father."

"I rather fancy that it is I who ought to tell him."

"As far as I understand these things, Mr. Tregear,--which, indeed, is
very imperfectly,--I think it is natural that a girl should at once
tell her mother when a gentleman has made her understand that he
loves her."

"She did so, Mrs. Finn."

"And I suppose that generally the mother would tell the father."

"She did not."

"No; and therefore the position of the young lady is now one of great
embarrassment. The Duchess has gone from us, and we must now make up
our minds as to what had better be done. It is out of the question
that Lady Mary should be allowed to consider herself to be engaged,
and that the father should be kept in ignorance of her position." She
paused for his reply, but as he said nothing, she continued: "Either
you must tell the Duke, or she must do so, or I must do so."

"I suppose she told you in confidence."

"No doubt. She told it me presuming that I would not betray her; but
I shall,--if that be a betrayal. The Duke must know it. It will be
infinitely better that he should know it through you, or through her,
than through me. But he must be told."

"I can't quite see why," said Tregear.

"For her sake,--whom I suppose you love."

"Certainly I love her."

"In order that she may not suffer. I wonder you do not see it, Mr.
Tregear. Perhaps you have a sister."

"I have no sister as it happens."

"But you can imagine what your feelings would be. Should you like to
think of a sister as being engaged to a man without the knowledge of
any of her family?"

"It was not so. The Duchess knew it. The present condition of things
is altogether an accident."

"It is an accident that must be brought to an end."

"Of course it must be brought to an end. I am not such a fool as to
suppose that I can make her my wife without telling her father."

"I mean at once, Mr. Tregear."

"It seems to me that you are rather dictating to me, Mrs. Finn."

"I owe you an apology, of course, for meddling in your affairs at
all. But as it will be more conducive to your success that the Duke
should hear this from you than from me, and as I feel that I am bound
by my duty to him and to Lady Mary to see that he be not left in
ignorance, I think that I am doing you a service."

"I do not like to have a constraint put upon me."

"That, Mr. Tregear, is what gentlemen, I fancy, very often feel in
regard to ladies. But the constraint of which you speak is necessary
for their protection. Are you unwilling to see the Duke?"

He was very unwilling, but he would not confess so much. He gave
various reasons for delay, urging repeatedly that the question of his
marriage was one which he could not press upon the Duke so soon after
the death of the Duchess. And when she assured him that this was a
matter of importance so great, that even the death of the man's wife
should not be held by him to justify delay, he became angry, and for
awhile insisted that he must be allowed to follow his own judgment.
But he gave her a promise that he would see the Duke before a week
was over. Nevertheless he left the house in dudgeon, having told Mrs.
Finn more than once that she was taking advantage of Lady Mary's
confidence. They hardly parted as friends, and her feeling was, on
the whole, hostile to him and to his love. It could not, she thought,
be for the happiness of such a one as Lady Mary that she should give
herself to one who seemed to have so little to recommend him.

He, when he had left her, was angry with his own weakness. He had not
only promised that he would make his application to the Duke, but
that he would do so within the period of a week. Who was she that she
should exact terms from him after this fashion, and prescribe days
and hours? And now, because this strange woman had spoken to him, he
was compelled to make a journey down to the Duke's country house, and
seek an interview in which he would surely be snubbed!

This occurred on a Wednesday, and he resolved that he would go down
to Matching on the next Monday. He said nothing of his plan to any
one, and not a word passed between him and Lord Silverbridge about
Lady Mary during the first two or three days. But on the Saturday
Silverbridge appeared at breakfast with a letter in his hand. "The
governor is coming up to town," he said.

"Immediately?"

"In the course of next week. He says that he thinks he shall be here
on Wednesday."

It immediately struck Tregear that this sudden journey must have some
reference to Lady Mary and her engagement. "Do you know why he is
coming?"

"Because of these vacancies in Parliament."

"Why should that bring him up?"

"I suppose he hopes to be able to talk me into obedience. He wants me
to stand for the county--as a Liberal, of course. I intend to stand
for the borough as a Conservative, and I have told them so down
at Silverbridge. I am very sorry to annoy him, and all that kind
of thing. But what the deuce is a fellow to do? If a man has got
political convictions of his own, of course, he must stick to them."
This the young Lord said with a good deal of self-assurance, as
though he, by the light of his own reason, had ascertained on which
side the truth lay in political contests of the day.

"There is a good deal to be said on both sides of the question, my
boy." At this particular moment Tregear felt that the Duke ought to
be propitiated.

"You wouldn't have me give up my convictions!"

"A seat in Parliament is a great thing."

"I can probably secure that, whichever side I take. I thought you
were so devilish hot against the Radicals."

"So I am. But then you are, as it were, bound by family allegiance."

"I'll be shot if I am. One never knows how to understand you
nowadays. It used to be a great doctrine with you, that nothing
should induce a man to vote against his political opinions."

"So it is,--if he has really got any. However, as your father is
coming to London, I need not go down to Matching."

"You don't mean to say that you were going to Matching?"

"I had intended to beard the lion in his country den; but now the
lion will find me in his own town den, and I must beard him here."

Then Tregear wrote a most chilling note to Mrs. Finn, informing her
with great precision, that, as the Duke of Omnium intended to be in
town one day next week, he would postpone the performance of his
promise for a day or two beyond the allotted time.



CHAPTER V

"It Is Impossible"


Down at Matching Lady Mary's life was very dull after Mrs. Finn had
left her. She had a horse to ride, but had no one to ride with her.
She had a carriage in which to be driven, but no one to be driven
with her, and no special places whither to go. Her father would walk
daily for two hours, and she would accompany him when he encouraged
her to do so; but she had an idea that he preferred taking his walks
alone, and when they were together there was no feeling of confidence
between them. There could be none on her part, as she knew that she
was keeping back information which he was entitled to possess. On
this matter she received two letters from Mrs. Finn, in the first of
which she was told that Mr. Tregear intended to present himself at
Matching within a few days, and was advised in the same letter not to
endeavour to see her lover on that occasion; and then, in the second
she was informed that this interview with her father was to be sought
not at Matching but in London. From this latter letter there was of
course some disappointment, though some feeling of relief. Had he
come there she might possibly have seen him after the interview.
But she would have been subjected to the immediate sternness of her
father's anger. That she would now escape. She would not be called
on to meet him just when the first blow had fallen upon him. She was
quite sure that he would disapprove of the thing. She was quite sure
that he would be very angry. She knew that he was a peculiarly just
man, and yet she thought that in this he would be unjust. Had she
been called upon to sing the praises of her father she would have
insisted above all things on the absolute integrity of his mind, and
yet, knowing as she did that he would be opposed to her marriage with
Mr. Tregear, she assured herself every day and every hour that he
had no right to make any such objection. The man she loved was a
gentleman, and an honest man, by no means a fool, and subject to no
vices. Her father had no right to demand that she should give her
heart to a rich man, or to one of high rank. Rank! As for rank, she
told herself that she had the most supreme contempt for it. She
thought that she had seen it near enough already to be sure that it
ought to have no special allurements. What was it doing for her?
Simply restraining her choice among comparatively a few who seemed to
her by no means the best endowed of God's creatures.

Of one thing she was very sure, that under no pressure whatsoever
would she abandon her engagement with Mr. Tregear. That to her had
become a bond almost as holy as matrimony itself could be. She had
told the man that she loved him, and after that there could be no
retreat. He had kissed her, and she had returned his caress. He had
told her that she was his, as his arm was round her; and she had
acknowledged that it was so, that she belonged to him, and could not
be taken away from him. All this was to her a compact so sacred that
nothing could break it but a desire on his part to have it annulled.
No other man had ever whispered a word of love to her, of no other
man had an idea entered her mind that it could be pleasant to join
her lot in life with his. With her it had been all new and all
sacred. Love with her had that religion which nothing but freshness
can give it. That freshness, that bloom, may last through a long
life. But every change impairs it, and after many changes it has
perished for ever. There was no question with her but that she
must bear her father's anger, should he be angry; put up with his
continued opposition, should he resolutely oppose her; bear all that
the countesses of the world might say to her;--for it was thus that
she thought of Lady Cantrip now. Any retrogression was beyond her
power.

She was walking with her father when she first heard of his intended
visit to London. At that time she had received Mrs. Finn's first
letter, but not the second. "I suppose you'll see Silverbridge," she
said. She knew then that Frank Tregear was living with her brother.

"I am going up on purpose to see him. He is causing me much
annoyance."

"Is he extravagant?"

"It is not that--at present." He winced even as he said this, for he
had in truth suffered somewhat from demands made upon him for money,
which had hurt him not so much by their amount as by their nature.
Lord Silverbridge had taken upon himself to "own a horse or two,"
very much to his father's chagrin, and was at this moment part
proprietor of an animal supposed to stand well for the Derby. The
fact was not announced in the papers with his lordship's name, but
his father was aware of it, and did not like it the better because
his son held the horse in partnership with a certain Major Tifto, who
was well known in the sporting world.

"What is it, papa?"

"Of course he ought to go into Parliament."

"I think he wishes it himself."

"Yes, but how? By a piece of extreme good fortune, West Barsetshire
is open to him. The two seats are vacant together. There is hardly
another agricultural county in England that will return a Liberal,
and I fear I am not asserting too much in saying that no other
Liberal could carry the seat but one of our family."

"You used to sit for Silverbridge, papa."

"Yes, I did. In those days the county returned four Conservatives.
I cannot explain it all to you, but it is his duty to contest the
county on the Liberal side."

"But if he is a Conservative himself, papa?" asked Lady Mary, who had
had some political ideas suggested to her own mind by her lover.

"It is all rubbish. It has come from that young man Tregear, with
whom he has been associating."

"But, papa," said Lady Mary, who felt that even in this matter she
was bound to be firm on what was now her side of the question, "I
suppose it is as--as--as respectable to be a Conservative as a
Liberal."

"I don't know that at all," said the Duke angrily.

"I thought that--the two sides were--"

She was going to express an opinion that the two parties might be
supposed to stand as equal in the respect of the country, when he
interrupted her. "The Pallisers have always been Liberal. It will be
a blow to me, indeed, if Silverbridge deserts his colours. I know
that as yet he himself has had no deep thoughts on the subject, that
unfortunately he does not give himself much to thinking, and that in
this matter he is being talked over by a young man whose position in
life has hardly justified the great intimacy which has existed."

This was very far from being comfortable to her, but of course she
said nothing in defence of Tregear's politics. Nor at present was she
disposed to say anything as to his position in life, though at some
future time she might not be so silent. A few days later they were
again walking together, when he spoke to her about herself. "I cannot
bear that you should be left here alone while I am away," he said.

"You will not be long gone, I suppose?"

"Only for three or four days now."

"I shall not mind that, papa."

"But very probably I may have to go into Barsetshire. Would you not
be happier if you would let me write to Lady Cantrip, and tell her
that you will go to her?"

"No, papa, I think not. There are times when one feels that one ought
to be almost alone. Don't you feel that?"

"I do not wish you to feel it, nor would you do so long if you had
other people around you. With me it is different. I am an old man,
and cannot look for new pleasures in society. It has been the fault
of my life to be too much alone. I do not want to see my children
follow me in that."

"It is so very short a time as yet," said she, thinking of her
mother's death.

"But I think that you should be with somebody,--with some woman who
would be kind to you. I like to see you with books, but books alone
should not be sufficient at your age." How little, she thought, did
he know of the state either of her heart or mind! "Do you dislike
Lady Cantrip?"

"I do not know her. I can't say that I dislike a person whom I don't
think I ever spoke to, and never saw above once or twice. But how can
I say that I like her?" She did, however, know that Lady Cantrip was
a countess all over, and would be shocked at the idea of a daughter
of a Duke of Omnium marrying the younger son of a country squire.
Nothing further was then said on the matter, and when the Duke went
to town Lady Mary was left quite alone, with an understanding that if
he went into Barsetshire he should come back and take her with him.

He arrived at his own house in Carlton Terrace about five o'clock
in the afternoon, and immediately went to his study, intending to
dine and spend the evening there alone. His son had already pleaded
an engagement for that afternoon, but had consented to devote the
following morning to his father's wishes. Of the other sojourner in
his house the Duke had thought nothing; but the other sojourner had
thought very much of the Duke. Frank Tregear was fully possessed of
that courage which induces a man who knows that he must be thrown
over a precipice, to choose the first possible moment for his fall.
He had sounded Silverbridge about this change in his politics, and
had found his friend quite determined not to go back to the family
doctrine. Such being the case, the Duke's ill-will and hardness and
general severity would probably be enhanced by his interview with
his son. Tregear, therefore, thinking that nothing could be got by
delay, sent his name in to the Duke before he had been an hour in the
house, and asked for an interview. The servant brought back word that
his Grace was fatigued, but would see Mr. Tregear if the matter in
question was one of importance. Frank's heart quailed for a moment,
but only for a moment. He took up a pen and wrote a note.


   MY DEAR DUKE OF OMNIUM,

   If your Grace can spare a moment, I think you will find
   that what I have to say will justify the intrusion.

   Your very faithful servant,

   F. O. TREGEAR.


Of course the Duke admitted him. There was but one idea in his head
as to what was coming. His son had taken this way of making some
communication to him respecting his political creed. Some overture or
some demand was to be preferred through Tregear. If so, it was proof
of a certain anxiety as to the matter on his son's part which was not
displeasing to him. But he was not left long in this mistake after
Tregear had entered the room. "Sir," he said, speaking quite at once,
as soon as the door was closed behind him, but still speaking very
slowly, looking beautiful as Apollo as he stood upright before his
wished-for father-in-law--"Sir, I have come to you to ask you to give
me the hand of your daughter." The few words had been all arranged
beforehand, and were now spoken without any appearance of fear
or shame. No one hearing them would have imagined that an almost
penniless young gentleman was asking in marriage the daughter of the
richest and greatest nobleman in England.

"The hand of my daughter!" said the Duke, rising from his chair.

"I know how very great is the prize," said Frank, "and how unworthy I
am of it. But--as she thinks me worthy--"

"She! What she?"

"Lady Mary."

"She think you worthy!"

"Yes, your Grace."

"I do not believe it." On hearing this, Frank simply bowed his head.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Tregear. I do not mean to say that I do not
believe you. I never yet gave the lie to a gentleman, and I hope
I never may be driven to do so. But there must be some mistake in
this."

"I am complying with Lady Mary's wishes in asking your permission to
enter your house as her suitor." The Duke stood for a moment biting
his lips in silence. "I cannot believe it," he said at last. "I
cannot bring myself to believe it. There must be some mistake. My
daughter! Lady Mary Palliser!" Again the young man bowed his head.
"What are your pretensions?"

"Simply her regard."

"Of course it is impossible. You are not so ignorant but that you
must have known as much when you came to me."

There was so much scorn in his words, and in the tone in which they
were uttered, that Tregear in his turn was becoming angry. He had
prepared himself to bow humbly before the great man, before the Duke,
before the Croesus, before the late Prime Minister, before the man
who was to be regarded as certainly one of the most exalted of the
earth; but he had not prepared himself to be looked at as the Duke
looked at him. "The truth, my Lord Duke, is this," he said, "that
your daughter loves me, and that we are engaged to each other,--as
far as that engagement can be made without your sanction as her
father."

"It cannot have been made at all," said the Duke.

"I can only hope,--we can both of us only hope that a little time may
soften--"

"It is out of the question. There must be an end of this altogether.
You must neither see her, nor hear from her, nor in any way
communicate with her. It is altogether impossible. I believe, sir,
that you have no means?"

"Very little at present, Duke."

"How did you think you were to live? But it is altogether unnecessary
to speak of such a matter as that. There are so many reasons to make
this impossible, that it would be useless to discuss one as being
more important than others. Has any other one of my family known of
this?" This he added, wishing to ascertain whether Lord Silverbridge
had disgraced himself by lending his hand to such a disposition of
his sister.

"Oh yes," said Tregear.

"Who has known it?"

"The Duchess, sir. We had all her sympathy and approval."

"I do not believe a word of it," said the Duke, becoming extremely
red in the face. He was forced to do now that which he had just
declared that he had never done in his life,--driven by the desire of
his heart to acquit the wife he had lost of the terrible imprudence,
worse than imprudence, of which she was now accused.

"That is the second time, my Lord, that you have found it necessary
to tell me that you have not believed direct assertions which I made
you. But, luckily for me, the two assertions are capable of the
earliest and most direct proof. You will believe Lady Mary, and she
will confirm me in the one and the other."

The Duke was almost beside himself with emotion and grief. He did
know,--though now at this moment he was most loath to own to himself
that it was so,--that his dear wife had been the most imprudent of
women. And he recognised in her encouragement of this most pernicious
courtship,--if she had encouraged it,--a repetition of that romantic
folly by which she had so nearly brought herself to shipwreck in
her own early life. If it had been so,--even whether it had been so
or not,--he had been wrong to tell the man that he did not believe
him. And the man had rebuked him with dignity. "At any rate it is
impossible," he repeated.

"I cannot allow that it is impossible."

"That is for me to judge, sir."

"I trust that you will excuse me when I say that I also must hold
myself to be in some degree a judge in the matter. If you were in my
place, you would feel--"

"I could not possibly be in your place."

"If your Grace were in my place you would feel that as long as you
were assured by the young lady that your affection was valued by her
you would not be deterred by the opposition of her father. That you
should yield to me, of course I do not expect; that Lady Mary should
be persistent in her present feelings, when she knows your mind,
perhaps I have no right to hope; but should she be so persistent as
to make you feel that her happiness depends, as mine does, on our
marriage, then I shall believe that you will yield at last."

"Never!" said the Duke. "Never! I shall never believe that my
daughter's happiness can be assured by a step which I should regard
as disgraceful to her."

"Disgraceful is a violent word, my Lord."

"It is the only word that will express my meaning."

"And one which I must be bold enough to say you are not justified
in using. Should she become my wife to-morrow, no one in England
would think she had disgraced herself. The Queen would receive her
on her marriage. All your friends would hold out their hands to
us,--presuming that we had your goodwill."

"But you would not have it."

"Her disgrace would not depend upon that, my Lord. Should your
daughter so dispose of herself, as to disgrace herself,--which I
think to be impossible,--your countenance could not set her right.
Nor can the withdrawal of your countenance condemn her before the
world if she does that with herself which any other lady might do and
remain a lady."

The Duke, when he heard this, even in the midst of his wrath, which
was very violent, and in the midst of his anger, which was very
acute, felt that he had to deal with a man,--with one whom he could
not put off from him into the gutter, and there leave as buried in
the mud. And there came, too, a feeling upon him, which he had no
time to analyse, but of which he was part aware, that this terrible
indiscretion on the part of his daughter and of his late wife was
less wonderful than it had at first appeared to be. But not on that
account was he the less determined to make the young man feel that
his parental opposition would be invincible.

"It is quite impossible, sir. I do not think that I need say anything
more." Then, while Tregear was meditating whether to make any reply,
the Duke asked a question which had better have been left unasked.
The asking of it diminished somewhat from that ducal, grand-ducal,
quasi-archducal, almost godlike superiority which he had assumed, and
showed the curiosity of a mere man. "Has anybody else been aware of
this?" he said, still wishing to know whether he had cause for anger
against Silverbridge in the matter.

"Mrs. Finn is aware of it," answered Tregear.

"Mrs. Finn!" exclaimed the Duke, as though he had been stung by an
adder.

This was the woman whom he had prayed to remain awhile with his
daughter after his wife had been laid in her grave, in order that
there might be someone near whom he could trust! And this very woman
whom he had so trusted,--whom, in his early associations with her,
he had disliked and distrusted, but had taught himself both to
like and to trust because his wife had loved her,--this woman was
the she-Pandarus who had managed matters between Tregear and his
daughter! His wife had been too much subject to her influence. That
he had always known. And now, in this last act of her life, she
had allowed herself to be persuaded to give up her daughter by the
baneful wiles of this most pernicious woman. Such were the workings
of the Duke's mind when the young man told him that Mrs. Finn was
acquainted with the whole affair. As the reader is aware, nothing
could have been more unjust.

"I mentioned her name," said Tregear, "because I thought she had been
a friend of the family."

"That will do, sir. I have been greatly pained as well as surprised
by what I have heard. Of the real state of the case I can form no
opinion till I see my daughter. You, of course, will hold no further
intercourse with her." He paused as though for a promise, but Tregear
did not feel himself called upon to say a word in one direction or in
the other. "It will be my care that you shall not do so.
Good-morning, sir."

Tregear, who during the interview had been standing, then bowed,
turned upon his heel, and left the room.

The Duke seated himself, and, crossing his arms upon his chest, sat
for an hour looking up at the ceiling. Why was it that, for him, such
a world of misery had been prepared? What wrong had he done, of what
imprudence had he been guilty, that, at every turn of life, something
should occur so grievous as to make him think himself the most
wretched of men? No man had ever loved his wife more dearly than he
had done; and yet now, in that very excess of tenderness which her
death had occasioned, he was driven to accuse her of a great sin
against himself, in that she had kept from him her knowledge of this
affair;--for, when he came to turn the matter over in his mind, he
did believe Tregear's statement as to her encouragement. Then, too,
he had been proud of his daughter. He was a man so reticent and
undemonstrative in his manner that he had never known how to make
confidential friends of his children. In his sons hitherto he had
not taken pride. They were gallant, well-grown, handsome boys, with
a certain dash of cleverness,--more like their mother than their
father; but they had not as yet done anything as he would have had
them do it. But the girl, in the perfection of her beauty, in the
quiescence of her manner, in the nature of her studies, and in the
general dignity of her bearing, had seemed to be all that he had
desired. And now she had engaged herself, behind his back, to the
younger son of a little county squire!

But his anger against Mrs. Finn was hotter than his anger against any
one in his own family.



CHAPTER VI

Major Tifto


Major Tifto had lately become a member of the Beargarden Club, under
the auspices of his friend Lord Silverbridge. It was believed, by
those who had made some inquiry into the matter, that the Major had
really served a campaign as a volunteer in the Carlist army in the
north of Spain. When, therefore, it was declared by someone that
he was not a major at all, his friends were able to contradict the
assertion, and to impute it to slander. Instances were brought
up,--declared by these friends to be innumerable, but which did, in
truth, amount to three or four,--of English gentlemen who had come
home from a former Carlist war, bearing the title of colonel, without
any contradiction or invidious remark. Had this gallant officer
appeared as Colonel Tifto, perhaps less might have been said about
it. There was a little lack of courage in the title which he did
choose. But it was accepted at last, and, as Major Tifto, he was
proposed, seconded, and elected at the Beargarden.

But he had other points in his favour besides the friendship of Lord
Silverbridge,--points which had probably led to that friendship. He
was, without doubt, one of the best horsemen in England. There were
some who said that, across country, he was the very best, and that,
as a judge of a hunter, few excelled him. Of late years he had crept
into credit as a betting-man. No one supposed that he had much
capital to work with; but still, when he lost a bet he paid it.

Soon after his return from Spain, he was chosen as Master of the
Runnymede Fox-Hounds, and was thus enabled to write the letters
M.F.H. after his name. The gentlemen who rode with the Runnymede were
not very liberal in their terms, and had lately been compelled to
change their Master rather more frequently than was good for that
quasi-suburban hunt; but now they had fitted themselves well. How he
was to hunt the country five days a fortnight, finding servants and
horses, and feeding the hounds, for eight hundred pounds a year, no
one could understand. But Major Tifto not only undertook to do it,
but did it. And he actually succeeded in obtaining for the Runnymede
a degree of popularity which for many years previous it had not
possessed. Such a man,--even though no one did know anything of his
father or mother, though no one had ever heard him speak of a brother
or a sister, though it was believed that he had no real income,--was
felt by many to be the very man for the Beargarden; and when his name
was brought up at the committee, Lord Silverbridge was able to say so
much in his favour that only two blackballs were given against him.
Under the mild rule of the club, three would have been necessary to
exclude him; and therefore Major Tifto was now as good a member as
any one else.

He was a well-made little man, good-looking for those who like such
good looks. He was light-haired and blue-eyed, with regular and
yet not inexpressive features. But his eyes were small and never
tranquil, and rarely capable of looking at the person who was
speaking to him. He had small well-trimmed, glossy whiskers, with the
best-kept moustache, and the best-kept tuft on his chin which were to
be seen anywhere. His face still bore the freshness of youth, which
was a marvel to many, who declared that, from facts within their
knowledge, Tifto must be far on the wrong side of forty. At a first
glance you would hardly have called him thirty. No doubt, when, on
close inspection, you came to look into his eyes, you could see the
hand of time. Even if you believed the common assertion that he
painted,--which it was very hard to believe of a man who passed the
most of his time in the hunting-field or on a race-course,--yet the
paint on his cheeks would not enable him to move with the elasticity
which seemed to belong to all his limbs. He rode flat races and
steeple chases,--if jump races may still be so called; and with his
own hounds and with the Queen's did incredible things on horseback.
He could jump over chairs too,--the backs of four chairs in a
dining-room after dinner,--a feat which no gentleman of forty-five
could perform, even though he painted himself ever so.

So much in praise of Major Tifto honesty has compelled the present
chronicler to say. But there were traits of character in which he
fell off a little, even in the estimation of those whose pursuits
endeared him to them. He could not refrain from boasting,--and
especially from boasting about women. His desire for glory in that
direction knew no bounds, and he would sometimes mention names, and
bring himself into trouble. It was told of him that at one period of
his life, when misfortune had almost overcome him, when sorrow had
produced prostration, and prostration some expression of truth, he
had owned to a friend his own conviction that could he have kept
his tongue from talking of women, he might have risen to prosperity
in his profession. From these misfortunes he had emerged, and, no
doubt, had often reflected on what he himself had then said. But
we know that the drunkard, though he hates drunkenness, cannot but
drink,--that the gambler cannot keep from the dice. Major Tifto still
lied about women, and could not keep his tongue from the subject. He
would boast, too, about other matters,--much to his own disadvantage.
He was, too, very "deep", and some men, who could put up with his
other failings, could not endure that. Whatever he wanted to do he
would attempt round three corners. Though he could ride straight,
he could do nothing else straight. He was full of mysteries. If he
wanted to draw Charter Wood he would take his hounds out of the
street at Egham directly in the other direction. If he had made up
his mind to ride Lord Pottlepot's horse for the great Leamington
handicap, he would be sure to tell even his intimate friends that he
was almost determined to take the "baronet's" offer of a mount. This
he would do even where there was no possible turn in the betting to
be affected by such falsehood. So that his companions were apt to
complain that there was no knowing where to have Tifto. And then,
they who were old enough in the world to have had some experience in
men, had perceived that peculiar quality of his eyes, which never
allowed him to look any one in the face.

That Major Tifto should make money by selling horses was, perhaps, a
necessity of his position. No one grumbled at him because he did so,
or thought that such a pursuit was incompatible with his character as
a sporting gentleman. But there were some who considered that they
had suffered unduly under his hands, and in their bargains with
him had been made to pay more than a proper amount of tax for the
advantages of his general assistance. When a man has perhaps made
fifty pounds by using a "straight tip" as to a horse at Newmarket,
in doing which he had of course encountered some risks, he feels
he ought not to be made to pay the amount back into the pockets of
the "tipper," and at the same time to find himself saddled with the
possession of a perfectly useless animal. In this way there were
rocks in the course through which Tifto was called on to steer his
bark. Of course he was anxious, when preying upon his acquaintances,
to spare those who were useful friends to him. Now and again he would
sell a serviceable animal at a fair price, and would endeavour to
make such sale in favour of someone whose countenance would be a rock
to him. He knew his business well, but yet there would be mistakes.

Now, at this very moment, was the culmination of the Major's life. He
was Master of the Runnymede Hounds, he was partner with the eldest
son of a Duke in the possession of that magnificent colt, the Prime
Minister, and he was a member of the Beargarden. He was a man who
had often been despondent about himself, but was now disposed to
be a little triumphant. He had finished his season well with the
Runnymede, and were it not that, let him work as he would, his
expenses always exceeded his means, he would have been fairly
comfortable.

At eight o'clock Lord Silverbridge and his friend met in the
dining-room of the Beargarden. "Have you been here before?" asked the
Lord.

"Not in here, my Lord. I just looked in at the smoking-room last
night. Glasslough and Nidderdale were there. I thought we should have
got up a rubber, but they didn't seem to see it."

"There is whist here generally. You'll find out all about it before
long. Perhaps they are a little afraid of you."

"I'm the worst hand at cards, I suppose, in England. A dash at loo
for about an hour, and half-a-dozen cuts at blind hookey,--that's
about my form. I know I drop more than I pick up. If I knew what I
was about I should never touch a card."

"Horses; eh, Tifto?"

"Horses, yes. They've pretty good claret, here, eh, Silverbridge?" He
could never hit off his familiarity quite right. He had my-Lorded his
young friend at first, and now brought out the name with a hesitating
twang, which the young nobleman appreciated. But then the young
nobleman was quite aware that the Major was a friend for club
purposes, and sporting purposes, and not for home use.

"Everything of that kind is pretty good here," said the Lord.

"You were saying--horses."

"I dare say you do better with them than with cards."

"If I didn't I don't know where I should be, seeing what a lot pass
through my hands in the year. Any one of our fellows who has a horse
to sell thinks that I am bound to buy him. And I do buy 'em. Last May
I had forty-two hunters on my hands."

"How many of them have you got now?"

"Three. Three of that lot,--though a goodish many have come up since.
But what does it amount to? When I have anything that is very good,
some fellow that I like gets him from me."

"After paying for him."

"After paying for him! Yes; I don't mean that I make a fellow a
present. But the man who buys has a deal the best of it. Did you ever
get anything better than that spotted chestnut in your life?"

"What, old Sarcinet?"

"You had her for one hundred and sixty pounds. Now, if you were on
your oath, what is she worth?"

"She suits me, Major, and of course I shouldn't sell her."

"I rather think not. I knew what that mare was, well enough. A dealer
would have had three hundred and fifty pounds for her. I could have
got the money easily if I had taken her down into the shires, and
ridden her a day or two myself."

"I gave you what you asked."

"Yes, you did. It isn't often that I take less than I ask. But the
fact is, about horses, I don't know whether I shouldn't do better if
I never owned an animal at all but those I want for my own use. When
I am dealing with a man I call a friend, I can't bear to make money
of him. I don't think fellows give me all the credit they should do
for sticking to them."

The Major, as he said this, leaned back in his chair, put his hand up
to his moustache, and looked sadly away into the vacancy of the room,
as though he was meditating sorrowfully on the ingratitude of the
world.

"I suppose it's all right about Cream Cheese?" asked the Lord.

"Well; it ought to be." And now the Major spoke like an oracle,
leaning forward on the table, uttering his words in a low voice,
but very plainly, so that not a syllable might be lost. "When you
remember how he ran at the Craven with 9 st. 12 lb. on him, that it
took Archbishop all he knew to beat him with only 9 st. 2 lb., and
what the lot at Chester are likely to be, I don't think that there
can be seven to one against him. I should be very glad to take it off
your hands, only the figures are a little too heavy for me."

"I suppose Sunflower'll be the best animal there?"

"Not a doubt of it, if he's all right, and if his temper will stand.
Think what a course Chester is for an ill-conditioned brute like
that! And then he's the most uncertain horse in training. There are
times he won't feed. From what I hear, I shouldn't wonder if he don't
turn up at all."

"Solomon says he's all right."

"You won't get Solomon to take four to one against him, nor yet four
and a half. I suppose you'll go down, my Lord?"

"Well, yes; if there's nothing else doing just then. I don't know how
it may be about this electioneering business. I shall go and smoke
upstairs."

At the Beargarden there were,--I was going to say, two smoking-rooms;
but in truth the house was a smoking-room all over. It was, however,
the custom of those who habitually played cards, to have their cigars
and coffee upstairs. Into this sanctum Major Tifto had not yet been
introduced, but now he was taken there under Lord Silverbridge's
wing. There were already four or five assembled, among whom was Mr.
Adolphus Longstaff, a young man of about thirty-five years of age,
who spent very much of his time at the Beargarden. "Do you know my
friend Tifto?" said the Lord. "Tifto, this is Mr. Longstaff, whom men
within the walls of this asylum sometimes call Dolly." Whereupon the
Major bowed and smiled graciously.

"I have heard of Major Tifto," said Dolly.

"Who has not?" said Lord Nidderdale, another middle-aged young man,
who made one of the company. Again the Major bowed.

"Last season I was always intending to get down to your country and
have a day with the Tiftoes," said Dolly. "Don't they call your
hounds the Tiftoes?"

"They shall be called so if you like," said the Major. "And why
didn't you come?"

"It always was such a grind."

"Train down from Paddington every day at half-past ten."

"That's all very well if you happen to be up. Well, Silverbridge,
how's the Prime Minister?"

"How is he, Tifto?" asked the noble partner.

"I don't think there's a man in England just at present enjoying a
very much better state of health," said the Major pleasantly.

"Safe to run?" asked Dolly.

"Safe to run! Why shouldn't he be safe to run?"

"I mean sure to start."

"I think we mean him to start, don't we, Silverbridge?" said the
Major.

There was something perhaps in the tone in which the last remark was
made which jarred a little against the young lord's dignity. At any
rate he got up and declared his purpose of going to the opera. He
should look in, he said, and hear a song from Mdlle Stuffa. Mdlle
Stuffa was the nightingale of the season, and Lord Silverbridge, when
he had nothing else to do, would sometimes think that he was fond of
music. Soon after he was gone Major Tifto had some whisky-and-water,
lit his third cigar, and began to feel the glory of belonging to
the Beargarden. With Lord Silverbridge, to whom it was essentially
necessary that he should make himself agreeable at all times, he
was somewhat overweighted as it were. Though he attempted an easy
familiarity, he was a little afraid of Lord Silverbridge. With
Dolly Longstaff he felt that he might be comfortable,--not, perhaps,
understanding that gentleman's character. With Lord Nidderdale he had
previously been acquainted, and had found him to be good-natured. So,
as he sipped his whisky, he became confidential and comfortable.

"I never thought so much about her good looks," he said. They were
talking of the singer, the charms of whose voice had carried Lord
Silverbridge away.

"Did you ever see her off the stage?" asked Nidderdale.

"Oh dear yes."

"She does not go about very much, I fancy," said someone.

"I dare say not," said Tifto. "But she and I have had a day or two
together, for all that."

"You must have been very much favoured," said Dolly.

"We've been pals ever since she has been over here," said Tifto, with
an enormous lie.

"How do you get on with her husband?" asked Dolly,--in the simplest
voice, as though not in the least surprised at his companion's
statement.

"Husband!" exclaimed the Major; who was not possessed of sufficient
presence of mind to suppress all signs of his ignorance.

"Ah," said Dolly; "you are not probably aware that your pal has been
married to Mr. Thomas Jones for the last year and a half." Soon after
that Major Tifto left the club,--with considerably enhanced respect
for Mr. Longstaff.



CHAPTER VII

Conservative Convictions


Lord Silverbridge had engaged himself to be with his father the next
morning at half-past nine, and he entered the breakfast-room a very
few minutes after that hour. He had made up his mind as to what he
would say to his father. He meant to call himself a Conservative, and
to go into the House of Commons under that denomination. All the men
among whom he lived were Conservatives. It was a matter on which,
as he thought, his father could have no right to control him. Down
in Barsetshire, as well as up in London, there was some little
difference of opinion in this matter. The people of Silverbridge
declared that they would prefer to have a Conservative member, as
indeed they had one for the last Session. They had loyally returned
the Duke himself while he was a commoner, but they had returned him
as being part and parcel of the Omnium appendages. That was all over
now. As a constituency they were not endowed with advanced views, and
thought that a Conservative would suit them best. That being so, and
as they had been told that the Duke's son was a Conservative, they
fancied that by electing him they would be pleasing everybody. But,
in truth, by so doing they would by no means please the Duke. He
had told them on previous occasions that they might elect whom they
pleased, and felt no anger because they had elected a Conservative.
They might send up to Parliament the most antediluvian old Tory
they could find in England if they wished, only not his son, not a
Palliser as a Tory or Conservative. And then, though the little town
had gone back in the ways of the world, the county, or the Duke's
division of the county, had made so much progress, that a Liberal
candidate recommended by him would almost certainly be returned. It
was just the occasion on which a Palliser should show himself ready
to serve his country. There would be an expense, but he would think
nothing of expense in such a matter. Ten thousand pounds spent on
such an object would not vex him. The very contest would have given
him new life. All this Lord Silverbridge understood, but had said to
himself and to all his friends that it was a matter in which he did
not intend to be controlled.

The Duke had passed a very unhappy night. He had told himself that
any such marriage as that spoken of was out of the question. He
believed that the matter might be so represented to his girl as to
make her feel that it was out of the question. He hardly doubted but
that he could stamp it out. Though he should have to take her away
into some further corner of the world, he would stamp it out. But
she, when this foolish passion of hers should have been thus stamped
out, could never be the pure, the bright, the unsullied, unsoiled
thing, of the possession of which he had thought so much. He had
never spoken of his hopes about her even to his wife, but in the
silence of his very silent life he had thought much of the day when
he would give her to some noble youth,--noble with all gifts of
nobility, including rank and wealth,--who might be fit to receive
her. Now, even though no one else should know it,--and all would
know it,--she would be the girl who had condescended to love young
Tregear.

His own Duchess, she whose loss to him now was as though he had lost
half his limbs,--had not she in the same way loved a Tregear, or
worse than a Tregear, in her early days? Ah yes! And though his Cora
had been so much to him, had he not often felt, had he not been
feeling all his days, that Fate had robbed him of the sweetest joy
that is given to man, in that she had not come to him loving him with
her early spring of love, as she had loved that poor ne'er-do-well?
How infinite had been his regrets. How often had he told himself
that, with all that Fortune had given him, still Fortune had been
unjust to him because he had been robbed of that. Not to save his
life could he have whispered a word of this to any one, but he had
felt it. He had felt it for years. Dear as she had been, she had not
been quite what she should have been but for that. And now this girl
of his, who was so much dearer to him than anything else left to him,
was doing exactly as her mother had done. The young man might be
stamped out. He might be made to vanish as that other young man had
vanished. But the fact that he had been there, cherished in the
girl's heart,--that could not be stamped out.

He struggled gallantly to acquit the memory of his wife. He could
best do that by leaning with the full weight of his mind on the
presumed iniquity of Mrs. Finn. Had he not known from the first that
the woman was an adventuress? And had he not declared to himself over
and over again that between such a one and himself there should be no
intercourse, no common feeling? He had allowed himself to be talked
into an intimacy, to be talked almost into an affection. And this was
the result!

And how should he treat this matter in his coming interview with his
son;--or should he make an allusion to it? At first it seemed as
though it would be impossible for him to give his mind to that other
subject. How could he enforce the merits of political Liberalism,
and the duty of adhering to the old family party, while his mind was
entirely preoccupied with his daughter? It had suddenly become almost
indifferent to him whether Silverbridge should be a Conservative or a
Liberal. But as he dressed he told himself that, as a man, he ought
to be able to do a plain duty, marked out for him as this had been by
his own judgment, without regard to personal suffering. The hedger
and ditcher must make his hedge and clean his ditch even though he be
tormented by rheumatism. His duty by his son he must do, even though
his heart were torn to pieces.

During breakfast he tried to be gracious, and condescended to ask his
son a question about Prime Minister. Racing was an amusement to which
English noblemen had been addicted for many ages, and had been held
to be serviceable rather than disgraceful, if conducted in a noble
fashion. He did not credit Tifto with much nobility. He knew but
little about the Major. He would much have preferred that his son
should have owned a horse alone, if he must have anything to do with
ownership. "Would it not be better to buy the other share?" asked the
Duke.

"It would take a deal of money, sir. The Major would ask a couple of
thousand, I should think."

"That is a great deal."

"And then the Major is a very useful man. He thoroughly understands
the turf."

"I hope he doesn't live by it?"

"Oh no; he doesn't live by it. That is, he has a great many irons in
the fire."

"I do not mind a young man owning a horse, if he can afford the
expense,--as you perhaps can do; but I hope you don't bet."

"Nothing to speak of."

"Nothing to speak of is so apt to grow into that which has to be
spoken of." So much the father said at breakfast, hardly giving his
mind to the matter discussed,--his mind being on other things. But
when their breakfast was eaten, then it was necessary that he should
begin. "Silverbridge," he said, "I hope you have thought better of
what we were talking about as to these coming elections."

"Well, sir;--of course I have thought about it."

"And you can do as I would have you?"

"You see, sir, a man's political opinion is a kind of thing he can't
get rid of."

"You can hardly as yet have any very confirmed political opinion.
You are still young, and I do not suppose that you have thought much
about politics."

"Well, sir; I think I have. I've got my own ideas. We've got to
protect our position as well as we can against the Radicals and
Communists."

"I cannot admit that at all, Silverbridge. There is no great
political party in this country anxious either for Communism or for
revolution. But, putting all that aside for the present, do you think
that a man's political opinions should be held in regard to his own
individual interests, or to the much wider interests of others, whom
we call the public?"

"To his own interest," said the young man with decision.

"It is simply self-protection then?"

"His own and his class. The people will look after themselves, and we
must look after ourselves. We are so few and they are so many, that
we shall have quite enough to do."

Then the Duke gave his son a somewhat lengthy political lecture,
which was intended to teach him that the greatest benefit of the
greatest number was the object to which all political studies should
tend. The son listened to it with attention, and when it was over,
expressed his opinion that there was a great deal in what his father
had said. "I trust, if you will consider it," said the Duke, "that
you will not find yourself obliged to desert the school of politics
in which your father has not been an inactive supporter, and to which
your family has belonged for many generations."

"I could not call myself a Liberal," said the young politician.

"Why not?"

"Because I am a Conservative."

"And you won't stand for the county on the Liberal interest?"

"I should be obliged to tell them that I should always give a
Conservative vote."

"Then you refuse to do what I ask?"

"I do not know how I can help refusing. If you wanted me to grow a
couple of inches taller I couldn't do it, even though I should be
ever so anxious to oblige you."

"But a very young man, as you are, may have so much deference for his
elders as to be induced to believe that he has been in error."

"Oh yes; of course."

"You cannot but be aware that the political condition of the country
is the one subject to which I have devoted the labour of my life."

"I know that very well; and, of course, I know how much they all
think of you."

"Then my opinion might go for something with you?"

"So it does, sir; I shouldn't have doubted at all only for that
little. Still, you see, as the thing is,--how am I to help myself?"

"You believe that you must be right,--you, who have never given an
hour's study to the subject!"

"No, sir. In comparison with a great many men, I know that I am a
fool. Perhaps it is because I know that, that I am a Conservative.
The Radicals are always saying that a Conservative must be a fool.
Then a fool ought to be a Conservative."

Hereupon the father got up from his chair and turned round, facing
the fire, with his back to his son. He was becoming very angry, but
endeavoured to restrain his anger. The matter in dispute between them
was of so great importance, that he could hardly be justified in
abandoning it in consequence of arguments so trifling in themselves
as these which his son adduced. As he stood there for some minutes
thinking of it all, he was tempted again and again to burst out in
wrath and threaten the lad,--to threaten him as to money, as to his
amusements, as to the general tenure of his life. The pity was so
great that the lad should be so stubborn and so foolish! He would
never ask his son to be a slave to the Liberal party, as he had been.
But that a Palliser should not be a Liberal,--and his son, as the
first recreant Palliser,--was wormwood to him! As he stood there
he more than once clenched his fist in eager desire to turn upon
the young man; but he restrained himself, telling himself that in
justice he should not be angry for such offence as this. To become a
Conservative, when the path to Liberalism was so fairly open, might
be the part of a fool, but could not fairly be imputed as a crime. To
endeavour to be just was the study of his life, and in no condition
of life can justice be more imperatively due than from a father to
his son.

"You mean to stand for Silverbridge?" he said at last.

"Not if you object, sir."

This made it worse. It became now still more difficult for him to
scold the young man.

"You are aware that I should not meddle in any way."

"That was what I supposed. They will return a Conservative at any
rate."

"It is not that I care about," said the Duke sadly.

"Upon my word, sir, I am very sorry to vex you; but what would you
have me do? I will give up Parliament altogether, if you say that you
wish it."

"No; I do not wish that."

"You wouldn't have me tell a lie?"

"No."

"What can I do then?"

"Learn what there is to learn from some master fit to teach you."

"There are so many masters."

"I believe it to be that most arrogant ill-behaved young man who was
with me yesterday who has done this evil."

"You mean Frank Tregear?"

"I do mean Mr. Tregear."

"He's a Conservative, of course; and of course he and I have been
much together. Was he with you yesterday, sir?"

"Yes, he was."

"What was that about?" asked Lord Silverbridge, in a voice that
almost betrayed fear, for he knew very well what cause had produced
the interview.

"He has been speaking to me--" When the Duke had got so far as this
he paused, finding himself to be hardly able to declare the disgrace
which had fallen upon himself and his family. As he did tell the
story, both his face and his voice were altered, so that the son, in
truth, was scared. "He has been speaking to me about your sister. Did
you know of this?"

"I knew there was something between them."

"And you encouraged it?"

"No, sir; just the contrary. I have told him that I was quite sure it
would never do."

"And why did you not tell me?"

"Well, sir; that was hardly my business, was it?"

"Not to guard the honour of your sister?"

"You see, sir, how many things have happened all at once."

"What things?"

"My dear mother, sir, thought well of him." The Duke uttered a deep
sigh and turned again round to the fire. "I always told him that you
would never consent."

"I should think not."

"It has come so suddenly. I should have spoken to you about it as
soon as--as soon as--" He had meant to say as soon as the husband's
grief for the loss of his wife had been in some degree appeased, but
he could not speak the words. The Duke, however, perfectly understood
him. "In the meantime, they were not seeing each other."

"Nor writing?"

"I think not."

"Mrs. Finn has known it all."

"Mrs. Finn!"

"Certainly. She has known it all through."

"I do not see how it can have been so."

"He told me so himself," said the Duke, unwittingly putting words
into Tregear's mouth which Tregear had never uttered. "There must be
an end of this. I will speak to your sister. In the meantime, the
less, I think, you see of Mr. Tregear the better. Of course it is out
of the question he should be allowed to remain in this house. You
will make him understand that at once, if you please."

"Oh, certainly," said Silverbridge.



CHAPTER VIII

"He Is a Gentleman"


The Duke returned to Matching an almost broken-hearted man. He had
intended to go down into Barsetshire, in reference to the coming
elections;--not with the view of interfering in any unlordly, or
rather unpeerlike fashion, but thinking that if his eldest son were
to stand for the county in a proper constitutional spirit, as the
eldest son of so great a county magnate ought to do, his presence at
Gatherum Castle, among his own people, might probably be serviceable,
and would certainly be gracious. There would be no question of
entertainment. His bereavement would make that impossible. But there
would come from his presence a certain savour of proprietorship,
and a sense of power, which would be beneficial to his son, and
would not, as the Duke thought, be contrary to the spirit of the
constitution. But all this was now at an end. He told himself that he
did not care how the elections might go;--that he did not care much
how anything might go. Silverbridge might stand for Silverbridge
if he so pleased. He would give neither assistance nor obstruction,
either in the county or in the borough. He wrote to this effect to
his agent, Mr. Morton;--but at the same time desired that gentleman
to pay Lord Silverbridge's electioneering expenses, feeling it to be
his duty as a father to do so much for his son.

But though he endeavoured to engage his thoughts in these
parliamentary matters, though he tried to make himself believe that
this political apostasy was the trouble which vexed him, in truth
that other misery was so crushing, as to make the affairs of his son
insignificant. How should he express himself to her? That was the
thought present to his mind as he went down to Matching. Should he
content himself with simply telling her that such a wish on her part
was disgraceful, and that it could never be fulfilled; or should he
argue the matter with her, endeavouring as he did so to persuade her
gently that she was wrong to place her affections so low, and so to
obtain from her an assurance that the idea should be abandoned?

The latter course would be infinitely the better,--if only he could
accomplish it. But he was conscious of his own hardness of manner,
and was aware that he had never succeeded in establishing confidence
between himself and his daughter. It was a thing for which he had
longed,--as a plain girl might long to possess the charms of an
acknowledged beauty;--as a poor little fellow, five feet in height,
might long to have a cubit added to his stature.

Though he was angry with her, how willingly would he take her into
his arms and assure her of his forgiveness! How anxious he would
be to make her understand that nothing should be spared by him to
add beauty and grace to her life! Only, as a matter of course, Mr.
Tregear must be abandoned. But he knew of himself that he would not
know how to begin to be tender and forgiving. He knew that he would
not know how not to be stern and hard.

But he must find out the history of it all. No doubt the man had been
his son's friend, and had joined his party in Italy at his son's
instance. But yet he had come to entertain an idea that Mrs. Finn had
been the great promoter of the sin, and he thought that Tregear had
told him that that lady had been concerned with the matter from the
beginning. In all this there was a craving in his heart to lessen the
amount of culpable responsibility which might seem to attach itself
to the wife he had lost.

He reached Matching about eight, and ordered his dinner to be brought
to him in his own study. When Lady Mary came to welcome him, he
kissed her forehead and bade her come to him after his dinner. "Shall
I not sit with you, papa, whilst you are eating it?" she asked; but
he merely told her that he would not trouble her to do that. Even
in saying this he was so unusually tender to her that she assured
herself that her lover had not as yet told his tale.

The Duke's meals were not generally feasts for a Lucullus. No man
living, perhaps, cared less what he ate, or knew less what he drank.
In such matters he took what was provided for him, making his dinner
off the first bit of meat that was brought, and simply ignoring
anything offered to him afterwards. And he would drink what wine
the servant gave him, mixing it, whatever it might be, with seltzer
water. He had never been much given to the pleasures of the table;
but this habit of simplicity had grown on him of late, till the
Duchess used to tell him that his wants were so few that it was a
pity he was not a hermit, vowed to poverty.

Very shortly a message was brought to Lady Mary, saying that her
father wished to see her. She went at once, and found him seated on
a sofa, which stood close along the bookshelves on one side of the
room. The table had already been cleared, and he was alone. He not
only was alone, but had not even a pamphlet or newspaper in his hand.

Then she knew that Tregear must have told the story. As this occurred
to her, her legs almost gave way under her. "Come and sit down,
Mary," he said, pointing to the seat on the sofa beside himself.

She sat down and took one of his hands within her own. Then, as he
did not begin at once, she asked a question. "Will Silverbridge stand
for the county, papa?"

"No, my dear."

"But for the town?"

"Yes, my dear."

"And he won't be a Liberal?"

"I am afraid not. It is a cause of great unhappiness to me; but I do
not know that I should be justified in any absolute opposition. A man
is entitled to his own opinion, even though he be a very young man."

"I am so sorry that it should be so, papa, because it vexes you."

"I have many things to vex me;--things to break my heart."

"Poor mamma!" she exclaimed.

"Yes; that above all others. But life and death are in God's hands,
and even though we may complain we can alter nothing. But whatever
our sorrows are while we are here, we must do our duty."

"I suppose he may be a good Member of Parliament, though he has
turned Conservative."

"I am not thinking about your brother. I am thinking about you."
The poor girl gave a little start on the sofa. "Do you know--Mr.
Tregear?" he added.

"Yes, papa; of course I know him. You used to see him in Italy."

"I believe I did; I understand that he was there as a friend of
Silverbridge."

"His most intimate friend, papa."

"I dare say. He came to me, in London yesterday, and told me--! Oh
Mary, can it be true?"

"Yes, papa," she said, covered up to her forehead with blushes, and
with her eyes turned down. In the ordinary affairs of life she was
a girl of great courage, who was not given to be shaken from her
constancy by the pressure of any present difficulty; but now the
terror inspired by her father's voice almost overpowered her.

"Do you mean to tell me that you have engaged yourself to that young
man without my approval?"

"Of course you were to have been asked, papa."

"Is that in accordance with your idea of what should be the conduct
of a young lady in your position?"

"Nobody meant to conceal anything from you, papa."

"It has been so far concealed. And yet this young man has the
self-confidence to come to me and to demand your hand as though it
were a matter of course that I should accede to so trivial a request.
It is, as a matter of course, quite impossible. You understand that;
do you not?" When she did not answer him at once, he repeated the
question. "I ask you whether you do not feel that it is altogether
impossible?"

"No, papa," she said, in the lowest possible whisper, but still
in such a whisper that he could hear the word, and with so much
clearness that he could judge from her voice of the obstinacy of her
mind.

"Then, Mary, it becomes my duty to tell you that it is quite
impossible. I will not have it thought of. There must be an end of
it."

"Why, papa?"

"Why! I am astonished that you should ask me why."

"I should not have allowed him, papa, to go to you unless I
had,--unless I had loved him."

"Then you must conquer your love. It is disgraceful and must be
conquered."

"Disgraceful!"

"Yes. I am sorry to use such a word to my own child, but it is so.
If you will promise to be guided by me in this matter, if you will
undertake not to see him any more, I will,--if not forget it,--at
any rate pardon it, and be silent. I will excuse it because you were
young, and were thrown imprudently in his way. There has, I believe,
been someone at work in the matter with whom I ought to be more
angry than with you. Say that you will obey me, and there is nothing
within a father's power that I will not do for you, to make your
life happy." It was thus that he strove not to be stern. His heart,
indeed, was tender enough, but there was nothing tender in the tone
of his voice or in the glance of his eye. Though he was very positive
in what he said, yet he was shy and shamefaced even with his own
daughter. He, too, had blushed when he told her that she must conquer
her love.

That she should be told that she had disgraced herself was terrible
to her. That her father should speak of her marriage with this man as
an event that was impossible made her very unhappy. That he should
talk of pardoning her, as for some great fault, was in itself a
misery. But she had not on that account the least idea of giving up
her lover. Young as she was, she had her own peculiar theory on that
matter, her own code of conduct and honour, from which she did not
mean to be driven. Of course she had not expected that her father
would yield at the first word. He, no doubt, would wish that she
should make a more exalted marriage. She had known that she would
have to encounter opposition, though she had not expected to be told
that she had disgraced herself. As she sat there she resolved that
under no pretence would she give up her lover;--but she was so far
abashed that she could not find words to express herself. He, too,
had been silent for a few moments before he again asked her for her
promise.

"Will you tell me, Mary, that you will not see him again?"

"I don't think that I can say that, papa."

"Why not?"

"Oh papa, how can I, when of all the people in the world I love him
the best?"

It is not without a pang that any one can be told that she who is of
all the dearest has some other one who to her is the dearest. Such
pain fathers and mothers have to bear; and though, I think, the arrow
is never so blunted but that it leaves something of a wound behind,
there is in most cases, if not a perfect salve, still an ample
consolation. The mother knows that it is good that her child should
love some man better than all the world beside, and that she should
be taken away to become a wife and a mother. And the father, when
that delight of his eyes ceases to assure him that he is her nearest
and dearest, though he abandon the treasure of that nearestness and
dearestness with a soft melancholy, still knows that it is as it
should be. Of course that other "him" is the person she loves the
best in the world. Were it not so how evil a thing it would be that
she should marry him! Were it not so with reference to some "him",
how void would her life be! But now, to the poor Duke the wound had
no salve, no consolation. When he was told that this young Tregear
was the owner of his girl's sweet love, was the treasure of her
heart, he shrank as though arrows with sharp points were pricking him
all over. "I will not hear of such love," he said.

"What am I to say, papa?"

"Say that you will obey me."

Then she sat silent. "Do you not know that he is not fit to be your
husband?"

"No, papa."

"Then you cannot have thought much either of your position or of
mine."

"He is a gentleman, papa."

"So is my private secretary. There is not a clerk in one of our
public offices who does not consider himself to be a gentleman. The
curate of the parish is a gentleman, and the medical man who comes
here from Bradstock. The word is too vague to carry with it any
meaning that ought to be serviceable to you in thinking of such a
matter."

"I do not know any other way of dividing people," said she, showing
thereby that she had altogether made up her mind as to what ought to
be serviceable to her.

"You are not called upon to divide people. That division requires so
much experience that you are bound in this matter to rely upon those
to whom your obedience is due. I cannot but think you must have known
that you were not entitled to give your love to any man without being
assured that the man would be approved of by--by--by me." He was
going to say, "your parents," but was stopped by the remembrance of
his wife's imprudence.

She saw it all, and was too noble to plead her mother's authority.
But she was not too dutiful to cast a reproach upon him, when he was
so stern to her. "You have been so little with me, papa."

"That is true," he said, after a pause. "That is true. It has been a
fault, and I will mend it. It is a reason for forgiveness, and I will
forgive you. But you must tell me that there shall be an end to
this."

"No, papa."

"What do you mean?"

"That as I love Mr. Tregear, and as I have told him so, and as I have
promised him, I will be true to him. I cannot let there be an end to
it."

"You do not suppose that you will be allowed to see him again?"

"I hope so."

"Most assuredly not. Do you write to him?"

"No, papa."

"Never?"

"Never since we have been back in England."

"You must promise me that you will not write."

She paused a moment before she answered him, and now she was looking
him full in the face. "I shall not write to him. I do not think I
shall write to him; but I will not promise."

"Not promise me,--your father!"

"No, papa. It might be that--that I should do it."

"You would not wish me so to guard you that you should have no power
of sending a letter but by permission?"

"I should not like that."

"But it will have to be so."

"If I do write I will tell you."

"And show me what you write?"

"No, papa; not that; but I will tell you what I have written."

Then it occurred to him that this bargaining was altogether
derogatory to his parental authority, and by no means likely to
impress upon her mind the conviction that Tregear must be completely
banished from her thoughts. He began already to find how difficult
it would be for him to have the charge of such a daughter,--how
impossible that he should conduct such a charge with sufficient
firmness, and yet with sufficient tenderness! At present he had
done no good. He had only been made more wretched than ever by
her obstinacy. Surely he must pass her over to the charge of some
lady,--but of some lady who would be as determined as was he himself
that she should not throw herself away by marrying Mr. Tregear.

"There shall be no writing," he said, "no visiting, no communication
of any kind. As you refuse to obey me now, you had better go to your
room."



CHAPTER IX

"In Medias Res"


Perhaps the method of rushing at once "in medias res" is, of all the
ways of beginning a story, or a separate branch of a story, the least
objectionable. The reader is made to think that the gold lies so near
the surface that he will be required to take very little trouble in
digging for it. And the writer is enabled,--at any rate for a time,
and till his neck has become, as it were, warm to the collar,--to
throw off from him the difficulties and dangers, the tedium and
prolixity, of description. This rushing "in medias res" has doubtless
the charm of ease. "Certainly, when I threw her from the garret
window to the stony pavement below, I did not anticipate that she
would fall so far without injury to life or limb." When a story
has been begun after this fashion, without any prelude, without
description of the garret or of the pavement, or of the lady thrown,
or of the speaker, a great amount of trouble seems to have been
saved. The mind of the reader fills up the blanks,--if erroneously,
still satisfactorily. He knows, at least, that the heroine has
encountered a terrible danger, and has escaped from it with almost
incredible good fortune; that the demon of the piece is a bold demon,
not ashamed to speak of his own iniquity, and that the heroine
and the demon are so far united that they have been in a garret
together. But there is the drawback on the system,--that it is almost
impossible to avoid the necessity of doing, sooner or later, that
which would naturally be done at first. It answers, perhaps, for
half-a-dozen chapters;--and to carry the reader pleasantly for
half-a-dozen chapters is a great matter!--but after that a certain
nebulous darkness gradually seems to envelope the characters and
the incidents. "Is all this going on in the country, or is it in
town,--or perhaps in the Colonies? How old was she? Was she tall? Is
she fair? Is she heroine-like in her form and gait? And, after all,
how high was the garret window?" I have always found that the details
would insist on being told at last, and that by rushing "in medias
res" I was simply presenting the cart before the horse. But as
readers like the cart the best, I will do it once again,--trying it
only for a branch of my story,--and will endeavour to let as little
as possible of the horse be seen afterwards.

"And so poor Frank has been turned out of heaven?" said Lady Mabel
Grex to young Lord Silverbridge.

"Who told you that? I have said nothing about it to anybody."

"Of course he told me himself," said the young beauty. I am aware
that, in the word beauty, and perhaps, also, in the word young, a
little bit of the horse is appearing; and I am already sure that I
shall have to show his head and neck, even if not his very tail.
"Poor Frank! Did you hear it all?"

"I heard nothing, Lady Mab, and know nothing."

"You know that your awful governor won't let him stay any longer in
Carlton Terrace?"

"Yes, I know that."

"And why not?"

"Would Lord Grex allow Percival to have his friends living here?"
Earl Grex was Lady Mabel's father, Lord Percival was the Earl's
son;--and the Earl lived in Belgrave Square. All these are little
bits of the horse.

"Certainly not. In the first place, I am here."

"That makes a difference, certainly."

"Of course it makes a difference. They would be wanting to make love
to me."

"No doubt. I should, I know."

"And therefore it wouldn't do for you to live here; and then papa is
living here himself. And then the permission never has been given. I
suppose Frank did not go there at first without the Duke knowing it."

"I daresay that I had mentioned it."

"You might as well tell me all about it. We are cousins, you know."
Frank Tregear, through his mother's family, was second cousin to Lady
Mabel; as was also Lord Silverbridge, one of the Grexes having, at
some remote period, married a Palliser. This is another bit of the
horse.

"The governor merely seemed to think that he would like to have his
own house to himself--like other people. What an ass Tregear was to
say anything to you about it."

"I don't think he was an ass at all. Of course he had to tell us that
he was changing his residence. He says that he is going to take a
back bedroom somewhere near the Seven Dials."

"He has got very nice rooms in Duke Street."

"Have you seen him, then?"

"Of course I have."

"Poor fellow! I wish he had a little money; he is so nice. And now,
Lord Silverbridge, do you mean to say that there is not something in
the wind about Lady Mary?"

"If there were I should not talk about it," said Lord Silverbridge.

"You are a very innocent young gentleman."

"And you are a very interesting young lady."

"You ought to think me so, for I interest myself very much about you.
Was the Duke very angry about your not standing for the county?"

"He was vexed."

"I do think it is so odd that a man should be expected to be this or
that in politics because his father happened to be so before him! I
don't understand how he should expect that you should remain with
a party so utterly snobbish and down in the world as the Radicals.
Everybody that is worth anything is leaving them."

"He has not left them."

"No, I don't suppose he could; but you have."

"I never belonged to them, Lady Mab."

"And never will, I hope. I always told papa that you would certainly
be one of us." All this took place in the drawing-room of Lord Grex's
house. There was no Lady Grex alive, but there lived with the Earl
a certain elderly lady, reported to be in some distant way a cousin
of the family, named Miss Cassewary, who, in the matter of looking
after Lady Mab, did what was supposed to be absolutely necessary. She
now entered the room with her bonnet on, having just returned from
church. "What was the text?" asked Lady Mab at once.

"If you had gone to church, as you ought to have done, my dear, you
would have heard it."

"But as I didn't?"

"I don't think the text alone will do you any good."

"And probably you forget it."

"No, I don't, my dear. How do you do, Lord Silverbridge?"

"He is a Conservative, Miss Cass."

"Of course he is. I am quite sure that a young nobleman of so much
taste and intellect would take the better side."

"You forget that all you are saying is against my father and my
family, Miss Cassewary."

"I dare say it was different when your father was a young man.
And your father, too, was, not very long since, at the head of a
government which contained many Conservatives. I don't look upon your
father as a Radical, though perhaps I should not be justified in
calling him a Conservative."

"Well; certainly not, I think."

"But now it is necessary that all noblemen in England should rally to
the defence of their order." Miss Cassewary was a great politician,
and was one of those who are always foreseeing the ruin of their
country. "My dear, I will go and take my bonnet off. Perhaps you will
have tea when I come down."

"Don't you go," said Lady Mabel, when Silverbridge got up to take his
departure.

"I always do when tea comes."

"But you are going to dine here?"

"Not that I know of. In the first place, nobody has asked me. In the
second place, I am engaged. Thirdly, I don't care about having to
talk politics to Miss Cass; and fourthly, I hate family dinners on
Sunday."

"In the first place, I ask you. Secondly, I know you were going
to dine with Frank Tregear, at the club. Thirdly, I want you to
talk to me, and not to Miss Cass. And fourthly, you are an uncivil
young--young,--young,--I should say cub if I dared, to tell me that
you don't like dining with me any day of the week."

"Of course you know what I mean is, that I don't like troubling your
father."

"Leave that to me. I shall tell him you are coming, and Frank too. Of
course you can bring him. Then he can talk to me when papa goes down
to his club, and you can arrange your politics with Miss Cass." So
it was settled, and at eight o'clock Lord Silverbridge reappeared in
Belgrave Square with Frank Tregear.

Earl Grex was a nobleman of very ancient family, the Grexes having
held the parish of Grex, in Yorkshire, from some time long prior to
the Conquest. In saying all this, I am, I know, allowing the horse to
appear wholesale;--but I find that he cannot be kept out. I may as
well go on to say that the present Earl was better known at Newmarket
and the Beaufort,--where he spent a large part of his life in playing
whist,--than in the House of Lords. He was a grey-haired, handsome,
worn-out old man, who through a long life of pleasure had greatly
impaired a fortune which, for an earl, had never been magnificent,
and who now strove hard, but not always successfully, to remedy that
evil by gambling. As he could no longer eat and drink as he had used
to do, and as he cared no longer for the light that lies in a lady's
eye, there was not much left to him in the world but cards and
racing. Nevertheless he was a handsome old man, of polished manners,
when he chose to use them; a staunch Conservative and much regarded
by his party, for whom in his early life he had done some work in the
House of Commons.

"Silverbridge is all very well," he had said; "but I don't see why
that young Tregear is to dine here every night of his life."

"This is the second time since he has been up in town, papa."

"He was here last week, I know."

"Silverbridge wouldn't come without him."

"That's d---- nonsense," said the Earl. Miss Cassewary gave a
start,--not, we may presume, because she was shocked, for she could
not be much shocked, having heard the same word from the same lips
very often; but she thought it right always to enter a protest. Then
the two young men were announced.

Frank Tregear, having been known by the family as a boy, was Frank
to all of them,--as was Lady Mabel, Mabel to him, somewhat to the
disgust of the father and not altogether with the approbation of Miss
Cass. But Lady Mabel had declared that she would not be guilty of the
folly of changing old habits. Silverbridge, being Silverbridge to
all his own people, hardly seemed to have a Christian name;--his
godfathers and godmothers had indeed called him Plantagenet;--but
having only become acquainted with the family since his Oxford days
he was Lord Silverbridge to Lady Mabel. Lady Mabel had not as yet
become Mabel to him, but, as by her very intimate friends she was
called Mab, had allowed herself to be addressed by him as Lady Mab.
There was thus between them all considerable intimacy.

"I'm deuced glad to hear it," said the Earl when dinner was
announced. For, though he could not eat much, Lord Grex was always
impatient when the time of eating was at hand. Then he walked down
alone. Lord Silverbridge followed with his daughter, and Frank
Tregear gave his arm to Miss Cassewary. "If that woman can't clear
her soup better than that, she might as well go to the d----,"
said the Earl;--upon which remark no one in the company made any
observation. As there were two men-servants in the room when it was
made the cook probably had the advantage of it. It may be almost
unnecessary to add that though the Earl had polished manners for
certain occasions he would sometimes throw them off in the bosom of
his own family.

"My Lord," said Miss Cassewary--she always called him "My
Lord"--"Lord Silverbridge is going to stand for the Duke's borough in
the Conservative interest."

"I didn't know the Duke had a borough," said the Earl.

"He had one till he thought it proper to give it up," said the son,
taking his father's part.

"And you are going to pay him off for what he has done by standing
against him. It's just the sort of thing for a son to do in these
days. If I had a borough Percival would go down and make radical
speeches there."

"There isn't a better Conservative in England than Percival," said
Lady Mabel, bridling up.

"Nor a worse son," said the father. "I believe he would do anything
he could lay his hand on to oppose me." During the past week there
had been some little difference of opinion between the father and the
son as to the signing of a deed.

"My father does not take it in bad part at all," said Silverbridge.

"Perhaps he's ratting himself," said the Earl. "When a man lends
himself to a coalition he is as good as half gone."

"I do not think that in all England there is so thorough a Liberal as
my father," said Lord Silverbridge. "And when I say that he doesn't
take this badly, I don't mean that it doesn't vex him. I know it
vexes him. But he doesn't quarrel with me. He even wrote down to
Barsetshire to say that all my expenses at Silverbridge were to be
paid."

"I call that very bad politics," said the Earl.

"It seems to me to be very grand," said Frank.

"Perhaps, sir, you don't know what is good or what is bad in
politics," said the Earl, trying to snub his guest.

But it was difficult to snub Frank. "I know a gentleman when I see
him, I think," he said. "Of course Silverbridge is right to be a
Conservative. Nobody has a stronger opinion about that than I have.
But the Duke is behaving so well that if I were he I should almost
regret it."

"And so I do," said Silverbridge.

When the ladies were gone the old Earl turned himself round to the
fire, having filled his glass and pushed the bottles away from him,
as though he meant to leave the two young men to themselves. He sat
leaning with his head on his hand, looking the picture of woe. It was
now only nine o'clock, and there would be no whist at the Beaufort
till eleven. There was still more than an hour to be endured before
the brougham would come to fetch him. "I suppose we shall have a
majority," said Frank, trying to rouse him.

"Who does 'We' mean?" asked the Earl.

"The Conservatives, of whom I take the liberty to call myself one."

"It sounded as though you were a very influential member of the
party."

"I consider myself to be one of the party, and so I say 'We.'"

Upstairs in the drawing-room Miss Cassewary did her duty loyally.
It was quite right that young ladies and young gentlemen should be
allowed to talk together, and very right indeed that such a young
gentleman as Lord Silverbridge should be allowed to talk to such a
young lady as Lady Mabel. What could be so nice as a marriage between
the heir of the house of Omnium and Lady Mabel Grex? Lady Mabel
looked indeed to be the elder,--but they were in truth the same
age. All the world acknowledged that Lady Mabel was very clever and
very beautiful and fit to be a Duchess. Even the Earl, when Miss
Cassewary hinted at the matter to him, grunted an assent. Lady Mabel
had already refused one or two not ineligible offers, and it was
necessary that something should be done. There had been at one time a
fear in Miss Cassewary's bosom lest her charge should fall too deeply
in love with Frank Tregear;--but Miss Cassewary knew that whatever
danger there might have been in that respect had passed away. Frank
was willing to talk to her, while Mabel and Lord Silverbridge were in
a corner together.

"I shall be on tenterhooks now till I know how it is to be at
Silverbridge," said the young lady.

"It is very good of you to feel so much interest."

"Of course I feel an interest. Are not you one of us? When is it to
be?"

"They say that the elections will be over before the Derby."

"And which do you care for the most?"

"I should like to pull off the Derby, I own."

"From what papa says, I should think the other event is the more
probable."

"Doesn't the Earl stand to win on Prime Minister?"

"I never know anything about his betting. But,--you know his way,--he
said you were going to drop a lot of money like a-- I can't quite
tell you what he likened you to."

"The Earl may be mistaken."

"You are not betting much, I hope."

"Not plunging. But I have a little money on."

"Don't get into a way of betting."

"Why:--what difference does it make,--to you?"

"Is that kind, Lord Silverbridge?"

"I meant to say that if I did make a mess of it you wouldn't care
about it."

"Yes, I should. I should care very much. I dare say you could lose a
great deal of money and care nothing about it."

"Indeed I could not."

"What would be a great deal of money to me. But you would want to get
it back again. And in that way you would be regularly on the turf."

"And why not?"

"I want to see better things from you."

"You ought not to preach against the turf, Lady Mab."

"Because of papa? But I am not preaching against the turf. If I were
such as you are I would have a horse or two myself. A man in your
position should do a little of everything. You should hunt and have a
yacht, and stalk deer and keep your own trainer at Newmarket."

"I wish you'd say all that to my father."

"Of course I mean if you can afford it. I like a man to like
pleasure. But I despise a man who makes a business of his pleasures.
When I hear that this man is the best whist-player in London, and
that man the best billiard-player, I always know that they can do
nothing else, and then I despise them."

"You needn't despise me, because I do nothing well," said he, as he
got up to take his leave.

"I do so hope you'll get the seat,--and win the Derby."

These were her last words to him as she wished him good-night.



CHAPTER X

"Why Not Like Romeo If I Feel Like Romeo?"


"That's nonsense, Miss Cass, and I shall," said Lady Mabel. They were
together, on the morning after the little dinner-party described in
the last chapter, in a small back sitting-room which was supposed to
be Lady Mabel's own, and the servant had just announced the fact that
Mr. Tregear was below.

"Then I shall go down too," said Miss Cassewary.

"You'll do nothing of the kind. Will you please to tell me what it is
you are afraid of? Do you think that Frank is going to make love to
me again?"

"No."

"Or that if I chose that he should I would let you stop me? He is
in love with somebody else,--and perhaps I am too. And we are two
paupers."

"My lord would not approve of it."

"If you know what my lord approves of and what he disapproves you
understand him a great deal better than I do. And if you mind what
he approves or disapproves, you care for his opinion a great deal
more than I do. My cousin is here now to talk to me,--about his own
affairs, and I mean to see him,--alone." Then she left the little
room, and went down to that in which Frank was waiting for her,
without the company of Miss Cassewary.

"Do you really mean," she said after they had been together for some
minutes, "that you had the courage to ask the Duke for his daughter's
hand?"

"Why not?"

"I believe you would dare do anything."

"I couldn't very well take it without asking him."

"As I am not acquainted with the young lady I don't know how that
might be."

"And if I took her so, I should have to take her empty-handed."

"Which wouldn't suit;--would it?"

"It wouldn't suit for her,--whose comforts and happiness are much
more to me than my own."

"No doubt! Of course you are terribly in love."

"Very thoroughly in love, I think, I am."

"For the tenth time, I should say."

"For the second only. I don't regard myself as a monument of
constancy, but I think I am less fickle than some other people."

"Meaning me!"

"Not especially."

"Frank, that is ill-natured, and almost unmanly,--and false also.
When have I been fickle? You say that there was one before with you.
I say that there has never really been one with me at all. No one
knows that better than yourself. I cannot afford to be in love till I
am quite sure that the man is fit to be, and will be, my husband."

"I doubt sometimes whether you are capable of being in love with any
one."

"I think I am," she said, very gently. "But I am at any rate capable
of not being in love till I wish it. Come, Frank; do not quarrel with
me. You know,--you ought to know,--that I should have loved you had
it not been that such love would have been bad for both of us."

"It is a kind of self-restraint I do not understand."

"Because you are not a woman."

"Why did you twit me with changing my love?"

"Because I am a woman. Can't you forgive as much as that to me?"

"Certainly. Only you must not think that I have been false because I
now love her so dearly."

"I do not think you are false. I would do anything to help you if
there were anything I could do. But when you spoke so like a Romeo of
your love--"

"Why not like a Romeo, if I feel like a Romeo?"

"But I doubt whether Romeo talked much to Rosaline of his love for
Juliet. But you shall talk to me of yours for Lady Mary, and I will
listen to you patiently and encourage you, and will not even think of
those former vows."

"The former vows were foolish."

"Oh,--of course."

"You at least used to say so."

"I say so now, and they shall be as though they had been never
spoken. So you bearded the Duke in his den, and asked him for Lady
Mary's hand,--just as though you had been a young Duke yourself and
owned half a county?"

"Just the same."

"And what did he say?"

"He swore that it was impossible.--Of course I knew all that before."

"How will it be now? You will not give it up?"

"Certainly not."

"And Lady Mary?"

"One human being can perhaps never answer for another with perfect
security."

"But you feel sure of her?"

"I do."

"He, I should think, can be very imperious."

"And so can she. The Pallisers are all obstinate."

"Is Silverbridge obstinate?" she asked.

"Stiff-necked as a bull if he takes it into his head to be so."

"I shouldn't have thought it."

"No;--because he is so soft in his manner, and often finds it easier
to be led by others than to direct himself."

Then she remained silent for a few seconds. They were both thinking
of the same thing, and both wishing to speak of it. But the words
came to her first. "I wonder what he thinks of me." Whereupon Tregear
only smiled. "I suppose he has spoken to you about me?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Why!"

"And why should I tell you? Suppose he should have said to me in the
confidence of friendship that he thinks you ugly and stupid."

"I am sure he has not said that. He has eyes to see and ears to hear.
But, though I am neither ugly nor stupid, he needn't like me."

"Do you want him to like you?"

"Yes, I do. Oh yes; you may laugh; but if I did not think that I
could be a good wife to him I would not take his hand even to become
Duchess of Omnium."

"Do you mean that you love him, Mabel?"

"No; I do not mean that. But I would learn to love him. You do not
believe that?" Here he smiled again and shook his head. "It is as I
said before, because you are not a woman, and do not understand how
women are trammelled. Do you think ill of me because I say this?"

"No, indeed."

"Do not think ill of me if you can help it, because you are almost
the only friend that I can trust. I almost trust dear old Cass, but
not quite. She is old-fashioned and I shock her. As for other women,
there isn't one anywhere to whom I would say a word. Only think how
a girl such as I am is placed; or indeed any girl. You, if you see
a woman that you fancy, can pursue her, can win her and triumph, or
lose her and gnaw your heart;--at any rate you can do something. You
can tell her that you love her; can tell her so again and again even
though she should scorn you. You can set yourself about the business
you have taken in hand and can work hard at it. What can a girl do?"

"Girls work hard too sometimes."

"Of course they do;--but everybody feels that they are sinning
against their sex. Of love, such as a man's is, a woman ought to know
nothing. How can she love with passion when she should never give her
love till it has been asked, and not then unless her friends tell her
that the thing is suitable? Love such as that to me is out of the
question. But, as it is fit that I should be married, I wish to be
married well."

"And you will love him after a fashion?"

"Yes;--after a very sterling fashion. I will make his wishes my
wishes, his ways my ways, his party my party, his home my home,
his ambition my ambition,--his honour my honour." As she said this
she stood up with her hands clenched and head erect, and her eyes
flashing. "Do you not know me well enough to be sure that I should be
loyal to him?"

"Yes;--I think that you would be loyal."

"Whether I loved him or not, he should love me."

"And you think that Silverbridge would do?"

"Yes, I think that Silverbridge would do. You, no doubt, will say
that I am flying high?"

"Not too high. Why should you not fly high? If I can justify myself,
surely I cannot accuse you."

"It is hardly the same thing, Frank. Of course, there is not a girl
in London to whom Lord Silverbridge would not be the best match that
she could make. He has the choice of us all."

"Most girls would think twice before refusing him."

"Very few would think twice before accepting him. Perhaps he wishes
to add to his wealth by marrying richly,--as his father did."

"No thought on that subject will ever trouble him. That will be all
as it happens. As soon as he takes a sufficient fancy to a girl he
will ask her straight off. I do not say that he might not change
afterwards, but he would mean it at the time."

"If he had once said the word to me, he should not change. But then
what right have I to expect it? What has he ever said about me?"

"Very little. But had he said much I should not tell you."

"You are my friend,--but you are his too; and he, perhaps, is more to
you than I am. As his friend it may be your duty to tell him all that
I am saying. If so, I have been wrong."

"Do you think that I shall do that, Mabel?"

"I do not know. Men are so strong in their friendships."

"Mine with you is the older, and the sweeter. Though we may not be
more than friends, I will say that it is the more tender. In my heart
of hearts I do not think that Silverbridge could do better."

"Thanks for that, Frank."

"I shall tell him nothing of you that can set him against you."

"And you would be glad to see me his wife?" she said.

"As you must be somebody's wife, and not mine."

"I cannot be yours, Frank; can I?"

"And not mine," he repeated. "I will endeavour to be glad. Who can
explain his feelings in such a matter? Though I most truly love the
girl I hope to marry, yet my heart goes back to former things and
opens itself to past regrets."

"I know it all," she whispered.

"But you and I must be too wise to permit ourselves to be tormented
by such foolish melancholy." As he said this he took her hand, half
with the purpose of bidding her good-bye, but partly with the idea of
giving some expression to the tenderness of his feelings. But as he
did so, the door was opened, and the old Earl shambled into the room.

"What the deuce are you doing here?" he said.

"I have been talking to Lady Mabel."

"For about an hour."

"Indeed I do not know for how long."

"Papa, he is going to be married." When she said this Frank Tregear
turned round and looked at her almost in anger.

"Going to be married, is he? Who is the fortunate woman?"

"I don't think he will let me tell you."

"Not yet, I think," said Frank, gloomily. "There is nothing settled."

The old Earl looked puzzled, but Lady Mabel's craft had been
successful. If this objectionable young second-cousin had come there
to talk about his marriage with another young woman, the conversation
must have been innocent. "Where is Miss Cassewary?" asked the Earl.

"I asked her not to come down with me because Frank wished to speak
to me about his own affairs. You have no objection to his coming,
papa?"

There had been objections raised to any intimacy with Frank Tregear;
but all that was now nearly two years since. He had been assured over
and over again by Miss Cassewary that he need not be afraid of Frank
Tregear, and had in a sort of way assented to the young man's visits.
"I think he might find something better to do with his time than
hanging about here all day." Frank, shrugging his shoulders, and
having shaken hands both with the daughter and father, took his hat
and departed. "Who is the girl?" asked the Earl.

"You heard him say that I was not to tell."

"Has she got money?"

"I believe she will have a great deal."

"Then she is a great fool for her pains," said the Earl, shambling
off again.

Lady Mabel spent the greater part of the afternoon alone,
endeavouring to recall to her mind all that she had said to Frank
Tregear, and questioning herself as to the wisdom and truth of her
own words. She had intended to tell the truth,--but hardly perhaps
the whole truth. The life which was before her,--which it was
necessary that she should lead,--seemed to her to be so difficult!
She could not clearly see her way to be pure and good and feminine,
and at the same time wise. She had been false now;--so far false that
she had told her friend that she had never been in love. But she was
in love;--in love with him, Frank Tregear. She knew it as thoroughly
as it was possible for her to know anything;--and had acknowledged it
to herself a score of times.

But she could not marry him. And it was expected, nay, almost
necessary that she should marry someone. To that someone, how good
she would be! How she would strive by duty and attention, and if
possible by affection, to make up for that misfortune of her early
love!

And so I hope that I have brought my cart in to its appointed place
in the front, without showing too much of the horse.



CHAPTER XI

"Cruel"


For two or three days after the first scene between the Duke and his
daughter,--that scene in which she was forbidden either to see or
to write to her lover,--not a word was said at Matching about Mr.
Tregear, nor were any steps taken towards curtailing her liberty
of action. She had said she would not write to him without telling
her father, and the Duke was too proud of the honour of his family
to believe it to be possible that she should deceive him. Nor was
it possible. Not only would her own idea of duty prevent her from
writing to her lover, although she had stipulated for the right to do
so in some possible emergency,--but, carried far beyond that in her
sense of what was right and wrong, she felt it now incumbent on her
to have no secret from her father at all. The secret, as long as it
had been a secret, had been a legacy from her mother,--and had been
kept, at her lover's instance, during that period of mourning for
her mother in which it would, she thought, have been indecorous that
there should be any question of love or of giving in marriage. It had
been a burden to her, though a necessary burden. She had been very
clear that the revelation should be made to her father, when it was
made, by her lover. That had been done,--and now it was open to her
to live without any secrecy,--as was her nature. She meant to cling
to her lover. She was quite sure of that. Nothing could divide her
from him but his death or hers,--or falseness on his part. But as
to marriage, that would not be possible till her father had assented.
And as to seeing the man,--ah, yes, if she could do so with her
father's assent! She would not be ashamed to own her great desire to
see him. She would tell her father that all her happiness depended
upon seeing him. She would not be coy in speaking of her love. But
she would obey her father.

She had a strong idea that she would ultimately prevail,--an idea
also that that "ultimately" should not be postponed to some undefined
middle-aged period of her life. As she intended to belong to Frank
Tregear, she thought it expedient that he should have the best of
her days as well as what might be supposed to be the worst; and she
therefore resolved that it would be her duty to make her father
understand that though she would certainly obey him, she would look
to be treated humanely by him, and not to be made miserable for an
indefinite term of years.

The first word spoken between them on the subject,--the first word
after that discussion,--began with him and was caused by his feeling
that her present life at Matching must be sad and lonely. Lady
Cantrip had again written that she would be delighted to take
her;--but Lady Cantrip was in London and must be in London, at any
rate when Parliament should again be sitting. A London life would
perhaps, at present, hardly suit Lady Mary. Then a plan had been
prepared which might be convenient. The Duke had a house at Richmond,
on the river, called The Horns. That should be lent to Lady Cantrip,
and Mary should there be her guest. So it was settled between the
Duke and Lady Cantrip. But as yet Lady Mary knew nothing of the
arrangement.

"I think I shall go up to town to-morrow," said the Duke to his
daughter.

"For long?"

"I shall be gone only one night. It is on your behalf that I am
going."

"On my behalf, papa?"

"I have been writing to Lady Cantrip."

"Not about Mr. Tregear?"

"No;--not about Mr. Tregear," said the father with a mixture of anger
and solemnity in his tone. "It is my desire to regard Mr. Tregear as
though he did not exist."

"That is not possible, papa."

"I have alluded to the inconvenience of your position here."

"Why is it inconvenient?"

"You are too young to be without a companion. It is not fit that you
should be so much alone."

"I do not feel it."

"It is very melancholy for you, and cannot be good for you. They will
go down to The Horns, so that you will not be absolutely in London,
and you will find Lady Cantrip a very nice person."

"I don't care for new people just now, papa," she said. But to
this he paid but little heed; nor was she prepared to say that she
would not do as he directed. When therefore he left Matching, she
understood that he was going to prepare a temporary home for her.
Nothing further was said about Tregear. She was too proud to ask that
no mention of his name should be made to Lady Cantrip. And he when he
left the house did not think that he would find himself called upon
to allude to the subject.

But when Lady Cantrip made some inquiry about the girl and her
habits,--asking what were her ordinary occupations, how she
was accustomed to pass her hours, to what she chiefly devoted
herself,--then at last with much difficulty the Duke did bring
himself to tell the story. "Perhaps it is better you should know it
all," he said as he told it.

"Poor girl! Yes, Duke; upon the whole it is better that I should know
it all," said Lady Cantrip. "Of course he will not come here."

"Oh dear; I hope not."

"Nor to The Horns."

"I hope he will never see her again anywhere," said the Duke.

"Poor girl!"

"Have I not been right? Is it not best to put an end to such a thing
at once?"

"Certainly at once, if it has to be put an end to,--and can be put an
end to."

"It must be put an end to," said the Duke, very decidedly. "Do you
not see that it must be so? Who is Mr. Tregear?"

"I suppose they were allowed to be together."

"He was unfortunately intimate with Silverbridge, who took him over
to Italy. He has nothing; not even a profession." Lady Cantrip could
not but smile when she remembered the immense wealth of the man who
was speaking to her;--and the Duke saw the smile and understood it.
"You will understand what I mean, Lady Cantrip. If this young man
were in other respects suitable, of course I could find an income for
them. But he is nothing; just an idle seeker for pleasure without the
means of obtaining it."

"That is very bad."

"As for rank," continued the Duke energetically, "I do not think
that I am specially wedded to it. I have found myself as willing
to associate with those who are without it as with those who have
it. But for my child, I would wish her to mate with one of her own
class."

"It would be best."

"When a young man comes to me who, though I believe him to be what is
called a gentleman, has neither rank, nor means, nor profession, nor
name, and asks for my daughter, surely I am right to say that such a
marriage shall not be thought of. Was I not right?" demanded the Duke
persistently.

"But it is a pity that it should be so. It is a pity that they should
ever have come together."

"It is indeed, indeed to be lamented,--and I will own at once that
the fault was not hers. Though I must be firm in this, you are not to
suppose that I am angry with her. I have myself been to blame." This
he said with a resolution that,--as he and his wife had been one
flesh,--all faults committed by her should, now that she was dead, be
accepted by him as his faults. "It had not occurred to me that as yet
she would love any man."

"Has it gone deep with her, Duke?"

"I fear that all things go deep with her."

"Poor girl!"

"But they shall be kept apart! As long as your great kindness is
continued to her they shall be kept apart!"

"I do not think that I should be found good at watching a young
lady."

"She will require no watching."

"Then of course they will not meet. She had better know that you have
told me."

"She shall know it."

"And let her know also that anything I can do to make her happy shall
be done. But, Duke, there is but one cure."

"Time, you mean."

"Yes; time; but I did not mean time." Then she smiled as she went
on. "You must not suppose that I am speaking against my own sex if I
say that she will not forget Mr. Tregear till someone else has made
himself agreeable to her. We must wait till she can go out a little
into society. Then she will find out that there are others in the
world besides Mr. Tregear. It so often is the case that a girl's love
means her sympathy for him who has chanced to be nearest to her."

The Duke as he went away thought very much of what Lady Cantrip had
said to him;--particularly of those last words. "Till some one else
has made himself agreeable to her." Was he to send his girl into the
world in order that she might find a lover? There was something in
the idea which was thoroughly distasteful to him. He had not given
his mind much to the matter, but he felt that a woman should be
sought for,--sought for and extracted, cunningly, as it were, from
some hiding-place, and not sent out into a market to be exposed as
for sale. In his own personal history there had been a misfortune,--a
misfortune, the sense of which he could never, at any moment, have
expressed to any ears, the memory of which had been always buried in
his own bosom,--but a misfortune in that no such cunning extraction
on his part had won for him the woman to whose hands had been
confided the strings of his heart. His wife had undergone that
process of extraction before he had seen her, and his marriage with
her had been a matter of sagacious bargaining. He was now told that
his daughter must be sent out among young men in order that she might
become sufficiently fond of some special one to be regardless of
Tregear. There was a feeling that in doing so she must lose something
of the freshness of the bloom of her innocence. How was this transfer
of her love to be effected? Let her go here because she will meet the
heir of this wealthy house who may probably be smitten by her charms;
or there because that other young lordling would make a fit husband
for her. Let us contrive to throw her into the arms of this man, or
put her into the way of that man. Was his girl to be exposed to this?
Surely that method of bargaining to which he had owed his own wife
would be better than that. Let it be said,--only he himself most
certainly could not be the person to say it,--let it be said to some
man of rank and means and fairly good character: "Here is a wife for
you with so many thousand pounds, with beauty, as you can see for
yourself, with rank and belongings of the highest; very good in every
respect;--only that as regards her heart she thinks she has given
it to a young man named Tregear. No marriage there is possible; but
perhaps the young lady might suit you?" It was thus he had been
married. There was an absence in it of that romance which, though he
had never experienced it in his own life, was always present to his
imagination. His wife had often ridiculed him because he could only
live among figures and official details; but to her had not been
given the power of looking into a man's heart and feeling all that
was there. Yes;--in such bargaining for a wife, in such bargaining
for a husband, there could be nothing of the tremulous delicacy of
feminine romance; but it would be better than standing at a stall
in the market till the sufficient purchaser should come. It never
occurred to him that the delicacy, the innocence, the romance, the
bloom might all be preserved if he would give his girl to the man
whom she said she loved. Could he have modelled her future course
according to his own wishes, he would have had her live a gentle life
for the next three years, with a pencil perhaps in her hand or a
music-book before her;--and then come forth, cleaned as it were by
such quarantine from the impurity to which she had been subjected.

When he was back at Matching he at once told his daughter what he had
arranged for her, and then there took place a prolonged discussion
both as to his view of her future life and as to her own. "You did
tell her then about Mr. Tregear?" she asked.

"As she is to have charge of you for a time I thought it best."

"Perhaps it is. Perhaps--you were afraid."

"No; I was not afraid," he said angrily.

"You need not be afraid. I shall do nothing elsewhere that I would
not do here, and nothing anywhere without telling you."

"I know I can trust you."

"But, papa, I shall always intend to marry Mr. Tregear."

"No!" he exclaimed.

"Yes;--always. I want you to understand exactly how it is. Nothing
you can do can separate me from him."

"Mary, that is very wicked."

"It cannot be wicked to tell the truth, papa. I mean to try to do all
that you tell me. I shall not see him, or write to him,--unless there
should be some very particular reason. And if I did see him or write
to him I would tell you. And of course I should not think of--of
marrying without your leave. But I shall expect you to let me marry
him."

"Never!"

"Then I shall think you are--cruel; and you will break my heart."

"You should not call your father cruel."

"I hope you will not be cruel."

"I can never permit you to marry this man. It would be altogether
improper. I cannot allow you to say that I am cruel because I do what
I feel to be my duty. You will see other people."

"A great many perhaps."

"And will learn to,--to,--to forget him."

"Never! I will not forget him. I should hate myself if I thought it
possible. What would love be worth if it could be forgotten in that
way?" As he heard this he reflected whether his own wife, this girl's
mother, had ever forgotten her early love for that Burgo Fitzgerald
whom in her girlhood she had wished to marry.

When he was leaving her she called him back again. "There is one
other thing I think I ought to say, papa. If Lady Cantrip speaks to
me about Mr. Tregear, I can only tell her what I have told you. I
shall never give him up." When he heard this he turned angrily from
her, almost stamping his foot upon the ground, when she quietly left
the room.

Cruel! She had told him that he would be cruel, if he opposed her
love. He thought he knew of himself that he could not be cruel,--even
to a fly, even to a political opponent. There could be no cruelty
without dishonesty, and did he not always struggle to be honest?
Cruel to his own daughter!



CHAPTER XII

At Richmond


The pity of it! The pity of it! It was thus that Lady Cantrip looked
at it. From what the girl's father had said to her she was disposed
to believe that the malady had gone deep with her. "All things go
deep with her," he had said. And she too from other sources had heard
something of this girl. She was afraid that it would go deep. It was
a thousand pities! Then she asked herself whether the marriage ought
to be regarded as impossible. The Duke had been very positive,--had
declared again and again that it was quite impossible, had so
expressed himself as to make her aware that he intended her to
understand that he would not yield whatever the sufferings of the
girl might be. But Lady Cantrip knew the world well and was aware
that in such matters daughters are apt to be stronger than their
fathers. He had declared Tregear to be a young man with very small
means, and intent on such pleasures as require great means for their
enjoyment. No worse character could be given to a gentleman who
had proposed himself as a son-in-law. But Lady Cantrip thought it
possible that the Duke might be mistaken in this. She had never seen
Mr. Tregear, but she fancied that she had heard his name, and that
the name had been connected with a character different from that
which the Duke had given him.

Lady Cantrip, who at this time was a young-looking woman, not much
above forty, had two daughters, both of whom were married. The
younger about a year since had become the wife of Lord Nidderdale, a
middle-aged young man who had been long about town, a cousin of the
late Duchess, the heir to a marquisate, and a Member of Parliament.
The marriage had not been considered to be very brilliant; but the
husband was himself good-natured and pleasant, and Lady Cantrip was
fond of him. In the first place she went to him for information.

"Oh yes, I know him. He's one of our set at the Beargarden."

"Not your set, now, I hope," she said laughing.

"Well;--I don't see so much of them as I used to do. Tregear is not a
bad fellow at all. He's always with Silverbridge. When Silverbridge
does what Tregear tells him, he goes along pretty straight. But
unfortunately there's another man called Tifto, and when Tifto is in
the ascendant then Silverbridge is apt to get a little astray."

"He's not in debt, then?"

"Who?--Tregear? I should think he's the last man in the world to owe
a penny to any one."

"Is he a betting man?"

"Oh dear no; quite the other way up. He's a severe, sarcastic,
bookish sort of fellow,--a chap who knows everything and turns up his
nose at people who know nothing."

"Has he got anything of his own?"

"Not much, I should say. If he had had any money he would have
married Lady Mab Grex last year."

Lady Cantrip was inclined from what she now learned to think that the
Duke must be wrong about the young man. But before Lady Mary joined
her she made further inquiry. She too knew Lady Mabel, and knowing
Lady Mabel, she knew Miss Cassewary. She contrived to find herself
alone with Miss Cassewary, and asked some further questions about Mr.
Tregear. "He is a cousin of my Lord's," said Miss Cass.

"So I thought. I wonder what sort of a young man he is. He is a good
deal with Lord Silverbridge."

Then Miss Cassewary spoke her opinion very plainly. "If Lord
Silverbridge had nobody worse about him than Mr. Tregear he would not
come to much harm."

"I suppose he's not very well off."

"No;--certainly not. He will have a property of some kind, I believe,
when his mother dies. I think very well of Mr. Tregear;--only I wish
that he had a profession. But why are you asking about him, Lady
Cantrip?"

"Nidderdale was talking to me about him and saying that he was
so much with Lord Silverbridge. Lord Silverbridge is going into
Parliament now, and, as it were, beginning the world, and it would
be a thousand pities that he should get into bad hands." It may,
however, be doubted whether Miss Cassewary was hoodwinked by this
little story.

Early in the second week in May the Duke brought his daughter up to
The Horns, and at the same time expressed his intention of remaining
in London. When he did so Lady Mary at once asked whether she might
not be with him,--but he would not permit it. The house in London
would, he said, be more gloomy even than Matching.

"I am quite ashamed of giving you so much trouble," Lady Mary said to
her new friend.

"We are delighted to have you, my dear."

"But I know that you have been obliged to leave London because I am
with you."

"There is nothing I like so much as this place, which your father has
been kind enough to lend us. As for London, there is nothing now to
make me like being there. Both my girls are married, and therefore I
regard myself as an old woman who has done her work. Don't you think
this place very much nicer than London at this time of the year?"

"I don't know London at all. I had only just been brought out when
poor mamma went abroad."

The life they led was very quiet, and must probably have been felt
to be dull by Lady Cantrip, in spite of her old age and desire
for retirement. But the place itself was very lovely. May of all
the months of the year is in England the most insidious, the most
dangerous, and the most inclement. A greatcoat cannot be endured,
and without a greatcoat who can endure a May wind and live? But of
all months it is the prettiest. The grasses are then the greenest,
and the young foliage of the trees, while it has all the glory and
all the colour of spring vegetation, does not hide the form of the
branches as do the heavy masses of the larger leaves which come in
the advancing summer. And of all villas near London The Horns was the
sweetest. The broad green lawn swept down to the very margin of the
Thames, which absolutely washed the fringe of grass when the tide
was high. And here, along the bank, was a row of flowering ashes,
the drooping boughs of which in places touched the water. It was
one of those spots which when they are first seen make the beholder
feel that to be able to live there and look at it always would be
happiness enough for life.

At the end of the week there came a visitor to see Lady Mary. A very
pretty carriage was driven up to the door of The Horns, and the
servant asked for Lady Mary Palliser. The owner of that carriage was
Mrs. Finn. Now it must be explained to the reader that there had
never been any friendship between Mrs. Finn and Lady Cantrip, though
the ladies had met each other. The great political intimacy which had
existed between the Duke and Lord Cantrip had created some intimacy
also between their wives. The Duchess and Lady Cantrip had been
friends,--after a fashion. But Mrs. Finn had never been cordially
accepted by those among whom Lady Cantrip chiefly lived. When
therefore the name was announced, the servant expressly stating that
the visitor had asked for Lady Mary, Lady Cantrip, who was with her
guest, had to bethink herself what she would do. The Duke, who was at
this time very full of wrath against Mrs. Finn, had not mentioned
this lady's name when delivering up the charge of his daughter to
Lady Cantrip. At this moment it occurred to her that not improbably
Mrs. Finn would cease to be included in the intimacies of the
Palliser family from the time of the death of the Duchess,--that the
Duke would not care to maintain the old relations, and that he would
be as little anxious to do it for his daughter as for himself. If so,
could it be right that Mrs. Finn should come down here, to a house
which was now in the occupation of a lady with whom she was not on
inviting terms, in order that she might thus force herself on the
Duke's daughter? Mrs. Finn had not left her carriage, but had sent in
to ask if Lady Mary could see her. In all this there was considerable
embarrassment. She looked round at her guest, who had at once risen
from her chair. "Would you wish to see her?" asked Lady Cantrip.

"Oh yes; certainly."

"Have you seen her since,--since you came home from Italy?"

"Oh dear, yes! She was down at Matching when poor mamma died. And
papa persuaded her to remain afterwards. Of course I will see her."
Then the servant was desired to ask Mrs. Finn to come in;--and while
this was being done Lady Cantrip retired.

Mrs. Finn embraced her young friend, and asked after her welfare, and
after the welfare of the house in which she was staying,--a house
with which Mrs. Finn herself had been well acquainted,--and said
half-a-dozen pretty little things in her own quiet pretty way, before
she spoke of the matter which had really brought her to The Horns on
that day.

"I have had a correspondence with your father, Mary."

"Indeed."

"And unfortunately one that has been far from agreeable to me."

"I am sorry for that, Mrs. Finn."

"So am I, very sorry. I may say with perfect truth that there is no
man in the world, except my own husband, for whom I feel so perfect
an esteem as I do for your father. If it were not that I do not like
to be carried away by strong language I would speak of more than
esteem. Through your dear mother I have watched his conduct closely,
and have come to think that there is perhaps no other man at the same
time so just and so patriotic. Now he is very angry with me,--and
most unjustly angry."

"Is it about me?"

"Yes;--it is about you. Had it not been altogether about you I would
not have troubled you."

"And about--?"

"Yes;--about Mr. Tregear also. When I tell you that there has been a
correspondence I must explain that I have written one long letter to
the Duke, and that in answer I have received a very short one. That
has been the whole correspondence. Here is your father's letter to
me." Then she brought out of her pocket a note, which Lady Mary
read,--covered with blushes as she did so. The note was as follows:


   The Duke of Omnium understands from Mrs. Finn's letter
   that Mrs. Finn, while she was the Duke's guest at
   Matching, was aware of a certain circumstance affecting
   the Duke's honour and happiness,--which circumstance she
   certainly did not communicate to the Duke. The Duke thinks
   that the trust which had been placed in Mrs. Finn should
   have made such a communication imperative. The Duke feels
   that no further correspondence between himself and Mrs.
   Finn on the matter could lead to any good result.


"Do you understand it?" asked Mrs. Finn.

"I think so."

"It simply means this,--that when at Matching he had thought me
worthy of having for a time the charge of you and of your welfare,
that he had trusted me, who was the friend of your dear mother,
to take for a time in regard to you the place which had been so
unhappily left vacant by her death; and it means also that I deceived
him and betrayed that trust by being privy to an engagement on your
part, of which he disapproves, and of which he was not then aware."

"I suppose he does mean that."

"Yes, Lady Mary; that is what he means. And he means further to let
me know that as I did so foully betray the trust which he had placed
in me,--that as I had consented to play the part of assistant to you
in that secret engagement,--therefore he casts me off as altogether
unworthy of his esteem and acquaintance. It is as though he had told
me in so many words that among women he had known none more vile or
more false than I."

"Not that, Mrs. Finn."

"Yes, that;--all of that. He tells me that, and then says that there
shall be no more words spoken or written about it. I can hardly
submit to so stern a judgment. You know the truth, Lady Mary."

"Do not call me Lady Mary. Do not quarrel with me."

"If your father has quarrelled with me, it would not be fit that you
and I should be friends. Your duty to him would forbid it. I should
not have come to you now did I not feel that I am bound to justify
myself. The thing of which I am accused is so repugnant to me, that
I am obliged to do something and to say something, even though the
subject itself be one on which I would so willingly be silent."

"What can I do, Mrs. Finn?"

"It was Mr. Tregear who first told me that your father was angry with
me. He knew what I had done and why, and he was bound to tell me in
order that I might have an opportunity of setting myself right with
the Duke. Then I wrote and explained everything,--how you had told
me of the engagement, and how I had then urged Mr. Tregear that he
should not keep such a matter secret from your father. In answer to
my letter I have received--that."

"Shall I write and tell papa?"

"He should be made to understand that from the moment in which I
heard of the engagement I was urgent with you and with Mr. Tregear
that he should be informed of it. You will remember what passed."

"I remember it all."

"I did not conceive it to be my duty to tell the Duke myself, but I
did conceive it to be my duty to see he should be told. Now he writes
as though I had known the secret from the first, and as though I had
been concealing it from him at the very moment in which he was asking
me to remain at Matching on your behalf. That I consider to be
hard,--and unjust. I cannot deny what he says. I did know of it while
I was at Matching, for it was at Matching that you told me. But he
implies that I knew it before. When you told me your story I did feel
that it was my duty to see that the matter was not kept longer from
him;--and I did my duty. Now your father takes upon himself to rebuke
me,--and takes upon himself at the same time to forbid me to write to
him again!"

"I will tell him all, Mrs. Finn."

"Let him understand this. I do not wish to write to him again. After
what has passed I cannot say I wish to see him again. But I think he
should acknowledge to me that he has been mistaken. He need not then
fear that I shall trouble him with any reply. But I shall know that
he has acquitted me of a fault of which I cannot bear to think I
should be accused." Then she took a somewhat formal though still an
affectionate farewell of the girl.

"I want to see papa as soon as possible," said Lady Mary when she was
again with Lady Cantrip. The reason for her wish was soon given, and
then the whole story told. "You do not think that she should have
gone to papa at once?" Lady Mary asked. It was a point of moral law
on which the elder woman, who had had girls of her own, found it hard
to give an immediate answer. It certainly is expedient that parents
should know at once of any engagement by which their daughters may
seek to contract themselves. It is expedient that they should be able
to prevent any secret contracts. Lady Cantrip felt strongly that
Mrs. Finn having accepted the confidential charge of the daughter
could not, without gross betrayal of trust, allow herself to be the
depositary of such a secret. "But she did not allow herself," said
Lady Mary, pleading for her friend.

"But she left the house without telling him, my dear."

"But it was because of what she did that he was told."

"That is true; but I doubt whether she should have left him an hour
in ignorance."

"But it was I who told her. She would have betrayed me."

"She was not a fit recipient for your confidence, Mary. But I do not
wish to accuse her. She seems to be a high-minded woman, and I think
that your papa has been hard upon her."

"And mamma knew it always," said Mary. To this Lady Cantrip could
give no answer. Whatever cause for anger the Duke might have against
Mrs. Finn, there had been cause for much more against his wife. But
she had freed herself from all accusation by death.

Lady Mary wrote to her father, declaring that she was most
particularly anxious to see him and talk to him about Mrs. Finn.



CHAPTER XIII

The Duke's Injustice


No advantage whatever was obtained by Lady Mary's interview with her
father. He persisted that Mrs. Finn had been untrue to him when she
left Matching without telling him all that she knew of his daughter's
engagement with Mr. Tregear. No doubt by degrees that idea which he
at first entertained was expelled from his head,--the idea that she
had been cognisant of the whole thing before she came to Matching;
but even this was done so slowly that there was no moment at which he
became aware of any lessened feeling of indignation. To his thinking
she had betrayed her trust, and he could not be got by his daughter
to say that he would forgive her. He certainly could not be got to
say that he would apologise for the accusation he had made. It was
nothing less that his daughter asked; and he could hardly refrain
himself from anger when she asked it. "There should not have been
a moment," he said, "before she came to me and told me all." Poor
Lady Mary's position was certainly uncomfortable enough. The great
sin,--the sin which was so great that to have known it for a day
without revealing it was in itself a damning sin on the part of Mrs.
Finn,--was Lady Mary's sin. And she differed so entirely from her
father as to think that this sin of her own was a virtue, and that to
have spoken of it to him would have been, on the part of Mrs. Finn,
a treachery so deep that no woman ought to have forgiven it! When
he spoke of a matter which deeply affected his honour,--she could
hardly refrain from asserting that his honour was quite safe in his
daughter's hands. And when in his heart he declared that it should
have been Mrs. Finn's first care to save him from disgrace, Lady Mary
did break out. "Papa, there could be no disgrace." "That for a moment
shall be laid aside," he said, with that manner by which even his
peers in council had never been able not to be awed, "but if you
communicate with Mrs. Finn at all you must make her understand that I
regard her conduct as inexcusable."

Nothing had been gained, and poor Lady Mary was compelled to write a
few lines which were to her most painful in writing.


   MY DEAR MRS. FINN,

   I have seen papa, and he thinks that you ought to have
   told him when I told you. It occurs to me that that would
   have been a cruel thing to do, and most unfair to Mr.
   Tregear, who was quite willing to go to papa, and had only
   put off doing so because of poor mamma's death. As I had
   told mamma, of course it was right that he should tell
   papa. Then I told you, because you were so kind to me! I
   am so sorry that I have got you into this trouble; but
   what can I do?

   I told him I must write to you. I suppose it is better
   that I should, although what I have to say is so
   unpleasant. I hope it will all blow over in time,
   because I love you dearly. You may be quite sure of one
   thing,--that I shall never change. [In this assurance the
   writer was alluding not to her friendship for her friend
   but her love for her lover,--and so the friend understood
   her.] I hope things will be settled some day, and then we
   may be able to meet.

   Your very affectionate Friend,

   MARY PALLISER.


Mrs. Finn, when she received this, was alone in her house in Park
Lane. Her husband was down in the North of England. On this subject
she had not spoken to him, fearing that he would feel himself bound
to take some steps to support his wife under the treatment she had
received. Even though she must quarrel with the Duke, she was most
anxious that her husband should not be compelled to do so. Their
connection had been political rather than personal. There were many
reasons why there should be no open cause of disruption between them.
But her husband was hot-headed, and, were all this to be told him and
that letter shown to him which the Duke had written, there would be
words between him and the Duke which would probably make impossible
any further connection between them.

It troubled her very much. She was by no means not alive to the
honour of the Duke's friendship. Throughout her intimacy with the
Duchess she had abstained from pressing herself on him, not because
she had been indifferent about him, but that she had perceived that
she might make her way with him better by standing aloof than by
thrusting herself forward. And she had known that she had been
successful. She could tell herself with pride that her conduct
towards him had been always such as would become a lady of high
spirit and fine feeling. She knew that she had deserved well of him,
that in all her intercourse with him, with his uncle, and with his
wife, she had given much and had taken little. She was the last woman
in the world to let a word on such a matter pass her lips; but not
the less was she conscious of her merit towards him. And she had been
led to act as she had done by sincere admiration for the man. In all
their political troubles, she had understood him better than the
Duchess had done. Looking on from a distance she had understood the
man's character as it had come to her both from his wife and from her
own husband.

That he was unjust to her,--cruelly unjust, she was quite sure. He
accused her of intentional privity to a secret which it behoved him
to know, and of being a party to that secrecy. Whereas from the
moment in which she had heard the secret she had determined that it
must be made known to him. She felt that she had deserved his good
opinion in all things, but in nothing more than in the way in which
she had acted in this matter. And yet he had treated her with an
imperious harshness which amounted to insolence. What a letter it was
that he had written to her! The very tips of her ears tingled with
heat as she read it again to herself. None of the ordinary courtesies
of epistle-craft had been preserved either in the beginning or in
the end. It was worse even than if he had called her Madam without
an epithet. "The Duke understands--" "The Duke thinks--" "The Duke
feels--" feels that he should not be troubled with either letters or
conversation; the upshot of it all being that the Duke declared her
to have shown herself unworthy of being treated like a lady! And this
after all that she had done!

She would not bear it. That at present was all that she could say
to herself. She was not angry with Lady Mary. She did not doubt but
that the girl had done the best in her power to bring her father
to reason. But because Lady Mary had failed, she, Mrs. Finn,
was not going to put up with so grievous an injury. And she was
forced to bear all this alone! There was none with whom she could
communicate;--no one from whom she could ask advice. She would not
bring her husband into a quarrel which might be prejudicial to his
position as a member of his political party. There was no one else to
whom she would tell the secret of Lady Mary's love. And yet she could
not bear this injustice done to her.

Then she wrote as follows to the Duke:


   Mrs. Finn presents her compliments to the Duke of Omnium.
   Mrs. Finn finds it to be essential to her that she should
   see the Duke in reference to his letter to her. If his
   Grace will let her know on what day and at what hour he
   will be kind enough to call on her, Mrs. Finn will be at
   home to receive him.

   Park Lane. Thursday, 12th May, 18--.



CHAPTER XIV

The New Member for Silverbridge


Lord Silverbridge was informed that it would be right that he should
go down to Silverbridge a few days before the election, to make
himself known to the electors. As the day for the election drew
near it was understood that there would be no other candidate.
The Conservative side was the popular side among the tradesmen of
Silverbridge. Silverbridge had been proud to be honoured by the
services of the heir of the house of Omnium, even while that heir had
been a Liberal,--had regarded it as so much a matter of course that
the borough should be at his disposal that no question as to politics
had ever arisen while he retained the seat. And had the Duke chosen
to continue to send them Liberals, one after another, when he went
into the House of Lords, there would have been no question as to the
fitness of the man or men so sent. Silverbridge had been supposed
to be a Liberal as a matter of course,--because the Pallisers were
Liberals. But when the matter was remitted to themselves,--when the
Duke declared that he would not interfere any more, for it was thus
that the borough had obtained its freedom,--then the borough began to
feel Conservative predilections. "If his Grace really does mean us to
do just what we please ourselves, which is a thing we never thought
of asking from his Grace, then we find, having turned the matter over
among ourselves, that we are upon the whole Conservative." In this
spirit the borough had elected a certain Mr. Fletcher; but in doing
so the borough had still a shade of fear that it would offend the
Duke. The house of Palliser, Gatherum Castle, the Duke of Omnium,
and this special Duke himself, were all so great in the eyes of
the borough, that the first and only strong feeling in the borough
was the one of duty. The borough did not altogether enjoy being
enfranchised. But when the Duke had spoken once, twice, and thrice,
then with a hesitating heart the borough returned Mr. Fletcher. Now
Mr. Fletcher was wanted elsewhere, having been persuaded to stand
for the county, and it was a comfort to the borough that it could
resettle itself beneath the warmth of the wings of the Pallisers.

So the matter stood when Lord Silverbridge was told that his presence
in the borough for a few hours would be taken as a compliment.
Hitherto no one knew him at Silverbridge. During his boyhood he had
not been much at Gatherum Castle, and had done his best to eschew the
place since he had ceased to be a boy. All the Pallisers took a pride
in Gatherum Castle, but they all disliked it. "Oh yes; I'll go down,"
he said to Mr. Morton, who was up in town. "I needn't go to the great
barrack I suppose." The great barrack was the Castle. "I'll put up at
the Inn." Mr. Morton begged the heir to come to his own house; but
Silverbridge declared that he would prefer the Inn, and so the matter
was settled. He was to meet sundry politicians,--Mr. Sprugeon and Mr.
Sprout and Mr. Du Boung,--who would like to be thanked for what they
had done. But who was to go with him? He would naturally have asked
Tregear, but from Tregear he had for the last week or two been, not
perhaps estranged, but separated. He had been much taken up with
racing. He had gone down to Chester with Major Tifto, and under the
Major's auspicious influences had won a little money;--and now he
was very anxiously preparing himself for the Newmarket Second
Spring Meeting. He had therefore passed much of his time with Major
Tifto. And when this visit to Silverbridge was pressed on him he
thoughtlessly asked Tifto to go with him. Tifto was delighted. Lord
Silverbridge was to be met at Silverbridge by various well-known
politicians from the neighbourhood, and Major Tifto was greatly
elated by the prospect of such an introduction into the political
world.

But no sooner had the offer been made by Lord Silverbridge than
he saw his own indiscretion. Tifto was very well for Chester or
Newmarket, very well perhaps for the Beargarden, but not very well
for an electioneering expedition. An idea came to the young nobleman
that if it should be his fate to represent Silverbridge in Parliament
for the next twenty years, it would be well that Silverbridge should
entertain respecting him some exalted estimation,--that Silverbridge
should be taught to regard him as a fit son of his father and a
worthy specimen of the British political nobility. Struck by serious
reflections of this nature he did open his mind to Tregear. "I am
very fond of Tifto," he said, "but I don't know whether he's just the
sort of fellow to take down to an election."

"I should think not," said Tregear very decidedly.

"He's a very good fellow, you know," said Silverbridge. "I don't know
an honester man than Tifto anywhere."

"I dare say. Or rather, I don't dare say. I know nothing about the
Major's honesty, and I doubt whether you do. He rides very well."

"What has that to do with it?"

"Nothing on earth. Therefore I advise you not to take him to
Silverbridge."

"You needn't preach."

"You may call it what you like. Tifto would not hold his tongue,
and there is nothing he could say there which would not be to your
prejudice."

"Will you go?"

"If you wish it," said Tregear.

"What will the governor say?"

"That must be your look-out. In a political point of view I
shall not disgrace you. I shall hold my tongue and look like a
gentleman,--neither of which is in Tifto's power."

And so it was settled, that on the day but one after this
conversation Lord Silverbridge and Tregear should go together to
Silverbridge. But the Major, when on the same night his noble
friend's altered plans were explained to him, did not bear the
disappointment with equanimity. "Isn't that a little strange?" he
said, becoming very red in the face.

"What do you call strange?" said the Lord.

"Well;--I'd made all my arrangements. When a man has been asked to do
a thing like that, he doesn't like to be put off."

"The truth is, Tifto, when I came to think of it, I saw that, going
down to these fellows about Parliament and all that sort of thing, I
ought to have a political atmosphere, and not a racing or a betting
or a hunting atmosphere."

"There isn't a man in London who cares more about politics than I
do;--and not very many perhaps who understand them better. To tell
you the truth, my Lord, I think you are throwing me over."

"I'll make it up to you," said Silverbridge, meaning to be kind.
"I'll go down to Newmarket with you and stick to you like wax."

"No doubt you'll do that," said Tifto, who, like a fool, failed to
see where his advantage lay. "I can be useful at Newmarket, and so
you'll stick to me."

"Look here, Major Tifto," said Silverbridge; "if you are
dissatisfied, you and I can easily separate ourselves."

"I am not dissatisfied," said the little man, almost crying.

"Then don't talk as though you were. As to Silverbridge, I shall
not want you there. When I asked you I was only thinking what would
be pleasant to both of us; but since that I have remembered that
business must be business." Even this did not reconcile the angry
little man, who as he turned away declared within his own little
bosom that he would "take it out of Silverbridge for that."

Lord Silverbridge and Tregear went down to the borough together, and
on the journey something was said about Lady Mary,--and something
also about Lady Mabel. "From the first, you know," said Lady Mary's
brother, "I never thought it would answer."

"Why not answer?"

"Because I knew the governor would not have it. Money and rank and
those sort of things are not particularly charming to me. But still
things should go together. It is all very well for you and me to
be pals, but of course it will be expected that Mary should marry
some--"

"Some swell?"

"Some swell, if you will have it."

"You mean to call yourself a swell?"

"Yes I do," said Silverbridge, with considerable resolution. "You
ought not to make yourself disagreeable, because you understand all
about it as well as anybody. Chance has made me the eldest son of a
Duke and heir to an enormous fortune. Chance has made my sister the
daughter of a Duke, and an heiress also. My intimacy with you ought
to be proof at any rate to you that I don't on that account set
myself up above other fellows. But when you come to talk of marriage,
of course it is a serious thing."

"But you have told me more than once that you have no objection on
your own score."

"Nor have I."

"You are only saying what the Duke will think."

"I am telling you that it is impossible, and I told you so before.
You and she will be kept apart, and so--"

"And so she'll forget me."

"Something of that kind."

"Of course I have to trust to her for that. If she forgets me, well
and good."

"She needn't forget you. Lord bless me! you talk as though the thing
were not done every day. You'll hear some morning that she is going
to marry some fellow who has a lot of money and a good position; and
what difference will it make then whether she has forgotten you or
not?" It might almost have been supposed that the young man had been
acquainted with his mother's history.

After this there was a pause, and there arose conversation about
other things, and a cigar was smoked. Then Tregear returned once more
to the subject. "There is one thing I wish to say about it all."

"What is that?"

"I want you to understand that nothing else will turn me away from my
intention but such a marriage on her part as that of which you speak.
Nothing that your father can do will turn me."

"She can't marry without his leave."

"Perhaps not."

"That he'll never give,--and I don't suppose you look forward to
waiting till his death."

"If he sees that her happiness really depends on it he will give his
leave. It all depends on that. If I judge your father rightly, he's
just as soft-hearted as other people. The man who holds out is not
the man of the firmest opinion, but the man of the hardest heart."

"Somebody will talk Mary over."

"If so, the thing is over. It all depends on her." Then he went on to
tell his friend that he had spoken of his engagement to Lady Mabel.
"I have mentioned it to no soul but to your father and to her."

"Why to her?"

"Because we were friends together as children. I never had a sister,
but she has been more like a sister to me than any one else. Do you
object to her knowing it?"

"Not particularly. It seems to me now that everybody knows
everything. There are no longer any secrets."

"But she is a special friend."

"Of yours," said Silverbridge.

"And of yours," said Tregear.

"Well, yes;--in a sort of way. She is the jolliest girl I know."

"Take her all round, for beauty, intellect, good sense, and fun at
the same time, I don't know any one equal to her."

"It's a pity you didn't fall in love with her."

"We knew each other too early for that. And then she has not a
shilling. I should think myself dishonest if I did not tell you that
I could not afford to love any girl who hadn't money. A man must
live,--and a woman too."

At the station they were met by Mr. Sprugeon and Mr. Sprout, who,
with many apologies for the meanness of such entertainment, took them
up to the George and Vulture, which was supposed for the nonce to be
the Conservative hotel in the town. Here they were met by other men
of importance in the borough, and among them by Mr. Du Boung. Now Mr.
Sprout and Mr. Sprugeon were Conservatives, but Mr. Du Boung was a
strong Liberal.

"We are, all of us, particularly glad to see your Lordship among us,"
said Mr. Du Boung.

"I have told his Lordship how perfectly satisfied you are to see the
borough in his Lordship's hands," said Mr. Sprugeon.

"I am sure it could not be in better," said Mr. Du Boung. "For myself
I am quite willing to postpone any peculiar shade of politics to the
advantage of having your father's son as our representative."

This Mr. Du Boung said with much intention of imparting both grace
and dignity to the occasion. He thought that he was doing a great
thing for the house of Omnium, and that the house of Omnium ought to
know it.

"That's very kind of you," said Lord Silverbridge, who had not read
as carefully as he should have done the letters which had been sent
to him, and did not therefore quite understand the position.

"Mr. Du Boung had intended to stand himself," said Mr. Sprout.

"But retired in your Lordship's favour," said Mr. Sprugeon.

"In doing which I considered that I studied the interest of the
borough," said Mr. Du Boung.

"I thought you gave it up because there was hardly a footing for a
Liberal," said his Lordship, very imprudently.

"The borough was always Liberal till the last election," said Mr. Du
Boung, drawing himself up.

"The borough wishes on this occasion to be magnanimous," said
Mr. Sprout, probably having on his mind some confusion between
magnanimity and unanimity.

"As your Lordship is coming among us, the borough is anxious to sink
politics altogether for the moment," said Mr. Sprugeon. There had no
doubt been a compact between the Sprugeon and Sprout party and the Du
Boung party in accordance with which it had been arranged that Mr. Du
Boung should be entitled to a certain amount of glorification in the
presence of Lord Silverbridge.

"And it was in compliance with that wish on the part of the borough,
my Lord," said Mr. Du Boung,--"as to which my own feelings were quite
as strong as that of any other gentleman in the borough,--that I
conceived it to be my duty to give way."

"His Lordship is quite aware how much he owes to Mr. Du Boung," said
Tregear. Whereupon Lord Silverbridge bowed.

"And now what are we to do?" said Lord Silverbridge.

Then there was a little whispering between Mr. Sprout and Mr.
Sprugeon. "Perhaps, Mr. Du Boung," said Sprugeon, "his Lordship had
better call first on Dr. Tempest."

"Perhaps," said the injured brewer, "as it is to be a party affair
after all I had better retire from the scene."

"I thought all that was to be given up," said Tregear.

"Oh, certainly," said Sprout. "Suppose we go to Mr. Walker first?"

"I'm up to anything," said Lord Silverbridge; "but of course
everybody understands that I am a Conservative."

"Oh dear, yes," said Sprugeon.

"We are all aware of that," said Sprout.

"And very glad we've all of us been to hear it," said the landlord.

"Though there are some in the borough who could have wished, my Lord,
that you had stuck to the old Palliser politics," said Mr. Du Boung.

"But I haven't stuck to the Palliser politics. Just at present I
think that order and all that sort of thing should be maintained."

"Hear, hear!" said the landlord.

"And now, as I have expressed my views generally, I am willing to go
anywhere."

"Then we'll go to Mr. Walker first," said Sprugeon. Now it was
understood that in the borough, among those who really had opinions
of their own, Mr. Walker the old attorney stood first as a Liberal,
and Dr. Tempest the old rector first as a Conservative.

"I am glad to see your Lordship in the town which gives you
its name," said Mr. Walker, who was a hale old gentleman with
silvery-white hair, over seventy years of age. "I proposed your
father for this borough on, I think, six or seven different
occasions. They used to go in and out then whenever they changed
their offices."

"We hope you'll propose Lord Silverbridge now," said Mr. Sprugeon.

"Oh; well;--yes. He's his father's son, and I never knew anything but
good of the family. I wish you were going to sit on the same side, my
Lord."

"Times are changed a little, perhaps," said his Lordship.

"The matter is not to be discussed now," said the old attorney. "I
understand that. Only I hope you'll excuse me if I say that a man
ought to get up very early in the morning if he means to see further
into politics than your father."

"Very early indeed," said Mr. Du Boung, shaking his head.

"That's all right," said Lord Silverbridge.

"I'll propose you, my Lord. I need not wish you success, because
there is no one to stand against you."

Then they went to Dr. Tempest, who was also an old man. "Yes,
my Lord, I shall be proud to second you," said the rector. "I
didn't think that I should ever do that to one of your name in
Silverbridge."

"I hope you think I've made a change for the better," said the
candidate.

"You've come over to my school of course, and I suppose I am bound
to think that a change for the better. Nevertheless I have a kind of
idea that certain people ought to be Tories and that other certain
people ought to be Whigs. What does your father say about it?"

"My father wishes me to be in the House, and that he has not
quarrelled with me you may know by the fact that had there been a
contest he would have paid my expenses."

"A father generally has to do that whether he approves of what his
son is about or not," said the caustic old gentleman.

There was nothing else to be done. They all went back to the hotel,
and Mr. Sprugeon with Mr. Sprout and the landlord drank a glass of
sherry at the candidate's expense, wishing him political long life
and prosperity. There was no one else whom it was thought necessary
that the candidate should visit, and the next day he returned to town
with the understanding that on the day appointed in the next week he
should come back again to be elected.

And on the day appointed the two young men again went to
Silverbridge, and after he had been declared duly elected, the new
Member of Parliament made his first speech. There was a meeting in
the town-hall and many were assembled anxious to hear,--not the lad's
opinions, for which probably nobody cared much,--but the tone of his
voice and to see his manner. Of what sort was the eldest son of the
man of whom the neighbourhood had been so proud? For the county was
in truth proud of their Duke. Of this son whom they had now made a
Member of Parliament they at present only knew that he had been sent
away from Oxford,--not so very long ago,--for painting the Dean's
house scarlet. The speech was not very brilliant. He told them
that he was very much obliged to them for the honour they had done
him. Though he could not follow exactly his father's political
opinions,--he would always have before his eyes his father's
political honesty and independence. He broke down two or three times
and blushed, and repeated himself, and knocked his words a great deal
too quickly one on the top of another. But it was taken very well,
and was better than was expected. When it was over he wrote a line to
the Duke.


   MY DEAR FATHER,

   I am Member of Parliament for Silverbridge,--as you used
   to be in the days which I can first remember. I hope you
   won't think that it does not make me unhappy to have
   differed from you. Indeed it does. I don't think that
   anybody has ever done so well in politics as you have.
   But when a man does take up an opinion I don't see how
   he can help himself. Of course I could have kept myself
   quiet;--but then you wished me to be in the House. They
   were all very civil to me at Silverbridge, but there was
   very little said.

   Your affectionate Son,

   SILVERBRIDGE.



CHAPTER XV

The Duke Receives a Letter,--and Writes One


The Duke, when he received Mrs. Finn's note, demanding an interview,
thought much upon the matter before he replied. She had made her
demand as though the Duke had been no more than any other gentleman,
almost as though she had a right to call upon him to wait upon her.
He understood and admired the courage of this;--but nevertheless he
would not go to her. He had trusted her with that which of all things
was the most sacred to him, and she had deceived him! He wrote to her
as follows:


   The Duke of Omnium presents his compliments to Mrs. Finn.
   As the Duke thinks that no good could result either to
   Mrs. Finn or to himself from an interview, he is obliged
   to say that he would rather not do as Mrs. Finn has
   requested.

   But for the strength of this conviction the Duke would
   have waited upon Mrs. Finn most willingly.


Mrs. Finn when she received this was not surprised. She had felt sure
that such would be the nature of the Duke's answer; but she was also
sure that if such an answer did come she would not let the matter
rest. The accusation was so bitter to her that she would spare
nothing in defending herself,--nothing in labour and nothing in time.
She would make him know that she was in earnest. As she could not
succeed in getting into his presence she must do this by letter,--and
she wrote her letter, taking two days to think of her words.


   May 18, 18--.

   MY DEAR DUKE OF OMNIUM,

   As you will not come to me, I must trouble your Grace
   to read what I fear will be a long letter. For it is
   absolutely necessary that I should explain my conduct to
   you. That you have condemned me I am sure you will not
   deny;--nor that you have punished me as far as the power
   of punishment was in your hands. If I can succeed in
   making you see that you have judged me wrongly, I think
   you will admit your error and beg my pardon. You are not
   one who from your nature can be brought easily to do this;
   but you are one who will certainly do it if you can be
   made to feel that by not doing so you would be unjust. I
   am myself so clear as to my own rectitude of purpose and
   conduct, and am so well aware of your perspicuity, that
   I venture to believe that if you will read this letter I
   shall convince you.

   Before I go any further I will confess that the matter is
   one,--I was going to say almost of life and death to me.
   Circumstances, not of my own seeking, have for some years
   past thrown me so closely into intercourse with your
   family that now to be cast off, and to be put on one side
   as a disgraced person,--and that so quickly after the
   death of her who loved me so dearly and who was so dear to
   me,--is such an affront as I cannot bear and hold up my
   head afterwards. I have come to be known as her whom your
   uncle trusted and loved, as her whom your wife trusted and
   loved,--obscure as I was before;--and as her whom, may I
   not say, you yourself trusted? As there was much of honour
   and very much of pleasure in this, so also was there
   something of misfortune. Friendships are safest when the
   friends are of the same standing. I have always felt there
   was danger, and now the thing I feared has come home to
   me.

   Now I will plead my case. I fancy, that when first you
   heard that I had been cognisant of your daughter's
   engagement, you imagined that I was aware of it before I
   went to Matching. Had I been so, I should have been guilty
   of that treachery of which you accuse me. I did know
   nothing of it till Lady Mary told me on the day before I
   left Matching. That she should tell me was natural enough.
   Her mother had known it, and for the moment,--if I am
   not assuming too much in saying so,--I was filling her
   mother's place. But, in reference to you, I could not
   exercise the discretion which a mother might have used,
   and I told her at once, most decidedly, that you must be
   made acquainted with the fact.

   Then Lady Mary expressed to me her wish,--not that this
   matter should be kept any longer from you, for that it
   should be told she was as anxious as I was myself,--but
   that it should be told to you by Mr. Tregear. It was not
   for me to raise any question as to Mr. Tregear's fitness
   or unfitness,--as to which indeed I could know nothing.
   All I could do was to say that if Mr. Tregear would make
   the communication at once, I should feel that I had done
   my duty. The upshot was that Mr. Tregear came to me
   immediately on my return to London, and agreeing with me
   that it was imperative that you be informed, went to you
   and did inform you. In all of that, if I have told the
   story truly, where has been my offence? I suppose you will
   believe me, but your daughter can give evidence as to
   every word that I have written.

   I think that you have got it into your mind that I have
   befriended Mr. Tregear's suit, and that, having received
   this impression, you hold it with the tenacity which is
   usual to you. There never was a greater mistake. I went to
   Matching as the friend of my dear friend;--but I stayed
   there at your request, as your friend. Had I been, when
   you asked me to do so, a participator in that secret I
   could not have honestly remained in the position you
   assigned to me. Had I done so, I should have deserved your
   ill opinion. As it is I have not deserved it, and your
   condemnation of me has been altogether unjust. Should I
   not now receive from you a full withdrawal of all charge
   against me, I shall be driven to think that after all
   the insight which circumstances have given me into your
   character, I have nevertheless been mistaken in the
   reading of it.

   I remain,
   Dear Duke of Omnium,
   Yours truly,

   M. FINN.

   I find on looking over my letter that I must add one word
   further. It might seem that I am asking for a return of
   your friendship. Such is not my purpose. Neither can you
   forget that you have accused me,--nor can I. What I expect
   is that you should tell me that you in your conduct to me
   have been wrong and that I in mine to you have been right.
   I must be enabled to feel that the separation between us
   has come from injury done to me, and not by me.


He did read the letter more than once, and read it with tingling
ears, and hot cheeks, and a knitted brow. As the letter went on, and
as the woman's sense of wrong grew hot from her own telling of her
own story, her words became stronger and still stronger, till at
last they were almost insolent in their strength. Were it not that
they came from one who did think herself to have been wronged, then
certainly they would be insolent. A sense of injury, a burning
conviction of wrong sustained, will justify language which otherwise
would be unbearable. The Duke felt that, and though his ears were
tingling and his brow knitted, he could have forgiven the language,
if only he could have admitted the argument. He understood every word
of it. When she spoke of tenacity she intended to charge him with
obstinacy. Though she had dwelt but lightly on her own services she
had made her thoughts on the matter clear enough. "I, Mrs. Finn, who
am nobody, have done much to succour and assist you, the Duke of
Omnium; and this is the return which I have received!" And then she
told him to his face that unless he did something which it would be
impossible that he should do, she would revoke her opinion of his
honesty! He tried to persuade himself that her opinion about his
honesty was nothing to him;--but he failed. Her opinion was very much
to him. Though in his anger he had determined to throw her off from
him, he knew her to be one whose good opinion was worth having.

Not a word of overt accusation had been made against his wife. Every
allusion to her was full of love. But yet how heavy a charge was
really made! That such a secret should be kept from him, the father,
was acknowledged to be a heinous fault;--but the wife had known the
secret and had kept it from him, the father! And then how wretched a
thing it was for him that any one should dare to write to him about
the wife that had been taken away from him! In spite of all her
faults her name was so holy to him that it had never once passed
his lips since her death, except in low whispers to himself,--low
whispers made in the perfect, double-guarded seclusion of his own
chamber. "Cora, Cora," he had murmured, so that the sense of the
sound and not the sound itself had come to him from his own lips. And
now this woman wrote to him about her freely, as though there were
nothing sacred, no religion in the memory of her.

"It was not for me to raise any question as to Mr. Tregear's
fitness." Was it not palpable to all the world that he was unfit?
Unfit! How could a man be more unfit? He was asking for the hand of
one who was second only to royalty--who was possessed of everything,
who was beautiful, well-born, rich, who was the daughter of the Duke
of Omnium, and he had absolutely nothing of his own to offer.

But it was necessary that he should at last come to the consideration
of the actual point as to which she had written to him so forcibly.
He tried to set himself to the task in perfect honesty. He certainly
had condemned her. He had condemned her and had no doubt punished her
to the extent of his power. And if he could be brought to see that he
had done this unjustly, then certainly must he beg her pardon. And
when he considered it all, he had to own that her intimacy with his
uncle and his wife had not been so much of her seeking as of theirs.
It grieved him now that it should have been so, but so it was. And
after all this,--after the affectionate surrender of herself to his
wife's caprices which the woman had made,--he had turned upon her and
driven her away with ignominy. That was all true. As he thought of
it he became hot, and was conscious of a quivering feeling round his
heart. These were bonds indeed; but they were bonds of such a nature
as to be capable of being rescinded and cut away altogether by
absolute bad conduct. If he could make it good to himself that in a
matter of such magnitude as the charge of his daughter she had been
untrue to him and had leagued herself against him, with an unworthy
lover, then, then--all bonds would be rescinded! Then would his wrath
be altogether justified! Then would it have been impossible that
he should have done aught else than cast her out! As he thought of
this he felt sure that she had betrayed him! How great would be the
ignominy to him should he be driven to own to himself that she had
not betrayed him! "There should not have been a moment," he said to
himself over and over again,--"not a moment!" Yes;--she certainly had
betrayed him.

There might still be safety for him in that confident assertion of
"not a moment;" but had there been anything of that conspiracy of
which he had certainly at first judged her to be guilty? She had told
her story, and had then appealed to Lady Mary for evidence. After
five minutes of perfect stillness,--but five minutes of misery, five
minutes during which great beads of perspiration broke out from him
and stood upon his brow, he had to confess to himself that he did not
want any evidence. He did believe her story. When he allowed himself
to think she had been in league with Tregear he had wronged her. He
wiped away the beads from his brow, and again repeated to himself
those words which were now his only comfort, "There should not have
been a moment;--not a moment!"

It was thus and only thus that he was enabled to assure himself that
there need be no acknowledgment of wrong done on his part. Having
settled this in his own mind he forced himself to attend a meeting
at which his assistance had been asked as to a complex question on
Law Reform. The Duke endeavoured to give himself up entirely to the
matter; but through it all there was the picture before him of Mrs.
Finn waiting for an answer to her letter. If he should confirm
himself in his opinion that he had been right, then would any answer
be necessary? He might just acknowledge the letter, after the fashion
which has come up in official life, than which silence is an insult
much more bearable. But he did not wish to insult, nor to punish her
further. He would willingly have withdrawn the punishment under which
she was groaning could he have done so without self-abasement. Or he
might write as she had done,--advocating his own cause with all his
strength, using that last one strong argument,--"there should not
have been a moment." But there would be something repulsive to his
personal dignity in the continued correspondence which this would
produce. "The Duke of Omnium regrets to say, in answer to Mrs.
Finn's letter, that he thinks no good can be attained by a prolonged
correspondence." Such, or of such kind, he thought must be his
answer. But would this be a fair return for the solicitude shown by
her to his uncle, for the love which had made her so patient a friend
to his wife, for the nobility of her own conduct in many things? Then
his mind reverted to certain jewels,--supposed to be of enormous
value,--which were still in his possession though they were the
property of this woman. They had been left to her by his uncle, and
she had obstinately refused to take them. Now they were lying packed
in the cellars of certain bankers,--but still they were in his
custody. What should he now do in this matter? Hitherto, perhaps once
in every six months, he had notified to her that he was keeping them
as her curator, and she had always repeated that it was a charge from
which she could not relieve him. It had become almost a joke between
them. But how could he joke with a woman with whom he had quarrelled
after this internecine fashion?

What if he were to consult Lady Cantrip? He could not do so without a
pang that would be very bitter to him,--but any agony would be better
than that arising from a fear that he had been unjust to one who had
deserved well of him. No doubt Lady Cantrip would see it in the same
light as he had done. And then he would be able to support himself by
the assurance that that which he had judged to be right was approved
of by one whom the world would acknowledge to be a good judge on such
a matter.

When he got home he found his son's letter telling him of the
election at Silverbridge. There was something in it which softened
his heart to the young man,--or perhaps it was that in the midst
of his many discomforts he wished to find something which at least
was not painful to him. That his son and his heir should insist on
entering political life in opposition to him was of course a source
of pain; but, putting that aside, the thing had been done pleasantly
enough, and the young member's letter had been written with some good
feeling. So he answered the letter as pleasantly as he knew how.


   MY DEAR SILVERBRIDGE,

   I am glad that you are in Parliament and am glad also
   that you should have been returned by the old borough;
   though I would that you could have reconciled yourself
   to adhering to the politics of your family. But there is
   nothing disgraceful in such a change, and I am able to
   congratulate you as a father should a son and to wish you
   long life and success as a legislator.

   There are one or two things I would ask you to
   remember;--and firstly this, that as you have voluntarily
   undertaken certain duties you are bound as an honest man
   to perform them as scrupulously as though you were paid
   for doing them. There was no obligation in you to seek the
   post;--but having sought it and acquired it you cannot
   neglect the work attached to it without being untrue to
   the covenant you have made. It is necessary that a young
   member of Parliament should bear this in his mind, and
   especially a member who has not worked his way up to
   notoriety outside the House, because to him there will be
   great facility for idleness and neglect.

   And then I would have you always remember the purport for
   which there is a Parliament elected in this happy and free
   country. It is not that some men may shine there, that
   some may acquire power, or that all may plume themselves
   on being the elect of the nation. It often appears to me
   that some members of Parliament so regard their success
   in life,--as the fellows of our colleges do too often,
   thinking that their fellowships were awarded for their
   comfort and not for the furtherance of any object as
   education or religion. I have known gentlemen who have
   felt that in becoming members of Parliament they had
   achieved an object for themselves instead of thinking that
   they had put themselves in the way of achieving something
   for others. A member of Parliament should feel himself
   to be the servant of his country,--and like every other
   servant, he should serve. If this be distasteful to a man
   he need not go into Parliament. If the harness gall him he
   need not wear it. But if he takes the trappings, then he
   should draw the coach. You are there as the guardian of
   your fellow-countrymen,--that they may be safe, that they
   may be prosperous, that they may be well governed and
   lightly burdened,--above all that they may be free. If you
   cannot feel this to be your duty, you should not be there
   at all.

   And I would have you remember also that the work of a
   member of Parliament can seldom be of that brilliant
   nature which is of itself charming; and that the young
   member should think of such brilliancy as being possible
   to him only at a distance. It should be your first care to
   sit and listen so that the forms and methods of the House
   may as it were soak into you gradually. And then you must
   bear in mind that speaking in the House is but a very
   small part of a member's work, perhaps that part which
   he may lay aside altogether with the least strain on his
   conscience. A good member of Parliament will be good
   upstairs in the Committee Rooms, good down-stairs to make
   and to keep a House, good to vote, for his party if it
   may be nothing better, but for the measures also which he
   believes to be for the good of his country.

   Gradually, if you will give your thoughts to it, and above
   all your time, the theory of legislation will sink into
   your mind, and you will find that there will come upon you
   the ineffable delight of having served your country to the
   best of your ability.

   It is the only pleasure in life which has been enjoyed
   without alloy by your affectionate father,

   OMNIUM.


The Duke in writing this letter was able for a few moments to forget
Mrs. Finn, and to enjoy the work which he had on hand.



CHAPTER XVI

"Poor Boy"


The new member for Silverbridge, when he entered the House to take
the oath, was supported on the right and left by two staunch old
Tories. Mr. Monk had seen him a few minutes previously,--Mr. Monk who
of all Liberals was the firmest and than whom no one had been more
staunch to the Duke,--and had congratulated him on his election,
expressing at the same time some gentle regrets. "I only wish you
could have come among us on the other side," he said.

"But I couldn't," said the young Lord.

"I am sure nothing but a conscientious feeling would have separated
you from your father's friends," said the old Liberal. And then they
were parted, and the member for Silverbridge was bustled up to the
table between two staunch Tories.

Of what else was done on that occasion nothing shall be said here. No
political work was required from him, except that of helping for an
hour or two to crowd the Government benches. But we will follow him
as he left the House. There were one or two others quite as anxious
as to his political career as any staunch old Liberal. At any rate
one other. He had promised that as soon as he could get away from the
House he would go to Belgrave Square and tell Lady Mabel Grex all
about it. When he reached the square it was past seven, but Lady
Mabel and Miss Cassewary were still in the drawing-room.

"There seemed to be a great deal of bustle, and I didn't understand
much about it," said the member.

"But you heard the speeches?" These were the speeches made on the
proposing and seconding of the address.

"Oh, yes;--Lupton did it very well. Lord George didn't seem to be
quite so good. Then Sir Timothy Beeswax made a speech, and then Mr.
Monk. After that I saw other fellows going away, so I bolted too."

"If I were a member of Parliament I would never leave it while the
House was sitting," said Miss Cassewary.

"If all were like that there wouldn't be seats for them to sit upon,"
said Silverbridge.

"A persistent member will always find a seat," continued the positive
old lady.

"I am sure that Lord Silverbridge means to do his duty," said Lady
Mabel.

"Oh yes;--I've thought a good deal about it, and I mean to try. As
long as a man isn't called upon to speak I don't see why it shouldn't
be easy enough."

"I'm so glad to hear you say so! Of course after a little time you
will speak. I should so like to hear you make your first speech."

"If I thought you were there, I'm sure I should not make it at all."

Just at this period Miss Cassewary, saying something as to the
necessity of dressing, and cautioning her young friend that there was
not much time to be lost, left the room.

"Dressing does not take me more than ten minutes," said Lady Mabel.

Miss Cassewary declared this to be nonsense, but she nevertheless
left the room. Whether she would have done so if Lord Silverbridge
had not been Lord Silverbridge, but had been some young man with whom
it would not have been expedient that Lady Mabel should fall in love,
may perhaps be doubted. But then it may be taken as certain that
under such circumstances Lady Mabel herself would not have remained.
She had quite realised the duties of life, had had her little
romance,--and had acknowledged that it was foolish.

"I do so hope that you will do well," she said, going back to the
parliamentary duties.

"I don't think I shall ever do much. I shall never be like my
father."

"I don't see why not."

"There never was anybody like him. I am always amusing myself, but he
never cared for amusement."

"You are very young."

"As far as I can learn he was just as he is now at my age. My mother
has told me that long before she married him he used to spend all his
time in the House. I wonder whether you would mind reading the letter
he wrote me when he heard of my election."

Then he took the epistle out of his pocket and handed it to Lady
Mabel.

"He means all that he says."

"He always does that."

"And he really hopes that you will put your shoulder to the
wheel;--even though you must do so in opposition to him."

"That makes no difference. I think my father is a very fine fellow."

"Shall you do all that he tells you?"

"Well;--I suppose not;--except that he advises me to hold my tongue.
I think that I shall do that. I mean to go down there, you know, and
I daresay I shall be much the same as others."

"Has he talked to you much about it?"

"No;--he never talks much. Every now and then he will give me a
downright lecture, or he will write me a letter like that; but he
never talks to any of us."

"How very odd."

"Yes; he is odd. He seems to be fretful when we are with him. A good
many things make him unhappy."

"Your poor mother's death."

"That first;--and then there are other things. I suppose he didn't
like the way I came to an end at Oxford."

"You were a boy then."

"Of course I was very sorry for it,--though I hated Oxford. It was
neither one thing nor another. You were your own master and yet you
were not."

"Now you must be your own master."

"I suppose so."

"You must marry, and become a lord of the Treasury. When I was a
child I acted as a child. You know all about that."

"Oh yes. And now I must throw off childish things. You mean that I
mustn't paint any man's house? Eh, Lady Mab."

"That and the rest of it. You are a legislator now."

"So is Popplecourt, who took his seat in the House of Lords two or
three months ago. He's the biggest young fool I know out. He couldn't
even paint a house."

"He is not an elected legislator. It makes all the difference. I
quite agree with what the Duke says. Lord Popplecourt can't help
himself. Whether he's an idle young scamp or not, he must be a
legislator. But when a man goes in for it himself, as you have done,
he should make up his mind to be useful."

"I shall vote with my party of course."

"More than that; much more than that. If you didn't care for politics
you couldn't have taken a line of your own." When she said this she
knew that he had been talked into what he had done by Tregear,--by
Tregear, who had ambition, and intelligence, and capacity for forming
an opinion of his own. "If you do not do it for your own sake, you
will for the sake of those who,--who,--who are your friends," she
said at last, not feeling quite able to tell him that he must do it
for the sake of those who loved him.

"There are not very many I suppose who care about it."

"Your father."

"Oh yes,--my father."

"And Tregear."

"Tregear has got his own fish to fry."

"Are there none others? Do you think we care nothing about it here?"

"Miss Cassewary?"

"Well;--Miss Cassewary! A man might have a worse friend than Miss
Cassewary;--and my father."

"I don't suppose Lord Grex cares a straw about me."

"Indeed he does,--a great many straws. And so do I. Do you think I
don't care a straw about it?"

"I don't know why you should."

"Because it is my nature to be earnest. A girl comes out into the
world so young that she becomes serious, and steady as it were, so
much sooner than a man does."

"I always think that nobody is so full of chaff as you are, Lady
Mab."

"I am not chaffing now in recommending you to go to work in the world
like a man."

As she said this they were sitting on the same sofa, but with some
space between them. When Miss Cassewary had left the room Lord
Silverbridge was standing, but after a little he had fallen into the
seat, at the extreme corner, and had gradually come a little nearer
to her. Now in her energy she put out her hand, meaning perhaps to
touch lightly the sleeve of his coat, meaning perhaps not quite to
touch him at all. But as she did so he put out his hand and took hold
of hers.

She drew it away, not seeming to allow it to remain in his grasp for
a moment; but she did so, not angrily, or hurriedly, or with any
flurry. She did it as though it were natural that he should take her
hand and as natural that she should recover it.

"Indeed I have hardly more than ten minutes left for dressing," she
said, rising from her seat.

"If you will say that you care about it, you yourself, I will do my
best." As he made this declaration blushes covered his cheeks and
forehead.

"I do care about it,--very much; I myself," said Lady Mabel, not
blushing at all. Then there was a knock at the door, and Lady Mabel's
maid, putting her head in, declared that my Lord had come in and
had already been some time in his dressing-room. "Good-bye, Lord
Silverbridge," she said quite gaily, and rather more aloud than would
have been necessary, had she not intended that the maid also should
hear her.

"Poor boy!" she said to herself as she was dressing. "Poor boy!"
Then, when the evening was over she spoke to herself again about him.
"Dear sweet boy!" And then she sat and thought. How was it that she
was so old a woman, while he was so little more than a child? How
fair he was, how far removed from conceit, how capable of being made
into a man--in the process of time! What might not be expected from
him if he could be kept in good hands for the next ten years! But in
whose hands? What would she be in ten years, she who already seemed
to know the town and all its belongings so well? And yet she was as
young in years as he. He, as she knew, had passed his twenty-second
birthday,--and so had she. That was all. It might be good for her
that she should marry him. She was ambitious. And such a marriage
would satisfy her ambition. Through her father's fault, and her
brother's, she was likely to be poor. This man would certainly be
rich. Many of those who were buzzing around her from day to day, were
distasteful to her. From among them she knew that she could not take
a husband, let their rank and wealth be what it might. She was too
fastidious, too proud, too prone to think that things should be with
her as she liked them! This last was in all things pleasant to her.
Though he was but a boy, there was a certain boyish manliness about
him. The very way in which he had grasped at her hand and had then
blushed ruby-red at his own daring, had gone far with her. How
gracious he was to look at! Dear sweet boy! Love him? No;--she did
not know that she loved him. That dream was over. She was sure
however that she liked him.

But how would it be with him? It might be well for her to become his
wife, but could it be well for him that he should become her husband?
Did she not feel that it would be better for him that he should
become a man before he married at all? Perhaps so;--but then if she
desisted would others desist? If she did not put out her bait would
there not be other hooks,--others and worse? Would not such a one,
so soft, so easy, so prone to be caught and so desirable for the
catching, be sure to be made prey of by some snare?

But could she love him? That a woman should not marry a man without
loving him, she partly knew. But she thought she knew also that there
must be exceptions. She would do her very best to love him. That
other man should be banished from her very thoughts. She would be
such a wife to him that he should never know that he lacked anything.
Poor boy! Sweet dear boy! He, as he went away to his dinner, had
his thoughts also about her. Of all the girls he knew she was the
jolliest,--and of all his friends she was the pleasantest. As she was
anxious that he should go to work in the House of Commons he would
go to work there. As for loving her! Well;--of course he must marry
someone, and why not Lady Mab as well as any one else?



CHAPTER XVII

The Derby


An attendance at the Newmarket Second Spring Meeting had
unfortunately not been compatible with the Silverbridge election.
Major Tifto had therefore been obliged to look after the affair
alone. "A very useful mare," as Tifto had been in the habit of
calling a leggy, thoroughbred, meagre-looking brute named Coalition,
was on this occasion confided to the Major's sole care and judgment.
But Coalition failed, as coalitions always do, and Tifto had to
report to his noble patron that they had not pulled off the event.
It had been a match for four hundred pounds, made indeed by Lord
Silverbridge, but made at the suggestion of Tifto;--and now Tifto
wrote in a very bad humour about it. It had been altogether his
Lordship's fault in submitting to carry two pounds more than Tifto
had thought to be fair and equitable. The match had been lost. Would
Lord Silverbridge be so good as to pay the money to Mr. Green Griffin
and debit him, Tifto, with the share of his loss?

We must acknowledge that the unpleasant tone of the Major's letter
was due quite as much to the ill-usage he had received in reference
to that journey to Silverbridge, as to the loss of the race. Within
that little body there was a high-mounting heart, and that heart had
been greatly wounded by his Lordship's treatment. Tifto had felt
himself to have been treated like a servant. Hardly an excuse had
even been made. He had been simply told that he was not wanted. He
was apt sometimes to tell himself that he knew on which side his
bread was buttered. But perhaps he hardly knew how best to keep
the butter going. There was a little pride about him which was
antagonistic to the best interests of such a trade as his. Perhaps it
was well that he should inwardly suffer when injured. But it could
not be well that he should declare to such men as Nidderdale, and
Dolly Longstaff, and Popplecourt that he didn't mean to put up with
that sort of thing. He certainly should not have spoken in this
strain before Tregear. Of all men living he hated and feared him
the most. And he knew that no other man loved Silverbridge as did
Tregear. Had he been thinking of his bread-and-butter, instead
of giving way to the mighty anger of his little bosom, he would
have hardly declared openly at the club that he would let Lord
Silverbridge know that he did not mean to stand any man's airs. But
these extravagances were due perhaps to whisky-and-water, and that
kind of intoxication which comes to certain men from momentary
triumphs. Tifto could always be got to make a fool of himself when
surrounded by three or four men of rank who, for the occasion, would
talk to him as an equal. He almost declared that Coalition had lost
his match because he had not been taken down to Silverbridge.

"Tifto is in a deuce of a way with you," said Dolly Longstaff to the
young member.

"I know all about it," said Silverbridge, who had had an interview
with his partner since the race.

"If you don't take care he'll dismiss you."

Silverbridge did not care much about this, knowing that words of
wisdom did not ordinarily fall from the mouth of Dolly Longstaff. But
he was more moved when his friend Tregear spoke to him. "I wish you
knew the kind of things that fellow Tifto says behind your back."

"As if I cared!"

"But you ought to care."

"Do you care what every fellow says about you?"

"I care very much what those say whom I choose to live with me.
Whatever Tifto might say about me would be quite indifferent to
me, because we have nothing in common. But you and he are bound
together."

"We have a horse or two in common; that's all."

"But that is a great deal. The truth is he's a nasty, brawling,
boasting, ill-conditioned little reptile."

Silverbridge of course did not acknowledge that this was true. But he
felt it, and almost repented of his trust in Tifto. But still Prime
Minister stood very well for the Derby. He was second favourite, the
odds against him being only four to one. The glory of being part
owner of a probable winner of the Derby was so much to him that he
could not bring himself to be altogether angry with Tifto. There
was no doubt that the horse's present condition was due entirely to
Tifto's care. Tifto spent in these few days just before the race the
greatest part of his time in the close vicinity of the horse, only
running up to London now and then, as a fish comes up to the surface,
for a breath of air. It was impossible that Lord Silverbridge should
separate himself from the Major,--at any rate till after the Epsom
meeting.

He had paid the money for the match without a word of reproach to his
partner, but still with a feeling that things were not quite as they
ought to be. In money matters his father had been liberal, but not
very definite. He had been told that he ought not to spend above two
thousand pounds a year, and had been reminded that there was a house
for him to use both in town and in the country. But he had been given
to understand also that any application made to Mr. Morton, if not
very unreasonable, would be attended with success. A solemn promise
had been exacted from him that he would have no dealings with
money-lenders;--and then he had been set afloat. There had been a
rather frequent correspondence with Mr. Morton, who had once or twice
submitted a total of the money paid on behalf of his correspondent.
Lord Silverbridge, who imagined himself to be anything but
extravagant, had wondered how the figures could mount up so rapidly.
But the money needed was always forthcoming, and the raising of
objections never seemed to be carried back beyond Mr. Morton. His
promise to his father about the money-lenders had been scrupulously
kept. As long as ready money can be made to be forthcoming without
any charge for interest, a young man must be very foolish who will
prefer to borrow it at twenty-five per cent.

Now had come the night before the Derby, and it must be acknowledged
that the young Lord was much fluttered by the greatness of the coming
struggle. Tifto, having seen his horse conveyed to Epsom, had come up
to London in order that he might dine with his partner and hear what
was being said about the race at the Beargarden. The party dining
there consisted of Silverbridge, Dolly Longstaff, Popplecourt, and
Tifto. Nidderdale was to have joined them, but he told them on the
day before, with a sigh, that domestic duties were too strong for
him. Lady Nidderdale,--or if not Lady Nidderdale herself, then Lady
Nidderdale's mother,--was so far potent over the young nobleman as to
induce him to confine his Derby jovialities to the Derby Day. Another
guest had also been expected, the reason for whose non-appearance
must be explained somewhat at length. Lord Gerald Palliser, the
Duke's second son, was at this time at Cambridge,--being almost as
popular at Trinity as his brother had been at Christ Church. It was
to him quite a matter of course that he should see his brother's
horse run for the Derby. But, unfortunately, in this very year a
stand was being made by the University pundits against a practice
which they thought had become too general. For the last year or two
it had been considered almost as much a matter of course that a
Cambridge undergraduate should go to the Derby as that a Member
of Parliament should do so. Against this three or four rigid
disciplinarians had raised their voices,--and as a result, no young
man up at Trinity could get leave to be away on the Derby pretext.

Lord Gerald raged against the restriction very loudly. He at first
proclaimed his intention of ignoring the college authorities
altogether. Of course he would be expelled. But the order itself
was to his thinking so absurd,--the idea that he should not see his
brother's horse run was so extravagant,--that he argued that his
father could not be angry with him for incurring dismissal in so
excellent a cause. But his brother saw things in a different light.
He knew how his father had looked at him when he had been sent away
from Oxford, and he counselled moderation. Gerald should see the
Derby, but should not encounter that heaviest wrath of all which
comes from a man's not sleeping beneath his college roof. There was
a train which left Cambridge at an early hour, and would bring him
into London in time to accompany his friends to the race-course;--and
another train, a special, which would take him down after dinner, so
that he and others should reach Cambridge before the college gates
were shut.

The dinner at the Beargarden was very joyous. Of course the state of
the betting in regard to Prime Minister was the subject generally
popular for the night. Mr. Lupton came in, a gentleman well known in
all fashionable circles, parliamentary, social, and racing, who was
rather older than his company on this occasion, but still not so
much so as to be found to be an incumbrance. Lord Glasslough too,
and others joined them, and a good deal was said about the horse.
"I never keep these things dark," said Tifto. "Of course he's an
uncertain horse."

"Most horses are," said Lupton.

"Just so, Mr. Lupton. What I mean is, the Minister has got a
bit of temper. But if he likes to do his best I don't think any
three-year-old in England can get his nose past him."

"For half a mile he'd be nowhere with the Provence filly," said
Glasslough.

"I'm speaking of a Derby distance, my Lord."

"That's a kind of thing nobody really knows," said Lupton.

"I've seen him 'ave his gallops," said the little man, who in his
moments of excitement would sometimes fall away from that exact
pronunciation which had been one of the studies of his life, "and
have measured his stride. I think I know what pace means. Of course
I'm not going to answer for the 'orse. He's a temper, but if things
go favourably, no animal that ever showed on the Downs was more
likely to do the trick. Is there any gentleman here who would like to
bet me fifteen to one in hundreds against the two events,--the Derby
and the Leger?" The desired odds were at once offered by Mr. Lupton,
and the bet was booked.

This gave rise to other betting, and before the evening was over Lord
Silverbridge had taken three-and-a-half to one against his horse
to such an extent that he stood to lose twelve hundred pounds. The
champagne which he had drunk, and the news that Quousque, the first
favourite, had so gone to pieces that now there was a question which
was the first favourite, had so inflated him that, had he been left
alone, he would almost have wagered even money on his horse. In the
midst of his excitement there came to him a feeling that he was
allowing himself to do just that which he had intended to avoid. But
then the occasion was so peculiar! How often can it happen to a man
in his life that he shall own a favourite for the Derby? The affair
was one in which it was almost necessary that he should risk a little
money.

Tifto, when he got into his bed, was altogether happy. He had added
whisky-and-water to his champagne, and feared nothing. If Prime
Minister should win the Derby he would be able to pay all that he
owed, and to make a start with money in his pocket. And then there
would be attached to him all the infinite glory of being the owner of
a winner of the Derby. The horse was run in his name. Thoughts as to
great successes crowded themselves upon his heated brain. What might
not be open to him? Parliament! The Jockey Club! The mastership of
one of the crack shire packs! Might it not come to pass that he
should some day become the great authority in England upon races,
racehorses, and hunters? If he could be the winner of a Derby and
Leger he thought that Glasslough and Lupton would snub him no longer,
that even Tregear would speak to him, and that his pal the Duke's son
would never throw him aside again.

Lord Silverbridge had bought a drag with all its appendages. There
was a coach, the four bay horses, the harness, and the two regulation
grooms. When making this purchase he had condescended to say a word
to his father on the subject. "Everybody belongs to the four-in-hand
club now," said the son.

"I never did," said the Duke.

"Ah,--if I could be like you!"

The Duke had said that he would think about it, and then had told Mr.
Morton that he was to pay the bill for this new toy. He had thought
about it, and had assured himself that driving a coach and four was
at present regarded as a fitting amusement for young men of rank and
wealth. He did not understand it himself. It seemed to him to be
as unnatural as though a gentleman should turn blacksmith and make
horseshoes for his amusement. Driving four horses was hard work. But
the same might be said of rowing. There were men, he knew, who would
spend their days standing at a lathe, making little boxes for their
recreation. He did not sympathise with it. But the fact was so, and
this driving of coaches was regarded with favour. He had been a
little touched by that word his son had spoken. "Ah,--if I could be
like you!" So he had given the permission; the drag, horses, harness,
and grooms had come into the possession of Lord Silverbridge; and now
they were put into requisition to take their triumphant owner and his
party down to Epsom. Dolly Longstaff's team was sent down to meet
them half-way. Gerald Palliser, who had come up from Cambridge
that morning, was allowed to drive the first stage out of town to
compensate him for the cruelty done to him by the University pundits.
Tifto, with a cigar in his mouth, with a white hat and a blue veil,
and a new light-coloured coat, was by no means the least happy of the
party.

How that race was run, and how both Prime Minister and Quousque
were beaten by an outsider named Fishknife, Prime Minister, however,
coming in a good second, the present writer having no aptitude in
that way, cannot describe. Such, however, were the facts, and then
Dolly Longstaff and Lord Silverbridge drove the coach back to London.
The coming back was not so triumphant, though the young fellows
bore their failure well. Dolly Longstaff had lost a "pot of money",
Silverbridge would have to draw upon that inexhaustible Mr. Morton
for something over two thousand pounds,--in regard to which he had no
doubt as to the certainty with which the money would be forthcoming,
but he feared that it would give rise to special notice from his
father. Even the poor younger brother had lost a couple of hundred
pounds, for which he would have to make his own special application
to Mr. Morton.

But Tifto felt it more than any one. The horse ought to have won.
Fishknife had been favoured by such a series of accidents that the
whole affair had been a miracle. Tifto had these circumstances at
his fingers' ends, and in the course of the afternoon and evening
explained them accurately to all who would listen to him. He had this
to say on his own behalf,--that before the party had left the course
their horse stood first favourite for the Leger. But Tifto was
unhappy as he came back to town, and in spite of the lunch, which had
been very glorious, sat moody and sometimes even silent within his
gay apparel.

"It was the unfairest start I ever saw," said Tifto, almost getting
up from his seat on the coach so as to address Dolly and Silverbridge
on the box.

"What the ---- is the good of that?" said Dolly from the coach-box.
"Take your licking and don't squeal."

"That's all very well. I can take my licking as well as another
man. But one has to look to the causes of these things. I never saw
Peppermint ride so badly. Before he got round the corner I wished I'd
been on the horse myself."

"I don't believe it was Peppermint's fault a bit," said Silverbridge.

"Well;--perhaps not. Only I did think that I was a pretty good judge
of riding."

Then Tifto again settled down into silence.

But though much money had been lost, and a great deal of
disappointment had to be endured by our party in reference to the
Derby, the most injurious and most deplorable event in the day's
history had not occurred yet. Dinner had been ordered at the
Beargarden at seven,--an hour earlier than would have been named had
it not been that Lord Gerald must be at the Eastern Counties Railway
Station at nine P.M. An hour and a half for dinner and a cigar
afterwards, and half an hour to get to the railway station would not
be more than time enough.

But of all men alive Dolly Longstaff was the most unpunctual. He did
not arrive till eight. The others were not there before half-past
seven, and it was nearly eight before any of them sat down. At
half-past eight Silverbridge began to be very anxious about his
brother, and told him that he ought to start without further delay. A
hansom cab was waiting at the door, but Lord Gerald still delayed. He
knew, he said, that the special would not start till half-past nine.
There were a lot of fellows who were dining about everywhere, and
they would never get to the station by the hour fixed. It became
apparent to the elder brother that Gerald would stay altogether
unless he were forced to go, and at last he did get up and pushed the
young fellow out. "Drive like the very devil," he said to the cabman,
explaining to him something of the circumstances. The cabman did do
his best, but a cab cannot be made to travel from the Beargarden,
which as all the world knows is close to St. James's Street, to
Liverpool Street in the City in ten minutes. When Lord Gerald reached
the station the train had started.

At twenty minutes to ten the young man reappeared at the club.
"Why on earth didn't you take a special for yourself?" exclaimed
Silverbridge.

"They wouldn't give me one." After that it was apparent to all of
them that what had just happened had done more to ruffle our hero's
temper than his failure and loss at the races.

"I wouldn't have had it happen for any money you could name," said
the elder brother to the younger, as he took him home to Carlton
Terrace.

"If they do send me down, what's the odds?" said the younger brother,
who was not quite as sober as he might have been.

"After what happened to me it will almost break the governor's
heart," said the heir.



CHAPTER XVIII

One of the Results of the Derby


On the following morning at about eleven Silverbridge and his brother
were at breakfast at an hotel in Jermyn Street. They had slept in
Carlton Terrace, but Lord Gerald had done so without the knowledge of
the Duke. Lord Silverbridge, as he was putting himself to bed, had
made up his mind to tell the story to the Duke at once, but when the
morning came his courage failed him. The two young men therefore
slunk out of the house, and as there was no breakfasting at the
Beargarden they went to this hotel. They were both rather gloomy, but
the elder brother was the more sad of the two. "I'd give anything I
have in the world," he said, "that you hadn't come up at all."

"Things have been so unfortunate!"

"Why the deuce wouldn't you go when I told you?"

"Who on earth would have thought that they'd have been so punctual?
They never are punctual on the Great Eastern. It was an infernal
shame. I think I shall go at once to Harnage and tell him all about
it." Mr. Harnage was Lord Gerald's tutor.

"But you've been in ever so many rows before."

"Well,--I've been gated, and once when they'd gated me I came right
upon Harnage on the bridge at King's."

"What sort of a fellow is he?"

"He used to be good-natured. Now he has taken ever so many crotchets
into his head. It was he who began all this about none of the men
going to the Derby."

"Did you ask him yourself for leave?"

"Yes. And when I told him about your owning Prime Minister he got
savage and declared that was the very reason why I shouldn't go."

"You didn't tell me that."

"I was determined I would go. I wasn't going to be made a child of."

At last it was decided that the two brothers should go down to
Cambridge together. Silverbridge would be able to come back to London
the same evening, so as to take his drag down to the Oaks on the
Friday,--a duty from which even his present misery would not deter
him. They reached Cambridge at about three, and Lord Silverbridge at
once called at the Master's lodge and sent in his card. The Master
of Trinity is so great that he cannot be supposed to see all comers,
but on this occasion Lord Silverbridge was fortunate. With much
trepidation he told his story. Such being the circumstances, could
anything be done to moderate the vials of wrath which must doubtless
be poured out over the head of his unfortunate brother?

"Why come to me?" said the Master. "From what you say yourself, it is
evident that you know that this must rest with the College tutor."

"I thought, sir, if you would say a word."

"Do you think it would be right that I should interfere for one
special man, and that a man of special rank?"

"Nobody thinks that would count for anything. But--"

"But what?" asked the Master.

"If you knew my father, sir!"

"Everybody knows your father;--every Englishman I mean. Of course I
know your father,--as a public man, and I know how much the country
owes to him."

"Yes, it does. But it is not that I mean. If you knew how this
would,--would,--would break his heart." Then there came a tear into
the young man's eye,--and there was something almost like a tear in
the eye of the old man too. "Of course it was my fault. I got him to
come. He hadn't the slightest intention of staying. I think you will
believe what I say about that, sir."

"I believe every word you say, my Lord."

"I got into a row at Oxford. I daresay you heard. There never was
anything so stupid. That was a great grief to my father,--a very
great grief. It is so hard upon him because he never did anything
foolish himself."

"You should try to imitate him." Silverbridge shook his head. "Or at
least not to grieve him."

"That is it. He has got over the affair about me. As I'm the eldest
son I've got into Parliament, and he thinks perhaps that all has been
forgotten. An eldest son may, I fancy, be a greater ass than his
younger brother." The Master could not but smile as he thought of
the selection which had been made of a legislator. "But if Gerald is
sent down, I don't know how he'll get over it." And now the tears
absolutely rolled down the young man's face, so that he was forced to
wipe them from his eyes.

The Master was much moved. That a young man should pray for himself
would be nothing to him. The discipline of the college was not in
his hands, and such prayers would avail nothing with him. Nor would
a brother praying simply for a brother avail much. A father asking
for his son might be resisted. But the brother asking pardon for the
brother on behalf of the father was almost irresistible. But this man
had long been in a position in which he knew that no such prayers
should ever prevail at all. In the first place it was not his
business. If he did anything, it would only be by asking a favour
when he knew that no favour should be granted;--and a favour which
he of all men should not ask, because to him of all men it could
not be refused. And then the very altitude of the great statesman
whom he was invited to befriend,--the position of this Duke who had
been so powerful and might be powerful again, was against any such
interference. Of himself he might be sure that he would certainly
have done this as readily for any Mr. Jones as for the Duke of
Omnium; but were he to do it, it would be said of him that it had
been done because the man was Duke of Omnium. There are positions
exalted beyond the reach of benevolence, because benevolence would
seem to be self-seeking. "Your father, if he were here," said he,
"would know that I could not interfere."

"And will he be sent down?"

"I do not know all the circumstances. From your own showing the case
seems to be one of great insubordination. To tell the truth, Lord
Silverbridge, I ought not to have spoken to you on the subject at
all."

"You mean that I should not have spoken to you."

"Well; I did not say so. And if you have been indiscreet I can pardon
that. I wish I could have served you; but I fear that it is not in
my power." Then Lord Silverbridge took his leave, and going to his
brother's rooms waited there till Lord Gerald had returned from his
interview with the tutor.

"It's all up," said he, chucking down his cap, striving to be at his
ease. "I may pack up and go--just where I please. He says that on no
account will he have anything more to do with me. I asked him what I
was to do, and he said that the governor had better take my name off
the books of the college. I did ask whether I couldn't go over to
Maclean."

"Who is Maclean?"

"One of the other tutors. But the brute only smiled."

"He thought you meant it for chaff."

"Well;--I suppose I did mean to show him that I was not going to be
exterminated by him. He will write to the governor to-day. And you
will have to talk to the governor."

Yes! As Lord Silverbridge went back that afternoon to London he
thought very much of that talking to the governor! Never yet had he
been able to say anything very pleasant to "the governor." He had
himself been always in disgrace at Eton, and had been sent away from
Oxford. He had introduced Tregear into the family, which of all the
troubles perhaps was the worst. He had changed his politics. He had
spent more money than he ought to have done, and now at this very
moment must ask for a large sum. And he had brought Gerald up to see
the Derby, thereby causing him to be sent away from Cambridge! And
through it all there was present to him a feeling that by no words
which he could use would he be able to make his father understand how
deeply he felt all this.

He could not bring himself to see the Duke that evening, and the
next morning he was sent for before he was out of bed. He found his
father at breakfast with the tutor's letter before him. "Do you know
anything about this?" asked the Duke very calmly.

"Gerald ran up to see the Derby, and in the evening missed the
train."

"Mr. Harnage tells me that he had been expressly ordered not to go to
these races."

"I suppose he was, sir."

Then there was silence between them for some minutes. "You might as
well sit down and eat your breakfast," said the father. Then Lord
Silverbridge did sit down and poured himself out a cup of tea. There
was no servant in the room, and he dreaded to ring the bell. "Is
there anything you want?" asked the Duke. There was a small dish
of fried bacon on the table, and some cold mutton on the sideboard.
Silverbridge, declaring that he had everything that was necessary,
got up and helped himself to the cold mutton. Then again there was
silence, during which the Duke crunched his toast and made an attempt
at reading the newspaper. But, soon pushing that aside, he again took
up Mr. Harnage's letter. Silverbridge watched every motion of his
father as he slowly made his way through the slice of cold mutton.
"It seems that Gerald is to be sent away altogether."

"I fear so, sir."

"He has profited by your example at Oxford. Did you persuade him to
come to these races?"

"I am afraid I did."

"Though you knew the orders which had been given?"

"I thought it was meant that he should not be away the night."

"He had asked permission to go to the Derby and had been positively
refused. Did you know that?"

Silverbridge sat for some moments considering. He could not at first
quite remember what he had known and what he had not known. Perhaps
he entertained some faint hope that the question would be allowed to
pass unanswered. He saw, however, from his father's eye that that was
impossible. And then he did remember it all. "I suppose I did know
it."

"And you were willing to imperil your brother's position in life, and
my happiness, in order that he might see a horse, of which I believe
you call yourself part owner, run a race?"

"I thought there would be no risk if he got back the same night. I
don't suppose there is any good in my saying it, but I never was so
sorry for anything in all my life. I feel as if I could go and hang
myself."

"That is absurd,--and unmanly," said the Duke. The expression of
sorrow, as it had been made, might be absurd and unmanly, but
nevertheless it had touched him. He was severe because he did not
know how far his severity wounded. "It is a great blow,--another
great blow! Races! A congregation of all the worst blackguards in the
country mixed with the greatest fools."

"Lord Cantrip was there," said Silverbridge; "and I saw Sir Timothy
Beeswax."

"If the presence of Sir Timothy be an allurement to you, I pity you
indeed. I have nothing further to say about it. You have ruined your
brother." He had been driven to further anger by this reference to
one man whom he respected, and to another whom he despised.

"Don't say that, sir."

"What am I to say?"

"Let him be an attaché, or something of that sort."

"Do you believe it possible that he should pass any examination?
I think that my children between them will bring me to the grave.
You had better go now. I suppose you will want to be--at the races
again." Then the young man crept out of the room, and going to his
own part of the house shut himself up alone for nearly an hour. What
had he better do to give his father some comfort? Should he abandon
racing altogether, sell his share of Prime Minister and Coalition,
and go in hard and strong for committees, debates, and divisions?
Should he get rid of his drag, and resolve to read up parliamentary
literature? He was resolved upon one thing at any rate. He would
not go to the Oaks that day. And then he was resolved on another
thing. He would call on Lady Mab Grex and ask her advice. He felt so
disconsolate and insufficient for himself that he wanted advice from
someone whom he could trust.

He found Tifto, Dolly Longstaff, and one or two others at the
stables, from whence it was intended that the drag should start. They
were waiting, and rather angry because they had been kept waiting.
But the news, when it came, was very sad indeed. "You wouldn't mind
taking the team down and back yourself; would you, Dolly?" he said to
Longstaff.

"You aren't going!" said Dolly, assuming a look of much heroic
horror.

"No;--I am not going to-day."

"What's up?" asked Popplecourt.

"That's rather sudden; isn't it?" asked the Major.

"Well; yes; I suppose it is sudden."

"It's throwing us over a little, isn't it?"

"Not that I see. You've got the trap and the horses."

"Yes;--we've got the trap and the horses," said Dolly, "and I vote we
make a start."

"As you are not going yourself, perhaps I'd better drive your
horses," said Tifto.

"Dolly will take the team," said his Lordship.

"Yes;--decidedly. I will take the team," said Dolly. "There isn't a
deal of driving wanted on the road to Epsom, but a man should know
how to hold his reins." This of course gave rise to some angry words,
but Silverbridge did not stop to hear them.

The poor Duke had no one to whom he could go for advice and
consolation. When his son left him he turned to his newspaper, and
tried to read it--in vain. His mind was too ill at ease to admit of
political matters. He was greatly grieved by this new misfortune as
to Gerald, and by Lord Silverbridge's propensity to racing.

But though these sorrows were heavy, there was a sorrow heavier than
these. Lady Cantrip had expressed an opinion almost in favour of
Tregear--and had certainly expressed an opinion in favour of Mrs.
Finn. The whole affair in regard to Mrs. Finn had been explained to
her, and she had told the Duke that, according to her thinking, Mrs.
Finn had behaved well! When the Duke, with an energy which was by no
means customary with him, had asked that question, on the answer to
which so much depended, "Should there have been a moment lost?" Lady
Cantrip had assured him that not a moment had been lost. Mrs. Finn
had at once gone to work, and had arranged that the whole affair
should be told to him, the Duke, in the proper way. "I think she
did," said Lady Cantrip, "what I myself should have done in similar
circumstances."

If Lady Cantrip was right, then must his apology to Mrs. Finn be
ample and abject. Perhaps it was this feeling which at the moment was
most vexatious to him.



CHAPTER XIX

"No; My Lord, I Do Not"


Between two and three o'clock Lord Silverbridge, in spite of his
sorrow, found himself able to eat his lunch at his club. The place
was deserted, the Beargarden world having gone to the races. As he
sat eating cold lamb and drinking soda-and-brandy he did confirm
himself in certain modified resolutions, which might be more probably
kept than those sterner laws of absolute renunciation to which he had
thought of pledging himself in his half-starved morning condition.
His father had spoken in very strong language against racing,--saying
that those who went were either fools or rascals. He was sure that
this was exaggerated. Half the House of Lords and two-thirds of the
House of Commons were to be seen at the Derby; but no doubt there
were many rascals and fools, and he could not associate with the
legislators without finding himself among the fools and rascals. He
would,--as soon as he could,--separate himself from the Major. And
he would not bet. It was on that side of the sport that the rascals
and the fools showed themselves. Of what service could betting be
to him whom Providence had provided with all things wanted to make
life pleasant? As to the drag, his father had in a certain measure
approved of that, and he would keep the drag, as he must have some
relaxation. But his great effort of all should be made in the House
of Commons. He would endeavour to make his father perceive that he
had appreciated that letter. He would always be in the House soon
after four, and would remain there,--for, if possible, as long as the
Speaker sat in the chair. He had already begun to feel that there was
a difficulty in keeping his seat upon those benches. The half-hours
there would be so much longer than elsewhere! An irresistible desire
of sauntering out would come upon him. There were men the very sound
of whose voices was already odious to him. There had come upon him a
feeling in regard to certain orators, that when once they had begun
there was no reason why they should ever stop. Words of some sort
were always forthcoming, like spiders' webs. He did not think that he
could learn to take a pleasure in sitting in the House; but he hoped
that he might be man enough to do it, though it was not pleasant. He
would begin to-day, instead of going to the Oaks.

But before he went to the House he would see Lady Mabel Grex. And
here it may be well to state that in making his resolutions as to
a better life, he had considered much whether it would not be well
for him to take a wife. His father had once told him that when he
married, the house in Carlton Terrace should be his own. "I will be a
lodger if you will have me," said the Duke; "or if your wife should
not like that, I will find a lodging elsewhere." This had been in the
sadness and tenderness which had immediately followed the death of
the Duchess. Marriage would steady him. Were he a married man, Tifto
would of course disappear. Upon the whole he thought it would be good
that he should marry. And, if so, who could be so nice as Lady Mabel?
That his father would be contented with Lady Mab, he was inclined to
believe. There was no better blood in England. And Lady Mabel was
known to be clever, beautiful, and, in her peculiar circumstances,
very wise.

He was aware, however, of a certain drawback. Lady Mabel as his wife
would be his superior, and in some degree his master. Though not
older she was wiser than he,--and not only wiser but more powerful
also. And he was not quite sure but that she regarded him as a
boy. He thought that she did love him,--or would do so if he asked
her,--but that her love would be bestowed upon him as on an inferior
creature. He was already jealous of his own dignity, and fearful lest
he should miss the glory of being loved by this lovely one for his
own sake,--for his own manhood, and his own gifts and his own
character.

And yet his attraction to her was so great that now in the day of his
sorrow he could think of no solace but what was to be found in her
company.

"Not at the Oaks!" she said as soon as he was shown into the
drawing-room.

"No;--not at the Oaks. Lord Grex is there, I suppose?"

"Oh yes;--that is a matter of course. Why are you a recreant?"

"The House sits to-day."

"How virtuous! Is it coming to that,--that when the House sits you
will never be absent?"

"That's the kind of life I'm going to lead. You haven't heard about
Gerald?"

"About your brother?"

"Yes--you haven't heard?"

"Not a word. I hope there is no misfortune."

"But indeed there is,--a most terrible misfortune." Then he told the
whole story. How Gerald had been kept in London, and how he had gone
down to Cambridge,--all in vain; how his father had taken the matter
to heart, telling him that he had ruined his brother; and how he, in
consequence, had determined not to go to the races. "Then he said,"
continued Silverbridge, "that his children between them would bring
him to his grave."

"That was terrible."

"Very terrible."

"But what did he mean by that?" asked Lady Mabel, anxious to hear
something about Lady Mary and Tregear.

"Well; of course what I did at Oxford made him unhappy; and now there
is this affair of Gerald's."

"He did not allude to your sister?"

"Yes he did. You have heard of all that. Tregear told you."

"He told me something."

"Of course my father does not like it."

"Do you approve of it?"

"No," said he--curtly and sturdily.

"Why not? You like Tregear."

"Certainly I like Tregear. He is the friend, among men, whom I like
the best. I have only two real friends."

"Who are they?" she asked, sinking her voice very low.

"He is one;--and you are the other. You know that."

"I hoped that I was one," she said. "But if you love Tregear so
dearly, why do you not approve of him for your sister?"

"I always knew it would not do."

"But why not?"

"Mary ought to marry a man of higher standing."

"Of higher rank you mean. The daughters of Dukes have married
commoners before."

"It is not exactly that. I don't like to talk of it in that way. I
knew it would make my father unhappy. In point of fact he can't marry
her. What is the good of approving of a thing that is impossible?"

"I wish I knew your sister. Is she--firm?"

"Indeed she is."

"I am not so sure that you are."

"No," said he, after considering awhile; "nor am I. But she is not
like Gerald or me. She is more obstinate."

"Less fickle perhaps."

"Yes, if you choose to call it fickle. I don't know that I am fickle.
If I were in love with a girl I should be true to her."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Quite sure. If I were really in love with her I certainly should not
change. It is possible that I might be bullied out of it."

"But she will not be bullied out of it?"

"Mary? No. That is just it. She will stick to it if he does."

"I would if I were she. Where will you find any young man equal to
Frank Tregear?"

"Perhaps you mean to cut poor Mary out."

"That isn't a nice thing for you to say, Lord Silverbridge. Frank is
my cousin,--as indeed you are also; but it so happens that I have
seen a great deal of him all my life. And, though I don't want to cut
your sister out, as you so prettily say, I love him well enough to
understand that any girl whom he loves ought to be true to him."
So far what she said was very well, but she afterwards added a
word which might have been wisely omitted. "Frank and I are almost
beggars."

"What an accursed thing money is," he exclaimed, jumping up from his
chair.

"I don't agree with you at all. It is a very comfortable thing."

"How is anybody who has got it to know if anybody cares for him?"

"You must find that out. There is such a thing I suppose as real
sympathy."

"You tell me to my face that you and Tregear would have been lovers
only that you are both poor."

"I never said anything of the kind."

"And that he is to be passed on to my sister because it is supposed
that she will have some money."

"You are putting words into my mouth which I never spoke, and ideas
into my mind which I never thought."

"And of course I feel the same about myself. How can a fellow help
it? I wish you had a lot of money, I know."

"It is very kind of you;--but why?"

"Well;--I can't explain myself," he said, blushing as was his wont.
"I daresay it wouldn't make any difference."

"It would make a great difference to me. As it is, having none, and
knowing as I do that papa and Percival are getting things into a
worse mess every day, I am obliged to hope that I may some day marry
a man who has got an income."

"I suppose so," said he, still blushing, but frowning at the same
time.

"You see I can be very frank with a real friend. But I am sure of
myself in this,--that I will never marry a man I do not love. A girl
needn't love a man unless she likes it, I suppose. She doesn't tumble
into love as she does into the fire. It would not suit me to marry a
poor man, and so I don't mean to fall in love with a poor man."

"But you do mean to fall in love with a rich one?"

"That remains to be seen, Lord Silverbridge. The rich man will at any
rate have to fall in love with me first. If you know of any one you
need not tell him to be too sure because he has a good income."

"There's Popplecourt. He's his own master, and, fool as he is, he
knows how to keep his money."

"I don't want a fool. You must do better for me than Lord
Popplecourt."

"What do you say to Dolly Longstaff?"

"He would be just the man, only he never would take the trouble to
come out and be married."

"Or Glasslough?"

"I'm afraid he is cross, and wouldn't let me have my own way."

"I can only think of one other;--but you would not take him."

"Then you had better not mention him. It is no good crowding the list
with impossibles."

"I was thinking of--myself."

"You are certainly one of the impossibles."

"Why, Lady Mab?"

"For twenty reasons. You are too young, and you are bound to oblige
your father, and you are to be wedded to Parliament,--at any rate for
the next ten years. And altogether it wouldn't do,--for a great many
reasons."

"I suppose you don't like me well enough?"

"What a question to ask! No; my Lord, I do not. There; that's what
you may call an answer. Don't you pretend to look offended, because
if you do, I shall laugh at you. If you may have your joke surely I
may have mine."

"I don't see any joke in it."

"But I do. Suppose I were to say the other thing. Oh, Lord
Silverbridge, you do me so much honour! And now I come to think about
it, there is no one in the world I am so fond of as you. Would that
suit you?"

"Exactly."

"But it wouldn't suit me. There's papa. Don't run away."

"It's ever so much past five," said the legislator, "and I had
intended to be in the House more than an hour ago. Good-bye. Give my
love to Miss Cassewary."

"Certainly. Miss Cassewary is your most devoted friend. Won't you
bring your sister to see me some day?"

"When she is in town I will."

"I should so like to know her. Good-bye."

As he hurried down to the House in a hansom he thought over it all,
and told himself that he feared it would not do. She might perhaps
accept him, but if so, she would do it simply in order that she might
become Duchess of Omnium. She might, he thought, have accepted him
then, had she chosen. He had spoken plainly enough. But she had
laughed at him. He felt that if she loved him, there ought to have
been something of that feminine tremor, of that doubting, hesitating
half-avowal of which he had perhaps read in novels, and which his
own instincts taught him to desire. But there had been no tremor nor
hesitating. "No; my Lord, I do not," she had said when he asked her
to her face whether she liked him well enough to be his wife. "No; my
Lord, I do not." It was not the refusal conveyed in these words which
annoyed him. He did believe that if he were to press his suit with
the usual forms she would accept him. But it was that there should be
such a total absence of trepidation in her words and manner. Before
her he blushed and hesitated and felt that he did not know how to
express himself. If she would only have done the same, then there
would have been an equality. Then he could have seized her in his
arms and sworn that never, never, never would he care for any one but
her.

In truth he saw everything as it was only too truly. Though she
might choose to marry him if he pressed his request, she would never
subject herself to him as he would have the girl do whom he loved.
She was his superior, and in every word uttered between them showed
that it was so. But yet how beautiful she was;--how much more
beautiful than any other thing he had ever seen!

He sat on one of the high seats behind Sir Timothy Beeswax and Sir
Orlando Drought, listening, or pretending to listen, to the speeches
of three or four gentlemen respecting sugar, thinking of all this
till half-past seven;--and then he went to dine with the proud
consciousness of having done his duty. The forms and methods of the
House were, he flattered himself, soaking into him gradually,--as his
father had desired. The theory of legislation was sinking into his
mind. The welfare of the nation depended chiefly on sugar. But he
thought that, after all, his own welfare must depend on the
possession of Mab Grex.



CHAPTER XX

"Then He Will Come Again"


Lady Mabel, when her young lover left her, was for a time freed from
the necessity of thinking about him by her father. He had returned
from the Oaks in a very bad humour. Lord Grex had been very badly
treated by his son, whom he hated worse than any one else in the
world. On the Derby Day he had won a large sum of money, which had
been to him at the time a matter of intense delight,--for he was
in great want of money. But on this day he had discovered that his
son and heir had lost more than he had won, and an arrangement had
been suggested to him that his winnings should go to pay Percival's
losings. This was a mode of settling affairs to which the Earl would
not listen for a moment, had he possessed the power of putting a veto
upon it. But there had been a transaction lately between him and his
son with reference to the cutting off a certain entail under which
money was to be paid to Lord Percival. This money had not yet been
forthcoming, and therefore the Earl was constrained to assent. This
was very distasteful to the Earl, and he came home therefore in a bad
humour, and said a great many disagreeable things to his daughter.
"You know, papa, if I could do anything I would." This she said in
answer to a threat, which he had made often before and now repeated,
of getting rid altogether of the house in Belgrave Square. Whenever
he made this threat he did not scruple to tell her that the house had
to be kept up solely for her welfare. "I don't see why the deuce you
don't get married. You'll have to do it sooner or later." That was
not a pleasant speech for a daughter to hear from her father. "As to
that," she said, "it must come or not as chance will have it. If you
want me to sign anything I will sign it;"--for she had been asked
to sign papers, or in other words to surrender rights;--"but for
that other matter it must be left to myself." Then he had been very
disagreeable indeed.

They dined out together,--of course with all the luxury that wealth
can give. There was a well-appointed carriage to take them backwards
and forwards to the next square, such as an Earl should have. She
was splendidly dressed, as became an Earl's daughter, and he was
brilliant with some star which had been accorded to him by his
sovereign's grateful minister in return for staunch parliamentary
support. No one looking at them could have imagined that such a
father could have told such a daughter that she must marry herself
out of the way because as an unmarried girl she was a burden.

During the dinner she was very gay. To be gay was the habit,--we may
almost say the work,--of her life. It so chanced that she sat between
Sir Timothy Beeswax, who in these days was a very great man indeed,
and that very Dolly Longstaff, whom Silverbridge in his irony had
proposed to her as a fitting suitor for her hand.

"Isn't Lord Silverbridge a cousin of yours?" asked Sir Timothy.

"A very distant one."

"He has come over to us, you know. It is such a triumph."

"I was so sorry to hear it." This, however, as the reader knows, was
a fib.

"Sorry!" said Sir Timothy. "Surely Lord Grex's daughter must be a
Conservative."

"Oh yes;--I am a Conservative because I was born one. I think that
people in politics should remain as they are born,--unless they are
very wise indeed. When men come to be statesmen and all that kind of
thing, of course they can change backwards and forwards."

"I hope that is not intended for me, Lady Mabel."

"Certainly not. I don't know enough about it to be personal." That,
however, was again not quite true. "But I have the greatest possible
respect for the Duke, and I think it a pity that he should be made
unhappy by his son. Don't you like the Duke?"

"Well;--yes;--in a way. He is a most respectable man; and has been a
good public servant."

"All our lot are ruined, you know," said Dolly, talking of the races.

"Who are your lot, Mr. Longstaff?"

"I'm one myself."

"I suppose so."

"I'm utterly smashed. Then there's Percival."

"I hope he has not lost much. Of course you know he's my brother."

"Oh laws;--so he is. I always put my foot in it. Well;--he has lost
a lot. And so have Silverbridge and Tifto. Perhaps you don't know
Tifto."

"I have not the pleasure of knowing Mr. Tifto."

"He is a major. I think you'd like Major Tifto. He's a sort of racing
coach to Silverbridge. You ought to know Tifto. And Tregear is pretty
nearly cleared out."

"Mr. Tregear! Frank Tregear!"

"I'm told he has been hit very heavy. I hope he's not a friend of
yours, Lady Mabel."

"Indeed he is;--a very dear friend and a cousin."

"That's what I hear. He's very much with Silverbridge you know."

"I cannot think that Mr. Tregear has lost money."

"I hope he hasn't. I know I have. I wish someone would stick up for
me, and say that it was impossible."

"But that is not Mr. Tregear's way of living. I can understand that
Lord Silverbridge or Percival should lose money."

"Or me?"

"Or you, if you like to say so."

"Or Tifto?"

"I don't know anything about Mr. Tifto."

"Major Tifto."

"Or Major Tifto;--what does it signify?"

"No;--of course. We inferior people may lose our money just as we
please. But a man who can look as clever as Mr. Tregear ought to win
always."

"I told you just now that he was a friend of mine."

"But don't you think that he does look clever?" There could be no
question but that Tregear, when he disliked his company, could show
his dislike by his countenance; and it was not improbable that he
had done so in the presence of Mr. Adolphus Longstaff. "Now tell the
truth, Lady Mabel; does he not look conceited sometimes?"

"He generally looks as if he knew what he was talking about, which is
more than some other people do."

"Of course he is a great deal more clever than I am. I know that.
But I don't think even he can be so clever as he looks. 'Or you so
stupid,' that's what you ought to say now."

"Sometimes, Mr. Longstaff, I deny myself the pleasure of saying what
I think."

When all this was over she was very angry with herself for the
anxiety she had expressed about Tregear. This Mr. Longstaff was, she
thought, exactly the man to report all she had said in the public
room at the club. But she had been annoyed by what she had heard as
to her friend. She knew that he of all men should keep himself free
from such follies. Those others had, as it were, a right to make
fools of themselves. It had seemed so natural that the young men of
her own class should dissipate their fortunes and their reputations
by every kind of extravagance! Her father had done so, and she had
never even ventured to hope that her brother would not follow her
father's example. But Tregear, if he gave way to such follies as
these, would soon fall headlong into a pit from which there would be
no escape. And if he did fall, she knew herself well enough to be
aware that she could not stifle, nor even conceal, the misery which
this would occasion her. As long as he stood well before the world
she would be well able to assume indifference. But were he to be
precipitated into some bottomless misfortunes then she could only
throw herself after him. She could see him marry, and smile,--and
perhaps even like his wife. And while he was doing so, she could also
marry, and resolve that the husband whom she took should be made to
think that he had a loving wife. But were Frank to die,--then must
she fall upon his body as though he had been known by all the world
to be her lover. Something of this feeling came upon her now, when
she heard that he had been betting and had been unfortunate. She had
been unable so to subdue herself as to seem to be perfectly careless
about it. She had begun by saying that she had not believed it;--but
she had believed it. It was so natural that Tregear should have done
as the others did with whom he lived! But then the misfortune would
be to him so terrible,--so irremediable! The reader, however, may
as well know at once that there was not a word of truth in the
assertion.

After the dinner she went home alone. There were other festivities to
be attended, had she pleased to attend them; and poor Miss Cassewary
was dressed ready to go with her as chaperone;--but Miss Cassewary
was quite satisfied to be allowed to go to bed in lieu of Mrs.
Montacute Jones's great ball. And she had gone to her bedroom when
Lady Mabel went to her. "I am glad you are alone," she said, "because
I want to speak to you."

"Is anything wrong?"

"Everything is wrong. Papa says he must give up this house."

"He says that almost always when he comes back from the races, and
very often when he comes back from the club."

"Percival has lost ever so much."

"I don't think my Lord will hamper himself for your brother."

"I can't explain it, but there is some horrible money complication.
It is hard upon you and me."

"Who am I?" said Miss Cassewary.

"About the dearest friend that ever a poor girl had. It is hard upon
you,--and upon me. I have given up everything,--and what good have I
done?"

"It is hard, my dear."

"But after all I do not care much for all that. The thing has been
going on so long that one is used to it."

"What is it then?"

"Ah;--yes;--what is it? How am I to tell you?"

"Surely you can tell me," said the old woman, putting out her hand so
as to caress the arm of the younger one.

"I could tell no one else; I am sure of that. Frank Tregear has taken
to gambling,--like the rest of them."

"Who says so?"

"He has lost a lot of money at these races. A man who sat next me
at dinner,--one of those stupid do-nothing fools that one meets
everywhere,--told me so. He is one of the Beargarden set, and of
course he knows all about it."

"Did he say how much?"

"How is he to pay anything? Of all things that men do this is the
worst. A man who would think himself disgraced for ever if he
accepted a present of money will not scruple to use all his wits to
rob his friend of everything that he has by studying the run of cards
or by watching the paces of some brutes of horses! And they consider
themselves to be fine gentlemen! A real gentleman should never want
the money out of another man's pocket;--should never think of money
at all."

"I don't know how that is to be helped, my dear. You have got to
think of money."

"Yes; I have to think of it, and do think of it; and because I do so
I am not what I call a gentleman."

"No;--my dear; you're a lady."

"Psha! you know what I mean. I might have had the feelings of a
gentleman as well as the best man that ever was born. I haven't;
but I have never done anything so mean as gambling. Now I have got
something else to tell you."

"What is it? You do frighten me so when you look like that."

"You may well be frightened,--for if this all comes round I shall
very soon be able to dispense with you altogether. His Royal Highness
Lord Silverbridge--"

"What do you mean, Mabel?"

"He's next door to a Royal Highness at any rate, and a much more
topping man than most of them. Well then;--His Serene Highness the
heir of the Duke of Omnium has done me the inexpressible honour of
asking me--to marry him."

"No!"

"You may well say, No. And to tell the truth exactly, he didn't."

"Then why do you say he did?"

"I don't think he did quite ask me, but he gave me to understand that
he would do so if I gave him any encouragement."

"Did he mean it?"

"Yes;--poor boy! He meant it. With a word;--with a look, he would
have been down there kneeling. He asked me whether I liked him well
enough. What do you think I did?"

"What did you do?"

"I spared him;--out of sheer downright Christian charity! I said to
myself 'Love your neighbours.' 'Don't be selfish.' 'Do unto him as
you would he should do unto you,'--that is, think of his welfare.
Though I had him in my net, I let him go. Shall I go to heaven for
doing that?"

"I don't know," said Miss Cassewary, who was so much perturbed by
the news she had heard as to be unable to come to any opinion on the
point just raised.

"Or mayn't I rather go to the other place? From how much
embarrassment should I have relieved my father! What a friend I
should have made for Percival! How much I might have been able to do
for Frank! And then what a wife I should have made him!"

"I think you would."

"He'll never get another half so good; and he'll be sure to get one
before long. It is a sort of tenderness that is quite inefficacious.
He will become a prey, as I should have made him a prey. But where is
there another who will treat him so well?"

"I cannot bear to hear you speak of yourself in that way."

"But it is true. I know the sort of girl he should marry. In the
first place she should be two years younger, and four years fresher.
She should be able not only to like him and love him, but to worship
him. How well I can see her! She should have fair hair, and bright
green-gray eyes, with the sweetest complexion, and the prettiest
little dimples;--two inches shorter than me, and the delight of her
life should be to hang with two hands on his arm. She should have a
feeling that her Silverbridge is an Apollo upon earth. To me he is a
rather foolish, but very, very sweet-tempered young man;--anything
rather than a god. If I thought that he would get the fresh young
girl with the dimples then I ought to abstain."

"If he was in earnest," said Miss Cassewary, throwing aside all this
badinage and thinking of the main point, "if he was in earnest he
will come again."

"He was quite in earnest."

"Then he will come again."

"I don't think he will," said Lady Mabel. "I told him that I was too
old for him, and I tried to laugh him out of it. He does not like
being laughed at. He has been saved, and he will know it."

"But if he should come again?"

"I shall not spare him again. No;--not twice. I felt it to be hard to
do so once, because I so nearly love him! There are so many of them
who are odious to me, as to whom the idea of marrying them seems to
be mixed somehow with an idea of suicide."

"Oh, Mabel!"

"But he is as sweet as a rose. If I were his sister, or his servant,
or his dog, I could be devoted to him. I can fancy that his comfort
and his success and his name should be everything to me."

"That is what a wife ought to feel."

"But I could never feel him to be my superior. That is what a
wife ought in truth to feel. Think of those two young men and the
difference between them! Well;--don't look like that at me. I don't
often give way, and I dare say after all I shall live to be the
Duchess of Omnium." Then she kissed her friend and went away to her
own room.



CHAPTER XXI

Sir Timothy Beeswax


There had lately been a great Conservative reaction in the country,
brought about in part by the industry and good management of
gentlemen who were strong on that side;--but due also in part to the
blunders and quarrels of their opponents. That these opponents should
have blundered and quarrelled, being men active and in earnest, was
to have been expected. Such blunderings and quarrellings have been
a matter of course since politics have been politics, and since
religion has been religion. When men combine to do nothing, how
should there be disagreement? When men combine to do much, how should
there not be disagreement? Thirty men can sit still, each as like the
other as peas. But put your thirty men up to run a race, and they
will soon assume different forms. And in doing nothing, you can
hardly do amiss. Let the doers of nothing have something of action
forced upon them, and they, too, will blunder and quarrel.

The wonder is that there should ever be in a reforming party enough
of consentaneous action to carry any reform. The reforming or Liberal
party in British politics had thus stumbled,--and stumbled till it
fell. And now there had been a great Conservative reaction! Many of
the most Liberal constituencies in the country had been untrue to
their old political convictions. And, as the result, Lord Drummond
was Prime Minister in the House of Lords,--with Sir Timothy Beeswax
acting as first man in the House of Commons.

It cannot be denied that Sir Timothy had his good points as a
politician. He was industrious, patient, clear-sighted, intelligent,
courageous, and determined. Long before he had had a seat in the
House, when he was simply making his way up to the probability of a
seat by making a reputation as an advocate, he had resolved that he
would be more than an Attorney-General, more than a judge,--more,
as he thought it, than a Chief Justice; but at any rate something
different. This plan he had all but gained,--and it must be
acknowledged that he had been moved by a grand and manly ambition.
But there were drawbacks to the utility and beauty of Sir Timothy's
character as a statesman. He had no idea as to the necessity or
non-necessity of any measure whatever in reference to the well-being
of the country. It may, indeed, be said that all such ideas were to
him absurd, and the fact that they should be held by his friends and
supporters was an inconvenience. He was not in accord with those who
declare that a Parliament is a collection of windbags which puff, and
blow, and crack to the annoyance of honest men. But to him Parliament
was a debating place, by having a majority in which, and by no other
means, he,--or another,--might become the great man of the day. By no
other than parliamentary means could such a one as he come to be the
chief man. And this use of Parliament, either on his own behalf or
on behalf of others, had been for so many years present to his mind,
that there seemed to be nothing absurd in an institution supported
for such a purpose. Parliament was a club so eligible in its nature
that all Englishmen wished to belong to it. They who succeeded were
acknowledged to be the cream of the land. They who dominated in it
were the cream of the cream. Those two who were elected to be the
chiefs of the two parties had more of cream in their composition than
any others. But he who could be the chief of the strongest party, and
who therefore, in accordance with the prevailing arrangements of the
country, should have the power of making dukes, and bestowing garters
and appointing bishops, he who by attaining the first seat should
achieve the right of snubbing all before him, whether friends or
foes, he, according to the feelings of Sir Timothy, would have gained
an Elysium of creaminess not to be found in any other position on the
earth's surface. No man was more warmly attached to parliamentary
government than Sir Timothy Beeswax; but I do not think that he ever
cared much for legislation.

Parliamentary management was his forte. There have been various rocks
on which men have shattered their barks in their attempts to sail
successfully into the harbours of parliamentary management. There is
the great Senator who declares to himself that personally he will
have neither friend nor foe. There is his country before him and its
welfare. Within his bosom is the fire of patriotism, and within his
mind the examples of all past time. He knows that he can be just, he
teaches himself to be eloquent, and he strives to be wise. But he
will not bend;--and at last, in some great solitude, though closely
surrounded by those whose love he had neglected to acquire,--he
breaks his heart.

Then there is he who seeing the misfortune of that great one, tells
himself that patriotism, judgment, industry, and eloquence will not
suffice for him unless he himself can be loved. To do great things
a man must have a great following, and to achieve that he must be
popular. So he smiles and learns the necessary wiles. He is all for
his country and his friends,--but for his friends first. He too must
be eloquent and well instructed in the ways of Parliament, must be
wise and diligent; but in all that he does and all that he says he
must first study his party. It is well with him for a time;--but
he has closed the door of his Elysium too rigidly. Those without
gradually become stronger than his friends within, and so he falls.

But may not the door be occasionally opened to an outsider, so that
the exterior force be diminished? We know how great is the pressure
of water; and how the peril of an overwhelming weight of it may be
removed by opening the way for a small current. There comes therefore
the Statesman who acknowledges to himself that he will be pregnable.
That, as a Statesman, he should have enemies is a matter of course.
Against moderate enemies he will hold his own. But when there comes
one immoderately forcible, violently inimical, then to that man he
will open his bosom. He will tempt into his camp with an offer of
high command any foe that may be worth his purchase. This too has
answered well; but there is a Nemesis. The loyalty of officers so
procured must be open to suspicion. The man who has said bitter
things against you will never sit at your feet in contented
submission, nor will your friend of old standing long endure to be
superseded by such converts.

All these dangers Sir Timothy had seen and studied, and for each of
them he had hoped to be able to provide an antidote. Love cannot do
all. Fear may do more. Fear acknowledges a superior. Love desires an
equal. Love is to be created by benefits done, and means gratitude,
which we all know to be weak. But hope, which refers itself to
benefits to come, is of all our feelings the strongest. And Sir
Timothy had parliamentary doctrines concealed in the depths of his
own bosom more important even than these. The Statesman who falls is
he who does much, and thus injures many. The Statesman who stands the
longest is he who does nothing and injures no one. He soon knew that
the work which he had taken in hand required all the art of a great
conjuror. He must be possessed of tricks so marvellous that not even
they who sat nearest to him might know how they were performed.

For the executive or legislative business of the country he cared
little. The one should be left in the hands of men who liked
work;--of the other there should be little, or, if possible, none.
But Parliament must be managed,--and his party. Of patriotism he
did not know the meaning;--few, perhaps, do, beyond a feeling that
they would like to lick the Russians, or to get the better of the
Americans in a matter of fisheries or frontiers. But he invented a
pseudo-patriotic conjuring phraseology which no one understood but
which many admired. He was ambitious that it should be said of him
that he was far-and-away the cleverest of his party. He knew himself
to be clever. But he could only be far-and-away the cleverest by
saying and doing that which no one could understand. If he could
become master of some great hocus-pocus system which could be made to
be graceful to the ears and eyes of many, which might for awhile seem
to have within it some semi-divine attribute, which should have all
but divine power of mastering the loaves and fishes, then would they
who followed him believe in him more firmly than other followers who
had believed in their leaders. When you see a young woman read a
closed book placed on her dorsal vertebræ,--if you do believe that
she so reads it, you think that she is endowed with a wonderful
faculty! And should you also be made to believe that the same young
woman had direct communication with Abraham, by means of some
invisible wire, you would be apt to do a great many things as
that young woman might tell you. Conjuring, when not known to be
conjuring, is very effective.

Much, no doubt, of Sir Timothy's power had come from his praiseworthy
industry. Though he cared nothing for the making of laws, though he
knew nothing of finance, though he had abandoned his legal studies,
still he worked hard. And because he had worked harder in a special
direction than others around him, therefore he was enabled to lead
them. The management of a party is a very great work in itself; and
when to that is added the management of the House of Commons, a man
has enough upon his hands even though he neglects altogether the
ordinary pursuits of a Statesman. Those around Sir Timothy were fond
of their party; but they were for the most part men who had not
condescended to put their shoulders to the wheel as he had done. Had
there been any very great light among them, had there been a Pitt
or a Peel, Sir Timothy would have probably become Attorney-General
and have made his way to the bench;--but there had been no Pitt and
no Peel, and he had seen his opening. He had studied the ways of
Members. Parliamentary practice had become familiar to him. He had
shown himself to be ready at all hours to fight the battle of the
party he had joined. And no man knew so well as did Sir Timothy how
to elevate a simple legislative attempt into a good faction fight. He
had so mastered his tricks of conjuring that no one could get to the
bottom of them, and had assumed a look of preternatural gravity which
made many young Members think that Sir Timothy was born to be a king
of men.

There were no doubt some among his older supporters who felt their
thraldom grievously. There were some lords in the Upper House and
some sons of the lords in the Lower,--with pedigrees going back far
enough for pride,--who found it irksome to recognise Sir Timothy as
a master. No doubt he had worked very hard, and had worked for them.
No doubt he knew how to do the work, and they did not. There was
no other man among them to whom the lead could be conveniently
transferred. But yet they were uncomfortable,--and perhaps a little
ashamed.

It had arisen partly from this cause, that there had been something
of a counter-reaction at the last general election. When the Houses
met, the Ministers had indeed a majority, but a much lessened
majority. The old Liberal constituencies had returned to an
expression of their real feeling. This reassertion of the progress
of the tide, this recovery from the partial ebb which checks the
violence of every flow, is common enough in politics; but at the
present moment there were many who said that all this had been
accelerated by a feeling in the country that Sir Timothy was hardly
all that the country required as the leader of the country party.



CHAPTER XXII

The Duke in His Study


It was natural that at such a time, when success greater than had
been expected had attended the efforts of the Liberals, when some
dozen unexpected votes had been acquired, the leading politicians of
that party should have found themselves compelled to look about them
and see how these good things might be utilised. In February they
certainly had not expected to be called to power in the course of
the existing Session. Perhaps they did not expect it yet. There was
still a Conservative majority,--though but a small majority. But the
strength of the minority consisted, not in the fact that the majority
against them was small, but that it was decreasing. How quickly does
the snowball grow into hugeness as it is rolled on,--but when the
change comes in the weather how quickly does it melt, and before
it is gone become a thing ugly, weak, and formless! Where is the
individual who does not assert to himself that he would be more loyal
to a falling than to a rising friend? Such is perhaps the nature
of each one of us. But when any large number of men act together,
the falling friend is apt to be deserted. There was a general
feeling among politicians that Lord Drummond's ministry,--or Sir
Timothy's--was failing, and the Liberals, though they could not yet
count the votes by which they might hope to be supported in power,
nevertheless felt that they ought to be looking to their arms.

There had been a coalition. They who are well read in the political
literature of their country will remember all about that. It had
perhaps succeeded in doing that for which it had been intended. The
Queen's government had been carried on for two or three years. The
Duke of Omnium had been the head of that Ministry; but during those
years had suffered so much as to have become utterly ashamed of the
coalition,--so much as to have said often to himself that under no
circumstances would he again join any Ministry. At this time there
was no idea of another coalition. That is a state of things which
cannot come about frequently,--which can only be reproduced by men
who have never hitherto felt the mean insipidity of such a condition.
But they who had served on the Liberal side in that coalition must
again put their shoulders to the wheel. Of course it was in every
man's mouth that the Duke must be induced to forget his miseries and
once more to take upon himself the duties of an active servant of the
State.

But they who were most anxious on the subject, such men as Lord
Cantrip, Mr. Monk, our old friend Phineas Finn, and a few others,
were almost afraid to approach him. At the moment when the coalition
was broken up he had been very bitter in spirit, apparently almost
arrogant, holding himself aloof from his late colleagues,--and since
that, troubles had come to him, which had aggravated the soreness of
his heart. His wife had died, and he had suffered much through his
children. What Lord Silverbridge had done at Oxford was matter of
general conversation, and also what he had not done.

That the heir of the family should have become a renegade in politics
was supposed greatly to have affected the father. Now Lord Gerald had
been expelled from Cambridge, and Silverbridge was on the turf in
conjunction with Major Tifto! Something, too, had oozed out into
general ears about Lady Mary,--something which should have been
kept secret as the grave. It had therefore come to pass that it was
difficult even to address the Duke.

There was one man, and but one, who could do this with ease to
himself;--and that man was at last put into motion at the instance
of the leaders of the party. The old Duke of St. Bungay wrote the
following letter to the Duke of Omnium. The letter purported to be an
excuse for the writer's own defalcation. But the chief object of the
writer was to induce the younger Duke once more to submit to harness.


   Longroyston, 3rd June, 187--.

   DEAR DUKE OF OMNIUM,

   How quickly the things come round! I had thought that I
   should never again have been called upon even to think of
   the formation of another Liberal Ministry; and now, though
   it was but yesterday that we were all telling ourselves
   that we were thoroughly manumitted from our labours by the
   altered opinions of the country, sundry of our old friends
   are again putting their heads together.

   Did they not do so they would neglect a manifest duty.
   Nothing is more essential to the political well-being
   of the country than that the leaders on both sides in
   politics should be prepared for their duties. But for
   myself, I am bound at last to put in the old plea with
   a determination that it shall be respected. "Solve
   senescentem." It is now, if I calculate rightly, exactly
   fifty years since I first entered public life in obedience
   to the advice of Lord Grey. I had then already sat five
   years in the House of Commons. I assisted humbly in the
   emancipation of the Roman Catholics, and have learned by
   the legislative troubles of just half a century that those
   whom we then invited to sit with us in Parliament have
   been in all things our worst enemies. But what then? Had
   we benefited only those who love us, would not the sinners
   also,--or even the Tories,--have done as much as that?

   But such memories are of no avail now. I write to say that
   after so much of active political life, I will at last
   retire. My friends when they see me inspecting a pigsty
   or picking a peach are apt to remind me that I can still
   stand on my legs, and with more of compliment than of
   kindness will argue therefore that I ought still to
   undertake active duties in Parliament. I can select my
   own hours for pigs and peaches, and should I, through the
   dotage of age, make mistakes as to the breeding of the one
   or the flavour of the other, the harm done will not go
   far. In politics I have done my work. What you and others
   in the arena do will interest me more than all other
   things of this world, I think and hope, to my dying day.
   But I will not trouble the workers with the querulousness
   of old age.

   So much for myself. And now let me, as I go, say a parting
   word to him with whom in politics I have been for many
   years more in accord than with any other leading man. As
   nothing but age or infirmity would to my own mind have
   justified me in retiring, so do I think that you, who can
   plead neither age nor infirmity, will find yourself at
   last to want self-justification, if you permit yourself
   to be driven from the task either by pride or by
   indifference.

   I should express my feelings better were I to say by pride
   and diffidence. I look to our old friendship, to the
   authority given to me by my age, and to the thorough
   goodness of your heart for pardon in thus accusing you.
   That little men should have ventured to ill-use you, has
   hurt your pride. That these little men should have been
   able to do so has created your diffidence. Put you to
   a piece of work that a man may do, you have less false
   pride as to the way in which you may do it than any man
   I have known; and, let the way be open to you, as little
   diffidence as any. But in this political mill of ours
   in England, a man cannot always find the way open to do
   things. It does not often happen that an English statesman
   can go in and make a great score off his own bat. But not
   the less is he bound to play the game and to go to the
   wicket when he finds that his time has come.

   There are, I think, two things for you to consider in this
   matter, and two only. The first is your capacity, and the
   other is your duty. A man may have found by experience
   that he is unfitted for public life. You and I have known
   men in regard to whom we have thoroughly wished that such
   experience had been reached. But this is a matter in which
   a man who doubts himself is bound to take the evidence of
   those around him. The whole party is most anxious for your
   co-operation. If this be so,--and I make you the assurance
   from most conclusive evidence,--you are bound to accept
   the common consent of your political friends on that
   matter. You perhaps think that at a certain period of your
   life you failed. They all agree with me that you did not
   fail. It is a matter on which you should be bound by our
   opinion rather than by your own.

   As to that matter of duty I shall have less difficulty
   in carrying you with me. Though this renewed task may be
   personally disagreeable to you, even though your tastes
   should lead you to some other life,--which I think is not
   the case,--still if your country wants you, you should
   serve your country. It is a work as to which such a one
   as you has no option. Of most of those who choose public
   life,--it may be said that were they not there, there
   would be others as serviceable. But when a man such as you
   has shown himself to be necessary, as long as health and
   age permit he cannot recede without breach of manifest
   duty. The work to be done is so important, the numbers to
   be benefited are so great, that he cannot be justified in
   even remembering that he has a self.

   As I have said before, I trust that my own age and
   your goodness will induce you to pardon this great
   interference. But whether pardoned or not I shall always
   be

   Your most affectionate friend,

   ST. BUNGAY.


The Duke,--our Duke,--on reading this letter was by no means pleased
by its contents. He could ill bear to be reminded either of his pride
or of his diffidence. And yet the accusations which others made
against him were as nothing to those with which he charged himself.
He would do this till at last he was forced to defend himself against
himself by asking himself whether he could be other than as God had
made him. It is the last and the poorest makeshift of a defence to
which a man can be brought in his own court! Was it his fault that he
was so thin-skinned that all things hurt him? When some coarse man
said to him that which ought not to have been said, was it his fault
that at every word a penknife had stabbed him? Other men had borne
these buffets without shrinking, and had shown themselves thereby to
be more useful, much more efficacious; but he could no more imitate
them than he could procure for himself the skin of a rhinoceros or
the tusk of an elephant. And this shrinking was what men called
pride,--was the pride of which his old friend wrote! "Have I
ever been haughty, unless in my own defence?" he asked himself,
remembering certain passages of humility in his life,--and certain
passages of haughtiness also.

And the Duke told him also that he was diffident. Of course he was
diffident. Was it not one and the same thing? The very pride of which
he was accused was no more than that shrinking which comes from the
want of trust in oneself. He was a shy man. All his friends and all
his enemies knew that;--it was thus that he still discoursed with
himself;--a shy, self-conscious, timid, shrinking, thin-skinned man!
Of course he was diffident. Then why urge him on to tasks for which
he was by nature unfitted?

And yet there was much in his old friend's letter which moved him.
There were certain words which he kept on repeating to himself. "He
cannot be justified in even remembering that he has a self." It was
a hard thing to say of any man, but yet a true thing of such a man
as his correspondent had described. His correspondent had spoken of
a man who should know himself to be capable of serving the State.
If a man were capable, and was sure within his own bosom of his own
capacity, it would be his duty. But what if he were not so satisfied?
What if he felt that any labours of his would be vain, and all
self-abnegation useless? His friend had told him that on that matter
he was bound to take the opinion of others. Perhaps so. But if so,
had not that opinion been given to him very plainly when he was told
that he was both proud and diffident? That he was called upon to
serve his country by good service, if such were within his power, he
did acknowledge freely; but not that he should allow himself to be
stuck up as a ninepin only to be knocked down! There are politicians
for whom such occupation seems to be proper;--and who like it too. A
little office, a little power, a little rank, a little pay, a little
niche in the ephemeral history of the year will reward many men
adequately for being knocked down.

And yet he loved power, and even when thinking of all this allowed
his mind from time to time to run away into a dreamland of
prosperous political labours. He thought what it would be to be
an all-beneficent Prime Minister, with a loyal majority, with a
well-conditioned unanimous cabinet, with a grateful people, and an
appreciative Sovereign. How well might a man spend himself night and
day, even to death, in the midst of labours such as these.

Half an hour after receiving the Duke's letter he suddenly jumped up
and sat himself down at his desk. He felt it to be necessary that he
should at once write to his old friend;--and the more necessary that
he should do so at once, because he had resolved that he would do so
before he had made up his mind on the chief subject of that letter.
It did not suit him to say either that he would or that he would not
do as his friend advised him. The reply was made in a very few words.
"As to myself," he said, after expressing his regret that the Duke
should find it necessary to retire from public life--"as to myself,
pray understand that whatever I may do I shall never cease to be
grateful for your affectionate and high-spirited counsels."

Then his mind recurred to a more immediate and, for the moment, a
heavier trouble. He had as yet given no answer to that letter from
Mrs. Finn, which the reader will perhaps remember. It might indeed be
passed over without an answer; but to him that was impossible. She
had accused him in the very strongest language of injustice, and had
made him understand that if he were unjust to her, then would he
be most ungrateful. He, looking at the matter with his own lights,
had thought that he had been right, but had resolved to submit the
question to another person. As judge in the matter he had chosen Lady
Cantrip, and Lady Cantrip had given judgment against him.

He had pressed Lady Cantrip for a decided opinion, and she had told
him that she, in the same position, would have done just as Mrs. Finn
had done. He had constituted Lady Cantrip his judge, and had resolved
that her judgment should be final. He declared to himself that he
did not understand it. If a man's house be on fire, do you think of
certain rules of etiquette before you bid him send for the engines?
If a wild beast be loose, do you go through some ceremony before you
caution the wanderers abroad? There should not have been a moment!
But, nevertheless, it was now necessary that he should conform
himself to the opinion of Lady Cantrip, and in doing so he must
apologise for the bitter scorn with which he had allowed himself to
treat his wife's most loyal and loving friend.

The few words to the Duke had not been difficult, but this letter
seemed to be an Herculean task. It was made infinitely more difficult
by the fact that Lady Cantrip had not seemed to think that this
marriage was impossible. "Young people when they have set their minds
upon it do so generally prevail at last!" These had been her words,
and they discomforted him greatly. She had thought the marriage to
be possible. Had she not almost expressed an opinion that they ought
to be allowed to marry? And if so, would it not be his duty to take
his girl away from Lady Cantrip? As to the idea that young people,
because they have declared themselves to be in love, were to have
just what they wanted,--with that he did not agree at all. Lady
Cantrip had told him that young people generally did prevail at last.
He knew the story of one young person, whose position in her youth
had been very much the same as that of his daughter now, and she had
not prevailed. And in her case had not the opposition which had been
made to her wishes been most fortunate? That young person had become
his wife, his Glencora, his Duchess. Had she been allowed to have her
own way when she was a child, what would have been her fate? Ah what!
Then he had to think of it all. Might she not have been alive now,
and perhaps happier than she had ever been with him? And had he
remained always unmarried, devoted simply to politics, would not the
troubles of the world have been lighter on him? But what had that
to do with it? In these matters it was not the happiness of this or
that individual which should be considered. There is a propriety in
things;--and only by an adherence to that propriety on the part of
individuals can the general welfare be maintained. A King in this
country, or the heir or the possible heir to the throne, is debarred
from what might possibly be a happy marriage by regard to the good
of his subjects. To the Duke's thinking the maintenance of the
aristocracy of the country was second only in importance to the
maintenance of the Crown. How should the aristocracy be maintained if
its wealth were allowed to fall into the hands of an adventurer!

Such were the opinions with regard to his own order of one who was as
truly Liberal in his ideas as any man in England, and who had argued
out these ideas to their consequences. As by the spread of education
and increase of general well-being every proletaire was brought
nearer to a Duke, so by such action would the Duke be brought nearer
to a proletaire. Such drawing-nearer of the classes was the object
to which all this man's political action tended. And yet it was a
dreadful thing to him that his own daughter should desire to marry a
man so much beneath her own rank and fortune as Frank Tregear.

He would not allow himself to believe that the young people could
ever prevail; but nevertheless, as the idea of the thing had not
alarmed Lady Cantrip as it had him, it was necessary that he should
make some apology to Mrs. Finn. Each moment of procrastination was
a prick to his conscience. He now therefore dragged out from the
secrecy of some close drawer Mrs. Finn's letter and read it through
to himself once again. Yes--it was true that he had condemned her,
and that he had punished her. Though he had done nothing to her, and
said nothing, and written but very little, still he had punished her
most severely.

She had written as though the matter was almost one of life and death
to her. He could understand that too. His uncle's conduct to this
woman, and his wife's, had created the intimacy which had existed.
Through their efforts she had become almost as one of the family. And
now to be dismissed, like a servant who had misbehaved herself! And
then her arguments in her own defence were all so good,--if only that
which Lady Cantrip had laid down as law was to be held as law. He
was aware now that she had had no knowledge of the matter till his
daughter had told her of the engagement at Matching. Then it was
evident also that she had sent this Tregear to him immediately on her
return to London. And at the end of the letter she accused him of
what she had been pleased to call his usual tenacity in believing ill
of her! He had been obstinate,--too obstinate in this respect, but he
did not love her the better for having told him of it.

At last he did put his apology into words.


   MY DEAR MRS. FINN,

   I believe I had better acknowledge to you at once that I
   have been wrong in my judgment as to your conduct in a
   certain matter. You tell me that I owe it to you to make
   this acknowledgment,--and I make it. The subject is, as
   you may imagine, so painful that I will spare myself, if
   possible, any further allusion to it. I believe I did you
   a wrong, and therefore I write to ask your pardon.

   I should perhaps apologise also for delay in my reply. I
   have had much to think of in this matter, and have many
   others also on my mind.

   Believe me to be,
   Yours faithfully,

   OMNIUM.


It was very short, and as being short was infinitely less troublesome
at the moment than a fuller epistle; but he was angry with himself,
knowing that it was too short, feeling that it was ungracious. He
should have expressed a hope that he might soon see her again,--only
he had no such wish. There had been times at which he had liked her,
but he knew that he did not like her now. And yet he was bound to be
her friend! If he could only do some great thing for her, and thus
satisfy his feeling of indebtedness towards her! But all the favours
had been from her to him and his.



CHAPTER XXIII

Frank Tregear Wants a Friend


Six or seven weeks had passed since Tregear had made his
communication to the Duke, and during that time he had heard not a
word about the girl he loved. He knew, indeed, that she was at The
Horns, and probably had reason to suppose that she was being guarded
there, as it were, out of his reach. This did not surprise him; nor
did he regard it as a hardship. It was to be expected that she should
be kept out of his sight. But this was a state of things to which,
as he thought, there should not be more than a moderate amount of
submission. Six weeks was not a very long period, but it was perhaps
long enough for evincing that respect which he owed to the young
lady's father. Something must be done some day. How could he expect
her to be true to him unless he took some means of showing himself to
be true to her?

In these days he did not live very much with her brother. He not only
disliked, but distrusted Major Tifto, and had so expressed himself as
to give rise to angry words. Silverbridge had said that he knew how
to take care of himself. Tregear had replied that he had his doubts
on that matter. Then the Member of Parliament had declared that at
any rate he did not intend to be taken care of by Frank Tregear! In
such a state of things it was not possible that there should be any
close confidence as to Lady Mary. Nor does it often come to pass that
the brother is the confidant of the sister's lover. Brothers hardly
like their sisters to have lovers, though they are often well
satisfied that their sisters should find husbands. Tregear's want of
rank and wealth added something to this feeling in the mind of this
brother; so that Silverbridge, though he felt himself to be deterred
by friendship from any open opposition, still was almost inimical.
"It won't do, you know," he had said to his brother Gerald, shaking
his head.

Tregear, however, was determined to be active in the matter, to make
some effort, to speak to somebody. But how to make an effort,--and
to whom should he speak? Thinking of all this he remembered that Mrs.
Finn had sent for him and had told him to go with his love story
to the Duke. She had been almost severe with him;--but after the
interview was over, he had felt that she had acted well and wisely.
He therefore determined that he would go to Mrs. Finn.

She had as yet received no answer from the Duke, though nearly a
fortnight had elapsed since she had written her letter. During that
time she had become very angry. She felt that he was not treating her
as a gentleman should treat a lady, and certainly not as the husband
of her late friend should have treated the friend of his late
wife. She had a proud consciousness of having behaved well to the
Pallisers, and now this head of the Pallisers was rewarding her by
evil treatment. She had been generous; he was ungenerous. She had
been honest; he was deficient even in that honesty for which she
had given him credit. And she had been unable to obtain any of that
consolation which could have come to her from talking of her wrongs.
She could not complain to her husband, because there were reasons
that made it essential that her husband should not quarrel with
the Duke. She was hot with indignation at the very moment in which
Tregear was announced.

He began by apologising for his intrusion, and she of course assured
him that he was welcome. "After the liberty which I took with you,
Mr. Tregear, I am only too well pleased that you should come to see
me."

"I am afraid," he said, "that I was a little rough."

"A little warm;--but that was to be expected. A gentleman never likes
to be interfered with on such a matter."

"The position was and is difficult, Mrs. Finn."

"And I am bound to acknowledge the very ready way in which you did
what I asked you to do."

"And now, Mrs. Finn, what is to come next?"

"Ah!"

"Something must be done! You know of course that the Duke did not
receive me with any great favour."

"I did not suppose he would."

"Nor did I. Of course he would object to such a marriage. But a man
in these days cannot dictate to his daughter what husband she should
marry."

"Perhaps he can dictate to her what husband she shall not marry."

"Hardly that. He may put impediments in the way; and the Duke will
do so. But if I am happy enough to have won the affections of his
daughter,--so as to make it essential to her happiness that she
should become my wife,--he will give way."

"What am I to say, Mr. Tregear?"

"Just what you think."

"Why should I be made to say what I think on so delicate a matter? Or
of what use would be my thoughts? Remember how far I am removed from
her."

"You are his friend."

"Not at all! No one less so!" As she said this she could not hinder
the colour from coming into her face. "I was her friend,--Lady
Glencora's; but with the death of my friend there was an end of all
that."

"You were staying with him,--at his request. You told me so
yourself."

"I shall never stay with him again. But all that, Mr. Tregear, is
of no matter. I do not mean to say a word against him;--not a word.
But if you wish to interest any one as being the Duke's friend, then
I can assure you I am the last person in London to whom you should
come. I know no one to whom the Duke is likely to entertain feelings
so little kind as towards me." This she said in a peculiarly solemn
way that startled Tregear. But before he could answer her a servant
entered the room with a letter. She recognised at once the Duke's
handwriting. Here was the answer for which she had been so long
waiting in silent expectation! She could not keep it unread till he
was gone. "Will you allow me a moment?" she whispered, and then she
opened the envelope. As she read the few words her eyes became laden
with tears. They quite sufficed to relieve the injured pride which
had sat so heavy at her heart. "I believe I did you a wrong, and
therefore I ask your pardon!" It was so like what she had believed
the man to be! She could not be longer angry with him. And yet the
very last words she had spoken were words complaining of his conduct.
"This is from the Duke," she said, putting the letter back into its
envelope.

"Oh, indeed."

"It is odd that it should have come while you were here."

"Is it,--is it,--about Lady Mary?"

"No;--at least,--not directly. I perhaps spoke more harshly about him
than I should have done. The truth is I had expected a line from him,
and it had not come. Now it is here; but I do not suppose I shall
ever see much of him. My intimacy was with her. But I would not wish
you to remember what I said just now, if--if--"

"If what, Mrs. Finn? You mean, perhaps, if I should ever be allowed
to call myself his son-in-law. It may seem to you to be arrogant, but
it is an honour which I expect to win."

"Faint heart,--you know, Mr. Tregear."

"Exactly. One has to tell oneself that very often. You will help me?"

"Certainly not," she said, as though she were much startled. "How can
I help you?"

"By telling me what I should do. I suppose if I were to go down to
Richmond I should not be admitted."

"If you ask me, I think not;--not to see Lady Mary. Lady Cantrip
would perhaps see you."

"She is acting the part of--duenna."

"As I should do also, if Lady Mary were staying with me. You don't
suppose that if she were here I would let her see you in my house
without her father's leave?"

"I suppose not."

"Certainly not; and therefore I conceive that Lady Cantrip will not
do so either."

"I wish she were here."

"It would be of no use. I should be a dragon in guarding her."

"I wish you would let me feel that you were like a sister to me in
this matter."

"But I am not your sister, nor yet your aunt, nor yet your
grandmother. What I mean is that I cannot be on your side."

"Can you not?"

"No, Mr. Tregear. Think how long I have known these other people."

"But just now you said that he was your enemy."

"I did say so; but as I have unsaid it since, you as a gentleman will
not remember my words. At any rate I cannot help you in this."

"I shall write to her."

"It can be nothing to me. If you write she will show your letter
either to her father or to Lady Cantrip."

"But she will read it first."

"I cannot tell how that may be. In fact I am the very last person in
the world to whom you should come for assistance in this matter. If
I gave any assistance to anybody I should be bound to give it to the
Duke."

"I cannot understand that, Mrs. Finn."

"Nor can I explain it, but it would be so. I shall always be very
glad to see you, and I do feel that we ought to be friends,--because
I took such a liberty with you. But in this matter I cannot help
you."

When she said this he had to take his leave. It was impossible that
he should further press his case upon her, though he would have been
very glad to extract from her some kindly word. It is such a help in
a difficulty to have somebody who will express even a hope that the
difficulty is perhaps not invincible! He had no one to comfort him in
this matter. There was one dear friend,--as a friend dearer than any
other,--to whom he might go, and who would after some fashion bid him
prosper. Mabel would encourage him. She had said that she would do
so. But in making that promise she had told him that Romeo would not
have spoken of his love for Juliet to Rosaline, whom he had loved
before he saw Juliet. No doubt she had gone on to tell him that he
might come to her and talk freely of his love for Lady Mary,--but
after what had been said before, he felt that he could not do so
without leaving a sting behind. When a man's love goes well with
him,--so well as to be in some degree oppressive to him even by
its prosperity,--when the young lady has jumped into his arms and
the father and mother have been quite willing, then he wants no
confidant. He does not care to speak very much of the matter which
among his friends is apt to become a subject for raillery. When
you call a man Benedick he does not come to you with ecstatic
descriptions of the beauty and the wit of his Beatrice. But no one
was likely to call him Benedick in reference to Lady Mary.

In spite of his manner, in spite of his apparent self-sufficiency,
this man was very soft within. Less than two years back he had been
willing to sacrifice all the world for his cousin Mabel, and his
cousin Mabel had told him that he was wrong. "It does not pay to
sacrifice the world for love." So cousin Mabel had said, and had
added something as to its being necessary that she should marry a
rich man, and expedient that he should marry a rich woman. He had
thought much about it, and had declared to himself that on no account
would he marry a woman for her money. Then he had encountered Lady
Mary Palliser. There had been no doubt, no resolution after that,
no thinking about it;--but downright love. There was nothing left
of real regret for his cousin in his bosom. She had been right.
That love had been impossible. But this would be possible,--ah, so
deliciously possible,--if only her father and mother would assist!
The mother, imprudent in this as in all things, had assented. The
reader knows the rest.

It was in every way possible. "She will have money enough," the
Duchess had said, "if only her father can be brought to give it you."
So Tregear had set his heart upon it, and had said to himself that
the thing was to be done. Then his friend the Duchess had died, and
the real difficulties had commenced. From that day he had not seen
his love, or heard from her. How was he to know whether she would be
true to him? And where was he to seek for that sympathy which he felt
to be so necessary to him? A wild idea had come into his head that
Mrs. Finn would be his friend;--but she had repudiated him.

He went straight home and at once wrote to the girl. The letter was
a simple love-letter, and as such need not be given here. In what
sweetest language he could find he assured her that even though he
should never be allowed to see her or to hear from her, that still he
should cling to her. And then he added this passage: "If your love
for me be what I think it to be, no one can have a right to keep us
apart. Pray be sure that I shall not change. If you change let me
know it;--but I shall as soon expect the heavens to fall."



CHAPTER XXIV

"She Must Be Made to Obey"


Lady Mary Palliser down at The Horns had as much liberty allowed
to her as is usually given to young ladies in these very free days.
There was indeed no restriction placed upon her at all. Had Tregear
gone down to Richmond and asked for the young lady, and had Lady
Cantrip at the time been out and the young lady at home, it would
have depended altogether upon the young lady whether she would have
seen her lover or not. Nevertheless Lady Cantrip kept her eyes open,
and when the letter came from Tregear she was aware that the letter
had come. But the letter found its way into Lady Mary's hands and
was read in the seclusion of her own bed-room. "I wonder whether you
would mind reading that," she said very shortly afterwards to Lady
Cantrip. "What answer ought I to make?"

"Do you think any answer ought to be made, my dear?"

"Oh yes; I must answer him."

"Would your papa wish it?"

"I told papa that I would not promise not to write to him. I think
I told him that he should see any letters that there were. But if I
show them to you, I suppose that will do as well."

"You had better keep your word to him absolutely."

"I am not afraid of doing so, if you mean that. I cannot bear to give
him pain, but this is a matter in which I mean to have my own way."

"Mean to have your own way!" said Lady Cantrip, much surprised by the
determined tone of the young lady.

"Certainly I do. I want you to understand so much! I suppose papa can
keep us from marrying for ever and ever if he pleases, but he never
will make me say that I will give up Mr. Tregear. And if he does not
yield I shall think him cruel. Why should he wish to make me unhappy
all my life?"

"He certainly does not wish that, my dear."

"But he will do it."

"I cannot go against your father, Mary."

"No, I suppose not. I shall write to Mr. Tregear, and then I will
show you what I have written. Papa shall see it too if he pleases. I
will do nothing secret, but I will never give up Mr. Tregear."

Lord Cantrip came down to Richmond that evening, and his wife told
him that in her opinion it would be best that the Duke should allow
the young people to marry, and should give them money enough to live
upon. "Is not that a strong order?" asked the Earl. The Countess
acknowledged that it was a "strong order," but suggested that for the
happiness of them all it might as well be done at first as at last.

The next morning Lady Mary showed her a copy of the reply which she
had already sent to her lover.


   DEAR FRANK,

   You may be quite sure that I shall never give you up. I
   will not write more at present because papa does not wish
   me to do so. I shall show papa your letter and my answer.

   Your own most affectionate

   MARY.


"Has it gone?" asked the Countess.

"I put it myself into the pillar letter-box." Then Lady Cantrip felt
that she had to deal with a very self-willed young lady indeed.

That afternoon Lady Cantrip asked Lady Mary whether she might be
allowed to take the two letters up to town with the express purpose
of showing them to the Duke. "Oh yes," said Mary, "I think it would
be so much the best. Give papa my kindest love, and tell him from me
that if he wants to make his poor little girl happy he will forgive
her and be kind to her in all this." Then the Countess made some
attempt to argue the matter. There were proprieties! High rank might
be a blessing or might be the reverse--as people thought of it;--but
all men acknowledged that much was due to it. "Noblesse oblige."
It was often the case in life that women were called upon by
circumstances to sacrifice their inclinations! What right had a
gentleman to talk of marriage who had no means? These things she said
and very many more, but it was to no purpose. The young lady asserted
that as the gentleman was a gentleman there need be no question as
to rank, and that in regard to money there need be no difficulty if
one of them had sufficient. "But you have none but what your father
may give you," said Lady Cantrip. "Papa can give it us without any
trouble," said Lady Mary. This child had a clear idea of what she
thought to be her own rights. Being the child of rich parents she
had the right to money. Being a woman she had a right to a husband.
Having been born free she had a right to choose one for herself.
Having had a man's love given to her she had a right to keep it.
"One doesn't know which she is most like, her father or her mother,"
Lady Cantrip said afterwards to her husband. "She has his cool
determination, and her hot-headed obstinacy."

She did show the letters to the Duke, and in answer to a word or two
from him explained that she could not take upon herself to debar her
guest from the use of the post. "But she will write nothing without
letting you know it."

"She ought to write nothing at all."

"What she feels is much worse than what she writes."

"If there were no intercourse she would forget him."

"Ah; I don't know," said the Countess sorrowfully; "I thought so
once."

"All children are determined as long as they are allowed to have
their own way."

"I mean to say that it is the nature of her character to be
obstinate. Most girls are prone to yield. They have not character
enough to stand against opposition. I am not speaking now only of
affairs like this. It would be the same with her in any thing. Have
you not always found it so?"

Then he had to acknowledge to himself that he had never found out
anything in reference to his daughter's character. She had been
properly educated;--at least he hoped so. He had seen her grow up,
pretty, sweet, affectionate, always obedient to him;--the most
charming plaything in the world on the few occasions in which he had
allowed himself to play. But as to her actual disposition, he had
never taken any trouble to inform himself. She had been left to her
mother,--as other girls are left. And his sons had been left to their
tutors. And now he had no control over any of them. "She must be made
to obey like others," he said at last, speaking through his teeth.

There was something in this which almost frightened Lady Cantrip. She
could not bear to hear him say that the girl must be made to yield,
with that spirit of despotic power under which women were restrained
in years now passed. If she could have spoken her own mind it would
have been to this effect: "Let us do what we can to lead her away
from this desire of hers; and in order that we may do so, let us tell
her that her marriage with Mr. Tregear is out of the question. But if
we do not succeed,--say in the course of the next twelve months,--let
us give way. Let us make it a matter of joy that the young man
himself is so acceptable and well-behaved." That was her idea, and
with that she would have indoctrined the Duke had she been able. But
his was different. "She must be made to obey," he said. And, as he
said it, he seemed to be indifferent as to the sorrow which such
enforced obedience might bring upon his child. In answer to this she
could only shake her head. "What do you mean?" he asked. "Do you
think we ought to yield?"

"Not at once, certainly."

"But at last?"

"What can you do, Duke? If she be as firm as you, can you bear to see
her pine away in her misery?"

"Girls do not do like that," he said.

"Girls, like men, are very different. They generally will yield to
external influences. English girls, though they become the most
loving wives in the world, do not generally become so riven by an
attachment as to become deep sufferers when it is disallowed. But
here, I fear, we have to deal with one who will suffer after this
fashion."

"Why should she not be like others?"

"It may be so. We will try. But you see what she says in her letter
to him. She writes as though your authority were to be nothing in
that matter of giving up. In all that she says to me there is the
same spirit. If she is firm, Duke, you must yield."

"Never! She shall never marry him with my sanction."

There was nothing more to be said, and Lady Cantrip went her way. But
the Duke, though he could say nothing more, continued to think of it
hour after hour. He went down to the House of Lords to listen to a
debate in which it was intended to cover the ministers with heavy
disgrace. But the Duke could not listen even to his own friends.
He could listen to nothing as he thought of the condition of his
children.

He had been asked whether he could bear to see his girl suffer, as
though he were indifferent to the sufferings of his child. Did he
not know of himself that there was no father who would do more for
the welfare of his daughter? Was he not sure of the tenderness of
his own heart? In all that he was doing was he governed by anything
but a sense of duty? Was it personal pride or love of personal
aggrandisement? He thought that he could assure himself that he was
open to no such charge. Would he not die for her,--or for them,--if
he could so serve them? Surely this woman had accused him most
wrongfully when she had intimated that he could see his girl suffer
without caring for it. In his indignation he determined--for
awhile--that he would remove her from the custody of Lady Cantrip.
But then, where should he place her? He was aware that his own
house would be like a grave to a girl just fit to come out into the
world. In this coming autumn she must go somewhere,--with someone.
He himself, in his present frame of mind, would be but a sorry
travelling companion.

Lady Cantrip had said that the best hope of escape would lie in the
prospect of another lover. The prescription was disagreeable, but it
had availed in the case of his own wife. Before he had ever seen her
as Lady Glencora McCloskie she had been desirous of giving herself
and all her wealth to one Burgo Fitzgerald, who had been altogether
unworthy. The Duke could remember well how a certain old Lady
Midlothian had first hinted to him that Lady Glencora's property was
very large, and had then added that the young lady herself was very
beautiful. And he could remember how his uncle, the late Duke, who
had seldom taken much trouble in merely human affairs, had said a
word or two--"I have heard a whisper about you and Lady Glencora
McCloskie; nothing could be better." The result had been undoubtedly
good. His Cora and all her money had been saved from a worthless
spendthrift. He had found a wife who he now thought had made him
happy. And she had found at any rate a respectable husband. The idea
when picked to pieces is not a nice idea. "Let us look out for a
husband for this girl, so that we may get her married,--out of the
way of her lover." It is not nice. But it had succeeded in one case,
and why should it not succeed in another?

But how was it to be done? Who should do it? Whom should he select to
play the part which he had undertaken in that other arrangement? No
worse person could be found than himself for managing such an affair.
When the idea had first been raised he had thought that Lady Cantrip
would do it all; but now he was angry with Lady Cantrip.

How was it to be done? How should it be commenced? How had it been
commenced in his own case? He did not in the least know how he had
been chosen. Was it possible that his uncle, who was the proudest man
in England, should have condescended to make a bargain with an old
dowager whom everybody had despised? And in what way had he been
selected? No doubt he had been known to be the heir-apparent to a
dukedom and to ducal revenues. In his case old Lady Midlothian had
begun the matter with him. It occurred to him that in royal marriages
such beginnings are quite common.

But who should be the happy man? Then he began to count up the
requisite attributes. He must be of high rank, and an eldest son,
and the possessor of, or the heir to, a good estate. He did despise
himself when he found that he put these things first,--as a matter
of course. Nevertheless he did put them first. He was ejecting this
other man because he possessed none of these attributes. He hurried
himself on to add that the man must be of good character, and such as
a young girl might learn to love. But yet he was aware that he added
these things for his conscience's sake. Tregear's character was good,
and certainly the girl loved him. But was it not clear to all who
knew anything of such matters that Mr. Francis Tregear should not
have dared even to think of marrying the daughter of the Duke of
Omnium?

Who should be the happy man? There were so many who evidently were
unfit. Young Lord Percival was heir to a ruined estate and a beggared
peerage. Lord Glasslough was odious to all men. There were three or
four others of whom he thought that he knew some fatal objection. But
when he remembered Lord Popplecourt there seemed to be no objection
which need be fatal.

Lord Popplecourt was a young peer whose father had died two years
since and whose estates were large and unembarrassed. The late lord,
who had been a Whig of the old fashion, had been the Duke's friend.
They had been at Oxford and in the House of Commons together, and
Lord Popplecourt had always been true to his party. As to the son,
the Duke remembered to have heard lately that he was not given to
waste his money. He drove a coach about London a good deal, but had
as yet not done anything very foolish. He had taken his degree at
Oxford, thereby showing himself to be better than Silverbridge. He
had also taken his seat in the House of Lords and had once opened
his mouth. He had not indeed appeared often again; but at Lord
Popplecourt's age much legislation is not to be expected from a young
peer. Then he thought of the man's appearance. Popplecourt was not
specially attractive, whereas Tregear was a very handsome man. But
so also had been Burgo Fitzgerald,--almost abnormally beautiful,
while he, Plantagenet Palliser, as he was then, had been quite as
insignificant in appearance as Lord Popplecourt.

Lord Popplecourt might possibly do. But then how should the matter be
spoken of to the young man? After all, would it not be best that he
should trust Lady Cantrip?



CHAPTER XXV

A Family Breakfast-Table


Lord Silverbridge had paid all his Derby losses without any
difficulty. They had not been very heavy for a man in his position,
and the money had come without remonstrance. When asking for it he
was half ashamed of himself, but could still find consolation by
remembering how much worse had befallen many young men whom he knew.
He had never "plunged." In fact he had made the most prudent book in
the world; and had so managed affairs that even now the horse which
had been beaten was worth more than all he had lost and paid. "This
is getting serious," he had said to his partner when, on making out
a rough account, he had brought the Major in a debtor to him of
more than a thousand pounds. The Major had remarked that as he was
half-owner of the horses his partner had good security for the money.
Then something of an unwritten arrangement was made. The "Prime
Minister" was now one of the favourites for the Leger. If the horse
won that race there would be money enough for everything. If that
race were lost, then there should be a settlement by the transfer of
the stud to the younger partner. "He's safe to pull it off," said the
Major.

At this time both his sons were living with the Duke in London. It
had been found impracticable to send Lord Gerald back to Cambridge.
The doors of Trinity were closed against him. But some interest had
been made in his favour, and he was to be transferred to Oxford. All
the truth had been told, and there had been a feeling that the lad
should be allowed another chance. He could not however go to his new
Alma Mater till after the long vacation. In the meantime he was to
be taken by a tutor down to a cottage on Dartmoor and there be made
to read,--with such amusement in the meantime as might be got from
fishing, and playing cricket with the West Devon county club. "It
isn't a very bright look-out for the summer," his brother had said to
him, "but it's better than breaking out on the loose altogether. You
be a credit to the family and all that sort of thing. Then I'll give
up the borough to you. But mind you stick to the Liberals. I've made
an ass of myself." However in these early days of June Lord Gerald
had not yet got his tutor.

Though the father and the two young men were living together they did
not see very much of each other. The Duke breakfasted at nine and the
repast was a very simple one. When they failed to appear, he did not
scold,--but would simply be disappointed. At dinner they never met.
It was supposed that Lord Gerald passed his mornings in reading, and
some little attempts were made in that direction. It is to be feared
they did not come to much. Silverbridge was very kind to Gerald,
feeling an increased tenderness for him on account of that Cambridge
mishap. Now they were much together, and occasionally, by a strong
effort, would grace their father's breakfast-table with their
company.

It was not often that he either reproached them or preached to them.
Though he could not live with them on almost equal terms, as some
fathers can live with their sons, though he could not laugh at their
fun or make them laugh at his wit, he knew that it would have been
better both for him and them if he had possessed this capacity.
Though the life which they lived was distasteful to him,--though
racehorses were an abomination to him, and the driving of coaches a
folly, and club-life a manifest waste of time, still he recognised
these things as being, if not necessary, yet unavoidable evils. To
Gerald he would talk about Oxford, avoiding all allusions to past
Cambridge misfortunes; but in the presence of Silverbridge, whose
Oxford career had been so peculiarly unfortunate, he would make no
allusion to either of the universities. To his eldest son he would
talk of Parliament, which of all subjects would have been the most
congenial had they agreed in politics. As it was he could speak more
freely to him on that than any other matter.

One Thursday night as the two brothers went to bed on returning from
the Beargarden, at a not very late hour, they agreed that they would
"give the governor a turn" the next morning,--by which they meant
that they would drag themselves out of bed in time to breakfast with
him. "The worst of it is that he never will let them get anything to
eat," said Gerald. But Silverbridge explained that he had taken that
matter into his own hands, and had specially ordered broiled salmon
and stewed kidneys. "He won't like it, you know," said Gerald. "I'm
sure he thinks it wicked to eat anything but toasted bacon before
lunch."

At a very little after nine Silverbridge was in the breakfast-room,
and there found his father. "I suppose Gerald is not up yet," said
the Duke almost crossly.

"Oh yes he is, sir. He'll be here directly."

"Have you seen him this morning?"

"No; I haven't seen him. But I know he'll be here. He said he would,
last night."

"You speak of it as if it were an undertaking."

"No, not that, sir. But we are not always quite up to time."

"No; indeed you are not. Perhaps you sit late at the House."

"Sometimes I do," said the young member, with a feeling almost akin
to shame as he remembered all the hours spent at the Beargarden. "I
have had Gerald there in the Gallery sometimes. It is just as well he
should know what is being done."

"Quite as well."

"I shouldn't wonder if he gets a seat some day."

"I don't know how that may be."

"He won't change as I have done. He'll stick to your side. Indeed I
think he'd do better in the House than I shall. He has more gift of
the gab."

"That is not the first thing requisite."

"I know all that, sir. I've read your letter more than once, and I
showed it to him."

There was something sweet and pleasant in the young man's manner by
which the father could hardly not be captivated. They had now sat
down, and the servant had brought in the unusual accessories for a
morning feast. "What is all that?" asked the Duke.

"Gerald and I are so awfully hungry of a morning," said the son,
apologising.

"Well;--it's a very good thing to be hungry;--that is if you can get
plenty to eat. Salmon, is it? I don't think I'll have any myself.
Kidneys! Not for me. I think I'll take a bit of fried bacon. I also
am hungry, but not awfully hungry."

"You never seem to me to eat anything, sir."

"Eating is an occupation from which I think a man takes the more
pleasure the less he considers it. A rural labourer who sits on the
ditch-side with his bread and cheese and an onion has more enjoyment
out of it than any Lucullus."

"But he likes a good deal of it."

"I do not think he ever over-eats himself,--which Lucullus does. I
have envied a ploughman his power,--his dura ilia,--but never an
epicure the appreciative skill of his palate. If Gerald does not make
haste he will have to exercise neither the one nor the other upon
that fish."

"I will leave a bit for him, sir,--and here he is. You are twenty
minutes late, Gerald. My father says that bread and cheese and onions
would be better for you than salmon and stewed kidneys."

"No, Silverbridge;--I said no such thing; but that if he were a
hedger and ditcher the bread and cheese and onions would be as good."

"I should not mind trying them at all," said Gerald. "Only one never
does have such things for breakfast. Last winter a lot of us skated
to Ely, and we ate two or three loaves of bread and a whole cheese at
a pot-house! And as for beer, we drank the public dry."

"It was because for the time you had been a hedger and ditcher."

"Proby was a ditcher I know, when he went right through into one of
the dykes. Just push on that dish, Silverbridge. It's no good you
having the trouble of helping me half-a-dozen times. I don't think
things are a bit the nicer because they cost a lot of money. I
suppose that is what you mean, sir."

"Something of that kind, Gerald. Not to have money for your
wants;--that must be troublesome."

"Very bad indeed," said Silverbridge, shaking his head wisely, as a
Member of Parliament might do who felt that something should be done
to put down such a lamentable state of things.

"I don't complain," said Gerald. "No fellow ever had less right to
complain. But I never felt that I had quite enough. Of course it was
my own fault."

"I should say so, my boy. But then there are a great many like you.
Let their means be what they may, they never have quite enough. To be
in any difficulty with regard to money,--to owe what you cannot pay,
or even to have to abstain from things which you have told yourself
are necessary to yourself or to those who depend on you,--creates a
feeling of meanness."

"That is what I have always felt," said Silverbridge. "I cannot bear
to think that I should like to have a thing and that I cannot afford
it."

"You do not quite understand me, I fear. The only case in which you
can be justified in desiring that which you cannot afford is when the
thing is necessary;--as bread may be, or clothes."

"As when a fellow wants a lot of new breeches before he has paid his
tailor's bill."

"As when a poor man," said the Duke impressively, "may long to give
his wife a new gown, or his children boots to keep their feet from
the mud and snow." Then he paused a moment, but the serious tone of
his voice and the energy of his words had sent Gerald headlong among
his kidneys. "I say that in such cases money must be regarded as a
blessing."

"A ten-pound note will do so much," said Silverbridge.

"But beyond that it ought to have no power of conferring happiness,
and certainly cannot drive away sorrow. Not though you build palaces
out into the deep, can that help you. You read your Horace, I hope.
'Scandunt eodum quo dominus minæ.'"

"I recollect that," said Gerald. "Black care sits behind the
horseman."

"Even though he have a groom riding after him beautiful with
exquisite boots. As far as I have been able to look out into the
world--"

"I suppose you know it as well as anybody," said Silverbridge,--who
was simply desirous of making himself pleasant to the "dear old
governor."

"As far as my experience goes, the happiest man is he who, being
above the troubles which money brings, has his hands the fullest of
work. If I were to name the class of men whose lives are spent with
the most thorough enjoyment, I think I should name that of barristers
who are in large practice and also in Parliament."

"Isn't it a great grind, sir?" asked Silverbridge.

"A very great grind, as you call it. And there may be the grind and
not the success. But--" He had now got up from his seat at the table
and was standing with his back against the chimney-piece, and as he
went on with his lecture,--as the word "But" came from his lips--he
struck the fingers of one hand lightly on the palm of the other as
he had been known to do at some happy flight of oratory in the House
of Commons. "But it is the grind that makes the happiness. To feel
that your hours are filled to overflowing, that you can barely steal
minutes enough for sleep, that the welfare of many is entrusted
to you, that the world looks on and approves, that some good is
always being done to others,--above all things some good to your
country;--that is happiness. For myself I can conceive none other."

"Books," suggested Gerald, as he put the last morsel of the last
kidney into his mouth.

"Yes, books! Cicero and Ovid have told us that to literature only
could they look for consolation in their banishment. But then they
speak of a remedy for sorrow, not of a source of joy. No young man
should dare to neglect literature. At some period of his life he will
surely need consolation. And he may be certain that should he live to
be an old man, there will be none other,--except religion. But for
that feeling of self-contentment, which creates happiness--hard work,
and hard work alone, can give it to you."

"Books are hard work themselves sometimes," said Gerald.

"As for money," continued the father, not caring to notice this
interruption, "if it be regarded in any other light than as a shield
against want, as a rampart under the protection of which you may
carry on your battle, it will fail you. I was born a rich man."

"Few people have cared so little about it as you," said the elder
son.

"And you, both of you, have been born to be rich." This assertion did
not take the elder brother by surprise. It was a matter of course.
But Lord Gerald, who had never as yet heard anything as to his future
destiny from his father, was interested by the statement. "When I
think of all this,--of what constitutes happiness,--I am almost
tempted to grieve that it should be so."

"If a large fortune were really a bad thing," said Gerald, "a man
could I suppose get rid of it."

"No;--it is a thing of which a man cannot get rid,--unless by
shameful means. It is a burden which he must carry to the end."

"Does anybody wish to get rid of it, as Sindbad did of the Old
Man?" asked Gerald pertinaciously. "At any rate I have enjoyed the
kidneys."

"You assured us just now that the bread and cheese at Ely were just
as good." The Duke as he said this looked as though he knew that he
had taken all the wind out of his adversary's sails. "Though you add
carriage to carriage, you will not be carried more comfortably."

"A second horse out hunting is a comfort," said Silverbridge.

"Then at any rate don't desire a third for show. But such comforts
will cease to be joys when they become matters of course. That a boy
who does not see a pudding once a year should enjoy a pudding when it
comes I can understand; but the daily pudding, or the pudding twice
a day, is soon no more than simple daily bread,--which will or will
not be sweet as it shall or shall not have been earned." Then he
went slowly to the door, but, as he stood with the handle of it in
his hand, he turned round and spoke another word. "When, hereafter,
Gerald, you may chance to think of that bread and cheese at Ely,
always remember that you had skated from Cambridge."

The two brothers then took themselves to some remote part of the
house where arrangements had been made for smoking, and there they
finished the conversation. "I was very glad to hear what he said
about you, old boy." This of course came from Silverbridge.

"I didn't quite understand him."

"He meant you to understand that you wouldn't be like other younger
brothers."

"Then what I have will be taken from you."

"There is lots for three or four of us. I do agree that if a fellow
has as much as he can spend he ought not to want anything more.
Morton was telling me the other day something about the settled
estates. I sat in that office with him all one morning. I could not
understand it all, but I observed that he said nothing about the
Scotch property. You'll be a laird, and I wish you joy with all my
heart. The governor will tell you all about it before long. He's
going to have two eldest sons."

"What an unnatural piece of cruelty to me;--and so unnecessary!"

"Why?"

"He says that a property is no better than a burden. But I'll try and
bear it."



CHAPTER XXVI

Dinner at the Beargarden


The Duke was in the gallery of the House of Commons which is devoted
to the use of peers, and Silverbridge, having heard that his father
was there, had come up to him. It was then about half-past five,
and the House had settled down to business. Prayers had been read,
petitions had been presented, and Ministers had gone through their
course of baiting with that equanimity and air of superiority which
always belongs to a well-trained occupant of the Treasury bench.

The Duke was very anxious that his son should attend to his
parliamentary duties, but he was too proud a man and too generous to
come to the House as a spy. It was his present habit always to be
in his own place when the Lords were sitting, and to remain there
while the Lords sat. It was not, for many reasons, an altogether
satisfactory occupation, but it was the best which his life afforded
him. He would never, however, come across into the other House,
without letting his son know of his coming, and Lord Silverbridge had
on this occasion been on the look-out, and had come up to his father
at once. "Don't let me take you away," said the Duke, "if you are
particularly interested in your Chief's defence," for Sir Timothy
Beeswax was defending some measure of legal reform in which he was
said to have fallen into trouble.

"I can hear it up here, you know, sir."

"Hardly if you are talking to me."

"To tell the truth it's a matter I don't care much about. They've got
into some mess as to the number of Judges and what they ought to do.
Finn was saying that they had so arranged that there was one Judge
who never could possibly do anything."

"If Mr. Finn said so it would probably be so, with some little
allowance for Irish exaggeration. He is a clever man, with less of
his country's hyperbole than others;--but still not without his
share."

"You know him well, I suppose."

"Yes;--as one man does know another in the political world."

"But he is a friend of yours? I don't mean an 'honourable friend,'
which is great bosh; but you know him at home."

"Oh yes;--certainly. He has been staying with me at Matching. In
public life such intimacies come from politics."

"You don't care very much about him then."

The Duke paused a moment before he answered. "Yes I do;--and in what
I said just now perhaps I wronged him. I have been under obligations
to Mr. Finn,--in a matter as to which he behaved very well. I have
found him to be a gentleman. If you come across him in the House I
would wish you to be courteous to him. I have not seen him since we
came from abroad. I have been able to see nobody. But if ever again
I should entertain my friends at my table, Mr. Finn would be one who
would always be welcome there." This he said with a sadly serious
air as though wishing that his words should be noted. At the present
moment he was remembering that he owed recompense to Mrs. Finn, and
was making an effort to pay the debt. "But your leader is striking
out into unwonted eloquence. Surely we ought to listen to him."

Sir Timothy was a fluent speaker, and when there was nothing to be
said was possessed of great plenty of words. And he was gifted with
that peculiar power which enables a man to have the last word in
every encounter,--a power which we are apt to call repartee, which is
in truth the readiness which comes from continual practice. You shall
meet two men of whom you shall know the one to be endowed with the
brilliancy of true genius, and the other to be possessed of but
moderate parts, and shall find the former never able to hold his
own against the latter. In a debate, the man of moderate parts will
seem to be greater than the man of genius. But this skill of tongue,
this glibness of speech is hardly an affair of intellect at all. It
is,--as is style to the writer,--not the wares which he has to take
to market, but the vehicle in which they may be carried. Of what
avail to you is it to have filled granaries with corn if you cannot
get your corn to the consumer? Now Sir Timothy was a great vehicle,
but he had not in truth much corn to send. He could turn a laugh
against an adversary;--no man better. He could seize, at the moment,
every advantage which the opportunity might give him. The Treasury
Bench on which he sat and the big box on the table before him were
to him fortifications of which he knew how to use every stone. The
cheers and the jeers of the House had been so measured by him that
he knew the value and force of every sound. Politics had never been
to him a study; but to parliamentary strategy he had devoted all
his faculties. No one knew so well as Sir Timothy how to make
arrangements for business, so that every detail should be troublesome
to his opponents. He could foresee a month beforehand that on a
certain day a Royal concert would make the House empty, and would
generously give that day to a less observant adversary. He knew how
to blind the eyes of members to the truth. Those on the opposite
side of the House would find themselves checkmated by his
astuteness,--when, with all their pieces on the board, there should
be none which they could move. And this to him was Government! It was
to these purposes that he conceived that a great Statesman should
devote himself! Parliamentary management! That, in his mind, was
under this Constitution of ours the one act essential for Government.

In all this he was very great; but when it might fall to his duty
either to suggest or to defend any real piece of proposed legislation
he was less happy. On this occasion he had been driven to take the
matter in hand because he had previously been concerned in it as
a lawyer. He had allowed himself to wax angry as he endeavoured
to answer certain personal criticisms. Now Sir Timothy was never
stronger than when he simulated anger. His mock indignation was
perhaps his most powerful weapon. But real anger is a passion which
few men can use with judgment. And now Sir Timothy was really angry,
and condescended to speak of our old friend Phineas who had made the
onslaught as a bellicose Irishman. There was an over-true story as to
our friend having once been seduced into fighting a duel, and those
who wished to decry him sometimes alluded to the adventure. Sir
Timothy had been called to order, but the Speaker had ruled that
"bellicose Irishman" was not beyond the latitude of parliamentary
animadversion. Then Sir Timothy had repeated the phrase with
emphasis, and the Duke hearing it in the gallery had made his remark
as to the unwonted eloquence of his son's parliamentary chief.

"Surely we ought to listen to him," said the Duke. And for a short
time they did listen. "Sir Timothy is not a man I like, you know,"
said the son, feeling himself obliged to apologise for his subjection
to such a chief.

"I never particularly loved him myself."

"They say that he is a sort of necessity."

"A Conservative Fate," said the Duke.

"Well, yes; he is so,--so awfully clever! We all feel that we could
not get on without him. When you were in, he was one of your party."

"Oh yes;--he was one of us. I have no right to complain of you for
using him. But when you say you could not get on without him, does
it not occur to you that should he,--let us say be taken up to
heaven,--you would have to get on without him."

"Then he would be,--out of the way, sir."

"What you mean perhaps is that you do not know how to get rid of
him."

"Of course I don't pretend to understand much about it; but they all
think that he does know how to keep the party together. I don't think
we are proud of him."

"Hardly that."

"He is awfully useful. A man has to look out so sharp to be always
ready for those other fellows! I beg your pardon, sir, but I mean
your side."

"I understand who the other fellows are."

"And it isn't everybody who will go through such a grind. A man to do
it must be always ready. He has so many little things to think of. As
far as I can see we all feel that we could not get along very well
without him." Upon the whole the Duke was pleased with what he heard
from his son. The young man's ideas about politics were boyish, but
they were the ideas of a clear-headed boy. Silverbridge had picked up
some of the ways of the place, though he had not yet formed any sound
political opinions.

Then Sir Timothy finished a long speech with a flowery peroration,
in which he declared that if Parliament were desirous of keeping the
realms of Her Majesty free from the invasions of foreigners it must
be done by maintaining the dignity of the Judicial bench. There were
some clamours at this; and although it was now dinner-time Phineas
Finn, who had been called a bellicose Irishman, was able to say a
word or two. "The Right Honourable gentleman no doubt means," said
Phineas, "that we must carry ourselves with some increased external
dignity. The world is bewigging itself, and we must buy a bigger wig
than any we have got, in order to confront the world with proper
self-respect. Turveydrop and deportment will suffice for us against
any odds."

About half-past seven the House became very empty. "Where are you
going to dine, sir?" asked Silverbridge. The Duke, with something
like a sigh, said he supposed he should dine at home.

"You never were at the Beargarden;--were you, sir?" asked
Silverbridge suddenly.

"Never," said the Duke.

"Come and dine with me."

"I am not a member of the club."

"We don't care at all about that. Anybody can take in anybody."

"Does not that make it promiscuous?"

"Well;--no; I don't know that it does. It seems to go on very well. I
daresay there are some cads there sometimes. But I don't know where
one doesn't meet cads. There are plenty in the House of Commons."

"There is something in that, Silverbridge, which makes me think that
you have not realised the difference between private and public life.
In the former you choose your own associates and are responsible for
your choice. In the latter you are concerned with others for the good
of the State; and though, even for the State's sake, you would not
willingly be closely allied with those whom you think dishonest,
the outward manners and fashions of life need create no barriers.
I should not turn up my nose at the House of Commons because some
constituency might send them an illiterate shoemaker; but I might
probably find the illiterate shoemaker an unprofitable companion for
my private hours."

"I don't think there will be any shoemakers at the Beargarden."

"Even if there were I would go and dine with you. I shall be glad to
see the place where you, I suppose, pass many hours."

"I find it a very good shop to dine at. The place at the House is so
stuffy and nasty. Besides, one likes to get away for a little time."

"Certainly. I never was an advocate for living in the House. One
should always change the atmosphere." Then they got into a cab and
went to the club. Silverbridge was a little afraid of what he was
doing. The invitation had come from him on the spur of the moment,
and he hardly ventured to think that his father would accept it. And
now he did not quite know how the Duke would go through the ceremony.
"The other fellows" would all come and stare at a man whom they had
all been taught to regard as the most un-Beargardenish of men. But he
was especially anxious to make things pleasant for his father.

"What shall I order?" said the son as he took the Duke into a
dressing-room to wash his hands. The Duke suggested that anything
sufficient for his son would certainly be sufficient for him.

Nothing especial occurred during the dinner, which the Duke appeared
to enjoy very much. "Yes; I think it is very good soup," he said.
"I don't think they ever give me any soup at home." Then the son
expressed his opinion that unless his father looked about rather more
sharply, "they" very soon would provide no dinner at all, remarking
that experience had taught him that the less people demanded the more
they were "sat upon." The Duke did like his dinner,--or rather he
liked the feeling that he was dining with his son. A report that the
Duke of Omnium was with Lord Silverbridge soon went round the room,
and they who were justified by some previous acquaintance came up to
greet him. To all who did so he was very gracious, and was specially
so to Lord Popplecourt, who happened to pass close by the table.

"I think he is a fool," whispered Silverbridge as soon as Popplecourt
had passed.

"What makes you think so?"

"We thought him an ass at Eton."

"He has done pretty well, however."

"Oh yes, in a way."

"Somebody has told me that he is a careful man about his property."

"I believe he is all that," said Silverbridge.

"Then I don't see why you should think him a fool."

To this Silverbridge made no reply; partly perhaps because he had
nothing to say,--but hindered also by the coming in of Tregear.
This was an accident, the possibility of which had not crossed him.
Unfortunately too the Duke's back was turned, so that Tregear, as he
walked up the room, could not see who was sitting at his friend's
table. Tregear coming up stood close to the Duke's elbow before he
recognised the man, and spoke some word or two to Silverbridge. "How
do you do, Mr. Tregear," said the Duke, turning round.

"Oh, my Lord, I did not know that it was you."

"You hardly would. I am quite a stranger here. Silverbridge and I
came up from the House together, and he has been hospitable enough to
give me a dinner. I will tell you an odd thing for a London man, Mr.
Tregear. I have not dined at a London club for fifteen years before
this."

"I hope you like it, sir," said Silverbridge.

"Very much indeed. Good-evening, Mr. Tregear. I suppose you have to
go to your dinner now."

Then they went into one of the rooms upstairs to have coffee, the son
declining to go into the smoking-room, and assuring his father that
he did not in the least care about a cigar after dinner. "You would
be smothered, sir." The Duke did as he was bidden and went upstairs.
There was in truth a strong reason for avoiding the publicity of the
smoking-room. When bringing his father to the club he had thought
nothing about Tregear but he had thought about Tifto. As he entered
he had seen Tifto at a table dining alone, and had bobbed his head at
him. Then he had taken the Duke to the further end of the room, and
had trusted that fear would keep the Major in his place. Fear had
kept the Major in his place. When the Major learned who the stranger
was, he had become silent and reserved. Before the father and son
had finished their dinner, Tifto had gone to his cigar; and so that
danger was over.

"By George, there's Silverbridge has got his governor to dinner,"
said Tifto, standing in the middle of the room, and looking round as
though he were announcing some confusion of the heavens and earth.

"Why shouldn't Lord Silverbridge have his father to dine with him?"
asked Mr. Lupton.

"I believe I know Silverbridge as well as any man, and by George it
is the very last thing of the kind that I should have expected. There
have been no end of quarrels."

"There has been no quarrel at all," said Tregear, who had then just
entered the room. "Nothing on earth would make Silverbridge quarrel
with his father, and I think it would break the Duke's heart to
quarrel with his son." Tifto endeavoured to argue the matter out; but
Tregear having made the assertion on behalf of his friend would not
allow himself to be enticed into further speech. Nevertheless there
was a good deal said by others, during which the Major drank two
glasses of whisky-and-water. In the dining-room he had been struck
with awe by the Duke's presence, and had certainly no idea of
presenting himself personally to the great man. But Bacchus lent
him aid, and when the discussion was over and the whisky had been
swallowed, it occurred to him that he would go upstairs and ask to be
introduced.

In the meantime the Duke and his son were seated in close
conversation on one of the upstairs sofas. It was a rule at the
Beargarden that men might smoke all over the house except in the
dining-room;--but there was one small chamber called the library, in
which the practice was not often followed. The room was generally
deserted, and at this moment the father and son were the only
occupants. "A club," said the Duke, as he sipped his coffee, "is
a comfortable and economical residence. A man gets what he wants
well-served, and gets it cheap. But it has its drawbacks."

"You always see the same fellows," said Silverbridge.

"A man who lives much at a club is apt to fall into a selfish mode of
life. He is taught to think that his own comfort should always be the
first object. A man can never be happy unless his first objects are
outside himself. Personal self-indulgence begets a sense of meanness
which sticks to a man even when he has got beyond all hope of rescue.
It is for that reason,--among others,--that marriage is so
desirable."

"A man should marry, I suppose."

"Unless a man has on his shoulders the burden of a wife and children
he should, I think, feel that he has shirked out of school. He is not
doing his share of the work of the Commonwealth."

"Pitt was not married, sir."

"No;--and a great many other good men have remained unmarried. Do you
mean to be another Pitt?"

"I don't intend to be a Prime Minister."

"I would not recommend you to entertain that ambition. Pitt perhaps
hardly had time for marriage. You may be more lucky."

"I suppose I shall marry some day."

"I should be glad to see you marry early," said the Duke, speaking
in a low voice, almost solemnly, but in his quietest, sweetest tone
of voice. "You are peculiarly situated. Though as yet you are only
the heir to the property and honours of our family, still, were you
married, almost everything would be at your disposal. There is so
much which I should only be too ready to give up to you!"

"I can't bear to hear you talking of giving up anything," said
Silverbridge energetically.

Then the father looked round the room furtively, and seeing that
the door was shut, and that they were assuredly alone, he put out
his hand and gently stroked the young man's hair. It was almost
a caress,--as though he would have said to himself, "Were he my
daughter, I would kiss him." "There is much I would fain give up," he
said. "If you were a married man the house in Carlton Terrace would
be fitter for you than for me. I have disqualified myself for taking
that part in society which should be filled by the head of our
family. You who have inherited so much from your mother would, if you
married pleasantly, do all that right well." He paused for a moment
and then asked a straightforward question, very quickly--"You have
never thought of any one yet, I suppose?"

Silverbridge had thought very much of somebody. He was quite aware
that he had almost made an offer to Lady Mabel. She certainly had not
given him any encouragement; but the very fact that she had not done
so allured him the more. He did believe that he was thoroughly in
love with Lady Mabel. She had told him that he was too young,--but he
was older than Lady Mab herself by a week. She was beautiful;--that
was certain. It was acknowledged by all that she was clever. As
for blood, of which he believed his father thought much, there was
perhaps none better in England. He had heard it said of her,--as
he now well remembered, in his father's presence,--that she had
behaved remarkably well in trying circumstances. She had no
fortune;--everybody knew that; but then he did not want fortune.
Would not this be a good opportunity for breaking the matter to his
father? "You have never thought of any one?" said the Duke,--again
very sweetly, very softly.

"But I have!" Lord Silverbridge as he made the announcement blushed
up to the eyes.

Then there came over the father something almost of fear. If he was
to be told, how would it be if he could not approve?

"Yes I have," said Silverbridge, recovering himself. "If you wish it,
I will tell you who it is."

"Nay, my boy;--as to that consult your own feelings. Are you sure of
yourself?"

"Oh yes."

"Have you spoken to her?"

"Well;--yes, in part. She has not accepted me, if you mean that.
Rather the contrary." Now the Duke would have been very unwilling to
say that his son would certainly be accepted by any girl in England
to whom he might choose to offer his hand. But when the idea of a
doubt was suggested to him, it did seem odd that his son should ask
in vain. What other young man was there who could offer so much, and
who was at the same time so likely to be loved for his own sake? He
smiled however and was silent. "I suppose I may as well out with it,"
continued Silverbridge. "You know Lady Mabel Grex?"

"Lady Mabel Grex? Yes;--I know her."

"Is there any objection?"

"Is she not your senior?"

"No, sir; no; she is younger than I am."

"Her father is not a man I esteem."

"But she has always been so good!" Then the Duke was again silent.
"Have you not heard that, sir?"

"I think I have."

"Is not that a great deal?"

"A very great deal. To be good must of all qualities be the best. She
is very beautiful."

"I think so, sir. Of course she has no money."

"It is not needed. It is not needed. I have no objection to make. If
you are sure of your own mind--"

"I am quite sure of that, sir."

"Then I will raise no objection. Lady Mabel Grex! Her father, I fear,
is not a worthy man. I hear that he is a gambler."

"He is so poor!"

"That makes it worse, Silverbridge. A man who gambles because he has
money that he can afford to lose is, to my thinking, a fool. But he
who gambles because he has none, is--well, let us hope the best of
him. You may give her my love."

"She has not accepted me."

"But should she do so, you may."

"She almost rejected me. But I am not sure that she was in earnest,
and I mean to try again." Just at that moment the door was opened and
Major Tifto walked into the room.



CHAPTER XXVII

Major Tifto and the Duke


"I beg your pardon, Silverbridge," said the Major, entering the room,
"but I was looking for Longstaff."

"He isn't here," said Silverbridge, who did not wish to be
interrupted by his racing friend.

"Your father, I believe?" said Tifto. He was red in the face but
was in other respects perhaps improved in appearance by his liquor.
In his more sober moments he was not always able to assume that
appearance of equality with his companions which it was the ambition
of his soul to achieve. But a second glass of whisky-and-water would
always enable him to cock his tail and bark before the company with
all the courage of my lady's pug. "Would you do me the great honour
to introduce me to his Grace?"

Silverbridge was not prone to turn his back upon a friend because he
was low in the world. He had begun to understand that he had made
a mistake by connecting himself with the Major, but at the club he
always defended his partner. Though he not unfrequently found himself
obliged to snub the Major himself, he always countenanced the little
Master of Hounds, and was true to his own idea of "standing to a
fellow." Nevertheless he did not wish to introduce his friend to
his father. The Duke saw it all at a glance, and felt that the
introduction should be made. "Perhaps," said he, getting up from his
chair, "this is Major Tifto."

"Yes;--my Lord Duke. I am Major Tifto."

The Duke bowed graciously.

"My father and I were engaged about private matters," said
Silverbridge.

"I beg ten thousand pardons," exclaimed the Major. "I did not intend
to intrude."

"I think we had done," said the Duke. "Pray sit down, Major Tifto."
The Major sat down. "Though now I bethink myself, I have to beg your
pardon;--that I a stranger should ask you to sit down in your own
club."

"Don't mention it, my Lord Duke."

"I am so unused to clubs, that I forgot where I was."

"Quite so, my Lord Duke. I hope you think that Silverbridge is
looking well?"

"Yes;--yes. I think so."

Silverbridge bit his lips and turned his face away to the door.

"We didn't make a very good thing of our Derby nag the other day.
Perhaps your Grace has heard all that?"

"I did hear that the horse in which you are both interested had
failed to win the race."

"Yes, he did. The Prime Minister, we call him, your Grace,--out of
compliment to a certain Ministry which I wish it was going on to-day
instead of the seedy lot we've got in. I think, my Lord Duke, that
any one you may ask will tell you that I know what running is.
Well;--I can assure you,--your Grace, that is,--that since I've seen
'orses I've never seen a 'orse fitter than him. When he got his
canter that morning, it was nearly even betting. Not that I or
Silverbridge were fools enough to put on anything at that rate. But
I never saw a 'orse so bad ridden. I don't mean to say anything, my
Lord Duke, against the man. But if that fellow hadn't been squared,
or else wasn't drunk, or else wasn't off his head, that 'orse must
have won,--my Lord Duke."

"I do not know anything about racing, Major Tifto."

"I suppose not, your Grace. But as I and Silverbridge are together in
this matter I thought I'd just let your Grace know that we ought to
have had a very good thing. I thought that perhaps your Grace might
like to know that."

"Tifto, you are making an ass of yourself," said Silverbridge.

"Making an ass of myself!" exclaimed the Major.

"Yes;--considerably."

"I think you are a little hard upon your friend," said the Duke, with
an attempt at a laugh. "It is not to be supposed that he should know
how utterly indifferent I am to everything connected with the turf."

"I thought, my Lord Duke, you might care about learning how
Silverbridge was going on." This the poor little man said almost with
a whine. His partner's roughness had knocked out of him nearly all
the courage which Bacchus had given him.

"So I do; anything that interests him, interests me. But perhaps of
all his pursuits racing is the one to which I am least able to lend
an attentive ear. That every horse has a head, and that all did have
tails till they were ill-used, is the extent of my stable knowledge."

"Very good indeed, my Lord Duke; very good indeed! Ha, ha, ha!--all
horses have heads, and all have tails! Heads and tails. Upon my word
that is the best thing I have heard for a long time. I will do myself
the honour of wishing your Grace good-night. By-bye, Silverbridge."
Then he left the room, having been made supremely happy by what
he considered to have been the Duke's joke. Nevertheless he would
remember the snubbing and would be even with Silverbridge some day.
Did Lord Silverbridge think that he was going to look after his
Lordship's 'orses, and do this always on the square, and then be
snubbed for doing it!

"I am very sorry that he should have come in to trouble you," said
the son.

"He has not troubled me much. I do not know whether he has troubled
you. If you are coming down to the House again I will walk with you."
Silverbridge of course had to go down to the House again, and they
started together. "That man did not trouble me, Silverbridge; but the
question is whether such an acquaintance must not be troublesome to
you."

"I'm not very proud of him, sir."

"But I think one ought to be proud of one's friends."

"He isn't my friend in that way at all."

"In what way then?"

"He understands racing."

"He is the partner of your pleasure then;--the man in whose society
you love to enjoy the recreation of the race-course."

"It is, sir, because he understands it."

"I thought that a gentleman on the turf would have a trainer for that
purpose;--not a companion. You mean to imply that you can save money
by leaguing yourself with Major Tifto?"

"No, sir,--indeed."

"If you associate with him, not for pleasure, then it surely must
be for profit. That you should do the former would be to me so
surprising that I must regard it as impossible. That you should do
the latter--is, I think, a reproach." This he said with no tone of
anger in his voice,--so gently that Silverbridge at first hardly
understood it. But gradually all that was meant came in upon him, and
he felt himself to be ashamed of himself.

"He is bad," he said at last.

"Whether he be bad I will not say; but I am sure that you can gain
nothing by his companionship."

"I will get rid of him," said Silverbridge, after a considerable
pause. "I cannot do so at once, but I will do it."

"It will be better, I think."

"Tregear has been telling me the same thing."

"Is he objectionable to Mr. Tregear?" asked the Duke.

"Oh yes. Tregear cannot bear him. You treated him a great deal better
than Tregear ever does."

"I do not deny that he is entitled to be treated well;--but so also
is your groom. Let us say no more about him. And so it is to be Mabel
Grex?"

"I did not say so, sir. How can I answer for her? Only it was so
pleasant for me to know that you would approve if it should come
off."

"Yes;--I will approve. When she has accepted you--"

"But I don't think she will."

"If she should, tell her that I will go to her at once. It will be
much to have a new daughter;--very much that you should have a wife.
Where would she like to live?"

"Oh, sir, we haven't got as far as that yet."

"I dare say not; I dare say not," said the Duke. "Gatherum is always
thought to be dull."

"She wouldn't like Gatherum, I'm sure."

"Have you asked her?"

"No, sir. But nobody ever did like Gatherum."

"I suppose not. And yet, Silverbridge, what a sum of money it cost!"

"I believe it did."

"All vanity; and vexation of spirit!"

The Duke no doubt was thinking of certain scenes passed at the great
house in question, which scenes had not been delightful to him. "No,
I don't suppose she would wish to live at Gatherum. The Horns was
given expressly by my uncle to your dear mother, and I should like
Mary to have the place."

"Certainly."

"You should live among your tenantry. I don't care so very much for
Matching."

"It is the one place you do like, sir."

"However, we can manage all that. Carlton Terrace I do not
particularly like; but it is a good house, and there you should hang
up your hat when in London. When it is settled, let me know at once."

"But if it should never be settled?"

"I will ask no questions; but if it be settled, tell me." Then in
Palace Yard he was turning to go, but before he did so, he said
another word leaning on his son's shoulder. "I do not think that
Mabel Grex and Major Tifto would do well together at all."

"There shall be an end to that, sir."

"God bless you, my boy!" said the Duke.

Lord Silverbridge sat in the House--or, to speak more accurately, in
the smoking-room of the House--for about an hour thinking over all
that had passed between himself and his father. He certainly had
not intended to say anything about Lady Mab, but on the spur of the
moment it had all come out. Now at any rate it was decided for him
that he must, in set terms, ask her to be his wife. The scene which
had just occurred had made him thoroughly sick of Major Tifto. He
must get rid of the Major, and there could be no way of doing this
at once so easy and so little open to observation as marriage. If he
were but once engaged to Mabel Grex the dismissal of Tifto would be
quite a matter of course. He would see Lady Mabel again on the morrow
and ask her in direct language to be his wife.



CHAPTER XXVIII

Mrs. Montacute Jones's Garden-Party


It was known to all the world that Mrs. Montacute Jones's first great
garden-party was to come off on Wednesday, 16th June, at Roehampton.
Mrs. Montacute Jones, who lived in Grosvenor Place and had a country
house in Gloucestershire, and a place for young men to shoot at in
Scotland, also kept a suburban elysium at Roehampton, in order that
she might give two garden-parties every year. When it is said that
all these costly luxuries appertained to Mrs. Montacute Jones, it
is to be understood that they did in truth belong to Mr. Jones, of
whom nobody heard much. But of Mrs. Jones,--that is, Mrs. Montacute
Jones,--everybody heard a great deal. She was an old lady who devoted
her life to the amusement of--not only her friends, but very many who
were not her friends. No doubt she was fond of Lords and Countesses,
and worked very hard to get round her all the rank and fashion of the
day. It must be acknowledged that she was a worldly old woman. But
no more good-natured old woman lived in London, and everybody liked
to be asked to her garden-parties. On this occasion there was to be
a considerable infusion of royal blood,--German, Belgian, French,
Spanish, and of native growth. Everybody who was asked would go, and
everybody had been asked,--who was anybody. Lord Silverbridge had
been asked, and Lord Silverbridge intended to be there. Lady Mary,
his sister, could not even be asked, because her mother was hardly
more than three months dead; but it is understood in the world that
women mourn longer than men.

Silverbridge had mounted a private hansom cab in which he could be
taken about rapidly,--and, as he said himself, without being shut
up in a coffin. In this vehicle he had himself taken to Roehampton,
purporting to kill two birds with one stone. He had not as yet seen
his sister since she had been with Lady Cantrip. He would on this day
come back by The Horns.

He was well aware that Lady Mab would be at the garden-party. What
place could be better for putting the question he had to ask? He was
by no means so confident as the heir to so many good things might
perhaps have been without overdue self-confidence.

Entering through the house into the lawn he encountered Mrs.
Montacute Jones, who, with a seat behind her on the terrace,
surrounded by flowers, was going through the immense labour of
receiving her guests.

"How very good of you to come all this way, Lord Silverbridge, to eat
my strawberries."

"How very good of you to ask me! I did not come to eat your
strawberries but to see your friends."

"You ought to have said you came to see me, you know. Have you met
Miss Boncassen yet?"

"The American beauty? No. Is she here?"

"Yes; and she particularly wants to be introduced to you; you won't
betray me, will you?"

"Certainly not; I am as true as steel."

"She wanted, she said, to see if the eldest son of the Duke of Omnium
really did look like any other man."

"Then I don't want to see her," said Silverbridge, with a look of
vexation.

"There you are wrong, for there was real downright fun in the way
she said it. There they are, and I shall introduce you." Then Mrs.
Montacute Jones absolutely left her post for a minute or two, and
taking the young lord down the steps of the terrace did introduce him
to Mr. Boncassen, who was standing there amidst a crowd, and to Miss
Boncassen the daughter.

Mr. Boncassen was an American who had lately arrived in England with
the object of carrying out certain literary pursuits in which he was
engaged within the British Museum. He was an American who had nothing
to do with politics and nothing to do with trade. He was a man of
wealth and a man of letters. And he had a daughter who was said to
be the prettiest young woman either in Europe or in America at the
present time.

Isabel Boncassen was certainly a very pretty girl. I wish that
my reader would believe my simple assurance. But no such simple
assurance was ever believed, and I doubt even whether any description
will procure for me from the reader that amount of faith which I
desire to achieve. But I must make the attempt. General opinion
generally considered Miss Boncassen to be small, but she was in
truth something above the average height of English women. She was
slight, without that look of slimness which is common to girls, and
especially to American girls. That her figure was perfect the reader
must believe on my word, as any detailed description of her arms,
feet, bust, and waist, would be altogether ineffective. Her hair
was dark brown and plentiful; but it added but little to her charms,
which depended on other matters. Perhaps what struck the beholder
first was the excessive brilliancy of her complexion. No pink was
ever pinker, no alabaster whiteness was ever more like alabaster; but
under and around and through it all there was a constantly changing
hue which gave a vitality to her countenance which no fixed colours
can produce. Her eyes, too, were full of life and brilliancy, and
even when she was silent her mouth would speak. Nor was there a fault
within the oval of her face upon which the hypercritics of mature age
could set a finger. Her teeth were excellent both in form and colour,
but were seen but seldom. Who does not know that look of ubiquitous
ivory produced by teeth which are too perfect in a face which is
otherwise poor? Her nose at the base spread a little,--so that it was
not purely Grecian. But who has ever seen a nose to be eloquent and
expressive, which did not so spread? It was, I think, the vitality
of her countenance,--the way in which she could speak with every
feature, the command which she had of pathos, of humour, of sympathy,
of satire, the assurance which she gave by every glance of her eye,
every elevation of her brow, every curl of her lip, that she was
alive to all that was going on,--it was all this rather than those
feminine charms which can be catalogued and labelled that made all
acknowledge that she was beautiful.

"Lord Silverbridge," said Mr. Boncassen, speaking a little through
his nose, "I am proud to make your acquaintance, sir. Your father is
a man for whom we in our country have a great respect. I think, sir,
you must be proud of such a father."

"Oh yes,--no doubt," said Silverbridge awkwardly. Then Mr. Boncassen
continued his discourse with the gentlemen around him. Upon this our
friend turned to the young lady. "Have you been long in England, Miss
Boncassen?"

"Long enough to have heard about you and your father," she said,
speaking with no slightest twang.

"I hope you have not heard any evil of me."

"Well!"

"I'm sure you can't have heard much good."

"I know you didn't win the Derby."

"You've been long enough to hear that?"

"Do you suppose we don't interest ourselves about the Derby in New
York? Why, when we arrived at Queenstown I was leaning over the
taffrail so that I might ask the first man on board the tender
whether the Prime Minister had won."

"And he said he hadn't."

"I can't conceive why you of all men should call your horse by such a
name. If my father had been President of the United States, I don't
think I'd call a horse President."

"I didn't name the horse."

"I'd have changed it. But is it not very impudent in me to be finding
fault with you the first time I have ever seen you? Shall you have a
horse at Ascot?"

"There will be something going, I suppose. Nothing that I care
about." Lord Silverbridge had made up his mind that he would go to no
races with Tifto before the Leger. The Leger would be an affair of
such moment as to demand his presence. After that should come the
complete rupture between him and Tifto.

Then there was a movement among the elders, and Lord Silverbridge
soon found himself walking alone with Miss Boncassen. It seemed to
her to be quite natural to do so, and there certainly was no reason
why he should decline anything so pleasant. It was thus that he had
intended to walk with Mabel Grex;--only as yet he had not found her.
"Oh yes," said Miss Boncassen, when they had been together about
twenty minutes; "we shall be here all the summer, and all the fall,
and all the winter. Indeed father means to read every book in the
British Museum before he goes back."

"He'll have something to do."

"He reads by steam, and he has two or three young men with him to
take it all down and make other books out of it;--just as you'll see
a lady take a lace shawl and turn it all about till she has trimmed
a petticoat with it. It is the same lace all through,--and so I tell
father it's the same knowledge."

"But he puts it where more people will find it."

"The lady endeavours to do the same with the lace. That depends on
whether people look up or down. Father however is a very learned man.
You mustn't suppose that I am laughing at him. He is going to write a
very learned book. Only everybody will be dead before it can be half
finished." They still went on together, and then he gave her his arm
and took her into the place where the strawberries and cream were
prepared. As he was going in he saw Mabel Grex walking with Tregear,
and she bowed to him pleasantly and playfully. "Is that lady a great
friend of yours?" asked Miss Boncassen.

"A very great friend indeed."

"She is very beautiful."

"And clever as well,--and good as gold."

"Dear me! Do tell me who it is that owns all these qualities."

"Lady Mabel Grex. She is daughter of Lord Grex. That man with her
is my particular friend. His name is Frank Tregear, and they are
cousins."

"I am so glad they are cousins."

"Why glad?"

"Because his being with her won't make you unhappy."

"Supposing I was in love with her,--which I am not,--do you suppose
it would make me jealous to see her with another man?"

"In our country it would not. A young lady may walk about with a
young gentleman just as she might with another young lady; but I
thought it was different here. Do you know, judging by English ways,
I believe I am behaving very improperly in walking about with you so
long. Ought I not to tell you to go away?"

"Pray do not."

"As I am going to stay here so long I wish to behave well to English
eyes."

"People know who you are, and discount all that."

"If the difference be very marked they do. For instance, I needn't
wear a hideous long bit of cloth over my face in Constantinople
because I am a woman. But when the discrepancies are small, then they
have to be attended to. So I shan't walk about with you any more."

"Oh yes, you will," said Silverbridge, who began to think that he
liked walking about with Miss Boncassen.

"Certainly not. There is Mr. Sprottle. He is father's secretary. He
will take me back."

"Cannot I take you back as well as Mr. Sprottle?"

"Indeed no;--I am not going to monopolise such a man as you. Do you
think that I don't understand that everybody will be making remarks
upon the American girl who won't leave the son of the Duke of Omnium
alone? There is your particular friend Lady Mabel, and here is my
particular friend Mr. Sprottle."

"May I come and call?"

"Certainly. Father will only be too proud,--and I shall be prouder.
Mother will be the proudest of all. Mother very seldom goes out. Till
we get a house we are at The Langham. Thank you, Mr. Sprottle. I
think we'll go and find father."

Lord Silverbridge found himself close to Lady Mabel and Tregear, and
also to Miss Cassewary, who had now joined Lady Mabel. He had been
much struck with the American beauty, but was not on that account
the less anxious to carry out his great plan. It was essentially
necessary that he should do so at once, because the matter had been
settled between him and his father. He was anxious to assure her that
if she would consent, then the Duke would be ready to pour out all
kinds of paternal blessings on their heads. "Come and take a turn
among the haycocks," he said.

"Frank declares," said Lady Mabel, "that the hay is hired for the
occasion. I wonder whether that is true."

"Anybody can see," said Tregear, "that it has not been cut off the
grass it stands upon."

"If I could find Mrs. Montacute Jones I'd ask her where she got it,"
said Lady Mabel.

"Are you coming?" asked Silverbridge impatiently.

"I don't think I am. I have been walking round the haycocks till I am
tired of them."

"Anywhere else then?"

"There isn't anywhere else. What have you done with your American
beauty? The truth is, Lord Silverbridge, you ask me for my company
when she won't give you hers any longer. Doesn't it look like it,
Miss Cassewary?"

"I don't think Lord Silverbridge is the man to forget an old friend
for a new one."

"Not though the new friend be as lovely as Miss Boncassen?"

"I don't know that I ever saw a prettier girl," said Tregear.

"I quite admit it," said Lady Mabel. "But that is no salve for my
injured feelings I have heard so much about Miss Boncassen's beauty
for the last week, that I mean to get up a company of British
females, limited, for the express purpose of putting her down. Who is
Miss Boncassen that we are all to be put on one side for her?"

Of course he knew that she was joking, but he hardly knew how to take
her joke. There is a manner of joking which carries with it much
serious intention. He did feel that Lady Mabel was not gracious to
him because he had spent half an hour with this new beauty, and he
was half inclined to be angry with her. Was it fitting that she
should be cross with him, seeing that he was resolved to throw at
her feet all the good things that he had in the world? "Bother Miss
Boncassen," he said; "you might as well come and take a turn with a
fellow."

"Come along, Miss Cassewary," said she. "We will go round the
haycocks yet once again." So they turned and the two ladies
accompanied Lord Silverbridge.

But this was not what he wanted. He could not say what he had to say
in the presence of Miss Cassewary,--nor could he ask her to take
herself off in another direction. Nor could he take himself off. Now
that he had joined himself to these two ladies he must make with them
the tour of the gardens. All this made him cross. "These kind of
things are a great bore," he said.

"I dare say you would rather be in the House of Commons;--or, better
still, at the Beargarden."

"You mean to be ill-natured when you say that, Lady Mab."

"You ask us to come and walk with you, and then you tell us that we
are bores!"

"I did nothing of the kind."

"I should have thought that you would be particularly pleased with
yourself for coming here to-day, seeing that you have made Miss
Boncassen's acquaintance. To be allowed to walk half an hour alone
with the acknowledged beauty of the two hemispheres ought to be
enough even for Lord Silverbridge."

"That is nonsense, Lady Mab."

"Nothing gives so much zest to admiration as novelty. A republican
charmer must be exciting after all the blasées habituées of the
London drawing-rooms."

"How can you talk such nonsense, Mabel?" said Miss Cassewary.

"But it is so. I feel that people must be sick of seeing me. I know I
am very often sick of seeing them. Here is something fresh,--and not
only unlike, but so much more lovely. I quite acknowledge that I may
be jealous, but no one can say that I am spiteful. I wish that some
republican Adonis or Apollo would crop up,--so that we might have our
turn. But I don't think the republican gentlemen are equal to the
republican ladies. Do you, Lord Silverbridge?"

"I haven't thought about it."

"Mr. Sprottle for instance."

"I have not the pleasure of knowing Mr. Sprottle."

"Now we've been round the haycocks, and really, Lord Silverbridge, I
don't think we have gained much by it. Those forced marches never do
any good." And so they parted.

He was thinking with a bitter spirit of the ill-result of his
morning's work when he again found himself close to Miss Boncassen
in the crowd of departing people on the terrace. "Mind you keep
your word," she said. And then she turned to her father. "Lord
Silverbridge has promised to call."

"Mrs. Boncassen will be delighted to make his acquaintance."

He got into his cab and was driven off towards Richmond. As he went
he began to think of the two young women with whom he had passed
his morning. Mabel had certainly behaved badly to him. Even if
she suspected nothing of his object, did she not owe it to their
friendship to be more courteous to him than she had been? And if she
suspected that object, should she not at any rate have given him the
opportunity?

Or could it be that she was really jealous of the American girl?
No;--that idea he rejected instantly. It was not compatible with the
innate modesty of his disposition. But no doubt the American girl was
very lovely. Merely as a thing to be looked at she was superior to
Mabel. He did feel that as to mere personal beauty she was in truth
superior to anything he had ever seen before. And she was clever
too;--and good-humoured;--whereas Mabel had been both ill-natured and
unpleasant.



CHAPTER XXIX

The Lovers Meet


Lord Silverbridge found his sister alone. "I particularly want you,"
said he, "to come and call on Mabel Grex. She wishes to know you, and
I am sure you would like her."

"But I haven't been out anywhere yet," she said. "I don't feel as
though I wanted to go anywhere."

Nevertheless she was very anxious to know Lady Mabel Grex, of whom
she had heard much. A girl if she has had a former love passage says
nothing of it to her new lover; but a man is not so reticent. Frank
Tregear had perhaps not told her everything, but he had told her
something. "I was very fond of her;--very fond of her," he had said.
"And so I am still," he had added. "As you are my love of loves,
she is my friend of friends." Lady Mary had been satisfied by the
assurance, but had become anxious to see the friend of friends. She
resisted at first her brother's entreaties. She felt that her father
in delivering her over to the seclusion of The Horns had intended to
preclude her from showing herself in London. She was conscious that
she was being treated with cruelty, and had a certain pride in her
martyrdom. She would obey her father to the letter; she would give
him no right to call her conduct in question; but he and any other to
whom he might entrust the care of her, should be made to know that
she thought him cruel. He had his power to which she must submit.
But she also had hers,--to which it was possible he might be made to
submit. "I do not know that papa would wish me to go," she said.

"But it is just what he would wish. He thinks a good deal about
Mabel."

"Why should he think about her at all?"

"I can't exactly explain," said Silverbridge, "but he does."

"If you mean to tell me that Mabel Grex is anything particular to
you, and that papa approves of it, I will go all round the world to
see her." But he had not meant to tell her this. The request had been
made at Lady Mabel's instance. When his sister had spoken of her
father's possible objection, then he had become eager in explaining
the Duke's feeling, not remembering that such anxiety might betray
himself. At that moment Lady Cantrip came in, and the question was
referred to her. She did not see any objection to such a visit, and
expressed her opinion that it would be a good thing that Mary should
be taken out. "She should begin to go somewhere," said Lady Cantrip.
And so it was decided. On the next Friday he would come down early in
his hansom and drive her up to Belgrave Square. Then he would take
her to Carlton Terrace, and Lady Cantrip's carriage should pick her
up there and bring her home. He would arrange it all.

"What did you think of the American beauty?" asked Lady Cantrip when
that was settled.

"I thought she was a beauty."

"So I perceived. You had eyes for nobody else," said Lady Cantrip,
who had been at the garden-party.

"Somebody introduced her to me, and then I had to walk about the
grounds with her. That's the kind of thing one always does in those
places."

"Just so. That is what 'those places' are meant for, I suppose. But
it was not apparently a great infliction." Lord Silverbridge had
to explain that it was not an infliction;--that it was a privilege,
seeing that Miss Boncassen was both clever and lovely; but that it
did not mean anything in particular.

When he took his leave he asked his sister to go out into the grounds
with him for a moment. This she did almost unwillingly, fearing that
he was about to speak to her of Tregear. But he had no such purpose
on his mind. "Of course you know," he began, "all that was nonsense
you were saying about Mabel."

"I did not know."

"I was afraid you might blurt out something before her."

"I should not be so imprudent."

"Girls do make such fools of themselves sometimes. They are always
thinking about people being in love. But it is the truth that my
father said to me the other day how very much he liked what he had
heard of her, and that he would like you to know her."

On that same evening Silverbridge wrote from the Beargarden the
shortest possible note to Lady Mabel, telling her what he had
arranged. "I and Mary propose to call in B. Square on Friday at two.
I must be early because of the House. You will give us lunch. S."
There was no word of endearment,--none even of those ordinary words
which people who hate each other use to one another. But he received
the next day at home a much more kindly-written note from her:


   DEAR LORD SILVERBRIDGE,

   You are so good! You always do just what you think people
   will like best. Nothing could please me so much as seeing
   your sister, of whom of course I have heard very very
   much. There shall be nobody here but Miss Cass.

   Yours most sincerely,

   M. G.


"How I do wish I were a man!" his sister said to him when they were
in the hansom together.

"You'd have a great deal more trouble."

"But I'd have a hansom of my own, and go where I pleased. How would
you like to be shut up at a place like The Horns?"

"You can go out if you like it."

"Not like you. Papa thinks it's the proper place for me to live in,
and so I must live there. I don't think a woman ever chooses how or
where she shall live herself."

"You are not going to take up woman's rights, I hope."

"I think I shall if I stay at The Horns much longer. What would papa
say if he heard that I was going to give a lecture at an Institute?"

"The governor has had so many things to bear that a trifle such as
that would make but little difference."

"Poor papa!"

"He was dreadfully cut up about Gerald. And then he is so good! He
said more to me about Gerald than he ever did about my own little
misfortune at Oxford; but to Gerald himself he said almost nothing.
Now he has forgiven me because he thinks I am constant at the House."

"And are you?"

"Not so much as he thinks. I do go there,--for his sake. He has been
so good about my changing sides."

"I think you were quite right there."

"I am beginning to think I was quite wrong. What did it matter to
me?"

"I suppose it did make papa unhappy."

"Of course it did;--and then this affair of yours." As soon as this
was said Lady Mary at once hardened her heart against her father.
Whether Silverbridge was or was not entitled to his own political
opinions,--seeing that the Pallisers had for ages been known as
staunch Whigs and Liberals,--might be a matter for question. But that
she had a right to her own lover she thought that there could be no
question. As they were sitting in the cab he could hardly see her
face, but he was aware that she was in some fashion arming herself
against opposition. "I am sure that this makes him very unhappy,"
continued Silverbridge.

"It cannot be altered," she said.

"It will have to be altered."

"Nothing can alter it. He might die, indeed;--or so might I."

"Or he might see that it is no good,--and change his mind," suggested
Silverbridge.

"Of course that is possible," said Lady Mary very curtly,--showing
plainly by her manner that the subject was one which she did not
choose to discuss any further.

"It is very good of you to come to me," said Lady Mabel, kissing her
new acquaintance. "I have heard so much about you."

"And I also of you."

"I, you know, am one of your brother's stern Mentors. There are three
or four of us determined to make him a pattern young legislator. Miss
Cassewary is another. Only she is not quite so stern as I am."

"He ought to be very much obliged."

"But he is not,--not a bit. Are you, Lord Silverbridge?"

"Not so much as I ought to be, perhaps."

"Of course there is an opposing force. There are the race-horses, and
the drag, and Major Tifto. No doubt you have heard of Major Tifto.
The Major is the Mr. Worldly-Wiseman who won't let Christian go to
the Strait Gate. I am afraid he hasn't read his Pilgrim's Progress.
But we shall prevail, Lady Mary, and he will get to the beautiful
city at last."

"What is the beautiful city?" he asked.

"A seat in the Cabinet, I suppose,--or that general respect which a
young nobleman achieves when he has shown himself able to sit on a
bench for six consecutive hours without appearing to go to sleep."

Then they went to lunch, and Lady Mary did find herself to be happy
with her new acquaintance. Her life since her mother's death had
been so sad, that this short escape from it was a relief to her.
Now for awhile she found herself almost gay. There was an easy
liveliness about Lady Mabel,--a grain of humour and playfulness
conjoined,--which made her feel at home at once. And it seemed to her
as though her brother was at home. He called the girl Lady Mab, and
Queen Mab, and once plain Mabel, and the old woman he called Miss
Cass. It surely, she thought, must be the case that Lady Mabel and
her brother were engaged.

"Come upstairs into my own room,--it is nicer than this," said Lady
Mabel, and they went from the dining-room into a pretty little
sitting-room with which Silverbridge was very well acquainted. "Have
you heard of Miss Boncassen?" Mary said she had heard something of
Miss Boncassen's great beauty. "Everybody is talking about her. Your
brother met her at Mrs. Montacute Jones's garden-party, and was made
a conquest of instantly."

"I wasn't made a conquest of at all," said Silverbridge.

"Then he ought to have been made a conquest of. I should be if I were
a man. I think she is the loveliest person to look at and the nicest
person to listen to that I ever came across. We all feel that, as far
as this season is concerned, we are cut out. But we don't mind it so
much because she is a foreigner." Then just as she said this the door
was opened and Frank Tregear was announced.

Everybody there present knew as well as does the reader, what was the
connexion between Tregear and Lady Mary Palliser. And each knew that
the other knew it. It was therefore impossible for them not to feel
themselves guilty among themselves. The two lovers had not seen each
other since they had been together in Italy. Now they were brought
face to face in this unexpected manner! And nobody except Tregear
was at first quite sure whether somebody had not done something to
arrange the meeting. Mary might naturally suspect that Lady Mabel had
done this in the interest of her friend Tregear, and Silverbridge
could not but suspect that it was so. Lady Mabel, who had never
before met the other girl, could hardly refrain from thinking that
there had been some underhand communication,--and Miss Cassewary was
clearly of opinion that there had been some understanding.

Silverbridge was the first to speak. "Halloo, Tregear, I didn't know
that we were to see you."

"Nor I, that I should see you," said he. Then of course there was a
shaking of hands all round, in the course of which ceremony he came
to Mary the last. She gave him her hand, but had not a word to say
to him. "If I had known that you were here," he said, "I should not
have come; but I need hardly say how glad I am to see you,--even in
this way." Then the two girls were convinced that the meeting was
accidental; but Miss Cass still had her doubts.

Conversation became at once very difficult. Tregear seated himself
near, but not very near, to Lady Mary, and made some attempt to talk
to both the girls at once. Lady Mabel plainly showed that she was not
at her ease;--whereas Mary seemed to be stricken dumb by the presence
of her lover. Silverbridge was so much annoyed by a feeling that this
interview was a treason to his father, that he sat cudgelling his
brain to think how he should bring it to an end. Miss Cassewary was
dumbfounded by the occasion. She was the one elder in the company
who ought to see that no wrong was committed. She was not directly
responsible to the Duke of Omnium, but she was thoroughly permeated
by a feeling that it was her duty to take care that there should
be no clandestine love meetings in Lord Grex's house. At last
Silverbridge jumped up from his chair. "Upon my word, Tregear, I
think you had better go," said he.

"So do I," said Miss Cassewary. "If it is an accident--"

"Of course it is an accident," said Tregear angrily,--looking round
at Mary, who blushed up to her eyes.

"I did not mean to doubt it," said the old lady. "But as it has
occurred, Mabel, don't you think that he had better go?"

"He won't bite anybody, Miss Cass."

"She would not have come if she had expected it," said Silverbridge.

"Certainly not," said Mary, speaking for the first time. "But now he
is here--" Then she stopped herself, rose from the sofa, sat down,
and then rising again, stepped up to her lover, who rose at the same
moment,--and threw herself into his arms and put up her lips to be
kissed.

"This won't do at all," said Silverbridge. Miss Cassewary clasped her
hands together and looked up to heaven. She probably had never seen
such a thing done before. Lady Mabel's eyes were filled with tears,
and though in all this there was much to cause her anguish, still in
her heart of hearts she admired the brave girl who could thus show
her truth to her lover.

"Now go," said Mary, through her sobs.

"My own one," ejaculated Tregear.

"Yes, yes, yes; always your own. Go,--go; go." She was weeping and
sobbing as she said this, and hiding her face with her handkerchief.
He stood for a moment irresolute, and then left the room without a
word of adieu to any one.

"You have behaved very badly," said the brother.

"She has behaved like an angel," said Mabel, throwing her arms round
Mary as she spoke, "like an angel. If there had been a girl whom you
loved and who loved you, would you not have wished it? Would you
not have worshipped her for showing that she was not ashamed of her
love?"

"I am not a bit ashamed," said Mary.

"And I say that you have no cause. No one knows him as I do. How good
he is, and how worthy!" Immediately after that Silverbridge took his
sister away, and Lady Mabel, escaping from Miss Cass, was alone. "She
loves him almost as I have loved him," she said to herself. "I wonder
whether he can love her as he did me?"



CHAPTER XXX

What Came of the Meeting


Not a word was said in the cab as Lord Silverbridge took his sister
to Carlton Terrace, and he was leaving her without any reference to
the scene which had taken place, when an idea struck him that this
would be cruel. "Mary," he said, "I was very sorry for all that."

"It was not my doing."

"I suppose it was nobody's doing. But I am very sorry that it
occurred. I think that you should have controlled yourself."

"No!" she almost shouted.

"I think so."

"No;--if you mean by controlling myself, holding my tongue. He is the
man I love,--whom I have promised to marry."

"But, Mary,--do ladies generally embrace their lovers in public?"

"No;--nor should I. I never did such a thing in my life before. But
as he was there I had to show that I was not ashamed of him! Do you
think I should have done it if you all had not been there?" Then
again she burst into tears.

He did not quite know what to make of it. Mabel Grex had declared
that she had behaved like an angel. But yet, as he thought of what
he had seen, he shuddered with vexation. "I was thinking of the
governor," he said.

"He shall be told everything."

"That you met Tregear?"

"Certainly; and that I--kissed him. I will do nothing that I am
ashamed to tell everybody."

"He will be very angry."

"I cannot help it. He should not treat me as he is doing. Mr. Tregear
is a gentleman. Why did he let him come? Why did you bring him? But
it is of no use. The thing is settled. Papa can break my heart, but
he cannot make me say that I am not engaged to Mr. Tregear."

On that night Mary told the whole of her story to Lady Cantrip. There
was nothing that she tried to conceal. "I got up," she said, "and
threw my arms round him. Is he not all the world to me?"

"Had it been planned?" asked Lady Cantrip.

"No;--no! Nothing had been planned. They are cousins and very
intimate, and he goes there constantly. Now I want you to tell papa
all about it."

Lady Cantrip began to think that it had been an evil day for her when
she had agreed to take charge of this very determined young lady; but
she consented at once to write to the Duke. As the girl was in her
hands she must take care not to lay herself open to reproaches. As
this objectionable lover had either contrived a meeting, or had met
her without contriving, it was necessary that the Duke should be
informed. "I would rather you wrote the letter," said Lady Mary. "But
pray tell him that all along I have meant him to know all about it."

Till Lady Cantrip seated herself at her writing-table she did not
know how great the difficulty would be. It cannot in any circumstance
be easy to write to a father as to his daughter's love for an
objectionable lover; but the Duke's character added much to the
severity of the task. And then that embrace! She knew that the Duke
would be struck with horror as he read of such a tale, and she found
herself almost struck with horror as she attempted to write it. When
she came to the point she found she could not write it. "I fear there
was a good deal of warmth shown on both sides," she said, feeling
that she was calumniating the man, as to whose warmth she had heard
nothing. "It is quite clear," she added, "that this is not a passing
fancy on her part."

It was impossible that the Duke should be made to understand
exactly what had occurred. That Silverbridge had taken Mary he did
understand, and that they had together gone to Lord Grex's house. He
understood also that the meeting had taken place in the presence of
Silverbridge and of Lady Mabel. "No doubt it was all an accident,"
Lady Cantrip wrote. How could it be an accident?

"You had Mary up in town on Friday," he said to his son on the
following Sunday morning.

"Yes, sir."

"And that friend of yours came in?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you not know what my wishes are?"

"Certainly I do;--but I could not help his coming. You do not suppose
that anybody had planned it?"

"I hope not."

"It was simply an accident. Such an accident as must occur over and
over again,--unless Mary is to be locked up."

"Who talks of locking anybody up? What right have you to speak in
that way?"

"I only meant that of course they will stumble across each other in
London."

"I think I will go abroad," said the Duke. He was silent for awhile,
and then repeated his words. "I think I will go abroad."

"Not for long, I hope, sir."

"Yes;--to live there. Why should I stay here? What good can I do
here? Everything I see and everything I hear is a pain to me." The
young man of course could not but go back in his mind to the last
interview which he had had with his father, when the Duke had been so
gracious and apparently so well pleased.

"Is there anything else wrong,--except about Mary?" Silverbridge
asked.

"I am told that Gerald owes about fifteen hundred pounds at
Cambridge."

"So much as that! I knew he had a few horses there."

"It is not the money, but the absence of principle,--that a young
man should have no feeling that he ought to live within certain
prescribed means! Do you know what you have had from Mr. Morton?"

"Not exactly, sir."

"It is different with you. But a man, let him be who he may, should
live within certain means. As for your sister, I think she will
break my heart." Silverbridge found it to be quite impossible to say
anything in answer to this. "Are you going to church?" asked the
Duke.

"I was not thinking of doing so particularly."

"Do you not ever go?"

"Yes;--sometimes. I will go with you now, if you like it, sir."

"I had thought of going, but my mind is too much harassed. I do not
see why you should not go."

But Silverbridge, though he had been willing to sacrifice his morning
to his father,--for it was, I fear, in that way that he had looked at
it,--did not see any reason for performing a duty which his father
himself omitted. And there were various matters also which harassed
him. On the previous evening, after dinner, he had allowed himself
to back the Prime Minister for the Leger to a very serious amount.
In fact he had plunged, and now stood to lose some twenty thousand
pounds on the doings of the last night. And he had made these bets
under the influence of Major Tifto. It was the remembrance of this,
after the promise made to his father, that annoyed him the most.
He was imbued with a feeling that it behoved him as a man to "pull
himself together," as he would have said himself, and to live in
accordance with certain rules. He could make the rules easily enough,
but he had never yet succeeded in keeping any one of them. He had
determined to sever himself from Tifto, and, in doing that, had
intended to sever himself from affairs of the turf generally. This
resolution was not yet a week old. It was on that evening that he had
resolved that Tifto should no longer be his companion; and now he had
to confess to himself that because he had drunk three or four glasses
of champagne he had been induced by Tifto to make those wretched
bets.

And he had told his father that he intended to ask Mabel Grex to be
his wife. He had so committed himself that the offer must now be
made. He did not specially regret that, though he wished that he had
been more reticent. "What a fool a man is to blurt out everything!"
he said to himself. A wife would be a good thing for him; and where
could he possibly find a better wife than Mabel Grex? In beauty she
was no doubt inferior to Miss Boncassen. There was something about
Miss Boncassen which made it impossible to forget her. But Miss
Boncassen was an American, and on many accounts out of the question.
It did not occur to him that he would fall in love with Miss
Boncassen; but still it seemed hard to him that this intention of
marriage should stand in his way of having a good time with Miss
Boncassen for a few weeks. No doubt there were objections to
marriage. It clipped a fellow's wings. But then, if he were married,
he might be sure that Tifto would be laid aside. It was such a great
thing to have got his father's assured consent to a marriage. It
meant complete independence in money matters.

Then his mind ran away to a review of his father's affairs. It was a
genuine trouble to him that his father should be so unhappy. Of all
the griefs which weighed upon the Duke's mind, that in reference to
his sister was the heaviest. The money which Gerald owed at Cambridge
would be nothing if that other sorrow could be conquered. Nor had
Tifto and his own extravagance caused the Duke any incurable wounds.
If Tregear could be got out of the way, his father, he thought, might
be reconciled to other things. He felt very tender-hearted about his
father; but he had no remorse in regard to his sister as he made up
his mind that he would speak very seriously to Tregear.

He had wandered into St. James's Park, and had lighted by this time
half-a-dozen cigarettes one after another, as he sat on one of the
benches. He was a handsome youth, all but six feet high, with light
hair, with round blue eyes, and with all that aristocratic look,
which had belonged so peculiarly to the late Duke but which was less
conspicuous in the present head of the family. He was a young man
whom you would hardly pass in a crowd without observing,--but of whom
you would say, after due observation, that he had not as yet put off
all his childish ways. He now sat with his legs stretched out, with
his cane in his hands, looking down upon the water. He was trying to
think. He worked hard at thinking. But the bench was hard and, upon
the whole, he was not satisfied with his position. He had just made
up his mind that he would look up Tregear, when Tregear himself
appeared on the path before him.

"Tregear!" exclaimed Silverbridge.

"Silverbridge!" exclaimed Tregear.

"What on earth makes you walk about here on a Sunday morning?"

"What on earth makes you sit there? That I should walk here, which
I often do, does not seem to me odd. But that I should find you is
marvellous. Do you often come?"

"Never was here in my life before. I strolled in because I had things
to think of."

"Questions to be asked in Parliament? Notices of motions, Amendments
in Committee, and that kind of thing?"

"Go on, old fellow."

"Or perhaps Major Tifto has made important revelations."

"D---- Major Tifto."

"With all my heart," said Tregear.

"Sit down here," said Silverbridge. "As it happened, at the moment
when you came up I was thinking of you."

"That was kind."

"And I was determined to go to you. All this about my sister must be
given up."

"Must be given up?"

"It can never lead to any good. I mean that there never can be a
marriage." Then he paused, but Tregear was determined to hear him
out. "It is making my father so miserable that you would pity him if
you could see him."

"I dare say I should. When I see people unhappy I always pity them.
What I would ask you to think of is this. If I were to commission you
to tell your sister that everything between us should be given up,
would not she be so unhappy that you would have to pity her?"

"She would get over it."

"And so will your father."

"He has a right to have his own opinion on such a matter."

"And so have I. And so has she. His rights in this matter are very
clear and very potential. I am quite ready to admit that we cannot
marry for many years to come, unless he will provide the money. You
are quite at liberty to tell him that I say so. I have no right to
ask your father for a penny, and I will never do so. The power is all
in his hands. As far as I know my own purposes, I shall not make any
immediate attempt even to see her. We did meet, as you saw, the other
day, by the merest chance. After that, do you think that your sister
wishes me to give her up?"

"As for supposing that girls are to have what they wish, that is
nonsense."

"For young men I suppose equally so. Life ought to be a life of
self-denial, no doubt. Perhaps it might be my duty to retire from
this affair, if by doing so I should sacrifice only myself. The one
person of whom I am bound to think in this matter is the girl I
love."

"That is just what she would say about you."

"I hope so."

"In that way you support each other. If it were any other man
circumstanced just like you are, and any other girl placed like Mary,
you would be the first to say that the man was behaving badly. I
don't like to use hard language to you, but in such a case you would
be the first to say of another man--that he was looking after the
girl's money."

Silverbridge as he said this looked forward steadfastly on to the
water, regretting much that cause for quarrel should have arisen,
but thinking that Tregear would find himself obliged to quarrel.
But Tregear, after a few moments' silence, having thought it out,
determined that he would not quarrel. "I think I probably might," he
said, laying his hand on Silverbridge's arm. "I think I perhaps might
express such an opinion."

"Well then!"

"I have to examine myself, and find out whether I am guilty of the
meanness which I might perhaps be too ready to impute to another.
I have done so, and I am quite sure that I am not drawn to your
sister by any desire for her money. I did not seek her because
she was a rich man's daughter, nor,--because she is a rich man's
daughter,--will I give her up. She shall be mistress of the occasion.
Nothing but a word from her shall induce me to leave her;--but a word
from her, if it comes from her own lips,--shall do so." Then he took
his friend's hand in his, and, having grasped it, walked away without
saying another word.



CHAPTER XXXI

Miss Boncassen's River-Party. No. 1


Thrice within the next three weeks did Lord Silverbridge go forth
to ask Mabel to be his wife, but thrice in vain. On one occasion
she would talk on other things. On the second Miss Cassewary would
not leave her. On the third the conversation turned in a very
disagreeable way on Miss Boncassen, as to whom Lord Silverbridge
could not but think that Lady Mabel said some very ill-natured
things. It was no doubt true that he, during the last three weeks,
had often been in Miss Boncassen's company, that he had danced
with her, ridden with her, taken her to the House of Lords and to
the House of Commons, and was now engaged to attend upon her at a
river-party up above Maidenhead. But Mabel had certainly no right to
complain. Had he not thrice during the same period come there to lay
his coronet at her feet;--and now, at this very moment, was it not
her fault that he was not going through the ceremony?

"I suppose," she said, laughing, "that it is all settled."

"What is all settled?"

"About you and the American beauty."

"I am not aware that anything particular has been settled."

"Then it ought to be,--oughtn't it? For her sake, I mean."

"That is so like an English woman," said Lord Silverbridge. "Because
you cannot understand a manner of life a little different from your
own you will impute evil."

"I have imputed no evil, Lord Silverbridge, and you have no right to
say so."

"If you mean to assert," said Miss Cass, "that the manners of
American young ladies are freer than those of English young ladies,
it is you that are taking away their characters."

"I don't say it would be at all bad," continued Lady Mabel. "She is
a beautiful girl, and very clever, and would make a charming Duchess.
And then it would be such a delicious change to have an American
Duchess."

"She wouldn't be a Duchess."

"Well, Countess, with Duchessship before her in the remote future.
Wouldn't it be a change, Miss Cass?"

"Oh decidedly!" said Miss Cass.

"And very much for the better. Quite a case of new blood, you know.
Pray don't suppose that I mean to object. Everybody who talks about
it approves. I haven't heard a dissentient voice. Only as it has gone
so far, and as English people are too stupid, you know, to understand
all these new ways,--don't you think perhaps--?"

"No, I don't think. I don't think anything except that you are very
ill-natured." Then he got up and, after making formal adieux to both
the ladies, left the house.

As soon as he was gone Lady Mabel began to laugh, but the least
apprehensive ears would have perceived that the laughter was
affected. Miss Cassewary did not laugh at all, but sat bolt upright
and looked very serious. "Upon my honour," said the younger lady, "he
is the most beautifully simple-minded human being I ever knew in my
life."

"Then I wouldn't laugh at him."

"How can one help it? But of course I do it with a purpose."

"What purpose?"

"I think he is making a fool of himself. If somebody does not
interfere he will go so far that he will not be able to draw back
without misbehaving."

"I thought," said Miss Cassewary, in a very low voice, almost
whispering, "I thought that he was looking for a wife elsewhere."

"You need not think of that again," said Lady Mab, jumping up from
her seat. "I had thought of it too. But as I told you before, I
spared him. He did not really mean it with me;--nor does he mean
it with this American girl. Such young men seldom mean. They drift
into matrimony. But she will not spare him. It would be a national
triumph. All the States would sing a pæan of glory. Fancy a New York
belle having compassed a Duke!"

"I don't think it possible. It would be too horrid."

"I think it quite possible. As for me, I could teach myself to think
it best as it is, were I not so sure that I should be better for him
than so many others. But I shouldn't love him."

"Why not love him?"

"He is such a boy. I should always treat him like a boy,--spoiling
him and petting him, but never respecting him. Don't run away with
any idea that I should refuse him from conscientious motives, if he
were really to ask me. I too should like to be a Duchess. I should
like to bring all this misery at home to an end."

"But you did refuse him."

"Not exactly;--because he never asked me. For the moment I was weak,
and so I let him have another chance. I shall not have been a good
friend to him if it ends in his marrying this Yankee."

Lord Silverbridge went out of the house in a very ill humour,--which
however left him when in the course of the afternoon he found himself
up at Maidenhead with Miss Boncassen. Miss Boncassen at any rate did
not laugh at him. And then she was so pleasant, so full of common
sense, and so completely intelligent! "I like you," she had said,
"because I feel that you will not think that you ought to make love
to me. There is nothing I hate so much as the idea that a young man
and a young woman can't be acquainted with each other without some
such tomfoolery as that." This had exactly expressed his own feeling.
Nothing could be so pleasant as his intimacy with Isabel Boncassen.

Mrs. Boncassen seemed to be a homely person, with no desire either
to speak, or to be spoken to. She went out but seldom, and on those
rare occasions did not in any way interfere with her daughter. Mr.
Boncassen filled a prouder situation. Everybody knew that Miss
Boncassen was in England because it suited Mr. Boncassen to spend
many hours in the British Museum. But still the daughter hardly
seemed to be under control from the father. She went alone where she
liked; talked to those she liked; and did what she liked. Some of the
young ladies of the day thought that there was a good deal to be said
in favour of the freedom which she enjoyed.

There is however a good deal to be said against it. All young ladies
cannot be Miss Boncassens, with such an assurance of admirers as to
be free from all fear of loneliness. There is a comfort for a young
lady in having a pied-à-terre to which she may retreat in case of
need. In American circles, where girls congregate without their
mothers, there is a danger felt by young men that if a lady be
once taken in hand, there will be no possibility of getting rid of
her,--no mamma to whom she may be taken and under whose wings she may
be dropped. "My dear," said an old gentleman the other day walking
through an American ball-room, and addressing himself to a girl whom
he knew well,--"My dear--" But the girl bowed and passed on, still
clinging to the arm of the young man who accompanied her. But the
old gentleman was cruel, and possessed of a determined purpose. "My
dear," said he again, catching the young man tight by the collar and
holding him fast. "Don't be afraid; I've got him; he shan't desert
you; I'll hold him here till you have told me how your father does."
The young lady looked as if she didn't like it, and the sight of her
misery gave rise to a feeling that, after all, mammas perhaps may be
a comfort.

But in her present phase of life Miss Boncassen suffered no
misfortune of this kind. It had become a privilege to be allowed to
attend upon Miss Boncassen, and the feeling of this privilege had
been enhanced by the manner in which Lord Silverbridge had devoted
himself to her. Fashion of course makes fashion. Had not Lord
Silverbridge been so very much struck by the charm of the young lady,
Lords Glasslough and Popplecourt would not perhaps have found it
necessary to run after her. As it was, even that most unenergetic of
young men, Dolly Longstaff, was moved to profound admiration.

On this occasion they were all up the river at Maidenhead. Mr.
Boncassen had looked about for some means of returning the civilities
offered to him, and had been instigated by Mrs. Montacute Jones to
do it after this fashion. There was a magnificent banquet spread in
a summer-house on the river bank. There were boats, and there was
a band, and there was a sward for dancing. There was lawn-tennis,
and fishing-rods,--which nobody used,--and better still, long shady
secluded walks in which gentlemen might stroll,--and ladies too,
if they were kind enough. The whole thing had been arranged by Mrs.
Montacute Jones. As the day was fine, as many of the old people had
abstained from coming, as there were plenty of young men of the
best sort, and as nothing had been spared in reference to external
comforts, the party promised to be a success. Every most lovely girl
in London of course was there,--except Lady Mabel Grex. Lady Mabel
was in the habit of going everywhere, but on this occasion she
had refused Mrs. Boncassen's invitation. "I don't want to see her
triumphs," she had said to Miss Cass.

Everybody went down by railway of course, and innumerable flies and
carriages had been provided to take them to the scene of action.
Some immediately got into boats and rowed themselves up from the
bridge,--which, as the thermometer was standing at eighty in the
shade, was an inconsiderate proceeding. "I don't think I am quite up
to that," said Dolly Longstaff, when it was proposed to him to take
an oar. "Miss Amazon will do it. She rows so well, and is so strong."
Whereupon Miss Amazon, not at all abashed, did take the oar; and as
Lord Silverbridge was on the seat behind her with the other oar she
probably enjoyed her task.

"What a very nice sort of person Lady Cantrip is." This was said
to Silverbridge by that generally silent young nobleman Lord
Popplecourt. The remark was the more singular because Lady Cantrip
was not at the party,--and the more so again because, as Silverbridge
thought, there could be but little in common between the Countess who
had his sister in charge and the young lord beside him, who was not
fast only because he did not like to risk his money.

"Well,--yes; I dare say she is."

"I thought so, peculiarly. I was at that place at Richmond
yesterday."

"The devil you were! What were you doing at The Horns?"

"Lady Cantrip's grandmother was,--I don't quite know what she was,
but something to us. I know I've got a picture of her at Popplecourt.
Lady Cantrip wanted to ask me something about it, and so I went down.
I was so glad to make acquaintance with your sister."

"You saw Mary, did you?"

"Oh yes; I lunched there. I'm to go down and meet the Duke some day."

"Meet the Duke!"

"Why not?"

"No reason on earth,--only I can't imagine the governor going to
Richmond for his dinner. Well! I am very glad to hear it. I hope
you'll get on well with him."

"I was so much struck with your sister."

"Yes; I dare say," said Silverbridge, turning away into the path
where he saw Miss Boncassen standing with some other ladies. It
certainly did not occur to him that Popplecourt was to be brought
forward as a suitor for his sister's hand.

"I believe this is the most lovely place in the world," Miss
Boncassen said to him.

"We are so much the more obliged to you for bringing us here."

"We don't bring you. You allow us to come with you and see all that
is pretty and lovely."

"Is it not your party?"

"Father will pay the bill, I suppose,--as far as that goes. And
mother's name was put on the cards. But of course we know what that
means. It is because you and a few others like you have been so kind
to us, that we are able to be here at all."

"Everybody, I should think, must be kind to you."

"I do have a good time pretty much; but nowhere so good as here. I
fear that when I get back I shall not like New York."

"I have heard you say, Miss Boncassen, that Americans were more
likeable than the English."

"Have you? Well, yes; I think I have said so. And I think it is so.
I'd sooner have to dance with a bank clerk in New York, than with a
bank clerk here."

"Do you ever dance with bank clerks?"

"Oh dear yes. At least I suppose so. I dance with whoever comes up.
We haven't got lords in America, you know!"

"You have got gentlemen?"

"Plenty of them;--but they are not so easily defined as lords. I do
like lords."

"Do you?"

"Oh yes,--and ladies;--Countesses I mean and women of that sort. Your
Lady Mabel Grex is not here. Why wouldn't she come?"

"Perhaps you didn't ask her."

"Oh yes I did;--especially for your sake."

"She is not my Lady Mabel Grex," said Lord Silverbridge with
unnecessary energy.

"But she will be."

"What makes you think that?"

"You are devoted to her."

"Much more to you, Miss Boncassen."

"That is nonsense, Lord Silverbridge."

"Not at all."

"It is also--untrue."

"Surely I must be the best judge of that myself."

"Not a doubt; a judge not only whether it be true, but if true
whether expedient,--or even possible. What did I say to you when we
first began to know each other?"

"What did you say?"

"That I liked knowing you;--that was frank enough;--that I liked
knowing you because I knew that there would be no tomfoolery of
love-making." Then she paused; but he did not quite know how to go on
with the conversation at once, and she continued her speech. "When
you condescend to tell me that you are devoted to me, as though
that were the kind of thing that I expect to have said when I take
a walk with a young man in a wood, is not that the tomfoolery of
love-making?" She stopped and looked at him, so that he was obliged
to answer.

"Then why do you ask me if I am devoted to Lady Mabel? Would not that
be tomfoolery too?"

"No. If I thought so, I would not have asked the question. I did
specially invite her to come here because I thought you would like
it. You have got to marry somebody."

"Some day, perhaps."

"And why not her?"

"If you come to that, why not you?" He felt himself to be getting
into deep waters as he said this,--but he had a meaning to express if
only he could find the words to express it. "I don't say whether it
is tomfoolery, as you call it, or not; but whatever it is, you began
it."

"Yes;--yes. I see. You punish me for my unpremeditated impertinence
in suggesting that you are devoted to Lady Mabel by the premeditated
impertinence of pretending to be devoted to me."

"Stop a moment. I cannot follow that." Then she laughed. "I will
swear that I did not intend to be impertinent."

"I hope not."

"I am devoted to you."

"Lord Silverbridge!"

"I think you are--"

"Stop, stop. Do not say it."

"Well I won't;--not now. But there has been no tomfoolery."

"May I ask a question, Lord Silverbridge? You will not be angry? I
would not have you angry with me."

"I will not be angry," he said.

"Are you not engaged to marry Lady Mabel Grex?"

"No."

"Then I beg your pardon. I was told that you were engaged to her. And
I thought your choice was so fortunate, so happy! I have seen no girl
here that I admire half so much. She almost comes up to my idea of
what a young woman should be."

"Almost!"

"Now I am sure that if not engaged to her you must be in love with
her, or my praise would have sufficed."

"Though one knows a Lady Mabel Grex, one may become acquainted with a
Miss Boncassen."

There are moments in which stupid people say clever things, obtuse
people say sharp things, and good-natured people say ill-natured
things. "Lord Silverbridge," she said, "I did not expect that from
you."

"Expect what? I meant it simply."

"I have no doubt you meant it simply. We Americans think ourselves
sharp, but I have long since found out that we may meet more than our
matches over here. I think we will go back. Mother means to try to
get up a quadrille."

"You will dance with me?"

"I think not. I have been walking with you, and I had better dance
with someone else."

"You can let me have one dance."

"I think not. There will not be many."

"Are you angry with me?"

"Yes, I am; there." But as she said this she smiled. "The truth is,
I thought I was getting the better of you, and you turned round and
gave me a pat on the head to show me that you could be master when it
pleased you. You have defended your intelligence at the expense of
your good-nature."

"I'll be shot if I know what it all means," he said, just as he was
parting with her.



CHAPTER XXXII

Miss Boncassen's River-Party. No. 2


Lord Silverbridge made up his mind that as he could not dance with
Miss Boncassen he would not dance at all. He was not angry at being
rejected, and when he saw her stand up with Dolly Longstaff he felt
no jealousy. She had refused to dance with him not because she did
not like him, but because she did not wish to show that she liked
him. He could understand that, though he had not quite followed all
the ins and outs of her little accusations against him. She had
flattered him--without any intention of flattery on her part. She had
spoken of his intelligence and had complained that he had been too
sharp to her. Mabel Grex when most sweet to him, when most loving,
always made him feel that he was her inferior. She took no trouble
to hide her conviction of his youthfulness. This was anything but
flattering. Miss Boncassen, on the other hand, professed herself to
be almost afraid of him.

"There shall be no tomfoolery of love-making," she had said. But
what if it were not tomfoolery at all? What if it were good, genuine,
earnest love-making? He certainly was not pledged to Lady Mabel. As
regarded his father there would be a difficulty. In the first place
he had been fool enough to tell his father that he was going to make
an offer to Mabel Grex. And then his father would surely refuse
his consent to a marriage with an American stranger. In such case
there would be no unlimited income, no immediate pleasantness of
magnificent life such as he knew would be poured out upon him if he
were to marry Mabel Grex. As he thought of this, however, he told
himself that he would not sell himself for money and magnificence.
He could afford to be independent, and gratify his own taste. Just
at this moment he was of opinion that Isabel Boncassen would be the
sweeter companion of the two.

He had sauntered down to the place where they were dancing and stood
by, saying a few words to Mrs. Boncassen. "Why are you not dancing,
my Lord?" she asked.

"There are enough without me."

"I guess you young aristocrats are never over-fond of doing much with
your own arms and legs."

"I don't know about that; polo, you know, for the legs, and
lawn-tennis for the arms, is hard work enough."

"But it must always be something new-fangled; and after all it isn't
of much account. Our young men like to have quite a time at dancing."

It all came through her nose! And she looked so common! What would
the Duke say to her, or Mary, or even Gerald? The father was by no
means so objectionable. He was a tall, straight, ungainly man, who
always wore black clothes. He had dark, stiff, short hair, a long
nose, and a forehead that was both high and broad. Ezekiel Boncassen
was the very man,--from his appearance,--for a President of the
United States; and there were men who talked of him for that high
office. That he had never attended to politics was supposed to be
in his favour. He had the reputation of being the most learned man
in the States, and reputation itself often suffices to give a man
dignity of manner. He, too, spoke through his nose, but the peculiar
twang coming from a man would be supposed to be virile and incisive.
From a woman, Lord Silverbridge thought it to be unbearable. But as
to Isabel, had she been born within the confines of some lordly park
in Hertfordshire, she could not have been more completely free from
the abomination.

"I am sorry that you should not be enjoying yourself," said Mr.
Boncassen, coming to his wife's relief.

"Nothing could have been nicer. To tell the truth, I am standing idle
by way of showing my anger against your daughter, who would not dance
with me."

"I am sure she would have felt herself honoured," said Mr. Boncassen.

"Who is the gentleman with her?" asked the mother.

"A particular friend of mine--Dolly Longstaff."

"Dolly!" ejaculated Mrs. Boncassen.

"Everybody calls him so. His real name I believe to be Adolphus."

"Is he,--is he--just anybody?" asked the anxious mother.

"He is a very great deal,--as people go here. Everybody knows him.
He is asked everywhere, but he goes nowhere. The greatest compliment
paid to you here is his presence."

"Nay, my Lord, there are the Countess Montague, and the Marchioness
of Capulet, and Lord Tybalt, and--"

"They go everywhere. They are nobodies. It is a charity to even
invite them. But to have had Dolly Longstaff once is a triumph for
life."

"Laws!" said Mrs. Boncassen, looking hard at the young man who was
dancing. "What has he done?"

"He never did anything in his life."

"I suppose he's very rich."

"I don't know. I should think not. I don't know anything about his
riches, but I can assure you that having had him down here will quite
give a character to the day."

In the meantime Dolly Longstaff was in a state of great excitement.
Some part of the character assigned to him by Lord Silverbridge was
true. He very rarely did go anywhere, and yet was asked to a great
many places. He was a young man,--though not a very young man,--with
a fortune of his own and the expectation of a future fortune. Few men
living could have done less for the world than Dolly Longstaff,--and
yet he had a position of his own. Now he had taken it into his head
to fall in love with Miss Boncassen. This was an accident which
had probably never happened to him before, and which had disturbed
him much. He had known Miss Boncassen a week or two before Lord
Silverbridge had seen her, having by some chance dined out and sat
next to her. From that moment he had become changed, and had gone
hither and thither in pursuit of the American beauty. His passion
having become suspected by his companions had excited their ridicule.
Nevertheless he had persevered;--and now he was absolutely dancing
with the lady out in the open air. "If this goes on, your friends
will have to look after you and put you somewhere," Mr. Lupton had
said to him in one of the intervals of the dance. Dolly had turned
round and scowled, and suggested that if Mr. Lupton would mind his
own affairs it would be as well for the world at large.

At the present crisis Dolly was very much excited. When the dance was
over, as a matter of course, he offered the lady his arm, and as a
matter of course she accepted it. "You'll take a turn; won't you?" he
said.

"It must be a very short turn," she said,--"as I am expected to make
myself busy."

"Oh, bother that."

"It bothers me; but it has to be done."

"You have set everything going now. They'll begin dancing again
without your telling them."

"I hope so."

"And I've got something I want to say."

"Dear me; what is it?"

They were now on a path close to the riverside, in which there were
many loungers. "Would you mind coming up to the temple?" he said.

"What temple?"

"Oh such a beautiful place. The Temple of the Winds, I think they
call it, or Venus;--or--or--Mrs. Arthur de Bever."

"Was she a goddess?"

"It is something built to her memory. Such a view of the river! I was
here once before and they took me up there. Everybody who comes here
goes and sees Mrs. Arthur de Bever. They ought to have told you."

"Let us go then," said Miss Boncassen. "Only it must not be long."

"Five minutes will do it all." Then he walked rather quickly up a
flight of rural steps. "Lovely spot; isn't it?"

"Yes, indeed."

"That's Maidenhead Bridge;--that's--somebody's place;--and now I've
got something to say to you."

"You're not going to murder me now you've got me up here alone?" said
Miss Boncassen, laughing.

"Murder you!" said Dolly, throwing himself into an attitude that was
intended to express devoted affection. "Oh no!"

"I am glad of that."

"Miss Boncassen!"

"Mr. Longstaff! If you sigh like that you'll burst yourself."

"I'll--what?"

"Burst yourself!" and she nodded her head at him.

Then he clapped his hands together, and turned his head away from
her towards the little temple. "I wonder whether she knows what love
is," he said, as though he were addressing himself to Mrs. Arthur de
Bever.

"No, she don't," said Miss Boncassen.

"But I do," he shouted, turning back towards her. "I do. If any man
were ever absolutely, actually, really in love, I am the man."

"Are you indeed, Mr. Longstaff? Isn't it pleasant?"

"Pleasant;--pleasant? Oh, it could be so pleasant."

"But who is the lady? Perhaps you don't mean to tell me that."

"You mean to say you don't know?"

"Haven't the least idea in life."

"Let me tell you then that it could only be one person. It never was
but one person. It never could have been but one person. It is you."
Then he put his hand well on his heart.

"Me!" said Miss Boncassen, choosing to be ungrammatical in order that
he might be more absurd.

"Of course it is you. Do you think that I should have brought you all
the way up here to tell you that I was in love with anybody else?"

"I thought I was brought to see Mrs. de Somebody, and the view."

"Not at all," said Dolly emphatically.

"Then you have deceived me."

"I will never deceive you. Only say that you will love me, and I will
be as true to you as the North Pole."

"Is that true to me?"

"You know what I mean."

"But if I don't love you?"

"Yes, you do!"

"Do I?"

"I beg your pardon," said Dolly. "I didn't mean to say that. Of
course a man shouldn't make sure of a thing."

"Not in this case, Mr. Longstaff; because really I entertain no such
feeling."

"But you can if you please. Just let me tell you who I am."

"That will do no good whatever, Mr. Longstaff."

"Let me tell you at any rate. I have a very good income of my own as
it is."

"Money can have nothing to do with it."

"But I want you to know that I can afford it. You might perhaps have
thought that I wanted your money."

"I will attribute nothing evil to you, Mr. Longstaff. Only it is
quite out of the question that I should--respond as I suppose you
wish me to; and therefore, pray, do not say anything further."

She went to the head of the little steps but he interrupted her. "You
ought to hear me," he said.

"I have heard you."

"I can give you as good a position as any man without a title in
England."

"Mr. Longstaff, I rather fancy that wherever I may be I can make a
position for myself. At any rate I shall not marry with the view of
getting one. If my husband were an English Duke I should think myself
nothing, unless I was something as Isabel Boncassen."

When she said this she did not bethink herself that Lord Silverbridge
would in the course of nature become an English Duke. But the
allusion to an English Duke told intensely on Dolly, who had
suspected that he had a noble rival. "English Dukes aren't so easily
got," he said.

"Very likely not. I might have expressed my meaning better had I said
an English Prince."

"That's quite out of the question," said Dolly. "They can't do
it,--by Act of Parliament,--except in a hugger-mugger left-handed
way, that wouldn't suit you at all."

"Mr. Longstaff,--you must forgive me--if I say--that of all the
gentlemen--I have ever met in this country or in any other--you
are the--most obtuse." This she brought out in little disjointed
sentences, not with any hesitation, but in a way to make every word
she uttered more clear to an intelligence which she did not believe
to be bright. But in this belief she did some injustice to Dolly. He
was quite alive to the disgrace of being called obtuse, and quick
enough to avenge himself at the moment.

"Am I?" said he. "How humble-minded you must be when you think me a
fool because I have fallen in love with such a one as yourself."

"I like you for that," she replied laughing, "and withdraw the
epithet as not being applicable. Now we are quits and can forget and
forgive;--only let there be the forgetting."

"Never!" said Dolly, with his hand again on his heart.

"Then let it be a little dream of your youth,--that you once met a
pretty American girl who was foolish enough to refuse all that you
would have given her."

"So pretty! So awfully pretty!" Thereupon she curtsied. "I have seen
all the handsome women in England going for the last ten years, and
there has not been one who has made me think that it would be worth
my while to get off my perch for her."

"And now you would desert your perch for me!"

"I have already."

"But you can get up again. Let it be all a dream. I know men like to
have had such dreams. And in order that the dream may be pleasant the
last word between us shall be kind. Such admiration from such a one
as you is an honour,--and I will reckon it among my honours. But
it can be no more than a dream." Then she gave him her hand. "It
shall be so;--shall it not?" Then she paused. "It must be so, Mr.
Longstaff."

"Must it?"

"That and no more. Now I wish to go down. Will you come with me? It
will be better. Don't you think it is going to rain?"

Dolly looked up at the clouds. "I wish it would with all my heart."

"I know you are not so ill-natured. It would spoil all."

"You have spoiled all."

"No, no. I have spoiled nothing. It will only be a little dream about
'that strange American girl, who really did make me feel queer for
half an hour.' Look at that. A great big drop--and the cloud has come
over us as black as Erebus. Do hurry down." He was leading the way.
"What shall we do for carriages to get us to the inn?"

"There's the summer-house."

"It will hold about half of us. And think what it will be to be in
there waiting till the rain shall be over! Everybody has been so
good-humoured and now they will be so cross!"

The rain was falling in big heavy drops, slow and far between, but
almost black with their size. And the heaviness of the cloud which
had gathered over them made everything black.

"Will you have my arm?" said Silverbridge, who saw Miss Boncassen
scudding along, with Dolly Longstaff following as fast as he could.

"Oh dear no. I have got to mind my dress. There;--I have gone right
into a puddle. Oh dear!" So she ran on, and Silverbridge followed
close behind her, leaving Dolly Longstaff in the distance.

It was not only Miss Boncassen who got her feet into a puddle and
splashed her stockings. Many did so who were not obliged by their
position to maintain good-humour under their misfortunes. The storm
had come on with such unexpected quickness that there had been a
general stampede to the summer-house. As Isabel had said, there was
comfortable room for not more than half of them. In a few minutes
people were crushed who never ought to be crushed. A Countess for
whom treble-piled sofas were hardly good enough was seated on the
corner of a table till some younger and less gorgeous lady could be
made to give way. And the Marchioness was declaring she was as wet
through as though she had been dragged in a river. Mrs. Boncassen was
so absolutely quelled as to have retired into the kitchen attached
to the summer-house. Mr. Boncassen, with all his country's pluck and
pride, was proving to a knot of gentlemen round him on the verandah,
that such treachery in the weather was a thing unknown in his happier
country. Miss Boncassen had to do her best to console the splashed
ladies. "Oh Mrs. Jones, is it not a pity! What can I do for you?"

"We must bear it, my dear. It often does rain, but why on this
special day should it come down out of buckets?"

"I never was so wet in all my life," said Dolly Longstaff, poking in
his head.

"There's somebody smoking," said the Countess angrily. There was a
crowd of men smoking out on the verandah. "I never knew anything so
nasty," the Countess continued, leaving it in doubt whether she spoke
of the rain, or the smoke, or the party generally.

Damp gauzes, splashed stockings, trampled muslins, and features which
have perhaps known something of rouge and certainly encountered
something of rain may be made, but can only, by supreme high
breeding, be made compatible with good-humour. To be moist, muddy,
rumpled and smeared, when by the very nature of your position it is
your duty to be clear-starched up to the pellucidity of crystal, to
be spotless as the lily, to be crisp as the ivy-leaf, and as clear
in complexion as a rose,--is it not, O gentle readers, felt to be a
disgrace? It came to pass, therefore, that many were now very cross.
Carriages were ordered under the idea that some improvement might be
made at the inn which was nearly a mile distant. Very few, however,
had their own carriages, and there was jockeying for the vehicles. In
the midst of all this Silverbridge remained as near to Miss Boncassen
as circumstances would admit. "You are not waiting for me," she said.

"Yes, I am. We might as well go up to town together."

"Leave me with father and mother. Like the captain of a ship, I must
be the last to leave the wreck."

"But I'll be the gallant sailor of the day who always at the risk of
his life sticks to the skipper to the last moment."

"Not at all;--just because there will be no gallantry. But come and
see us to-morrow and find out whether we have got through it alive."



CHAPTER XXXIII

The Langham Hotel


"What an abominable climate," Mrs. Boncassen had said when they were
quite alone at Maidenhead.

"My dear, you didn't think you were to bring New York along with you
when you came here," replied her husband.

"I wish I was going back to-morrow."

"That's a foolish thing to say. People here are very kind, and you
are seeing a great deal more of the world than you would ever see at
home. I am having a very good time. What do you say, Bell?"

"I wish I could have kept my stockings clean."

"But what about the young men?"

"Young men are pretty much the same everywhere, I guess. They never
have their wits about them. They never mean what they say, because
they don't understand the use of words. They are generally half
impudent and half timid. When in love they do not at all understand
what has befallen them. What they want they try to compass as a cow
does when it stands stretching out its head towards a stack of hay
which it cannot reach. Indeed there is no such thing as a young man,
for a man is not really a man till he is middle-aged. But take them
at their worst they are a deal too good for us, for they become men
some day, whereas we must only be women to the end."

"My word, Bella!" exclaimed the mother.

"You have managed to be tolerably heavy upon God's creatures, taking
them in a lump," said the father. "Boys, girls, and cows! Something
has gone wrong with you besides the rain."

"Nothing on earth, sir,--except the boredom."

"Some young man has been talking to you, Bella."

"One or two, mother; and I got to be thinking if any one of them
should ask me to marry him, and if moved by some evil destiny I were
to take him, whether I should murder him, or myself, or run away with
one of the others."

"Couldn't you bear with him till, according to your own theory, he
would grow out of his folly?" said the father.

"Being a woman,--no. The present moment is always everything to me.
When that horrid old harridan halloaed out that somebody was smoking,
I thought I should have died. It was very bad just then."

"Awful!" said Mrs. Boncassen, shaking her head.

"I didn't seem to feel it much," said the father. "One doesn't look
to have everything just what one wants always. If I did I should go
nowhere;--but my total life would be less enjoyable. If ever you do
get married, Bell, you should remember that."

"I mean to get married some day, so that I shouldn't be made love to
any longer."

"I hope it will have that effect," said the father.

"Mr. Boncassen!" ejaculated the mother.

"What I say is true. I hope it will have that effect. It had with
you, my dear."

"I don't know that people didn't think of me as much as of anybody
else, even though I was married."

"Then, my dear, I never knew it."

Miss Boncassen, though she had behaved serenely and with good temper
during the process of Dolly's proposal, had not liked it. She had a
very high opinion of herself, and was certainly entitled to have it
by the undisguised admiration of all that came near her. She was not
more indifferent to the admiration of young men than are other young
ladies. But she was not proud of the admiration of Dolly Longstaff.
She was here among strangers whose ways were unknown to her, whose
rank and standing in the world were vague to her, and wonderful
in their dimness. She knew that she was associating with men very
different from those at home where young men were supposed to be
under the necessity of earning their bread. At New York she would
dance, as she had said, with bank clerks. She was not prepared to
admit that a young London lord was better than a New York bank clerk.
Judging the men on their own individual merits she might find the
bank clerk to be the better of the two. But a certain sweetness of
the aroma of rank was beginning to permeate her republican senses.
The softness of a life in which no occupation was compulsory had
its charms for her. Though she had complained of the insufficient
intelligence of young men she was alive to the delight of having
nothings said to her pleasantly. All this had affected her so
strongly that she had almost felt that a life among these English
luxuries would be a pleasant life. Like most Americans who do not as
yet know the country, she had come with an inward feeling that as an
American and a republican she might probably be despised.

There is not uncommonly a savageness of self-assertion about
Americans which arises from a too great anxiety to be admitted
to fellowship with Britons. She had felt this, and conscious of
reputation already made by herself in the social life of New York,
she had half trusted that she would be well received in London, and
had half convinced herself that she would be rejected. She had not
been rejected. She must have become quite aware of that. She had
dropped very quickly the idea that she would be scorned. Ignorant
as she had been of English life, she perceived that she had at
once become popular. And this had been so in spite of her mother's
homeliness and her father's awkwardness. By herself and by her own
gifts she had done it. She had found out concerning herself that she
had that which would commend her to other society than that of the
Fifth Avenue. Those lords of whom she had heard were as plenty with
her as blackberries. Young Lord Silverbridge, of whom she was told
that of all the young lords of the day he stood first in rank and
wealth, was peculiarly her friend. Her brain was firmer than that of
most girls, but even her brain was a little turned. She never told
herself that it would be well for her to become the wife of such a
one. In her more thoughtful moments she told herself that it would
not be well. But still the allurement was strong upon her. Park Lane
was sweeter than the Fifth Avenue. Lord Silverbridge was nicer than
the bank clerk.

But Dolly Longstaff was not. She would certainly prefer the bank
clerk to Dolly Longstaff. And yet Dolly Longstaff was the one among
her English admirers who had come forward and spoken out. She did not
desire that any one should come forward and speak out. But it was an
annoyance to her that this special man should have done so.

The waiter at the Langham understood American ways perfectly, and
when a young man called between three and four o'clock, asking for
Mrs. Boncassen, said that Miss Boncassen was at home. The young
man took off his hat, brushed up his hair, and followed the waiter
up to the sitting-room. The door was opened and the young man was
announced. "Mr. Longstaff."

Miss Boncassen was rather disgusted. She had had enough of this
English lover. Why should he have come after what had occurred
yesterday? He ought to have felt that he was absolved from the
necessity of making personal inquiries. "I am glad to see that you
got home safe," she said as she gave him her hand.

"And you too, I hope?"

"Well;--so, so; with my clothes a good deal damaged and my temper
rather worse."

"I am so sorry."

"It should not rain on such days. Mother has gone to church."

"Oh;--indeed. I like going to church myself sometimes."

"Do you now?"

"I know what would make me like to go to church."

"And father is at the Athenæum. He goes there to do a little light
reading in the library on Sunday afternoon."

"I shall never forget yesterday, Miss Boncassen."

"You wouldn't if your clothes had been spoilt as mine were."

"Money will repair that."

"Well; yes; but when I've had a petticoat flounced particularly to
order I don't like to see it ill-treated. There are emotions of the
heart which money can't touch."

"Just so;--emotions of the heart! That's the very phrase."

She was determined if possible to prevent a repetition of the scene
which had taken place up at Mrs. de Bever's temple. "All my emotions
are about my dress."

"All?"

"Well; yes; all. I guess I don't care much for eating and drinking."
In saying this she actually contrived to produce something of a nasal
twang.

"Eating and drinking!" said Dolly. "Of course they are
necessities;--and so are clothes."

"But new things are such ducks!"

"Trowsers may be," said Dolly.

Then she took a prolonged gaze at him, wondering whether he was or
was not such a fool as he looked. "How funny you are," she said.

"A man does not generally feel funny after going through what I
suffered yesterday, Miss Boncassen."

"Would you mind ringing the bell?"

"Must it be done quite at once?"

"Quite,--quite," she said. "I can do it myself for the matter of
that." And she rang the bell somewhat violently. Dolly sank back
again into his seat, remarking in his usual apathetic way that he had
intended to obey her behest but had not understood that she was in so
great a hurry. "I am always in a hurry," she said. "I like things to
be done--sharp." And she hit the table a crack. "Please bring me some
iced water," this of course was addressed to the waiter. "And a glass
for Mr. Longstaff."

"None for me, thank you."

"Perhaps you'd like soda and brandy?"

"Oh dear no;--nothing of the kind. But I am so much obliged to you
all the same." As the water-bottle was in fact standing in the room,
and as the waiter had only to hand the glass, all this created but
little obstacle. Still it had its effect, and Dolly, when the man
had retired, felt that there was a difficulty in proceeding. "I have
called to-day--" he began.

"That has been so kind of you. But mother has gone to church."

"I am very glad that she has gone to church, because I wish to--"

"Oh laws! There's a horse has tumbled down in the street. I heard
it."

"He has got up again," said Dolly, looking leisurely out of the
window. "But as I was saying--"

"I don't think that the water we Americans drink can be good. It
makes the women become ugly so young."

"You will never become ugly."

She got up and curtsied to him, and then, still standing, made him a
speech. "Mr. Longstaff, it would be absurd of me to pretend not to
understand what you mean. But I won't have any more of it. Whether
you are making fun of me, or whether you are in earnest, it is just
the same."

"Making fun of you!"

"It does not signify. I don't care which it is. But I won't have it.
There!"

"A gentleman should be allowed to express his feelings and to explain
his position."

"You have expressed and explained more than enough, and I won't have
any more. If you will sit down and talk about something else, or
else go away, there shall be an end of it;--but if you go on, I will
ring the bell again. What can a man gain by going on when a girl has
spoken as I have done?" They were both at this time standing up, and
he was now as angry as she was.

"I've paid you the greatest compliment a man can pay a woman," he
began.

"Very well. If I remember rightly I thanked you for it yesterday. If
you wish it, I will thank you again to-day. But it is a compliment
which becomes very much the reverse if it be repeated too often. You
are sharp enough to understand that I have done everything in my
power to save us both from this trouble."

"What makes you so fierce, Miss Boncassen?"

"What makes you so foolish?"

"I suppose it must be something peculiar to American ladies."

"Just that;--something peculiar to American ladies. They don't
like--well; I don't want to say anything more that can be called
fierce."

At this moment the door was again opened and Lord Silverbridge was
announced. "Halloa, Dolly, are you here?"

"It seems that I am."

"And I am here too," said Miss Boncassen, smiling her prettiest.

"None the worse for yesterday's troubles, I hope?"

"A good deal the worse. I have been explaining all that to Mr.
Longstaff, who has been quite sympathetic with me about my things."

"A terrible pity that shower," said Dolly.

"For you," said Silverbridge, "because, if I remember right, Miss
Boncassen was walking with you;--but I was rather glad of it."

"Lord Silverbridge!"

"I regarded it as a direct interposition of Providence, because you
would not dance with me."

"Any news to-day, Silverbridge?" asked Dolly.

"Nothing particular. They say that Coalheaver can't run for the
Leger."

"What's the matter?" asked Dolly vigorously.

"Broke down at Ascot. But I daresay it's a lie."

"Sure to be a lie," said Dolly. "What do you think of Madame
Scholzdam, Miss Boncassen?"

"I am not a good judge."

"Never heard anything equal to it yet in this world," said Dolly. "I
wonder whether that's true about Coalheaver?"

"Tifto says so."

"Which at the present moment," asked Miss Boncassen, "is the greater
favourite with the public, Madame Scholzdam or Coalheaver?"

"Coalheaver is a horse, Miss Boncassen."

"Oh,--a horse!"

"Perhaps I ought to say a colt."

"Oh,--a colt."

"Do you suppose, Dolly, that Miss Boncassen doesn't know all that?"
asked Silverbridge.

"He supposes that my American ferocity has never been sufficiently
softened for the reception of polite erudition."

"You two have been quarrelling, I fear."

"I never quarrel with a woman," said Dolly.

"Nor with a man in my presence, I hope," said Miss Boncassen.

"Somebody does seem to have got out of bed at the wrong side," said
Silverbridge.

"I did," said Miss Boncassen. "I got out of bed at the wrong side.
I am cross. I can't get over the spoiling of my flounces. I think
you had better both go away and leave me. If I could walk about
the room for half an hour and stamp my feet, I should get better."
Silverbridge thought that as he had come last, he certainly ought to
be left last. Miss Boncassen felt that, at any rate, Mr. Longstaff
should go. Dolly felt that his manhood required him to remain. After
what had taken place he was not going to leave the field vacant for
another. Therefore he made no effort to move.

"That seems rather hard upon me," said Silverbridge. "You told me to
come."

"I told you to come and ask after us all. You have come and asked
after us, and have been informed that we are very bad. What more can
I say? You accuse me of getting out of bed the wrong side, and I own
that I did."

"I meant to say that Dolly Longstaff had done so."

"And I say it was Silverbridge," said Dolly.

"We aren't very agreeable together, are we? Upon my word I think
you'd better both go." Silverbridge immediately got up from his
chair; upon which Dolly also moved.

"What the mischief is up?" asked Silverbridge, when they were under
the porch together.

"The truth is, you never can tell what you are to do with those
American girls."

"I suppose you have been making up to her."

"Nothing in earnest. She seemed to me to like admiration; so I told
her I admired her."

"What did she say then?"

"Upon my word, you seem to be very great at cross-examining. Perhaps
you had better go back and ask her."

"I will, next time I see her." Then he stepped into his cab, and in
a loud voice ordered the man to drive him to the Zoo. But when he
had gone a little way up Portland Place, he stopped the driver and
desired he might be taken back again to the hotel. As he left the
vehicle he looked round for Dolly, but Dolly had certainly gone. Then
he told the waiter to take his card to Miss Boncassen, and explain
that he had something to say which he had forgotten.

"So you have come back again?" said Miss Boncassen, laughing.

"Of course I have. You didn't suppose I was going to let that fellow
get the better of me. Why should I be turned out because he had made
an ass of himself!"

"Who said he made an ass of himself?"

"But he had; hadn't he?"

"No;--by no means," said she after a little pause.

"Tell me what he had been saying."

"Indeed I shall do nothing of the kind. If I told you all he said,
then I should have to tell the next man all that you may say. Would
that be fair?"

"I should not mind," said Silverbridge.

"I dare say not, because you have nothing particular to say. But
the principle is the same. Lawyers and doctors and parsons talk of
privileged communications. Why should not a young lady have her
privileged communications?"

"But I have something particular to say."

"I hope not."

"Why should you hope not?"

"I hate having things said particularly. Nobody likes conversation so
well as I do; but it should never be particular."

"I was going to tell you that I came back to London yesterday in the
same carriage with old Lady Clanfiddle, and that she swore that no
consideration on earth would ever induce her to go to Maidenhead
again."

"That isn't particular."

"She went on to say;--you won't tell of me; will you?"

"It shall all be privileged."

"She went on to say that Americans couldn't be expected to understand
English manners."

"Perhaps they may be all the better for that."

"Then I spoke up. I swore I was awfully in love with you."

"You didn't."

"I did;--that you were, out and away, the finest girl I ever saw in
my life. Of course you understand that her two daughters were there.
And that as for manners,--unless the rain could be attributed to
American manners,--I did not think anything had gone wrong."

"What about the smoking?"

"I told her they were all Englishmen, and that if she had been giving
the party herself they would have smoked just as much. You must
understand that she never does give any parties."

"How could you be so ill-natured?"

"There was ever so much more of it. And it ended in her telling me
that I was a schoolboy. I found out the cause of it all. A great
spout of rain had come upon her daughter's hat, and that had produced
a most melancholy catastrophe."

"I would have given her mine willingly."

"An American hat;--to be worn by Lady Violet Clanfiddle!"

"It came from Paris last week, sir."

"But must have been contaminated by American contact."

"Now, Lord Silverbridge," said she, getting up, "if I had a stick I'd
whip you."

"It was such fun."

"And you come here and tell it all to me?"

"Of course I do. It was a deal too good to keep it to myself.
'American manners!'" As he said this he almost succeeded in looking
like Lady Clanfiddle.

At that moment Mr. Boncassen entered the room, and was immediately
appealed to by his daughter. "Father, you must turn Lord Silverbridge
out of the room."

"Dear me! If I must,--of course I must. But why?"

"He is saying everything horrid he can about Americans."

After this they settled down for a few minutes to general
conversation, and then Lord Silverbridge again took his leave. When
he was gone Isabel Boncassen almost regretted that the "something
particular" which he had threatened to say had not been less comic in
its nature.



CHAPTER XXXIV

Lord Popplecourt


When the reader was told that Lord Popplecourt had found Lady Cantrip
very agreeable it is to be hoped that the reader was disgusted.
Lord Popplecourt would certainly not have given a second thought to
Lady Cantrip unless he had been specially flattered. And why should
such a man have been flattered by a woman who was in all respects
his superior? The reader will understand. It had been settled by
the wisdom of the elders that it would be a good thing that Lord
Popplecourt should marry Lady Mary Palliser.

The mutual assent which leads to marriage should no doubt be
spontaneous. Who does not feel that? Young love should speak from its
first doubtful unconscious spark,--a spark which any breath of air
may quench or cherish,--till it becomes a flame which nothing can
satisfy but the union of the two lovers. No one should be told to
love, or bidden to marry, this man or that woman. The theory of this
is plain to us all, and till we have sons or daughters whom we feel
imperatively obliged to control, the theory is unassailable. But the
duty is so imperative! The Duke had taught himself to believe that
as his wife would have been thrown away on the world had she been
allowed to marry Burgo Fitzgerald, so would his daughter be thrown
away were she allowed to marry Mr. Tregear. Therefore the theory
of spontaneous love must in this case be set aside. Therefore the
spark,--would that it had been no more!--must be quenched. Therefore
there could be no union of two lovers;--but simply a prudent and
perhaps splendid marriage.

Lord Popplecourt was a man in possession of a large estate which was
unencumbered. His rank in the peerage was not high; but his barony
was of an old date,--and, if things went well with him, something
higher in rank might be open to him. He had good looks of that sort
which recommend themselves to pastors and masters, to elders and
betters. He had regular features. He looked as though he were
steady. He was not impatient nor rollicking. Silverbridge was also
good-looking;--but his good looks were such as would give a pang
to the hearts of anxious mothers of daughters. Tregear was the
handsomest man of the three;--but then he looked as though he had no
betters and did not care for his elders. Lord Popplecourt, though
a very young man, had once stammered through half-a-dozen words in
the House of Lords, and had been known to dine with the "Benevolent
Funds." Lord Silverbridge had declared him to be a fool. No one
thought him to be bright. But in the eyes of the Duke,--and of Lady
Cantrip,--he had his good qualities.

But the work was very disagreeable. It was the more hard upon Lady
Cantrip because she did not believe in it. If it could be done, it
would be expedient. But she felt very strongly that it could not
be done. No doubt that Lady Glencora had been turned from her evil
destiny; but Lady Glencora had been younger than her daughter was
now, and possessed of less character. Nor was Lady Cantrip blind to
the difference between a poor man with a bad character, such as that
Burgo had been, and a poor man with a good character, such as was
Tregear. Nevertheless she undertook to aid the work, and condescended
to pretend to be so interested in the portrait of some common
ancestor as to persuade the young man to have it photographed,
in order that the bringing down of the photograph might lead to
something.

He took the photograph, and Lady Cantrip said very much to him about
his grandmother, who was the old lady in question. "She could," she
said, "just remember the features of the dear old woman." She was not
habitually a hypocrite, and she hated herself for what she was doing,
and yet her object was simply good,--to bring together two young
people who might advantageously marry each other. The mere talking
about the old woman would be of no service. She longed to bring out
the offer plainly, and say, "There is Lady Mary Palliser. Don't you
think she'd make a good wife for you?" But she could not, as yet,
bring herself to be so indelicately plain. "You haven't seen the Duke
since?" she asked.

"He spoke to me only yesterday in the House. I like the Duke."

"If I may be allowed to say so, it would be for your advantage
that he should like you;--that is, if you mean to take a part in
politics."

"I suppose I shall," said Popplecourt. "There isn't much else to do."

"You don't go to races?" He shook his head. "I am glad of that,"
said Lady Cantrip. "Nothing is so bad as the turf. I fear Lord
Silverbridge is devoting himself to the turf."

"I don't think it can be good for any man to have much to do with
Major Tifto. I suppose Silverbridge knows what he's about."

Here was an opportunity which might have been used. It would have
been so easy for her to glide from the imperfections of the brother
to the perfections of the sister. But she could not bring herself to
do it quite at once. She approached the matter however as nearly as
she could without making her grand proposition. She shook her head
sadly in reference to Silverbridge, and then spoke of the Duke. "His
father is so anxious about him."

"I dare say."

"I don't know any man who is more painfully anxious about his
children. He feels the responsibility so much since his wife's death.
There is Lady Mary."

"She's all right, I should say."

"All right! oh yes. But when a girl is possessed of so many
things,--rank, beauty, intelligence, large fortune,--"

"Will Lady Mary have much?"

"A large portion of her mother's money, I should say. When all these
things are joined together, a father of course feels most anxious as
to their disposal."

"I suppose she is clever."

"Very clever," said Lady Cantrip.

"I think a girl may be too clever, you know," said Lord Popplecourt.

"Perhaps she may. But I know more who are too foolish. I am so much
obliged to you for the photograph."

"Don't mention it."

"I really did mean that you should send a man down."

On that occasion the two young people did not see each other. Lady
Mary did not come down, and Lady Cantrip lacked the courage to send
for her. As it was, might it not be possible that the young man
should be induced to make himself agreeable to the young lady without
any further explanation? But love-making between young people
cannot well take place unless they be brought together. There was a
difficulty in bringing them together at Richmond. The Duke had indeed
spoken of meeting Lord Popplecourt at dinner there;--but this was to
have followed the proposition which Lady Cantrip should make to him.
She could not yet make the proposition, and therefore she hardly
knew how to arrange the dinner. She was obliged at last to let the
wished-for lover go away without arranging anything. When the Duke
should have settled his autumn plans, then an attempt must be made to
induce Lord Popplecourt to travel in the same direction.

That evening Lady Cantrip said a few words to Mary respecting the
proposed suitor. "There is nothing I have such a horror of as
gambling," she said.

"It is dreadful."

"I am very glad to think that Nidderdale does not do anything of that
sort." It was perhaps on the cards that Nidderdale should do things
of which she knew nothing. "I hope Silverbridge does not bet."

"I don't think he does."

"There's Lord Popplecourt,--quite a young man,--with everything at
his own disposal, and a very large estate. Think of the evil he might
do if he were given that way."

"Does he gamble?"

"Not at all. It must be such a comfort to his mother!"

"He looks to me as though he never would do anything," said Lady
Mary. Then the subject was dropped.

It was a week after this, towards the end of July, that the Duke
wrote a line to Lady Cantrip, apologising for what he had done, but
explaining that he had asked Lord Popplecourt to dine at The Horns on
a certain Sunday. He had, he said, been assured by Lord Cantrip that
such an arrangement would be quite convenient. It was clear from his
letter that he was much in earnest. Of course there was no reason why
the dinner should not be eaten. Only the speciality of the invitation
to Lord Popplecourt must not be so glaring that he himself should be
struck by the strangeness of it. There must be a little party made
up. Lord Nidderdale and his wife were therefore bidden to come down,
and Silverbridge, who at first consented rather unwillingly,--and
Lady Mabel Grex, as to whom the Duke made a special request that she
might be asked. This last invitation was sent express from Lady Mary,
and included Miss Cass. So the party was made up. The careful reader
will perceive that there were to be ten of them.

"Isn't it odd papa wanting to have Lady Mabel?" Mary said to Lady
Cantrip.

"Does he not know her, my dear?"

"He hardly ever spoke to her. I'll tell you what; I expect
Silverbridge is going to marry her."

"Why shouldn't he?"

"I don't know why he shouldn't. She is very beautiful, and very
clever. But if so, papa must know all about it. It does seem so odd
that papa of all people should turn match-maker, or even that he
should think of it."

"So much is thrown upon him now," said Lady Cantrip

"Poor papa!" Then she remembered herself, and spoke with a little
start. "Of course I am not thinking of myself. Arranging a marriage
is very different from preventing any one from marrying."

"Whatever he may think to be his duty he will be sure to do it," said
the elder lady very solemnly.

Lady Mabel was surprised by the invitation, but she was not slow
to accept it. "Papa will be here and will be so glad to meet you,"
Lady Mary had said. Why should the Duke of Omnium wish to meet her?
"Silverbridge will be here too," Mary had gone on to say. "It is just
a family party. Papa, you know, is not going anywhere; nor am I."
By all this Lady Mabel's thoughts were much stirred, and her bosom
somewhat moved. And Silverbridge also was moved by it. Of course he
could not but remember that he had pledged himself to his father to
ask Lady Mabel to be his wife. He had faltered since. She had been,
he thought, unkind to him, or at any rate indifferent. He had surely
said enough to her to make her know what he meant; and yet she had
taken no trouble to meet him half way. And then Isabel Boncassen had
intervened. Now he was asked to dinner in a most unusual manner!

Of all the guests invited Lord Popplecourt was perhaps the least
disturbed. He was quite alive to the honour of being noticed by the
Duke of Omnium, and alive also to the flattering courtesy shown to
him by Lady Cantrip. But justice would not be done him unless it were
acknowledged that he had as yet flattered himself with no hopes in
regard to Lady Mary Palliser. He, when he prepared himself for his
journey down to Richmond, thought much more of the Duke than of the
Duke's daughter.

"Oh yes, I can drive you down if you like that kind of thing,"
Silverbridge said to him on the Saturday evening.

"And bring me back?"

"If you will come when I am coming. I hate waiting for a fellow."

"Suppose we leave at half-past ten."

"I won't fix any time; but if we can't make it suit there'll be the
governor's carriage."

"Will the Duke go down in his carriage?"

"I suppose so. It's quicker and less trouble than the railway." Then
Lord Popplecourt reflected that he would certainly come back with
the Duke if he could so manage it, and there floated before his eyes
visions of under-secretaryships, all of which might owe their origin
to this proposed drive up from Richmond.

At six o'clock on the Sunday evening Silverbridge called for Lord
Popplecourt. "Upon my word," said he, "I didn't ever expect to see
you in my cab."

"Why not me especially?"

"Because you're not one of our lot."

"You'd sooner have Tifto, I dare say."

"No, I wouldn't. Tifto is not at all a pleasant companion, though he
understands horses. You're going in for heavy politics, I suppose."

"Not particularly heavy."

"If not, why on earth does my governor take you up? You won't mind my
smoking, I dare say." After this there was no conversation between
them.



CHAPTER XXXV

"Don't You Think--?"


It was pretty to see the Duke's reception of Lady Mabel. "I knew your
mother many years ago," he said, "when I was young myself. Her mother
and my mother were first cousins and dear friends." He held her hand
as he spoke and looked at her as though he meant to love her. Lady
Mabel saw that it was so. Could it be possible that the Duke had
heard anything;--that he should wish to receive her? She had told
herself and had told Miss Cassewary that though she had spared
Silverbridge, yet she knew that she would make him a good wife. If
the Duke thought so also, then surely she need not doubt.

"I knew we were cousins," she said, "and have been so proud of the
connection! Lord Silverbridge does come and see us sometimes."

Soon after that Silverbridge and Popplecourt came in. If the story of
the old woman in the portrait may be taken as evidence of a family
connexion between Lady Cantrip and Lord Popplecourt, everybody there
was more or less connected with everybody else. Nidderdale had been a
first cousin of Lady Glencora, and he had married a daughter of Lady
Cantrip. They were manifestly a family party,--thanks to the old
woman in the picture.

It is a point of conscience among the--perhaps not ten thousand, but
say one thousand of bluest blood,--that everybody should know who
everybody is. Our Duke, though he had not given his mind much to the
pursuit, had nevertheless learned his lesson. It is a knowledge which
the possession of the blue blood itself produces. There are countries
with bluer blood than our own in which to be without such knowledge
is a crime.

When the old lady in the portrait had been discussed, Popplecourt was
close to Lady Mary. They two had no idea why such vicinity had been
planned. The Duke knew, of course, and Lady Cantrip. Lady Cantrip had
whispered to her daughter that such a marriage would be suitable, and
the daughter had hinted it to her husband. Lord Cantrip of course was
not in the dark. Lady Mabel had expressed a hint on the matter to
Miss Cass, who had not repudiated it. Even Silverbridge had suggested
to himself that something of the kind might be in the wind, thinking
that, if so, none of them knew much about his sister Mary. But
Popplecourt himself was divinely innocent. His ideas of marriage had
as yet gone no farther than a conviction that girls generally were
things which would be pressed on him, and against which he must arm
himself with some shield. Marriage would have to come, no doubt; but
not the less was it his duty to live as though it were a pit towards
which he would be tempted by female allurements. But that a net
should be spread over him here he was much too humble-minded to
imagine.

"Very hot," he said to Lady Mary.

"We found it warm in church to-day."

"I dare say. I came down here with your brother in his hansom cab.
What a very odd thing to have a hansom cab!"

"I should like one."

"Should you indeed?"

"Particularly if I could drive it myself. Silverbridge does, at
night, when he thinks people won't see him."

"Drive the cab in the streets! What does he do with his man?"

"Puts him inside. He was out once without the man and took up a
fare,--an old woman, he said. And when she was going to pay him he
touched his hat and said he never took money from ladies."

"Do you believe that?"

"Oh yes. I call that good fun, because it did no harm. He had his
lark. The lady was taken where she wanted to go, and she saved her
money."

"Suppose he had upset her," said Lord Popplecourt, looking as an old
philosopher might have looked when he had found some clenching answer
to another philosopher's argument.

"The real cabman might have upset her worse," said Lady Mary.

"Don't you feel it odd that we should meet here?" said Lord
Silverbridge to his neighbour, Lady Mabel.

"Anything unexpected is odd," said Lady Mabel. It seemed to her to be
very odd,--unless certain people had made up their minds as to the
expediency of a certain event.

"That is what you call logic;--isn't it? Anything unexpected is odd!"

"Lord Silverbridge, I won't be laughed at. You have been at Oxford
and ought to know what logic is."

"That at any rate is ill-natured," he replied, turning very red in
the face.

"You don't think I meant it. Oh, Lord Silverbridge, say that you
don't think I meant it. You cannot think I would willingly wound
you. Indeed, indeed, I was not thinking." It had in truth been
an accident. She could not speak aloud because they were closely
surrounded by others, but she looked up in his face to see whether
he were angry with her. "Say that you do not think I meant it."

"I do not think you meant it."

"I would not say a word to hurt you,--oh, for more than I can tell
you."

"It is all bosh, of course," he said laughing; "but I do not like to
hear the old place named. I have always made a fool of myself. Some
men do it and don't care about it. But I do it, and yet it makes me
miserable."

"If that be so you will soon give over making--what you call a fool
of yourself. For myself I like the idea of wild oats. I look upon
them like measles. Only you should have a doctor ready when the
disease shows itself."

"What sort of a doctor ought I to have?"

"Ah;--you must find out that yourself. That sort of feeling which
makes you feel miserable;--that is a doctor itself."

"Or a wife?"

"Or a wife,--if you can find a good one. There are wives, you know,
who aggravate the disease. If I had a fast husband I should make him
faster by being fast myself. There is nothing I envy so much as the
power of doing half-mad things."

"Women can do that too."

"But they go to the dogs. We are dreadfully restricted. If you like
champagne you can have a bucketful. I am obliged to pretend that I
only want a very little. You can bet thousands. I must confine myself
to gloves. You can flirt with any woman you please. I must wait till
somebody comes,--and put up with it if nobody does come."

"Plenty come, no doubt."

"But I want to pick and choose. A man turns the girls over one after
another as one does the papers when one is fitting up a room, or
rolls them out as one rolls out the carpets. A very careful young man
like Lord Popplecourt might reject a young woman because her hair
didn't suit the colour of his furniture."

"I don't think that I shall choose my wife as I would papers and
carpets."

The Duke, who sat between Lady Cantrip and her daughter, did
his best to make himself agreeable. The conversation had been
semi-political,--political to the usual feminine extent, and had
consisted chiefly of sarcasms from Lady Cantrip against Sir Timothy
Beeswax. "That England should put up with such a man," Lady Cantrip
had said, "is to me shocking! There used to be a feeling in favour
of gentlemen." To this the Duke had responded by asserting that Sir
Timothy had displayed great aptitude for parliamentary life, and
knew the House of Commons better than most men. He said nothing
against his foe, and very much in his foe's praise. But Lady Cantrip
perceived that she had succeeded in pleasing him.

When the ladies were gone the politics became more serious. "That
unfortunate quarrel is to go on the same as ever, I suppose," said
the Duke, addressing himself to the two young men who had seats in
the House of Commons. They were both on the Conservative side in
politics. The three peers present were all Liberals.

"Till next Session, I think, sir," said Silverbridge.

"Sir Timothy, though he did lose his temper, has managed it well,"
said Lord Cantrip.

"Phineas Finn lost his temper worse than Sir Timothy," said Lord
Nidderdale.

"But yet I think he had the feeling of the House with him," said the
Duke. "I happened to be present in the gallery at the time."

"Yes," said Nidderdale, "because he 'owned up.' The fact is if you
'own up' in a genial sort of way the House will forgive anything. If
I were to murder my grandmother, and when questioned about it were to
acknowledge that I had done it--" Then Lord Nidderdale stood up and
made his speech as he might have made it in the House of Commons. "'I
regret to say, sir, that the old woman did get in my way when I was
in a passion. Unfortunately I had a heavy stick in my hand and I
did strike her over the head. Nobody can regret it so much as I do!
Nobody can feel so acutely the position in which I am placed! I have
sat in this House for many years, and many gentlemen know me well. I
think, Sir, that they will acknowledge that I am a man not deficient
in filial piety or general humanity. Sir, I am sorry for what I did
in a moment of heat. I have now spoken the truth, and I shall leave
myself in the hands of the House.' My belief is I should get such a
round of applause as I certainly shall never achieve in any other
way. It is not only that a popular man may do it,--like Phineas
Finn,--but the most unpopular man in the House may make himself liked
by owning freely that he has done something that he ought to be
ashamed of." Nidderdale's unwonted eloquence was received in good
part by the assembled legislators.

"Taking it altogether," said the Duke, "I know of no assembly in
any country in which good-humour prevails so generally, in which
the members behave to each other so well, in which rules are so
universally followed, or in which the president is so thoroughly
sustained by the feeling of the members."

"I hear men say that it isn't quite what it used to be," said
Silverbridge.

"Nothing will ever be quite what it used to be."

"Changes for the worse, I mean. Men are doing all kinds of things,
just because the rules of the House allow them."

"If they be within rule," said the Duke, "I don't know who is to
blame them. In my time, if any man stretched a rule too far the House
would not put up with it."

"That's just it," said Nidderdale. "The House puts up with anything
now. There is a great deal of good feeling no doubt, but there's no
earnestness about anything. I think you are more earnest than we; but
then you are such horrid bores. And each earnest man is in earnest
about something that nobody else cares for."

When they were again in the drawing-room, Lord Popplecourt was seated
next to Lady Mary. "Where are you going this autumn?" he asked.

"I don't know in the least. Papa said something about going abroad."

"You won't be at Custins?" Custins was Lord Cantrip's country seat in
Dorsetshire.

"I know nothing about myself as yet. But I don't think I shall go
anywhere unless papa goes too."

"Lady Cantrip has asked me to be at Custins in the middle of October.
They say it is about the best pheasant-shooting in England."

"Do you shoot much?"

"A great deal. I shall be in Scotland on the Twelfth. I and Reginald
Dobbes have a place together. I shall get to my own partridges on the
1st of September. I always manage that. Popplecourt is in Suffolk,
and I don't think any man in England can beat me for partridges."

"What do you do with all you slay?"

"Leadenhall Market. I make it pay,--or very nearly. Then I shall run
back to Scotland for the end of the stalking, and I can easily manage
to be at Custins by the middle of October. I never touch my own
pheasants till November."

"Why are you so abstemious?"

"The birds are heavier and it answers better. But if I thought you
would be at Custins it would be much nicer." Lady Mary again told him
that as yet she knew nothing of her father's autumn movements.

But at the same time the Duke was arranging his autumn movements, or
at any rate those of his daughter. Lady Cantrip had told him that the
desirable son-in-law had promised to go to Custins, and suggested
that he and Mary should also be there. In his daughter's name he
promised, but he would not bind himself. Would it not be better that
he should be absent? Now that the doing of this thing was brought
nearer to him so that he could see and feel its details, he was
disgusted by it. And yet it had answered so well with his wife!

"Is Lord Popplecourt intimate here?" Lady Mabel asked her friend,
Lord Silverbridge.

"I don't know. I am not."

"Lady Cantrip seems to think a great deal about him."

"I dare say. I don't."

"Your father seems to like him."

"That's possible too. They're going back to London together in the
governor's carriage. My father will talk high politics all the way,
and Popplecourt will agree with everything."

"He isn't intended to--to--? You know what I mean."

"I can't say that I do."

"To cut out poor Frank."

"It's quite possible."

"Poor Frank!"

"You had a great deal better say poor Popplecourt!--or poor governor,
or poor Lady Cantrip."

"But a hundred countesses can't make your sister marry a man she
doesn't like."

"Just that. They don't go the right way about it."

"What would you do?"

"Leave her alone. Let her find out gradually that what she wants
can't be done."

"And so linger on for years," said Lady Mabel reproachfully.

"I say nothing about that. The man is my friend."

"And you ought to be proud of him."

"I never knew anybody yet that was proud of his friends. I like him
well enough, but I can quite understand that the governor should
object."

"Yes, we all know that," said she sadly.

"What would your father say if you wanted to marry someone who hadn't
a shilling?"

"I should object myself,--without waiting for my father. But
then,--neither have I a shilling. If I had money, do you think I
wouldn't like to give it to the man I loved?"

"But this is a case of giving somebody else's money. They won't make
her give it up by bringing such a young ass as that down here. If my
father has persistency enough to let her cry her eyes out, he'll
succeed."

"And break her heart. Could you do that?"

"Certainly not. But then I'm soft. I can't refuse."

"Can't you?"

"Not if the person who asks me is in my good books. You try me."

"What shall I ask for?"

"Anything."

"Give me that ring off your finger," she said. He at once took it
off his hand. "Of course you know I am in joke. You don't imagine
that I would take it from you?" He still held it towards her. "Lord
Silverbridge, I expect that with you I may say a foolish word without
being brought to sorrow by it. I know that that ring belonged to your
great-uncle,--and to fifty Pallisers before."

"What would it matter?"

"And it would be wholly useless to me, as I could not wear it."

"Of course it would be too big," said he, replacing the ring on his
own finger. "But when I talk of any one being in my good books, I
don't mean a thing like that. Don't you know there is nobody on earth
I--" there he paused and blushed, and she sat motionless, looking at
him expecting, with her colour too somewhat raised,--"whom I like so
well as I do you?" It was a lame conclusion. She felt it to be lame.
But as regarded him, the lameness at the moment had come from a
timidity which forbade him to say the word "love" even though he had
meant to say it.

She recovered herself instantly. "I do believe it," she said. "I do
think that we are real friends."

"Would you not take a ring from a--real friend?"

"Not that ring;--nor a ring at all after I had asked for it in
joke. You understand it all. But to go back to what we were talking
about,--if you can do anything for Frank, pray do. You know it will
break her heart. A man of course bears it better, but he does not
perhaps suffer the less. It is all his life to him. He can do nothing
while this is going on. Are you not true enough to your friendship to
exert yourself for him?" Silverbridge put his hand up and rubbed his
head as though he were vexed. "Your aid would turn everything in his
favour."

"You do not know my father."

"Is he so inexorable?"

"It is not that, Mabel. But he is so unhappy. I cannot add to his
unhappiness by taking part against him."

In another part of the room Lady Cantrip was busy with Lord
Popplecourt. She had talked about pheasants, and had talked about
grouse, had talked about moving the address in the House of Lords in
some coming Session, and the great value of political alliances early
in life, till the young peer began to think that Lady Cantrip was the
nicest of women. Then after a short pause she changed the subject.

"Don't you think Lady Mary very beautiful?"

"Uncommon," said his Lordship.

"And her manners so perfect. She has all her mother's ease without
any of that-- You know what I mean."

"Quite so," said his Lordship.

"And then she has got so much in her."

"Has she though?"

"I don't know any girl of her age so thoroughly well educated. The
Duke seems to take to you."

"Well, yes;--the Duke is very kind."

"Don't you think--?"

"Eh!"

"You have heard of her mother's fortune?"

"Tremendous!"

"She will have, I take it, quite a third of it. Whatever I say I'm
sure you will take in confidence; but she is a dear dear girl; and I
am anxious for her happiness almost as though she belonged to me."

Lord Popplecourt went back to town in the Duke's carriage, but was
unable to say a word about politics. His mind was altogether filled
with the wonderful words that had been spoken to him. Could it be
that Lady Mary had fallen violently in love with him? He would not
at once give himself up to the pleasing idea, having so thoroughly
grounded himself in the belief that female nets were to be avoided.
But when he got home he did think favourably of it. The daughter of
a Duke,--and such a Duke! So lovely a girl, and with such gifts! And
then a fortune which would make a material addition to his own large
property!



CHAPTER XXXVI

Tally-Ho Lodge


We all know that very clever distich concerning the great fleas and
the little fleas which tells us that no animal is too humble to have
its parasite. Even Major Tifto had his inferior friend. This was
a certain Captain Green,--for the friend also affected military
honours. He was a man somewhat older than Tifto, of whose antecedents
no one was supposed to know anything. It was presumed of him that he
lived by betting, and it was boasted by those who wished to defend
his character that when he lost he paid his money like a gentleman.
Tifto during the last year or two had been anxious to support Captain
Green, and had always made use of this argument: "Where the d---- he
gets his money I don't know;--but when he loses, there it is."

Major Tifto had a little "box" of his own in the neighbourhood of
Egham, at which he had a set of stables a little bigger than his
house, and a set of kennels a little bigger than his stables. It was
here he kept his horses and hounds, and himself too when business
connected with his sporting life did not take him to town. It was
now the middle of August and he had come to Tally-ho Lodge, there to
look after his establishments, to make arrangements for cub-hunting,
and to prepare for the autumn racing campaign. On this occasion
Captain Green was enjoying his hospitality and assisting him by sage
counsels. Behind the little box was a little garden,--a garden that
was very little; but, still, thus close to the parlour window, there
was room for a small table to be put on the grass-plat, and for a
couple of armchairs. Here the Major and the Captain were seated
about eight o'clock one evening, with convivial good things within
their reach. The good things were gin-and-water and pipes. The two
gentlemen had not dressed strictly for dinner. They had spent a great
part of the day handling the hounds and the horses, dressing wounds,
curing sores, and ministering to canine ailments, and had been
detained over their work too long to think of their toilet. As it
was they had an eye to business. The stables at one corner and the
kennels at the other were close to the little garden, and the doings
of a man and a boy who were still at work among the animals could be
directed from the armchairs on which the two sportsmen were sitting.

It must be explained that ever since the Silverbridge election
there had been a growing feeling in Tifto's mind that he had been
ill-treated by his partner. The feeling was strengthened by the
admirable condition of Prime Minister. Surely more consideration had
been due to a man who had produced such a state of things!

"I wouldn't quarrel with him, but I'd make him pay his way," said the
prudent Captain.

"As for that, of course he does pay--his share."

"Who does all the work?"

"That's true."

"The fact is, Tifto, you don't make enough out of it. When a small
man like you has to deal with a big man like that, he may take it out
of him in one of two ways. But he must be deuced clever if he can get
it both ways."

"What are you driving at?" asked Tifto, who did not like being called
a small man, feeling himself to be every inch a Master of foxhounds.

"Why, this!--Look at that d---- fellow fretting that 'orse with a
switch. If you can't strap a 'orse without a stick in your hand,
don't you strap him at all, you--" Then there came a volley of abuse
out of the Captain's mouth, in the middle of which the man threw down
the rubber he was using and walked away.

"You come back," halloed Tifto, jumping up from his seat with his
pipe in his mouth. Then there was a general quarrel between the man
and his two masters, in which the man at last was victorious. And the
horse was taken into the stable in an unfinished condition. "It's
all very well to say 'Get rid of him,' but where am I to get anybody
better? It has come to such a pass that now if you speak to a fellow
he walks out of the yard."

They then returned to the state of affairs, as it was between Tifto
and Lord Silverbridge. "What I was saying is this," continued the
Captain. "If you choose to put yourself up to live with a fellow like
that on equal terms--"

"One gentleman with another, you mean?"

"Put it so. It don't quite hit it off, but put it so. Why then you
get your wages when you take his arm and call him Silverbridge."

"I don't want wages from any man," said the indignant Major.

"That comes from not knowing what wages is. I do want wages. If I
do a thing I like to be paid for it. You are paid for it after one
fashion, I prefer the other."

"Do you mean he should give me--a salary?"

"I'd have it out of him some way. What's the good of young chaps of
that sort if they aren't made to pay? You've got this young swell in
tow. He's going to be about the richest man in England;--and what the
deuce better are you for it?" Tifto sat meditating, thinking of the
wisdom which was being spoken. The same ideas had occurred to him.
The happy chance which had made him intimate with Lord Silverbridge
had not yet enriched him. "What is the good of chaps of that sort if
they are not made to pay?" The words were wise words. But yet how
glorious he had been when he was elected at the Beargarden, and had
entered the club as the special friend of the heir of the Duke of
Omnium.

After a short pause, Captain Green pursued his discourse. "You said
salary."

"I did mention the word."

"Salary and wages is one. A salary is a nice thing if it's paid
regular. I had a salary once myself for looking after a stud of
'orses at Newmarket, only the gentleman broke up and it never went
very far."

"Was that Marley Bullock?"

"Yes; that was Marley Bullock. He's abroad somewhere now with nothing
a year paid quarterly to live on. I think he does a little at cards.
He'd had a good bit of money once, but most of it was gone when he
came my way."

"You didn't make by him?"

"I didn't lose nothing. I didn't have a lot of 'orses under me
without getting something out of it."

"What am I to do?" asked Tifto. "I can sell him a horse now and
again. But if I give him anything good there isn't much to come out
of that."

"Very little I should say. Don't he put his money on his 'orses?"

"Not very free. I think he's coming out freer now."

"What did he stand to win on the Derby?"

"A thousand or two perhaps."

"There may be something got handsome out of that," said the Captain,
not venturing to allow his voice to rise above a whisper. Major Tifto
looked hard at him but said nothing. "Of course you must see your
way."

"I don't quite understand."

"Race 'orses are expensive animals,--and races generally is
expensive."

"That's true."

"When so much is dropped, somebody has to pick it up. That's what
I've always said to myself. I'm as honest as another man."

"That's of course," said the Major civilly.

"But if I don't keep my mouth shut, somebody 'll have my teeth out of
my head. Every one for himself and God for us all. I suppose there's
a deal of money flying about. He'll put a lot of money on this 'orse
of yours for the Leger if he's managed right. There's more to be got
out of that than calling him Silverbridge and walking arm-in-arm.
Business is business. I don't know whether I make myself understood."

The gentleman did not quite make himself understood; but Tifto
endeavoured to read the riddle. He must in some way make money out of
his friend Lord Silverbridge. Hitherto he had contented himself with
the brilliancy of the connection; but now his brilliant friend had
taken to snubbing him, and had on more than one occasion made himself
disagreeable. It seemed to him that Captain Green counselled him to
put up with that, but counselled him at the same time to--pick up
some of his friend's money. He didn't think that he could ask Lord
Silverbridge for a salary--he who was a Master of Fox-hounds, and a
member of the Beargarden. Then his friend had suggested something
about the young lord's bets. He was endeavouring to unriddle all this
with a brain that was already somewhat muddled with alcohol, when
Captain Green got up from his chair and standing over the Major spoke
his last words for that night as from an oracle. "Square is all very
well, as long as others are square to you;--but when they aren't,
then I say square be d----. Square! what comes of it? Work your heart
out, and then it's no good."

The Major thought about it much that night, and was thinking about it
still when he awoke on the next morning. He would like to make Lord
Silverbridge pay for his late insolence. It would answer his purpose
to make a little money,--as he told himself,--in any honest way.
At the present moment he was in want of money, and on looking into
his affairs declared to himself that he had certainly impoverished
himself by his devotion to Lord Silverbridge's interests. At
breakfast on the following morning he endeavoured to bring his friend
back to the subject. But the Captain was cross, rather than oracular.
"Everybody," he said, "ought to know his own business. He wasn't
going to meddle or make. What he had said had been taken amiss." This
was hard upon Tifto, who had taken nothing amiss.

"Square be d----!" There was a great deal in the lesson there
enunciated which demanded consideration. Hitherto the Major had
fought his battles with a certain adherence to squareness. If his
angles had not all been perfect angles, still there had always been
an attempt at geometrical accuracy. He might now and again have
told a lie about a horse--but who that deals in horses has not done
that? He had been alive to the value of underhand information from
racing-stables, but who won't use a tip if he can get it? He had lied
about the expense of his hounds, in order to enhance the subscription
of his members. Those were things which everybody did in his line.
But Green had meant something beyond this.

As far as he could see out in the world at large, nobody was square.
You had to keep your mouth shut, or your teeth would be stolen out of
it. He didn't look into a paper without seeing that on all sides of
him men had abandoned the idea of squareness. Chairmen, directors,
members of Parliament, ambassadors,--all the world, as he told
himself,--were trying to get on by their wits. He didn't see why he
should be more square than anybody else. Why hadn't Silverbridge
taken him down to Scotland for the grouse?



CHAPTER XXXVII

Grex


Far away from all known places, in the northern limit of the Craven
district, on the borders of Westmorland but in Yorkshire, there
stands a large, rambling, most picturesque old house called Grex. The
people around call it the Castle, but it is not a castle. It is an
old brick building supposed to have been erected in the days of James
the First, having oriel windows, twisted chimneys, long galleries,
gable ends, a quadrangle of which the house surrounds three sides,
terraces, sun-dials, and fish-ponds. But it is so sadly out of repair
as to be altogether unfit for the residence of a gentleman and his
family. It stands not in a park, for the land about it is divided
into paddocks by low stone walls, but in the midst of lovely scenery,
the ground rising all round it in low irregular hills or fells, and
close to it, a quarter of a mile from the back of the house, there is
a small dark lake, not serenely lovely as are some of the lakes in
Westmorland, but attractive by the darkness of its waters and the
gloom of the woods around it.

This is the country seat of Earl Grex,--which however he had not
visited for some years. Gradually the place had got into such a
condition that his absence is not surprising. An owner of Grex, with
large means at his disposal and with a taste for the picturesque
to gratify,--one who could afford to pay for memories and who was
willing to pay dearly for such luxuries, might no doubt restore Grex.
But the Earl had neither the money nor the taste.

Lord Grex had latterly never gone near the place, nor was his son
Lord Percival fond of looking upon the ruin of his property. But Lady
Mabel loved it with a fond love. With all her lightness of spirit she
was prone to memories, prone to melancholy, prone at times almost to
seek the gratification of sorrow. Year after year when the London
season was over she would come down to Grex and spend a week or two
amidst its desolation. She was now going on to a seat in Scotland
belonging to Mrs. Montacute Jones called Killancodlem; but she was in
the meanwhile passing a desolate fortnight at Grex in company with
Miss Cassewary. The gardens were let,--and being let of course were
not kept in further order than as profit might require. The man who
rented them lived in the big house with his wife, and they on such
occasions as this would cook and wait upon Lady Mabel.

Lady Mabel was at the home of her ancestors, and the faithful Miss
Cass was with her. But at the moment and at the spot at which the
reader shall see her, Miss Cass was not with her. She was sitting on
a rock about twelve feet above the lake looking upon the black water;
and on another rock a few feet from her was seated Frank Tregear.
"No," she said, "you should not have come. Nothing can justify it. Of
course as you are here I could not refuse to come out with you. To
make a fuss about it would be the worst of all. But you should not
have come."

"Why not? Whom does it hurt? It is a pleasure to me. If it be the
reverse to you, I will go."

"Men are so unmanly. They take such mean advantages. You know it is a
pleasure to me to see you."

"I had hoped so."

"But it is a pleasure I ought not to have,--at least not here."

"That is what I do not understand," said he. "In London, where the
Earl could bark at me if he happened to find me, I could see the
inconvenience of it. But here, where there is nobody but Miss Cass--"

"There are a great many others. There are the rooks, and stones, and
old women;--all of which have ears."

"But of what is there to be ashamed? There is nothing in the world to
me so pleasant as the companionship of my friends."

"Then go after Silverbridge."

"I mean to do so;--but I am taking you by the way."

"It is all unmanly," she said, rising from her stone; "you know
that it is so. Friends! Do you mean to say that it would make no
difference whether you were here with me or with Miss Cass?"

"The greatest difference in the world."

"Because she is an old woman and I am a young one, and because in
intercourse between young men and young women there is something
dangerous to the women and therefore pleasant to the men."

"I never heard anything more unjust. You cannot think I desire
anything injurious to you."

"I do think so." She was still standing and spoke now with great
vehemence. "I do think so. You force me to throw aside the reticence
I ought to keep. Would it help me in my prospects if your friend Lord
Silverbridge knew that I was here?"

"How should he know?"

"But if he did? Do you suppose that I want to have visits paid to me
of which I am afraid to speak? Would you dare to tell Lady Mary that
you had been sitting alone with me on the rocks at Grex?"

"Certainly I would."

"Then it would be because you have not dared to tell her certain
other things which have gone before. You have sworn to her no doubt
that you love her better than all the world."

"I have."

"And you have taken the trouble to come here to tell me that,--to
wound me to the core by saying so; to show me that, though I may
still be sick, you have recovered,--that is if you ever suffered! Go
your way and let me go mine. I do not want you."

"Mabel!"

"I do not want you. I know you will not help me, but you need not
destroy me."

"You know that you are wronging me."

"No! You understand it all though you look so calm. I hate your Lady
Mary Palliser. There! But if by anything I could do I could secure
her to you I would do it,--because you want it."

"She will be your sister-in-law,--probably."

"Never. It will never be so."

"Why do you hate her?"

"There again! You are so little of a man that you can ask me why!"
Then she turned away as though she intended to go down to the marge
of the lake.

But he rose up and stopped her. "Let us have this out, Mabel, before
we go," he said. "Unmanly is a heavy word to hear from you, and you
have used it a dozen times."

"It is because I have thought it a thousand times. Go and get her if
you can;--but why tell me about it?"

"You said you would help me."

"So I would, as I would help you do anything you might want; but you
can hardly think that after what has passed I can wish to hear about
her."

"It was you spoke of her."

"I told you you should not be here,--because of her and because of
me. And I tell you again, I hate her. Do you think I can hear you
speak of her as though she were the only woman you had ever seen
without feeling it? Did you ever swear that you loved any one else?"

"Certainly, I have so sworn."

"Have you ever said that nothing could alter that love?"

"Indeed I have."

"But it is altered. It has all gone. It has been transferred to one
who has more advantages of beauty, youth, wealth, and position."

"Oh Mabel, Mabel!"

"But it is so."

"When you say this do you not think of yourself?"

"Yes. But I have never been false to any one. You are false to me."

"Have I not offered to face all the world with you?"

"You would not offer it now?"

"No," he said, after a pause,--"not now. Were I to do so, I should be
false. You bade me take my love elsewhere, and I did so."

"With the greatest ease."

"We agreed it should be so; and you have done the same."

"That is false. Look me in the face and tell me whether you do not
know it to be false!"

"And yet I am told that I am injuring you with Silverbridge."

"Oh,--so unmanly again! Of course I have to marry. Who does not know
it? Do you want to see me begging my bread about the streets? You
have bread; or if not, you might earn it. If you marry for money--"

"The accusation is altogether unjustifiable."

"Allow me to finish what I have to say. If you marry for money you
will do that which is in itself bad, and which is also unnecessary.
What other course would you recommend me to take? No one goes into
the gutter while there is a clean path open. If there be no escape
but through the gutter, one has to take it."

"You mean that my duty to you should have kept me from marrying all
my life."

"Not that;--but a little while, Frank; just a little while. Your
bloom is not fading; your charms are not running from you. Have you
not a strength which I cannot have? Do you not feel that you are a
tree, standing firm in the ground, while I am a bit of ivy that will
be trodden in the dirt unless it can be made to cling to something?
You should not liken yourself to me, Frank."

"If I could do you any good!"

"Good! What is the meaning of good? If you love, it is good to be
loved again. It is good not to have your heart torn in pieces. You
know that I love you." He was standing close to her, and put out
his hand as though he would twine his arm round her waist. "Not for
worlds," she said. "It belongs to that Palliser girl. And as I have
taught myself to think that what there is left of me may perhaps
belong to some other one, worthless as it is, I will keep it for him.
I love you,--but there can be none of that softness of love between
us." Then there was a pause, but as he did not speak she went on.
"But remember, Frank,--our position is not equal. You have got over
your little complaint. It probably did not go deep with you, and you
have found a cure. Perhaps there is a satisfaction in finding that
two young women love you."

"You are trying to be cruel to me."

"Why else should you be here? You know I love you,--with all my
heart, with all my strength, and that I would give the world to cure
myself. Knowing this, you come and talk to me of your passion for
this other girl."

"I had hoped we might both talk rationally as friends."

"Friends! Frank Tregear, I have been bold enough to tell you I love
you; but you are not my friend, and cannot be my friend. If I have
before asked you to help me in this mean catastrophe of mine, in my
attack upon that poor boy, I withdraw my request. I think I will go
back to the house now."

"I will walk back to Ledburgh if you wish it without going to the
house again."

"No; I will have nothing that looks like being ashamed. You ought not
to have come, but you need not run away." Then they walked back to
the house together and found Miss Cassewary on the terrace. "We have
been to the lake," said Mabel, "and have been talking of old days.
I have but one ambition now in the world." Of course Miss Cassewary
asked what the remaining ambition was. "To get money enough to
purchase this place from the ruins of the Grex property. If I could
own the house and the lake, and the paddocks about, and had enough
income to keep one servant and bread for us to eat--of course
including you, Miss Cass--"

"Thank'ee, my dear; but I am not sure I should like it."

"Yes; you would. Frank would come and see us perhaps once a year. I
don't suppose anybody else cares about the place, but to me it is the
dearest spot in the world." So she went on in almost high spirits,
though alluding to the general decadence of the Grex family, till
Tregear took his leave.

"I wish he had not come," said Miss Cassewary when he was gone.

"Why should you wish that? There is not so much here to amuse me that
you should begrudge me a stray visitor."

"I don't think that I grudge you anything in the way of pleasure,
my dear; but still he should not have come. My Lord, if he knew it,
would be angry."

"Then let him be angry. Papa does not do so much for me that I am
bound to think of him at every turn."

"But I am,--or rather I am bound to think of myself, if I take his
bread."

"Bread!"

"Well;--I do take his bread, and I take it on the understanding that
I will be to you what a mother might be,--or an aunt."

"Well,--and if so! Had I a mother living would not Frank Tregear
have come to visit her, and in visiting her, would he not have seen
me,--and should we not have walked out together?"

"Not after all that has come and gone."

"But you are not a mother nor yet an aunt, and you have to do just
what I tell you. And don't I know that you trust me in all things?
And am I not trustworthy?"

"I think you are trustworthy."

"I know what my duty is and I mean to do it. No one shall ever have
to say of me that I have given way to self-indulgence. I couldn't
help his coming, you know."

That same night, after Miss Cassewary had gone to bed, when the moon
was high in the heavens and the world around her was all asleep, Lady
Mabel again wandered out to the lake, and again seated herself on the
same rock, and there she sat thinking of her past life and trying to
think of that before her. It is so much easier to think of the past
than of the future,--to remember what has been than to resolve what
shall be! She had reminded him of the offer which he had made and
repeated to her more than once,--to share with her all his chances in
life. There would have been almost no income for them. All the world
would have been against her. She would have caused his ruin. Her
light on the matter had been so clear that it had not taken her very
long to decide that such a thing must not be thought of. She had at
last been quite stern in her decision.

Now she was broken-hearted because she found that he had left her
in very truth. Oh yes;--she would marry the boy, if she could so
arrange. Since that meeting at Richmond he had sent her the ring
reset. She was to meet him down in Scotland within a week or two from
the present time. Mrs. Montacute Jones had managed that. He had all
but offered to her a second time at Richmond. But all that would not
serve to make her happy. She declared to herself that she did not
wish to see Frank Tregear again; but still it was a misery to her
that his heart should in truth be given to another woman.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

Crummie-Toddie


Almost at the last moment Silverbridge and his brother Gerald were
induced to join Lord Popplecourt's shooting-party in Scotland. The
party perhaps might more properly be called the party of Reginald
Dobbes, who was a man knowing in such matters. It was he who made
the party up. Popplecourt and Silverbridge were to share the expense
between them, each bringing three guns. Silverbridge brought his
brother and Frank Tregear,--having refused a most piteous petition
on the subject from Major Tifto. With Popplecourt of course came
Reginald Dobbes, who was, in truth, to manage everything, and Lord
Nidderdale, whose wife had generously permitted him this recreation.
The shooting was in the west of Perthshire, known as Crummie-Toddie,
and comprised an enormous acreage of so-called forest and moor. Mr.
Dobbes declared that nothing like it had as yet been produced in
Scotland. Everything had been made to give way to deer and grouse.
The thing had been managed so well that the tourist nuisance had been
considerably abated. There was hardly a potato patch left in the
district, nor a head of cattle to be seen. There were no inhabitants
remaining, or so few that they could be absorbed in game-preserving
or cognate duties. Reginald Dobbes, who was very great at grouse,
and supposed to be capable of outwitting a deer by venatical wiles
more perfectly than any other sportsman in Great Britain, regarded
Crummie-Toddie as the nearest thing there was to a Paradise on earth.
Could he have been allowed to pass one or two special laws for his
own protection, there might still have been improvement. He would
like the right to have all intruders thrashed by the gillies within
an inch of their lives; and he would have had a clause in his lease
against the making of any new roads, opening of footpaths, or
building of bridges. He had seen somewhere in print a plan for
running a railway from Callender to Fort Augustus right through
Crummie-Toddie! If this were done in his time the beauty of the
world would be over. Reginald Dobbes was a man of about forty,
strong, active, well-made, about five feet ten in height, with broad
shoulders and greatly-developed legs. He was not a handsome man,
having a protrusive nose, high cheek-bones, and long upper lip; but
there was a manliness about his face which redeemed it. Sport was the
business of his life, and he thoroughly despised all who were not
sportsmen. He fished and shot and hunted during nine or ten months
of the year, filling up his time as best he might with coaching polo,
and pigeon-shooting. He regarded it as a great duty to keep his
body in the firmest possible condition. All his eating and all his
drinking was done upon a system, and he would consider himself to
be guilty of weak self-indulgence were he to allow himself to break
through sanitary rules. But it never occurred to him that his whole
life was one of self-indulgence. He could walk his thirty miles with
his gun on his shoulder as well now as he could ten years ago; and
being sure of this, was thoroughly contented with himself. He had a
patrimony amounting to perhaps £1000 a year, which he husbanded so as
to enjoy all his amusements to perfection. No one had ever heard of
his sponging on his friends. Of money he rarely spoke, sport being
in his estimation the only subject worthy of a man's words. Such was
Reginald Dobbes, who was now to be the master of the shooting at
Crummie-Toddie.

Crummie-Toddie was but twelve miles from Killancodlem, Mrs. Montacute
Jones's highland seat; and it was this vicinity which first induced
Lord Silverbridge to join the party. Mabel Grex was to be at
Killancodlem, and, determined as he still was to ask her to be his
wife, he would make this his opportunity. Of real opportunity there
had been none at Richmond. Since he had had his ring altered and had
sent it to her there had come but a word or two of answer. "What am
I to say? You unkindest of men! To keep it or to send it back would
make me equally miserable. I shall keep it till you are married, and
then give it to your wife." This affair of the ring had made him more
intent than ever. After that he heard that Isabel Boncassen would
also be at Killancodlem, having been induced to join Mrs. Montacute
Jones's swarm of visitors. Though he was dangerously devoid of
experience, still he felt that this was unfortunate. He intended to
marry Mabel Grex. And he could assure himself that he thoroughly
loved her. Nevertheless he liked making love to Isabel Boncassen. He
was quite willing to marry and settle down, and looked forward with
satisfaction to having Mabel Grex for his wife. But it would be
pleasant to have a six-months run of flirting and love-making before
this settlement, and he had certainly never seen any one with whom
this would be so delightful as with Miss Boncassen. But that the two
ladies should be at the same house was unfortunate.

He and Gerald reached Crummie-Toddie late on the evening of August
11th, and found Reginald Dobbes alone. That was on Wednesday.
Popplecourt and Nidderdale ought to have made their appearance on
that morning, but had telegraphed to say that they would be detained
two days on their route. Tregear, whom hitherto Dobbes had never
seen, had left his arrival uncertain. This carelessness on such
matters was very offensive to Mr. Dobbes, who loved discipline and
exactitude. He ought to have received the two young men with open
arms because they were punctual; but he had been somewhat angered by
what he considered the extreme youth of Lord Gerald. Boys who could
not shoot were, he thought, putting themselves forward before their
time. And Silverbridge himself was by no means a first-rate shot.
Such a one as Silverbridge had to be endured because from his
position and wealth he could facilitate such arrangements as these.
It was much to have to do with a man who would not complain if an
extra fifty pounds were wanted. But he ought to have understood that
he was bound in honour to bring down competent friends. Of Tregear's
shooting Dobbes had been able to learn nothing. Lord Gerald was a lad
from the Universities; and Dobbes hated University lads. Popplecourt
and Nidderdale were known to be efficient. They were men who could
work hard and do their part of the required slaughter. Dobbes proudly
knew that he could make up for some deficiency by his own prowess;
but he could not struggle against three bad guns. What was the use
of so perfecting Crummie-Toddie as to make it the best bit of ground
for grouse and deer in Scotland, if the men who came there failed
by their own incapacity to bring up the grand total of killed to a
figure which would render Dobbes and Crummie-Toddie famous throughout
the whole shooting world? He had been hard at work on other matters.
Dogs had gone amiss,--or guns, and he had been made angry by the
champagne which Popplecourt caused to be sent down. He knew what
champagne meant. Whisky-and-water, and not much of it, was the liquor
which Reginald Dobbes loved in the mountains.

"Don't you call this a very ugly country?" Silverbridge asked as soon
as he arrived. Now it is the case that the traveller who travels
into Argyllshire, Perthshire, and Inverness, expects to find lovely
scenery; and it was also true that the country through which they had
passed for the last twenty miles had been not only bleak and barren,
but uninteresting and ugly. It was all rough open moorland, never
rising into mountains, and graced by no running streams, by no forest
scenery, almost by no foliage. The lodge itself did indeed stand
close upon a little river, and was reached by a bridge that crossed
it; but there was nothing pretty either in the river or the bridge.
It was a placid black little streamlet, which in that portion of
its course was hurried by no steepness, had no broken rocks in its
bed, no trees on its low banks, and played none of those gambols
which make running water beautiful. The bridge was a simple low
construction with a low parapet, carrying an ordinary roadway up
to the hall door. The lodge itself was as ugly as a house could be,
white, of two stories, with the door in the middle and windows on
each side, with a slate roof, and without a tree near it. It was in
the middle of the shooting, and did not create a town around itself
as do sumptuous mansions, to the great detriment of that seclusion
which is favourable to game. "Look at Killancodlem," Dobbes had been
heard to say--"a very fine house for ladies to flirt in; but if you
find a deer within six miles of it I will eat him first and shoot
him afterwards." There was a Spartan simplicity about Crummie-Toddie
which pleased the Spartan mind of Reginald Dobbes.

"Ugly, do you call it?"

"Infernally ugly," said Lord Gerald.

"What did you expect to find? A big hotel, and a lot of cockneys?
If you come after grouse, you must come to what the grouse thinks
pretty."

"Nevertheless, it is ugly," said Silverbridge, who did not choose
to be "sat upon." "I have been at shootings in Scotland before, and
sometimes they are not ugly. This I call beastly." Whereupon Reginald
Dobbes turned upon his heel and walked away.

"Can you shoot?" he said afterwards to Lord Gerald.

"I can fire off a gun, if you mean that," said Gerald.

"You have never shot much?"

"Not what you call very much. I'm not so old as you are, you know.
Everything must have a beginning." Mr. Dobbes wished "the beginning"
might have taken place elsewhere; but there had been some truth in
the remark.

"What on earth made you tell him crammers like that?" asked
Silverbridge, as the brothers sat together afterwards smoking on the
wall of the bridge.

"Because he made an ass of himself; asking me whether I could shoot."

On the next morning they started at seven. Dobbes had determined to
be cross, because, as he thought, the young men would certainly keep
him waiting; and was cross because by their punctuality they robbed
him of any just cause for offence. During the morning on the moor
they were hardly ever near enough each other for much conversation,
and very little was said. According to arrangement made they returned
to the house for lunch, it being their purpose not to go far from
home till their numbers were complete. As they came over the bridge
and put down their guns near the door, Mr. Dobbes spoke the first
good-humoured word they had heard from his lips. "Why did you tell me
such an infernal--, I would say lie, only perhaps you mightn't like
it?"

"I told you no lie," said Gerald.

"You've only missed two birds all the morning, and you have shot
forty-two. That's uncommonly good sport."

"What have you done?"

"Only forty," and Mr. Dobbes seemed for the moment to be gratified
by his own inferiority. "You are a deuced sight better than your
brother."

"Gerald's about the best shot I know," said Silverbridge.

"Why didn't he tell?"

"Because you were angry when we said the place was ugly."

"I see all about it," said Dobbes. "Nevertheless when a fellow comes
to shoot he shouldn't complain because a place isn't pretty. What you
want is a decent house as near as you can have it to your ground. If
there is anything in Scotland to beat Crummie-Toddie I don't know
where to find it. Shooting is shooting you know, and touring is
touring."

Upon that he took very kindly to Lord Gerald, who, even after the
arrival of the other men, was second only in skill to Dobbes himself.
With Nidderdale, who was an old companion, he got on very well.
Nidderdale ate and drank too much, and refused to be driven beyond a
certain amount of labour, but was in other respects obedient and knew
what he was about. Popplecourt was disagreeable, but he was a fairly
good shot and understood what was expected of him. Silverbridge
was so good-humoured, that even his manifest faults,--shooting
carelessly, lying in bed and wanting his dinner,--were, if not
forgiven, at least endured. But Tregear was an abomination. He could
shoot well enough and was active, and when he was at the work seemed
to like it;--but he would stay away whole days by himself, and when
spoken to would answer in a manner which seemed to Dobbes to be flat
mutiny. "We are not doing it for our bread," said Tregear.

"I don't know what you mean."

"There's no duty in killing a certain number of these animals." They
had been driving deer on the day before and were to continue the work
on the day in question. "I'm not paid fifteen shillings a week for
doing it."

"I suppose if you undertake to do a thing you mean to do it. Of
course you're not wanted. We can make the double party without you."

"Then why the mischief should you growl at me?"

"Because I think a man should do what he undertakes to do. A man who
gets tired after three days' work of this kind would become tired if
he were earning his bread."

"Who says I am tired? I came here to amuse myself."

"Amuse yourself!"

"And as long as it amuses me I shall shoot, and when it does not I
shall give it up."

This vexed the governor of Crummie-Toddie much. He had learned to
regard himself as the arbiter of the fate of men while they were
sojourning under the same autumnal roof as himself. But a defalcation
which occurred immediately afterwards was worse. Silverbridge
declared his intention of going over one morning to Killancodlem.
Reginald Dobbes muttered a curse between his teeth, which was visible
by the anger on his brow to all the party. "I shall be back to-night,
you know," said Silverbridge.

"A lot of men and women who pretend to come there for shooting," said
Dobbes angrily, "but do all the mischief they can."

"One must go and see one's friends, you know."

"Some girl!" said Dobbes.

But worse happened than the evil so lightly mentioned. Silverbridge
did go over to Killancodlem; and presently there came back a man with
a cart, who was to return with a certain not small proportion of his
luggage.

"It's hardly honest, you know," said Reginald Dobbes.



CHAPTER XXXIX

Killancodlem


Mr. Dobbes was probably right in his opinion that hotels, tourists,
and congregations of men are detrimental to shooting. Crummie-Toddie
was in all respects suited for sport. Killancodlem, though it had
the name of a shooting-place, certainly was not so. Men going there
took their guns. Gamekeepers were provided and gillies,--and, in a
moderate quantity, game. On certain grand days a deer or two might be
shot,--and would be very much talked about afterwards. But a glance
at the place would suffice to show that Killancodlem was not intended
for sport. It was a fine castellated mansion, with beautiful though
narrow grounds, standing in the valley of the Archay River, with a
mountain behind and the river in front. Between the gates and the
river there was a public road on which a stage-coach ran, with
loud-blown horns and the noise of many tourists. A mile beyond the
Castle was the famous Killancodlem hotel which made up a hundred
and twenty beds, and at which half as many more guests would sleep
on occasions under the tables. And there was the Killancodlem
post-office halfway between the two. At Crummie-Toddie they had to
send nine miles for their letters and newspapers. At Killancodlem
there was lawn-tennis and a billiard-room and dancing every night.
The costumes of the ladies were lovely, and those of the gentlemen,
who were wonderful in knickerbockers, picturesque hats and variegated
stockings, hardly less so. And then there were carriages and
saddle-horses, and paths had been made hither and thither through
the rocks and hills for the sake of the scenery. Scenery! To hear Mr.
Dobbes utter the single word was as good as a play. Was it for such
cockney purposes as those that Scotland had been created, fit mother
for grouse and deer?

Silverbridge arrived just before lunch, and was soon made to
understand that it was impossible that he should go back that day.
Mrs. Jones was very great on that occasion. "You are afraid of
Reginald Dobbes," she said severely.

"I think I am rather."

"Of course you are. How came it to pass that you of all men should
submit yourself to such a tyrant?"

"Good shooting, you know," said Silverbridge.

"But you dare not call an hour your own--or your soul. Mr. Dobbes and
I are sworn enemies. We both like Scotland, and unfortunately we have
fallen into the same neighbourhood. He looks upon me as the genius of
sloth. I regard him as the incarnation of tyranny. He once said there
should be no women in Scotland,--just an old one here and there, who
would know how to cook grouse. I offered to go and cook his grouse!

"Any friend of mine," continued Mrs. Jones, "who comes down to
Crummie-Toddie without staying a day or two with me,--will never be
my friend any more. I do not hesitate to tell you, Lord Silverbridge,
that I call for your surrender, in order that I may show my power
over Reginald Dobbes. Are you a Dobbite?"

"Not thorough-going," said Silverbridge.

"Then be a Montacute Jones-ite; or a Boncassenite, if, as is
possible, you prefer a young woman to an old one." At this moment
Isabel Boncassen was standing close to them.

"Killancodlem against Crummie-Toddie for ever!" said Miss Boncassen,
waving her handkerchief. As a matter of course a messenger was sent
back to Crummie-Toddie for the young lord's wearing apparel.

The whole of that afternoon he spent playing lawn-tennis with Miss
Boncassen. Lady Mabel was asked to join the party, but she refused,
having promised to take a walk to a distant waterfall where the
Codlem falls into the Archay. A gentleman in knickerbockers was
to have gone with her, and two other young ladies; but when the
time came she was weary, she said,--and she sat almost the entire
afternoon looking at the game from a distance. Silverbridge played
well, but not so well as the pretty American. With them were joined
two others somewhat inferior, so that Silverbridge and Miss Boncassen
were on different sides. They played game after game, and Miss
Boncassen's side always won.

Very little was said between Silverbridge and Miss Boncassen which
did not refer to the game. But Lady Mabel, looking on, told herself
that they were making love to each other before her eyes. And why
shouldn't they? She asked herself that question in perfect good
faith. Why should they not be lovers? Was ever anything prettier than
the girl in her country dress, active as a fawn and as graceful?
Or could anything be more handsome, more attractive to a girl,
more good-humoured, or better bred in his playful emulation than
Silverbridge?

"When youth and pleasure meet, To chase the glowing hours with flying
feet!" she said to herself over and over again.

But why had he sent her the ring? She would certainly give him
back the ring and bid him bestow it at once upon Miss Boncassen.
Inconstant boy! Then she would get up and wander away for a time and
rebuke herself. What right had she even to think of inconstancy?
Could she be so irrational, so unjust, as to be sick for his love, as
to be angry with him because he seemed to prefer another? Was she not
well aware that she herself did not love him;--but that she did love
another man? She had made up her mind to marry him in order that
she might be a duchess, and because she could give herself to him
without any of that horror which would be her fate in submitting to
matrimony with one or another of the young men around her. There
might be disappointment. If he escaped her there would be bitter
disappointment. But seeing how it was, had she any further ground for
hope? She certainly had no ground for anger!

It was thus, within her own bosom, she put questions to herself. And
yet all this before her was simply a game of play in which the girl
and the young man were as eager for victory as though they were
children. They were thinking neither of love nor love-making. That
the girl should be so lovely was no doubt a pleasure to him;--and
perhaps to her also that he should be joyous to look at and sweet of
voice. But he, could he have been made to tell all the truth within
him, would have still owned that it was his purpose to make Mabel his
wife.

When the game was over and the propositions made for further matches
and the like,--Miss Boncassen said that she would betake herself to
her own room. "I never worked so hard in my life before," she said.
"And I feel like a navvie. I could drink beer out of a jug and eat
bread and cheese. I won't play with you any more, Lord Silverbridge,
because I am beginning to think it is unladylike to exert myself."

"Are you not glad you came over?" said Lady Mabel to him as he was
going off the ground almost without seeing her.

"Pretty well," he said.

"Is not that better than stalking?"

"Lawn-tennis?"

"Yes;--lawn-tennis,--with Miss Boncassen."

"She plays uncommonly well."

"And so do you."

"Ah, she has such an eye for distances."

"And you,--what have you an eye for? Will you answer me a question?"

"Well;--yes; I think so."

"Truly."

"Certainly; if I do answer it."

"Do you not think her the most beautiful creature you ever saw in
your life?" He pushed back his cap and looked at her without making
any immediate answer. "I do. Now tell me what you think."

"I think that perhaps she is."

"I knew you would say so. You are so honest that you could not bring
yourself to tell a fib,--even to me about that. Come here and sit
down for a moment." Of course he sat down by her. "You know that
Frank came to see me at Grex?"

"He never mentioned it."

"Dear me;--how odd!"

"It was odd," said he in a voice which showed that he was angry. She
could hardly explain to herself why she told him this at the present
moment. It came partly from jealousy, as though she had said to
herself, "Though he may neglect me, he shall know that there is
someone who does not;"--and partly from an eager half-angry feeling
that she would have nothing concealed. There were moments with her
in which she thought that she could arrange her future life in
accordance with certain wise rules over which her heart should have
no influence. There were others, many others, in which her feelings
completely got the better of her. And now she told herself that she
would be afraid of nothing. There should be no deceit, no lies!

"He went to see you at Grex!" said Silverbridge.

"Why should he not have come to me at Grex?"

"Only it is so odd that he did not mention it. It seems to me that he
is always having secrets with you of some kind."

"Poor Frank! There is no one else who would come to see me at that
tumbledown old place. But I have another thing to say to you. You
have behaved badly to me."

"Have I?"

"Yes, sir. After my folly about that ring you should have known
better than to send it to me. You must take it back again."

"You shall do exactly what you said you would. You shall give it to
my wife,--when I have one."

"That did very well for me to say in a note. I did not want to send
my anger to you over a distance of two or three hundred miles by the
postman. But now that we are together you must take it back."

"I will do no such thing," said he sturdily.

"You speak as though this were a matter in which you can have your
own way."

"I mean to have mine about that."

"Any lady then must be forced to take any present that a gentleman
may send her! Allow me to assure you that the usages of society do
not run in that direction. Here is the ring. I knew that you would
come over to see--well, to see someone here, and I have kept it ready
in my pocket."

"I came over to see you."

"Lord Silverbridge! But we know that in certain employments all
things are fair." He looked at her not knowing what were the
employments to which she alluded. "At any rate you will oblige me
by--by--by not being troublesome, and putting this little trinket
into your pocket."

"Never! Nothing on earth shall make me do it."

At Killancodlem they did not dine till half-past eight. Twilight was
now stealing on these two, who were still out in the garden, all the
others having gone in to dress. She looked round to see that no other
eyes were watching them as she still held the ring. "It is there,"
she said, putting it on the bench between them. Then she prepared to
rise from the seat so that she might leave it with him.

But he was too quick for her, and was away at a distance before she
had collected her dress. And from a distance he spoke again, "If you
choose that it shall be lost, so be it."

"You had better take it," said she, following him slowly. But he
would not turn back;--nor would she. They met again in the hall for a
moment. "I should be sorry it should be lost," said he, "because it
belonged to my great-uncle. And I had hoped that I might live to see
it very often."

"You can fetch it," she said, as she went to her room. He however
would not fetch it. She had accepted it, and he would not take it
back again, let the fate of the gem be what it might.

But to the feminine and more cautious mind the very value of the
trinket made its position out there on the bench, within the grasp of
any dishonest gardener, a burden to her. She could not reconcile it
to her conscience that it should be so left. The diamond was a large
one, and she had heard it spoken of as a stone of great value,--so
much so, that Silverbridge had been blamed for wearing it ordinarily.
She had asked for it in joke, regarding it as a thing which could not
be given away. She could not go down herself and take it up again;
but neither could she allow it to remain. As she went to her room
she met Mrs. Jones already coming from hers. "You will keep us all
waiting," said the hostess.

"Oh no;--nobody ever dressed so quickly. But, Mrs. Jones, will you do
me a favour?"

"Certainly."

"And will you let me explain something?"

"Anything you like,--from a hopeless engagement down to a broken
garter."

"I am suffering neither from one or the other. But there is a most
valuable ring lying out in the garden. Will you send for it?" Then of
course the story had to be told. "You will, I hope, understand how
I came to ask for it foolishly. It was because it was the one thing
which I was sure he would not give away."

"Why not take it?"

"Can't you understand? I wouldn't for the world. But you will be good
enough,--won't you, to see that there is nothing else in it?"

"Nothing of love?"

"Nothing in the least. He and I are excellent friends. We are
cousins, and intimate, and all that. I thought I might have had my
joke, and now I am punished for it. As for love, don't you see he is
over head and ears in love with Miss Boncassen?"

This was very imprudent on the part of Lady Mabel, who, had she been
capable of clinging fast to her policy, would not now in a moment
of strong feeling have done so much to raise obstacles in her own
way. "But you will send for it, won't you, and have it put on his
dressing-table to-night?" When he went to bed Lord Silverbridge found
it on his table.

But before that time came he had twice danced with Miss Boncassen,
Lady Mabel having refused to dance with him. "No," she said, "I am
angry with you. You ought to have felt that it did not become you as
a gentleman to subject me to inconvenience by throwing upon me the
charge of that diamond. You may be foolish enough to be indifferent
about its value, but as you have mixed me up with it I cannot afford
to have it lost."

"It is yours."

"No, sir; it is not mine, nor will it ever be mine. But I wish you to
understand that you have offended me."

This made him so unhappy for the time that he almost told the story
to Miss Boncassen. "If I were to give you a ring," he said, "would
not you accept it?"

"What a question!"

"What I mean is, don't you think all those conventional rules about
men and women are absurd?"

"As a progressive American, of course I am bound to think all
conventional rules are an abomination."

"If you had a brother and I gave him a stick he'd take it."

"Not across his back, I hope."

"Or if I gave your father a book?"

"He'd take books to any extent, I should say."

"And why not you a ring?"

"Who said I wouldn't? But after all this you mustn't try me."

"I was not thinking of it."

"I'm so glad of that! Well;--if you'll promise that you'll never
offer me one, I'll promise that I'll take it when it comes. But what
does all this mean?"

"It is not worth talking about."

"You have offered somebody a ring, and somebody hasn't taken it. May
I guess?"

"I had rather you did not."

"I could, you know."

"Never mind about that. Now come and have a turn. I am bound not to
give you a ring; but you are bound to accept anything else I may
offer."

"No, Lord Silverbridge;--not at all. Nevertheless we'll have a turn."

That night before he went up to his room he had told Isabel Boncassen
that he loved her. And when he spoke he was telling her the truth.
It had seemed to him that Mabel had become hard to him, and had over
and over again rejected the approaches to tenderness which he had
attempted to make in his intercourse with her. Even though she were
to accept him, what would that be worth to him if she did not love
him? So many things had been added together! Why had Tregear gone to
Grex, and having gone there why had he kept his journey a secret?
Tregear he knew was engaged to his sister;--but for all that, there
was a closer intimacy between Mabel and Tregear than between Mabel
and himself. And surely she might have taken his ring!

And then Isabel Boncassen was so perfect! Since he had first met her
he had heard her loveliness talked of on all sides. It seemed to be
admitted everywhere that so beautiful a creature had never before
been seen in London. There is even a certain dignity attached to that
which is praised by all lips. Miss Boncassen as an American girl, had
she been judged to be beautiful only by his own eyes, might perhaps
have seemed to him to be beneath his serious notice. In such a case
he might have felt himself unable to justify so extraordinary a
choice. But there was an acclamation of assent as to this girl! Then
came the dancing,--the one dance after another; the pressure of the
hand, the entreaty that she would not, just on this occasion, dance
with any other man, the attendance on her when she took her glass
of wine, the whispered encouragement of Mrs. Montacute Jones, the
half-resisting and yet half-yielding conduct of the girl. "I shall
not dance at all again," she said when he asked her to stand up for
another. "Think of all that lawn-tennis this morning."

"But you will play to-morrow?"

"I thought you were going."

"Of course I shall stay now," he said, and as he said it he put his
hand on her hand, which was on his arm. She drew it away at once. "I
love you so dearly," he whispered to her; "so dearly."

"Lord Silverbridge!"

"I do. I do. Can you say that you will love me in return?"

"I cannot," she said slowly. "I have never dreamed of such a thing. I
hardly know now whether you are in earnest."

"Indeed, indeed I am."

"Then I will say good-night, and think about it. Everybody is going.
We will have our game to-morrow at any rate."

When he went to his room he found the ring on his dressing-table.



CHAPTER XL

"And Then!"


On the next morning Miss Boncassen did not appear at breakfast. Word
came that she had been so fatigued by the lawn-tennis as not to be
able to leave her bed. "I have been to her," said Mrs. Montacute
Jones, whispering to Lord Silverbridge, as though he were
particularly interested. "There's nothing really the matter. She will
be down to lunch."

"I was afraid she might be ill," said Silverbridge, who was now
hardly anxious to hide his admiration.

"Oh no;--nothing of that sort; but she will not be able to play again
to-day. It was your fault. You should not have made her dance last
night." After that Mrs. Jones said a word about it all to Lady Mabel.
"I hope the Duke will not be angry with me."

"Why should he be angry with you?"

"I don't suppose he will approve of it, and perhaps he'll say I
brought them together on purpose."

Soon afterwards Mabel asked Silverbridge to walk with her to the
waterfall. She had worked herself into such a state of mind that she
hardly knew what to do, what to wish, or how to act. At one moment
she would tell herself that it was better in every respect that she
should cease to think of being Duchess of Omnium. It was not fit that
she should think of it. She herself cared but little for the young
man, and he--she would tell herself--now appeared to care as little
for her. And yet to be Duchess of Omnium! But was it not clear that
he was absolutely in love with this other girl? She had played her
cards so badly that the game was now beyond her powers. Then other
thoughts would come. Was it beyond her powers? Had he not told her
in London that he loved her? Had he not given her the ring which she
well knew he valued? Ah;--if she could but have been aware of all
that had passed between Silverbridge and the Duke, how different
would have been her feelings! And then would it not be so much better
for him that he should marry her, one of his own class, than this
American girl, of whom nobody knew anything? And then,--to be the
daughter of the Duke of Omnium, to be the future Duchess, to escape
from all the cares which her father's vices and follies had brought
upon her, to have come to an end of all her troubles! Would it not be
sweet?

She had made her mind up to nothing when she asked him to walk up to
the waterfall. There was present to her only the glimmer of an idea
that she ought to caution him not to play with the American girl's
feelings. She knew herself to be aware that, when the time for her
own action came, her feminine feelings would get the better of
her purpose. She could not craftily bring him to the necessity of
bestowing himself upon her. Had that been within the compass of her
powers, opportunities had not been lacking to her. On such occasions
she had always "spared him." And should the opportunity come again,
again she would spare him. But she might perhaps do some good,--not
to herself, that was now out of the question,--but to him, by showing
him how wrong he was in trifling with this girl's feelings.

And so they started for their walk. He of course would have avoided
it had it been possible. When men in such matters have two strings to
their bow, much inconvenience is felt when the two become entangled.
Silverbridge no doubt had come over to Killancodlem for the sake of
making love to Mabel Grex, and instead of doing so he had made love
to Isabel Boncassen. And during the watches of the night, and as he
had dressed himself in the morning, and while Mrs. Jones had been
whispering to him her little bulletin as to the state of the young
lady's health, he had not repented himself of the change. Mabel had
been, he thought, so little gracious to him that he would have given
up that notion earlier, but for his indiscreet declaration to his
father. On the other hand, making love to Isabel Boncassen seemed
to him to possess some divine afflatus of joy which made it of all
imaginable occupations the sweetest and most charming. She had
admitted of no embrace. Indeed he had attempted none, unless that
touch of the hand might be so called, from which she had immediately
withdrawn. Her conduct had been such that he had felt it to be
incumbent on him, at the very moment, to justify the touch by a
declaration of love. Then she had told him that she would not promise
to love him in return. And yet it had been so sweet, so heavenly
sweet!

During the morning he had almost forgotten Mabel. When Mrs. Jones
told him that Isabel would keep her room, he longed to ask for
leave to go and make some inquiry at the door. She would not play
lawn-tennis with him. Well;--he did not now care much for that. After
what he had said to her she must at any rate give him some answer.
She had been so gracious to him that his hopes ran very high. It
never occurred to him to fancy that she might be gracious to him
because he was heir to the Dukedom of Omnium. She herself was so
infinitely superior to all wealth, to all rank, to all sublunary
arrangements, conventions, and considerations, that there was no room
for confidence of that nature. But he was confident because her smile
had been sweet, and her eyes bright,--and because he was conscious,
though unconsciously conscious, of something of the sympathy of love.

But he had to go to the waterfall with Mabel. Lady Mabel was always
dressed perfectly,--having great gifts of her own in that direction.
There was a freshness about her which made her morning costume more
charming than that of the evening, and never did she look so well as
when arrayed for a walk. On this occasion she had certainly done her
best. But he, poor blind idiot, saw nothing of this. The white gauzy
fabric which had covered Isabel's satin petticoat on the previous
evening still filled his eyes. Those perfect boots, the little
glimpses of party-coloured stockings above them, the looped-up skirt,
the jacket fitting but never binding that lovely body and waist, the
jaunty hat with its small fresh feathers, all were nothing to him.
Nor was the bright honest face beneath the hat anything to him
now;--for it was an honest face, though misfortunes which had come
had somewhat marred the honesty of the heart.

At first the conversation was about indifferent things,--Killancodlem
and Mrs. Jones, Crummie-Toddie and Reginald Dobbes. They had gone
along the high-road as far as the post-office, and had turned up
through the wood and reached a seat whence there was a beautiful view
down upon the Archay, before a word was said affecting either Miss
Boncassen or the ring. "You got the ring safe?" she said.

"Oh yes."

"How could you be so foolish as to risk it?"

"I did not regard it as mine. You had accepted it,--I thought."

"But if I had, and then repented of my fault in doing so, should you
not have been willing to help me in setting myself right with myself?
Of course, after what had passed, it was a trouble to me when it
came. What was I to do? For a day or two I thought I would take it,
not as liking to take it, but as getting rid of the trouble in that
way. Then I remembered its value, its history, the fact that all who
knew you would want to know what had become of it,--and I felt that
it should be given back. There is only one person to whom you must
give it."

"Who is that?" he said quickly.

"Your wife;--or to her who is to become your wife. No other woman can
be justified in accepting such a present."

"There has been a great deal more said about it than it's worth,"
said he, not anxious at the present moment to discuss any matrimonial
projects with her. "Shall we go on to the Fall?" Then she got up and
led the way till they came to the little bridge from which they could
see the Falls of the Codlem below them. "I call that very pretty," he
said.

"I thought you would like it."

"I never saw anything of that kind more jolly. Do you care for
scenery, Mabel?"

"Very much. I know no pleasure equal to it. You have never seen
Grex?"

"Is it like this?"

"Not in the least. It is wilder than this, and there are not so many
trees; but to my eyes it is very beautiful. I wish you had seen it."

"Perhaps I may some day."

"That is not likely now," she said. "The house is in ruins. If I had
just money enough to keep it for myself, I think I could live alone
there and be happy."

"You;--alone! Of course you mean to marry?"

"Mean to marry! Do persons marry because they mean it? With nineteen
men out of twenty the idea of marrying them would convey the idea of
hating them. You can mean to marry. No doubt you do mean it."

"I suppose I shall,--some day. How very well the house looks from
here." It was incumbent upon him at the present moment to turn the
conversation.

But when she had a project in her head it was not so easy to turn her
away. "Yes, indeed," she said, "very well. But as I was saying,--you
can mean to marry."

"Anybody can mean it."

"But you can carry out a purpose. What are you thinking of doing
now?"

"Upon my honour, Mabel, that is unfair."

"Are we not friends?"

"I think so."

"Dear friends?"

"I hope so."

"Then may I not tell you what I think? If you do not mean to marry
that American young lady you should not raise false hopes."

"False--hopes!" He had hopes, but he had never thought that Isabel
could have any.

"False hopes;--certainly. Do you not know that everyone was looking
at you last night?"

"Certainly not."

"And that that old woman is going about talking of it as her doing,
pretending to be afraid of your father, whereas nothing would please
her better than to humble a family so high as yours."

"Humble!" exclaimed Lord Silverbridge.

"Do you think your father would like it? Would you think that another
man would be doing well for himself by marrying Miss Boncassen?"

"I do," said he energetically.

"Then you must be very much in love with her."

"I say nothing about that."

"If you are so much in love with her that you mean to face the
displeasure of all your friends--"

"I do not say what I mean. I could talk more freely to you than to
any one else, but I won't talk about that even to you. As regards
Miss Boncassen, I think that any man might marry her, without
discredit. I won't have it said that she can be inferior to me,--or
to anybody."

There was a steady manliness in this which took Lady Mabel by
surprise. She was convinced that he intended to offer his hand to the
girl, and now was actuated chiefly by a feeling that his doing so
would be an outrage to all English propriety. If a word might have
an effect it would be her duty to speak that word. "I think you are
wrong there, Lord Silverbridge."

"I am sure I am right."

"What have you yourself felt about your sister and Mr. Tregear?"

"It is altogether different;--altogether. Frank's wife will be simply
his wife. Mine, should I outlive my father, will be Duchess of
Omnium."

"But your father? I have heard you speak with bitter regret of this
affair of Lady Mary's, because it vexes him. Would your marriage with
an American lady vex him less?"

"Why should it vex him at all? Is she vulgar, or ill to look at, or
stupid?"

"Think of her mother."

"I am not going to marry her mother. Nor for the matter of that am
I going to marry her. You are taking all that for granted in a most
unfair way."

"How can I help it after what I saw yesterday?"

"I will not talk any more about it. We had better go down or we shall
get no lunch." Lady Mabel, as she followed him, tried to make herself
believe that all her sorrow came from regret that so fine a scion
of the British nobility should throw himself away upon an American
adventuress.

The guests were still at lunch when they entered the dining-room, and
Isabel was seated close to Mrs. Jones. Silverbridge at once went up
to her,--and place was made for him as though he had almost a right
to be next to her. Miss Boncassen herself bore her honours well,
seeming to regard the little change at table as though it was of no
moment. "I became so eager about that game," she said, "that I went
on too long."

"I hope you are now none the worse."

"At six o'clock this morning I thought I should never use my legs
again."

"Were you awake at six?" said Silverbridge, with pitying voice.

"That was it. I could not sleep. Now I begin to hope that sooner or
later I shall unstiffen."

During every moment, at every word that he uttered, he was thinking
of the declaration of love which he had made to her. But it seemed to
him as though the matter had not dwelt on her mind. When they drew
their chairs away from the table he thought that not a moment was
to be lost before some further explanation of their feelings for
each other should be made. Was not the matter which had been so far
discussed of vital importance for both of them? And, glorious as she
was above all other women, the offer which he had made must have some
weight with her. He did not think that he proposed to give more than
she deserved, but still, that which he was so willing to give was not
a little. Or was it possible that she had not understood his meaning?
If so, he would not willingly lose a moment before he made it plain
to her. But she seemed content to hang about with the other women,
and when she sauntered about the grounds seated herself on a
garden-chair with Lady Mabel, and discussed with great eloquence the
general beauty of Scottish scenery. An hour went on in this way.
Could it be that she knew that he had offered to make her his wife?
During this time he went and returned more than once, but still she
was there, on the same garden-seat, talking to those who came in her
way.

Then on a sudden she got up and put her hand on his arm. "Come and
take a turn with me," she said. "Lord Silverbridge, do you remember
anything of last night?"

"Remember!"

"I thought for a while this morning that I would let it pass as
though it had been mere trifling."

"It would have wanted two to let it pass in that way," he said,
almost indignantly.

On hearing this she looked up at him, and there came over her face
that brilliant smile, which to him was perhaps the most potent of her
spells. "What do you mean by--wanting two?"

"I must have a voice in that as well as you."

"And what is your voice?"

"My voice is this. I told you last night that I loved you. This
morning I ask you to be my wife."

"It is a very clear voice," she said,--almost in a whisper; but in a
tone so serious that it startled him.

"It ought to be clear," he said doggedly.

"Do you think I don't know that? Do you think that if I liked you
well last night I don't like you better now?"

"But do you--like me?"

"That is just the thing I am going to say nothing about."

"Isabel!"

"Just the one thing I will not allude to. Now you must listen to me."

"Certainly."

"I know a great deal about you. We Americans are an inquiring people,
and I have found out pretty much everything." His mind misgave him
as he felt she had ascertained his former purpose respecting Mabel.
"You," she said, "among young men in England are about the foremost,
and therefore,--as I think,--about the foremost in the world. And you
have all personal gifts;--youth and spirits-- Well, I will not go on
and name the others. You are, no doubt, supposed to be entitled to
the best and sweetest of God's feminine creatures."

"You are she."

"Whether you be entitled to me or not I cannot yet say. Now I will
tell you something of myself. My father's father came to New York as
a labourer from Holland, and worked upon the quays in that city. Then
he built houses, and became rich, and was almost a miser;--with the
good sense, however, to educate his only son. What my father is you
see. To me he is sterling gold, but he is not like your people. My
dear mother is not at all like your ladies. She is not a lady in your
sense,--though with her unselfish devotion to others she is something
infinitely better. For myself I am,--well, meaning to speak honestly,
I will call myself pretty and smart. I think I know how to be true."

"I am sure you do."

"But what right have you to suppose I shall know how to be a
Duchess?"

"I am sure you will."

"Now listen to me. Go to your friends and ask them. Ask that Lady
Mabel;--ask your father;--ask that Lady Cantrip. And above all, ask
yourself. And allow me to require you to take three months to do
this. Do not come to see me for three months."

"And then?"

"What may happen then I cannot tell, for I want three months also to
think of it myself. Till then, good-bye." She gave him her hand and
left it in his for a few seconds. He tried to draw her to him; but
she resisted him, still smiling. Then she left him.



CHAPTER XLI

Ischl


It was a custom with Mrs. Finn almost every autumn to go off to
Vienna, where she possessed considerable property, and there to
inspect the circumstances of her estate. Sometimes her husband
would accompany her, and he did so in this year of which we are now
speaking. One morning in September they were together at an hotel at
Ischl, whither they had come from Vienna, when as they went through
the hall into the courtyard, they came, in the very doorway, upon
the Duke of Omnium and his daughter. The Duke and Lady Mary had just
arrived, having passed through the mountains from the salt-mine
district, and were about to take up their residence in the hotel for
a few days. They had travelled very slowly, for Lady Mary had been
ill, and the Duke had expressed his determination to see a doctor at
Ischl.

There is no greater mistake than in supposing that only the young
blush. But the blushes of middle life are luckily not seen through
the tan which has come from the sun and the gas and the work and the
wiles of the world. Both the Duke and Phineas blushed; and though
their blushes were hidden, that peculiar glance of the eye which
always accompanies a blush was visible enough from one to the other.
The elder lady kept her countenance admirably, and the younger one
had no occasion for blushing. She at once ran forward and kissed her
friend. The Duke stood with his hat off waiting to give his hand to
the lady, and then took that of his late colleague. "How odd that we
should meet here," he said, turning to Mrs. Finn.

"Odd enough to us that your Grace should be here," she said, "because
we had heard nothing of your intended coming."

"It is so nice to find you," said Lady Mary. "We are this moment
come. Don't say that you are this moment going."

"At this moment we are only going as far as Halstadt."

"And are coming back to dinner? Of course they will dine with us.
Will they not, papa?" The Duke said that he hoped they would. To
declare that you are engaged at an hotel, unless there be some real
engagement, is almost an impossibility. There was no escape, and
before they were allowed to get into their carriage they had promised
they would dine with the Duke and his daughter.

"I don't know that it is especially a bore," Mrs. Finn said to her
husband in the carriage. "You may be quite sure that of whatever
trouble there may be in it, he has much more than his share."

"His share should be the whole," said her husband. "No one else has
done anything wrong."

When the Duke's apology had reached her, so that there was no longer
any ground for absolute hostility, then she had told the whole story
to her husband. He at first was very indignant. What right had the
Duke to expect that any ordinary friend should act duenna over his
daughter in accordance with his caprices? This was said and much more
of the kind. But any humour towards quarrelling which Phineas Finn
might have felt for a day or two was quieted by his wife's prudence.
"A man," she said, "can do no more than apologise. After that there
is no room for reproach."

At dinner the conversation turned at first on British politics,
in which Mrs. Finn was quite able to take her part. Phineas was
decidedly of opinion that Sir Timothy Beeswax and Lord Drummond could
not live another Session. And on this subject a good deal was said.
Later in the evening the Duke found himself sitting with Mrs. Finn in
the broad verandah over the hotel garden, while Lady Mary was playing
to Phineas within. "How do you think she is looking?" asked the
father.

"Of course I see that she has been ill. She tells me that she was far
from well at Salzburg."

"Yes;--indeed for three or four days she frightened me much. She
suffered terribly from headaches."

"Nervous headaches?"

"So they said there. I feel quite angry with myself because I did
not bring a doctor with us. The trouble and ceremony of such an
accompaniment is no doubt disagreeable."

"And I suppose seemed when you started to be unnecessary?"

"Quite unnecessary."

"Does she complain again now?"

"She did to-day--a little."

The next day Lady Mary could not leave her bed; and the Duke in his
sorrow was obliged to apply to Mrs. Finn. After what had passed on
the previous day Mrs. Finn of course called, and was shown at once up
to her young friend's room. There she found the girl in great pain,
lying with her two thin hands up to her head, and hardly able to
utter more than a word. Shortly after that Mrs. Finn was alone with
the Duke, and then there took place a conversation between them which
the lady thought to be very remarkable.

"Had I better send for a doctor from England?" he asked. In answer to
this Mrs. Finn expressed her opinion that such a measure was hardly
necessary, that the gentleman from the town who had been called in
seemed to know what he was about, and that the illness, lamentable
as it was, did not seem to be in any way dangerous. "One cannot tell
what it comes from," said the Duke dubiously.

"Young people, I fancy, are often subject to such maladies."

"It must come from something wrong."

"That may be said of all sickness."

"And therefore one tries to find out the cause. She says that she is
unhappy." These last words he spoke slowly and in a low voice. To
this Mrs. Finn could make no reply. She did not doubt but that the
girl was unhappy, and she knew well why; but the source of Lady
Mary's misery was one to which she could not very well allude. "You
know all the misery about that young man."

"That is a trouble that requires time to cure it," she said,--not
meaning to imply that time would cure it by enabling the girl to
forget her lover; but because in truth she had not known what else to
say.

"If time will cure it."

"Time, they say, cures all sorrows."

"But what should I do to help time? There is no sacrifice I would
not make,--no sacrifice! Of myself I mean. I would devote myself to
her,--leave everything else on one side. We purpose being back in
England in October; but I would remain here if I thought it better
for her comfort."

"I cannot tell, Duke."

"Neither can I. But you are a woman and might know better than I do.
It is so hard that a man should be left with a charge of which from
its very nature he cannot understand the duties." Then he paused, but
she could find no words which would suit at the moment. It was almost
incredible to her that after what had passed he should speak to her
at all as to the condition of his daughter. "I cannot, you know," he
said very seriously, "encourage a hope that she should be allowed to
marry that man."

"I do not know."

"You yourself, Mrs. Finn, felt that when she told you about it at
Matching."

"I felt that you would disapprove of it."

"Disapprove of it! How could it be otherwise? Of course you felt
that. There are ranks in life in which the first comer that suits a
maiden's eye may be accepted as a fitting lover. I will not say but
that they who are born to such a life may be the happier. They are, I
am sure, free from troubles to which they are incident whom fate has
called to a different sphere. But duty is--duty;--and whatever pang
it may cost, duty should be performed."

"Certainly."

"Certainly;--certainly; certainly," he said, re-echoing her word.

"But then, Duke, one has to be so sure what duty requires. In many
matters this is easy enough, and the only difficulty comes from
temptation. There are cases in which it is so hard to know."

"Is this one of them?"

"I think so."

"Then the maiden should--in any class of life--be allowed to take the
man--that just suits her eye?" As he said this his mind was intent on
his Glencora and on Burgo Fitzgerald.

"I have not said so. A man may be bad, vicious, a spendthrift,--eaten
up by bad habits." Then he frowned, thinking that she also had her
mind intent on his Glencora and on that Burgo Fitzgerald, and being
most unwilling to have the difference between Burgo and Frank Tregear
pointed out to him. "Nor have I said," she continued, "that even were
none of these faults apparent in the character of a suitor, the lady
should in all cases be advised to accept a young man because he has
made himself agreeable to her. There may be discrepancies."

"There are," said he, still with a low voice, but with infinite
energy,--"insurmountable discrepancies."

"I only said that this was a case in which it might be difficult for
you to see your duty plainly."

"Why should it be?"

"You would not have her--break her heart?" Then he was silent for
awhile, turning over in his mind the proposition which now seemed to
have been made to him. If the question came to that,--should she be
allowed to break her heart and die, or should he save her from that
fate by sanctioning her marriage with Tregear? If the choice could be
put to him plainly by some supernal power, what then would he choose?
If duty required him to prevent this marriage, his duty could not be
altered by the fact that his girl would avenge herself upon him by
dying! If such a marriage were in itself wrong, that wrong could not
be made right by the fear of such a catastrophe. Was it not often
the case that duty required that someone should die? And yet as he
thought of it,--thought that the someone whom his mind had suggested
was the one female creature now left belonging to him,--he put his
hand up to his brow and trembled with agony. If he knew, if in
truth he believed that such would be the result of firmness on his
part,--then he would be infirm, then he must yield. Sooner than that,
he must welcome this Tregear to his house. But why should he think
that she would die? This woman had now asked him whether he would
be willing to break his girl's heart. It was a frightful question;
but he could see that it had come naturally in the sequence of the
conversation which he had forced upon her. Did girls break their
hearts in such emergencies? Was it not all romance? "Men have died
and worms have eaten them,--but not for love." He remembered it all
and carried on the argument in his mind, though the pause was but for
a minute. There might be suffering, no doubt. The higher the duties
the keener the pangs! But would it become him to be deterred from
doing right because she for a time might find that she had made the
world bitter to herself? And were there not feminine wiles,--tricks
by which women learn to have their way in opposition to the judgment
of their lords and masters? He did not think that his Mary was
wilfully guilty of any scheme. The suffering he knew was true
suffering. But not the less did it become him to be on his guard
against attacks of this nature.

"No," he said at last; "I would not have her break her heart,--if I
understand what such words mean. They are generally, I think, used
fantastically."

"You would not wish to see her overwhelmed by sorrow?"

"Wish it! What a question to ask a father!"

"I must be more plain in my language, Duke. Though such a marriage
be distasteful to you, it might perhaps be preferable to seeing her
sorrowing always."

"Why should it? I have to sorrow always. We are told that man is born
to sorrow as surely as the sparks fly upwards."

"Then I can say nothing further."

"You think I am cruel."

"If I am to say what I really think I shall offend you."

"No;--not unless you mean offence."

"I shall never do that to you, Duke. When you talk as you do now you
hardly know yourself. You think you could see her suffering, and not
be moved by it. But were it to be continued long you would give way.
Though we know that there is an infinity of grief in this life, still
we struggle to save those we love from grieving. If she be steadfast
enough to cling to her affection for this man, then at last you will
have to yield." He looked at her frowning, but did not say a word.
"Then it will perhaps be a comfort for you to know that the man
himself is trustworthy and honest."

There was a terrible rebuke in this; but still, as he had called it
down upon himself, he would not resent it, even in his heart. "Thank
you," he said, rising from his chair. "Perhaps you will see her again
this afternoon." Of course she assented, and, as the interview had
taken place in his rooms, she took her leave.

This which Mrs. Finn had said to him was all to the same effect as
that which had come from Lady Cantrip; only it was said with a higher
spirit. Both the women saw the matter in the same light. There must
be a fight between him and his girl; but she, if she could hold out
for a certain time, would be the conqueror. He might take her away
and try what absence would do, or he might have recourse to that
specific which had answered so well in reference to his own wife;
but if she continued to sorrow during absence, and if she would have
nothing to do with the other lover,--then he must at last give way!
He had declared that he was willing to sacrifice himself,--meaning
thereby that if a lengthened visit to the cities of China, or a
prolonged sojourn in the Western States of America would wean her
from her love, he would go to China or to the Western States. At
present his self-banishment had been carried no farther than Vienna.
During their travels hitherto Tregear's name had not once been
mentioned. The Duke had come away from home resolved not to mention
it,--and she was minded to keep it in reserve till some seeming
catastrophe should justify a declaration of her purpose. But from
first to last she had been sad, and latterly she had been ill. When
asked as to her complaint she would simply say that she was not
happy. To go on with this through the Chinese cities could hardly be
good for either of them. She would not wake herself to any enthusiasm
in regard to scenery, costume, pictures, or even discomforts.
Wherever she was taken it was all barren to her.

As their plans stood at present, they were to return to England so
as to enable her to be at Custins by the middle of October. Had he
taught himself to hope that any good could be done by prolonged
travelling he would readily have thrown over Custins and Lord
Popplecourt. He could not bring himself to trust much to the
Popplecourt scheme. But the same contrivance had answered on that
former occasion. When he spoke to her about their plans, she
expressed herself quite ready to go back to England. When he
suggested those Chinese cities, her face became very long and she was
immediately attacked by paroxysms of headaches.

"I think I should take her to some place on the seashore in England,"
said Mrs. Finn.

"Custins is close to the sea," he replied. "It is Lord Cantrip's
place in Dorsetshire. It was partly settled that she was to go
there."

"I suppose she likes Lady Cantrip."

"Why should she not?"

"She has not said a word to me to the contrary. I only fear she would
feel that she was being sent there,--as to a convent."

"What ought I to do then?"

"How can I venture to answer that? What she would like best, I think,
would be to return to Matching with you, and to settle down in a
quiet way for the winter." The Duke shook his head. That would be
worse than travelling. She would still have headaches and still tell
him that she was unhappy. "Of course I do not know what your plans
are, and pray believe me that I should not obtrude my advice if you
did not ask me."

"I know it," he said. "I know how good you are and how reasonable. I
know how much you have to forgive."

"Oh, no."

"And, if I have not said so as I should have done, it has not been
from want of feeling. I do believe you did what you thought best when
Mary told you that story at Matching."

"Why should your Grace go back to that?"

"Only that I may acknowledge my indebtedness to you, and say to you
somewhat fuller than I could do in my letter that I am sorry for the
pain which I gave you."

"All that is over now,--and shall be forgotten."

Then he spoke of his immediate plans. He would at once go back to
England by slow stages,--by very slow stages,--staying a day or two
at Salzburg, at Ratisbon, at Nuremberg, at Frankfort, and so on. In
this way he would reach England about the 10th of October, and Mary
would then be ready to go to Custins by the time appointed.

In a day or two Lady Mary was better. "It is terrible while it
lasts," she said, speaking to Mrs. Finn of her headache, "but when it
has gone then I am quite well. Only"--she added after a pause--"only
I can never be happy again while papa thinks as he does now." Then
there was a party made up before they separated for an excursion to
the Hintersee and the Obersee. On this occasion Lady Mary seemed to
enjoy herself, as she liked the companionship of Mrs. Finn. Against
Lady Cantrip she never said a word. But Lady Cantrip was always a
duenna to her, whereas Mrs. Finn was a friend. While the Duke and
Phineas were discussing politics together--thoroughly enjoying the
weakness of Lord Drummond and the iniquity of Sir Timothy--which they
did with augmented vehemence from their ponies' backs, the two women
in lower voices talked over their own affairs. "I dare say you will
be happy at Custins," said Mrs. Finn.

"No; I shall not. There will be people there whom I don't know, and I
don't want to know. Have you heard anything about him, Mrs. Finn?"

Mrs. Finn turned round and looked at her,--for a moment almost
angrily. Then her heart relented. "Do you mean--Mr. Tregear?"

"Yes, Mr. Tregear."

"I think I heard that he was shooting with Lord Silverbridge."

"I am glad of that," said Mary.

"It will be pleasant for both of them."

"I am very glad they should be together. While I know that, I feel
that we are not altogether separated. I will never give it up, Mrs.
Finn,--never; never. It is no use taking me to China." In that Mrs.
Finn quite agreed with her.



CHAPTER XLII

Again at Killancodlem


Silverbridge remained at Crummie-Toddie under the dominion of
Reginald Dobbes till the second week in September. Popplecourt,
Nidderdale, and Gerald Palliser were there also, very obedient, and
upon the whole efficient. Tregear was intractable, occasional, and
untrustworthy. He was the cause of much trouble to Mr. Dobbes. He
would entertain a most heterodox and injurious idea that, as he had
come to Crummie-Toddie for amusement, he was not bound to do anything
that did not amuse him. He would not understand that in sport as in
other matters there was an ambition, driving a man on to excel always
and be ahead of others. In spite of this Mr. Dobbes had cause for
much triumph. It was going to be the greatest thing ever done by six
guns in Scotland. As for Gerald, whom he had regarded as a boy, and
who had offended him by saying that Crummie-Toddie was ugly,--he was
ready to go round the world for him. He had indoctrinated Gerald with
all his ideas of a sportsman,--even to a contempt for champagne and a
conviction that tobacco should be moderated. The three lords too had
proved themselves efficient, and the thing was going to be a success.
But just when a day was of vital importance, when it was essential
that there should be a strong party for a drive, Silverbridge found
it absolutely necessary that he should go over to Killancodlem.

"She has gone," said Nidderdale.

"Who the ---- is she?" asked Silverbridge, almost angrily.

"Everybody knows who she is," said Popplecourt.

"It will be a good thing when some She has got hold of you, my boy,
so as to keep you in your proper place."

"If you cannot withstand that sort of attraction you ought not to go
in for shooting at all," said Dobbes.

"I shouldn't wonder at his going," continued Nidderdale, "if we
didn't all know that the American is no longer there. She has gone
to--Bath I think they say."

"I suppose it's Mrs. Jones herself," said Popplecourt.

"My dear boys," said Silverbridge, "you may be quite sure that when
I say that I am going to Killancodlem I mean to go to Killancodlem,
and that no chaff about young ladies,--which I think very
disgusting,--will stop me. I shall be sorry if Dobbes's roll of
the killed should be lessened by a single hand, seeing that his
ambition sets that way. Considering the amount of slaughter we have
perpetrated, I really think that we need not be over anxious." After
this nothing further was said. Tregear, who knew that Mabel Grex was
still at Killancodlem, had not spoken.

In truth Mabel had sent for Lord Silverbridge, and this had been her
letter:


   DEAR LORD SILVERBRIDGE,

   Mrs. Montacute Jones is cut to the heart because you have
   not been over to see her again, and she says that it is
   lamentable to think that such a man as Reginald Dobbes
   should have so much power over you. "Only twelve miles,"
   she says, "and he knows that we are here!" I told her that
   you knew Miss Boncassen was gone.

   But though Miss Boncassen has left us we are a very
   pleasant party, and surely you must be tired of such a
   place as Crummie-Toddie. If only for the sake of getting a
   good dinner once in a way do come over again. I shall be
   here yet for ten days. As they will not let me go back to
   Grex I don't know where I could be more happy. I have been
   asked to go to Custins, and suppose I shall turn up there
   some time in the autumn.

   And now shall I tell you what I expect? I do expect
   that you will come over to--see me. "I did see her the
   other day," you will say, "and she did not make herself
   pleasant." I know that. How was I to make myself pleasant
   when I found myself so completely snuffed out by your
   American beauty? Now she is away, and Richard will be
   himself. Do come, because in truth I want to see you.

   Yours always sincerely,

   MABEL GREX.


On receiving this he at once made up his mind to go to Killancodlem,
but he could not make up his mind why it was that she had asked him.
He was sure of two things; sure in the first place that she had
intended to let him know that she did not care about him; and then
sure that she was aware of his intention in regard to Miss Boncassen.
Everybody at Killancodlem had seen it,--to his disgust; but still
that it was so had been manifest. And he had consoled himself,
feeling that it would matter nothing should he be accepted. She had
made an attempt to talk him out of his purpose. Could it be that she
thought it possible a second attempt might be successful? If so, she
did not know him.

She had in truth thought not only that this, but that something
further than this, might be possible. Of course the prize loomed
larger before her eyes as the prospects of obtaining it became less.
She could not doubt that he had intended to offer her his hand when
he had spoken to her of his love in London. Then she had stopped
him;--had "spared him," as she had told her friend. Certainly she had
then been swayed by some feeling that it would be ungenerous in her
to seize greedily the first opportunity he had given her. But he had
again made an effort. He surely would not have sent her the ring had
he not intended her to regard him as her lover. When she received
the ring her heart had beat very high. Then she had sent that little
note, saying that she would keep it till she could give it to his
wife. When she wrote that she had intended the ring should be her
own. And other things pressed upon her mind. Why had she been asked
to the dinner at Richmond? Why was she invited to Custins? Little
hints had reached her of the Duke's goodwill towards her. If on that
side the marriage were approved, why should she destroy her own
hopes?

Then she had seen him with Miss Boncassen, and in her pique had
forced the ring back upon him. During that long game on the lawn her
feelings had been very bitter. Of course the girl was the lovelier
of the two. All the world was raving of her beauty. And there was
no doubt as to the charm of her wit and manner. And then she had
no touch of that blasé used-up way of life of which Lady Mabel was
conscious herself. It was natural that it should be so. And was she,
Mabel Grex, the girl to stand in his way and to force herself upon
him, if he loved another? Certainly not,--though there might be a
triple ducal coronet to be had.

But were there not other considerations? Could it be well that the
heir of the house of Omnium should marry an American girl, as to
whose humble birth whispers were already afloat? As his friend, would
it not be right that she should tell him what the world would say? As
his friend, therefore, she had given him her counsel.

When he was gone the whole thing weighed heavily upon her mind. Why
should she lose the prize if it might still be her own? To be Duchess
of Omnium! She had read of many of the other sex, and of one or two
of her own, who by settled resolution had achieved greatness in
opposition to all obstacles. Was this thing beyond her reach? To hunt
him, and catch him, and marry him to his own injury,--that would be
impossible to her. She was sure of herself there. But how infinitely
better would this be for him! Would she not have all his family with
her,--and all the world of England? In how short a time would he not
repent his marriage with Miss Boncassen! Whereas, were she his wife,
she would so stir herself for his joys, for his good, for his honour,
that there should be no possibility of repentance. And he certainly
had loved her. Why else had he followed her, and spoken such words to
her? Of course he had loved her! But then there had come this blaze
of beauty and had carried off,--not his heart but his imagination.
Because he had yielded to such fascination, was she to desert him,
and also to desert herself? From day to day she thought of it, and
then she wrote that letter. She hardly knew what she would do, what
she might say; but she would trust to the opportunity to do and say
something.

"If you have no room for me," he said to Mrs. Jones, "you must scold
Lady Mab. She has told me that you told her to invite me."

"Of course I did. Do you think I would not sleep in the stables, and
give you up my own bed if there were no other? It is so good of you
to come!"

"So good of you, Mrs. Jones, to ask me."

"So very kind to come when all the attraction has gone!" Then he
blushed and stammered, and was just able to say that his only object
in life was to pour out his adoration at the feet of Mrs. Montacute
Jones herself.

There was a certain Lady Fawn,--a pretty mincing married woman
of about twenty-five, with a husband much older, who liked mild
flirtations with mild young men. "I am afraid we've lost your great
attraction," she whispered to him.

"Certainly not as long as Lady Fawn is here," he said, seating
himself close to her on a garden bench, and seizing suddenly hold
of her hand. She gave a little scream and a jerk, and so relieved
herself from him. "You see," said he, "people do make such mistakes
about a man's feelings."

"Lord Silverbridge!"

"It's quite true, but I'll tell you all about it another time," and
so he left her. All these little troubles, his experience in the
"House," the necessity of snubbing Tifto, the choice of a wife, and
his battle with Reginald Dobbes, were giving him by degrees age and
flavour.

Lady Mabel had fluttered about him on his first coming, and had been
very gracious, doing the part of an old friend. "There is to be a big
shooting to-morrow," she said, in the presence of Mrs. Jones.

"If it is to come to that," he said, "I might as well go back to
Dobbydom."

"You may shoot if you like," said Lady Mabel.

"I haven't even brought a gun with me."

"Then we'll have a walk,--a whole lot of us," she said.

In the evening, about an hour before dinner, Silverbridge and Lady
Mabel were seated together on the bank of a little stream which ran
on the other side of the road, but on a spot not more than a furlong
from the hall-door. She had brought him there, but she had done so
without any definite scheme. She had made no plan of campaign for the
evening, having felt relieved when she found herself able to postpone
the project of her attack till the morrow. Of course there must be
an attack, but how it should be made she had never had the courage
to tell herself. The great women of the world, the Semiramises, the
Pocahontas, the Ida Pfeiffers, and the Charlotte Cordays, had never
been wanting to themselves when the moment for action came. Now she
was pleased to have this opportunity added to her; this pleasant
minute in which some soft preparatory word might be spoken; but the
great effort should be made on the morrow.

"Is not this nicer than shooting with Mr. Dobbes?" she asked.

"A great deal nicer. Of course I am bound to say so."

"But in truth, I want to find out what you really like. Men are so
different. You need not pay me any compliment; you know that well
enough."

"I like you better than Dobbes,--if you mean that."

"Even so much is something."

"But I am fond of shooting."

"Only a man may have enough of it."

"Too much, if he is subject to Dobbes, as Dobbes likes them to be.
Gerald likes it."

"Did you think it odd," she said after a pause, "that I should ask
you to come over again?"

"Was it odd?" he replied.

"That is as you may take it. There is certainly no other man in the
world to whom I would have done it."

"Not to Tregear?"

"Yes," she said; "yes,--to Tregear, could I have been as sure of a
welcome for him as I am for you. Frank is in all respects the same as
a brother to me. That would not have seemed odd;--I mean to myself."

"And has this been--odd,--to yourself?"

"Yes. Not that anybody else has felt it so. Only I,--and perhaps you.
You felt it so?"

"Not especially. I thought you were a very good fellow. I have always
thought that;--except when you made me take back the ring."

"Does that still fret you?"

"No man likes to take back a thing. It makes him seem to have been
awkward and stupid in giving it."

"It was the value--"

"You should have left me to judge of that."

"If I have offended you I will beg your pardon. Give me anything
else, anything but that, and I will take it."

"But why not that?" said he.

"Now that you have fitted it for a lady's finger it should go to your
wife. No one else should have it."

Upon this he brought the ring once more out of his pocket and again
offered it to her. "No; anything but that. That your wife must have."
Then he put the ring back again. "It would have been nicer for you
had Miss Boncassen been here." In saying this she followed no plan.
It came rather from pique. It was almost as though she had asked him
whether Miss Boncassen was to have the ring.

"What makes you say that?"

"But it would."

"Yes, it would," he replied stoutly, turning round as he lay on the
ground and facing her.

"Has it come to that?"

"Come to what? You ask me a question and I answer you truly."

"You cannot be happy without her?"

"I did not say so. You ask me whether I should like to have her
here,--and I say Yes. What would you think of me if I said No?"

"My being here is not enough?" This should not have been said, of
course, but the little speech came from the exquisite pain of the
moment. She had meant to have said hardly anything. She had intended
to be happy with him, just touching lightly on things which might
lead to that attack which must be made on the morrow. But words
will often lead whither the speaker has not intended. So it was now,
and in the soreness of her heart she spoke. "My being here is not
enough?"

"It would be enough," he said, jumping on his feet, "if you
understood all, and would be kind to me."

"I will at any rate be kind to you," she replied, as she sat upon the
bank looking at the running water.

"I have asked Miss Boncassen to be my wife."

"And she has accepted?"

"No; not as yet. She is to take three months to think of it. Of
course I love her best of all. If you will sympathise with me in
that, then I will be as happy with you as the day is long."

"No," said she, "I cannot. I will not."

"Very well."

"There should be no such marriage. If you have told me in
confidence--"

"Of course I have told you in confidence."

"It will go no farther; but there can be no sympathy between us.
It--it--it is not,--is not--" Then she burst into tears.

"Mabel!"

"No, sir, no; no! What did you mean? But never mind. I have no
questions to ask, not a word to say. Why should I? Only this,--that
such a marriage will disgrace your family. To me it is no more than
to anybody else. But it will disgrace your family."

How she got back to the house she hardly knew; nor did he. That
evening they did not again speak to each other, and on the following
morning there was no walk to the mountains. Before dinner he drove
himself back to Crummie-Toddie, and when he was taking his leave she
shook hands with him with her usual pleasant smile.



CHAPTER XLIII

What Happened at Doncaster


The Leger this year was to be run on the 14th September, and while
Lord Silverbridge was amusing himself with the deer at Crummie-Toddie
and at Killancodlem with the more easily pursued young ladies, the
indefatigable Major was hard at work in the stables. This came a
little hard on him. There was the cub-hunting to be looked after,
which made his presence at Runnymede necessary, and then that
"pig-headed fellow, Silverbridge" would not have the horses trained
anywhere but at Newmarket. How was he to be in two places at once?
Yet he was in two places almost at once: cub-hunting in the morning
at Egham and Bagshot, and sitting on the same evening at the
stable-door at Newmarket, with his eyes fixed upon Prime Minister.

Gradually had he and Captain Green come to understand each other, and
though they did at last understand each other, Tifto would talk as
though there were no such correct intelligence;--when for instance he
would abuse Lord Silverbridge for being pig-headed. On such occasions
the Captain's remark would generally be short. "That be blowed!"
he would say, implying that that state of things between the two
partners, in which such complaints might be natural, had now been
brought to an end. But on one occasion, about a week before the race,
he spoke out a little plainer. "What's the use of your going on with
all that before me? It's settled what you've got to do."

"I don't know that anything is settled," said the Major.

"Ain't it? I thought it was. If it ain't you'll find yourself in the
wrong box. You've as straight a tip as a man need wish for, but if
you back out you'll come to grief. Your money's all on the other way
already."

On the Friday before the race Silverbridge dined with Tifto at the
Beargarden. On the next morning they went down to Newmarket to see
the horse get a gallop, and came back the same evening. During all
this time, Tifto was more than ordinarily pleasant to his patron. The
horse and the certainty of the horse's success were the only subjects
mooted. "It isn't what I say," repeated Tifto, "but look at the
betting. You can't get five to four against him. They tell me that
if you want to do anything on the Sunday the pull will be the other
way."

"I stand to lose over £20,000 already," said Silverbridge, almost
frightened by the amount.

"But how much are you on to win?" said Tifto. "I suppose you could
sell your bets for £5,000 down."

"I wish I knew how to do it," said Silverbridge. But this was an
arrangement, which, if made just now, would not suit the Major's
views.

They went to Newmarket, and there they met Captain Green. "Tifto,"
said the young Lord, "I won't have that fellow with us when the horse
is galloping."

"There isn't an honester man, or a man who understands a horse's
paces better in all England," said Tifto.

"I won't have him standing alongside of me on the Heath," said his
Lordship.

"I don't know how I'm to help it."

"If he's there I'll send the horse in;--that's all." Then Tifto
found it best to say a few words to Captain Green. But the Captain
also said a few words to himself. "D---- young fool; he don't know
what he's dropping into." Which assertion, if you lay aside the
unnecessary expletive, was true to the letter. Lord Silverbridge was
a young fool, and did not at all know into what a mess he was being
dropped by the united experience, perspicuity, and energy of the man
whose company on the Heath he had declined.

The horse was quite a "picture to look at." Mr. Pook the trainer
assured his Lordship that for health and condition he had never seen
anything better. "Stout all over," said Mr. Pook, "and not an ounce
of what you may call flesh. And bright! just feel his coat, my Lord!
That's 'ealth,--that is; not dressing, nor yet macassar!"

And then there were various evidences produced of his pace,--how he
had beaten that horse, giving him two pounds; how he had been beaten
by that, but only on a mile course; the Leger distance was just the
thing for Prime Minister; how by a lucky chance that marvellous quick
rat of a thing that had won the Derby had not been entered for the
autumn race; how Coalheaver was known to have had bad feet. "He's a
stout 'orse, no doubt,--is the 'Eaver," said Mr. Pook, "and that's
why the betting-men have stuck to him. But he'll be nowhere on
Wednesday. They're beginning to see it now, my Lord. I wish they
wasn't so sharp-sighted."

In the course of the day, however, they met a gentleman who was of a
different opinion. He said loudly that he looked on the Heaver as the
best three-year-old in England. Of course as matters stood he wasn't
going to back the Heaver at even money;--but he'd take twenty-five
to thirty in hundreds between the two. All this ended in the bet
being accepted and duly booked by Lord Silverbridge. And in this
way Silverbridge added two thousand four hundred pounds to his
responsibilities.

But there was worse than this coming. On the Sunday afternoon he went
down to Doncaster, of course in company with the Major. He was alive
to the necessity of ridding himself of the Major; but it had been
acknowledged that that duty could not be performed till after this
race had been run. As he sat opposite to his friend on their journey
to Doncaster, he thought of this in the train. It should be done
immediately on their return to London after the race. But the horse,
his Prime Minister, was by this time so dear to him that he intended
if possible to keep possession of the animal.

When they reached Doncaster the racing-men were all occupied with
Prime Minister. The horse and Mr. Pook had arrived that day from
Newmarket, via Cambridge and Peterborough. Tifto, Silverbridge,
and Mr. Pook visited him together three times that afternoon and
evening;--and the Captain also visited the horse, though not in
company with Lord Silverbridge. To do Mr. Pook justice, no one could
be more careful. When the Captain came round with the Major, Mr. Pook
was there. But Captain Green did not enter the box,--had no wish to
do so, was of opinion that on such occasions no one whose business
did not carry him there should go near a horse. His only object
seemed to be to compliment Mr. Pook as to his care, skill, and good
fortune.

It was on the Tuesday evening that the chief mischief was done. There
was a club at which many of the racing-men dined, and there Lord
Silverbridge spent his evening. He was the hero of the hour, and
everybody flattered him. It must be acknowledged that his head was
turned. They dined at eight and much wine was drunk. No one was
tipsy, but many were elated; and much confidence in their favourite
animals was imparted to men who had been sufficiently cautious before
dinner. Then cigars and soda-and-brandy became common and our young
friend was not more abstemious than others. Large sums were named,
and at last in three successive bets Lord Silverbridge backed his
horse for more than forty thousand pounds. As he was making the
second bet Mr. Lupton came across to him and begged him to hold his
hand. "It will be a nasty sum for you to lose, and winning it will be
nothing to you," he said. Silverbridge took it good-humouredly, but
said that he knew what he was about. "These men will pay," whispered
Lupton; "but you can't be quite sure what they're at." The young
man's brow was covered with perspiration. He was smoking quick and
had already smoked more than was good for him. "All right," he said.
"I'll mind what I'm about." Mr. Lupton could do no more, and retired.
Before the night was over bets had been booked to the amount stated,
and the Duke's son, who had promised that he would never plunge,
stood to lose about seventy thousand pounds upon the race.

While this was going on Tifto sat not far from his patron, but
completely silent. During the day and early in the evening a few
sparks of the glory which scintillated from the favourite horse flew
in his direction. But he was on this occasion unlike himself, and
though the horse was to be run in his name had very little to say in
the matter. Not a boast came out of his mouth during dinner or after
dinner. He was so moody that his partner, who was generally anxious
to keep him quiet, more than once endeavoured to encourage him. But
he was unable to rouse himself. It was still within his power to run
straight; to be on the square, if not with Captain Green, at any rate
with Lord Silverbridge. But to do so he must make a clean breast
with his Lordship and confess the intended sin. As he heard all that
was being done, his conscience troubled him sorely. With pitch of
this sort he had never soiled himself before. He was to have three
thousand pounds from Green, and then there would be the bets he
himself had laid against the horse,--by Green's assistance! It would
be the making of him. Of what use had been all his "square" work to
him? And then Silverbridge had behaved so badly to him! But still, as
he sat there during the evening, he would have given a hand to have
been free from the attempt. He had had no conception before that he
could become subject to such misery from such a cause. He would make
it straight with Silverbridge this very night,--but that Silverbridge
was ever lighting fresh cigars and ever having his glass refilled. It
was clear to him that on this night Silverbridge could not be made
to understand anything about it. And the deed in which he himself
was to be the chief actor was to be done very early in the following
morning. At last he slunk away to bed.

On the following morning, the morning of the day on which the race
was to be run, the Major tapped at his patron's door about seven
o'clock. Of course there was no answer, though the knock was
repeated. When young men overnight drink as much brandy-and-water
as Silverbridge had done, and smoke as many cigars, they are apt
not to hear knocks at their door made at seven o'clock. Nor was his
Lordship's servant up,--so that Tifto had no means of getting at him
except by personal invasion of the sanctity of his bedroom. But there
was no time, not a minute, to be lost. Now, within this minute that
was pressing on him, Tifto must choose his course. He opened the door
and was standing at the young man's head.

"What the d---- does this mean?" said his Lordship angrily, as soon
as his visitor had succeeded in waking him. Tifto muttered something
about the horse which Silverbridge failed to understand. The young
man's condition was by no means pleasant. His mouth was furred by the
fumes of tobacco. His head was aching. He was heavy with sleep, and
this intrusion seemed to him to be a final indignity offered to him
by the man whom he now hated. "What business have you to come in
here?" he said, leaning on his elbow. "I don't care a straw for the
horse. If you have anything to say send my servant. Get out!"

"Oh;--very well," said Tifto;--and Tifto got out.

It was about an hour afterwards that Tifto returned, and on this
occasion a groom from the stables, and the young Lord's own servant,
and two or three other men were with him. Tifto had been made to
understand that the news now to be communicated, must be communicated
by himself, whether his Lordship were angry or not. Indeed, after
what had been done his Lordship's anger was not of much moment. In
his present visit he was only carrying out the pleasant little plan
which had been arranged for him by Captain Green. "What the mischief
is up?" said Silverbridge, rising in his bed.

Then Tifto told his story, sullenly, doggedly, but still in a
perspicuous manner, and with words which admitted of no doubt. But
before he told the story he had excluded all but himself and the
groom. He and the groom had taken the horse out of the stable,
it being the animal's nature to eat his corn better after slight
exercise, and while doing so a nail had been picked up.

"Is it much?" asked Silverbridge, jumping still higher in his bed.
Then he was told that it was very much,--that the iron had driven
itself into the horse's frog, and that there was actually no
possibility that the horse should run on that day.

"He can't walk, my Lord," said the groom, in that authoritative voice
which grooms use when they desire to have their own way, and to
make their masters understand that they at any rate are not to have
theirs.

"Where is Pook?" asked Silverbridge. But Mr. Pook was also still in
bed.

It was soon known to Lord Silverbridge as a fact that in very truth
the horse could not run. Then sick with headache, with a stomach
suffering unutterable things, he had, as he dressed himself, to
think of his seventy thousand pounds. Of course the money would be
forthcoming. But how would his father look at him? How would it be
between him and his father now? After such a misfortune how would he
be able to break that other matter to the Duke, and say that he had
changed his mind about his marriage,--that he was going to abandon
Lady Mabel Grex, and give his hand and a future Duchess's coronet to
an American girl whose grandfather had been a porter?

A nail in his foot! Well! He had heard of such things before. He knew
that such accidents had happened. What an ass must he have been to
risk such a sum on the well-being and safety of an animal who might
any day pick up a nail in his foot? Then he thought of the caution
which Lupton had given him. What good would the money have done him
had he won it? What more could he have than he now enjoyed? But to
lose such a sum of money! With all his advantages of wealth he felt
himself to be as forlorn and wretched as though he had nothing left
in the world before him.



CHAPTER XLIV

How It Was Done


The story was soon about the town, and was the one matter for
discussion in all racing quarters. About the town! It was about
England, about all Europe. It had travelled to America and the
Indies, to Australia and the Chinese cities before two hours were
over. Before the race was run the accident was discussed and
something like the truth surmised in Cairo, Calcutta, Melbourne, and
San Francisco. But at Doncaster it was so all-pervading a matter that
down to the tradesmen's daughters and the boys at the free-school
the town was divided into two parties, one party believing it to
have been a "plant," and the other holding that the cause had been
natural. It is hardly necessary to say that the ring, as a rule,
belonged to the former party. The ring always suspects. It did not
behove even those who would win by the transaction to stand up for
its honesty.

The intention had been to take the horse round a portion of the
outside of the course near to which his stable stood. A boy rode him
and the groom and Tifto went with him. At a certain spot on their
return Tifto had exclaimed that the horse was going lame in his
off fore-foot. As to this exclamation the boy and the two men were
agreed. The boy was then made to dismount and run for Mr. Pook; and
as he started Tifto commenced to examine the horse's foot. The boy
saw him raise the off fore-leg. He himself had not found the horse
lame under him, but had been so hustled and hurried out of the saddle
by Tifto and the groom that he had not thought on that matter till
he was questioned. So far the story told by Tifto and the groom was
corroborated by the boy,--except as to the horse's actual lameness.
So far the story was believed by all men,--except in regard to the
actual lameness. And so far it was true. Then, according to Tifto
and the groom, the other foot was looked at, but nothing was seen.
This other foot, the near fore-foot, was examined by the groom, who
declared himself to be so flurried by the lameness of such a horse at
such a time, that he hardly knew what he saw or what he did not see.
At any rate then in his confusion he found no cause of lameness,
but the horse was led into the stable as lame as a tree. Here Tifto
found the nail inserted into the very cleft of the frog of the near
fore-foot, and so inserted that he could not extract it till the
farrier came. That the farrier had extracted the nail from the part
of the foot indicated was certainly a fact.

Then there was the nail. Only those who were most peculiarly
privileged were allowed to see the nail. But it was buzzed about the
racing quarters that the head of the nail,--an old rusty, straight,
and well-pointed nail,--bore on it the mark of a recent hammer. In
answer to this it was alleged that the blacksmith in extracting
the nail with his pincers, had of course operated on its head, had
removed certain particles of rust, and might easily have given it the
appearance of having been struck. But in answer to this the farrier,
who was a sharp fellow, and quite beyond suspicion in the matter,
declared that he had very particularly looked at the nail before he
extracted it,--had looked at it with the feeling on his mind that
something base might too probably have been done,--and that he was
ready to swear that the clear mark on the head of the nail was there
before he touched it. And then not in the stable, but lying under
the little dung-heap away from the stable-door, there was found a
small piece of broken iron bar, about a foot long, which might have
answered for a hammer,--a rusty bit of iron; and amidst the rust of
this was found such traces as might have been left had it been used
in striking such a nail. There were some who declared that neither on
the nail nor on the iron could they see anything. And among these was
the Major. But Mr. Lupton brought a strong magnifying-glass to bear,
and the world of examiners was satisfied that the marks were there.

It seemed however to be agreed that nothing could be done.
Silverbridge would not lend himself at all to those who suspected
mischief. He was miserable enough, but in this great trouble he would
not separate himself from Tifto. "I don't believe a word of all
that," he said to Mr. Lupton.

"It ought to be investigated at any rate," said Lupton.

"Mr. Pook may do as he likes, but I will have nothing to do with it."

Then Tifto came to him swaggering. Tifto had to go through a
considerable amount of acting, for which he was not very well
adapted. The Captain would have done it better. He would have
endeavoured to put himself altogether into the same boat with his
partner, and would have imagined neither suspicion or enmity on his
partner's part till suspicion or enmity had been shown. But Tifto,
who had not expected that the matter would be allowed to pass over
without some inquiry, began by assuming that Silverbridge would think
evil of him. Tifto, who at this moment would have given all that
he had in the world not to have done the deed, who now hated the
instigator of the deed, and felt something almost akin to love for
Silverbridge, found himself to be forced by circumstances to defend
himself by swaggering. "I don't understand all this that's going on,
my Lord," he said.

"Neither do I," replied Silverbridge.

"Any horse is subject to an accident. I am, I suppose, as great a
sufferer as you are, and a deuced sight less able to bear it."

"Who has said anything to the contrary? As for bearing it, we must
take it as it comes,--both of us. You may as well know now as later
that I have done with racing--for ever."

"What do you tell me that for? You can do as you like and I can do
as I like about that. If I had had my way about the horse this never
would have happened. Taking a horse out at that time in the
morning,--before a race!"

"Why, you went with him yourself."

"Yes;--by Pook's orders. You allowed Pook to do just as he pleased. I
should like to know what money Pook has got on it, and which way he
laid it." This disgusted Silverbridge so much that he turned away and
would have no more to say to Tifto.

Before one o'clock, at which hour it was stated nominally that the
races would commence, general opinion had formed itself,--and general
opinion had nearly hit the truth. General opinion declared that the
nail had been driven in wilfully,--that it had been done by Tifto
himself, and that Tifto had been instigated by Captain Green. Captain
Green perhaps over-acted his part a little. His intimacy with the
Major was well known, and yet, in all this turmoil, he kept himself
apart as though he had no interest in the matter. "I have got my
little money on, and what little I have I lose," he said in answer
to inquiries. But everyone knew that he could not but have a great
interest in a race, as to which the half owner of the favourite was
a peculiarly intimate friend of his own. Had he come down to the
stables and been seen about the place with Tifto it might have been
better. As it was, though he was very quiet, his name was soon mixed
up in the matter. There was one man who asserted it as a fact known
to himself that Green and Villiers,--one Gilbert Villiers,--were in
partnership together. It was very well known that Gilbert Villiers
would win two thousand five hundred pounds from Lord Silverbridge.

Then minute investigation was made into the betting of certain
individuals. Of course there would be great plunder, and where would
the plunder go? Who would get the money which poor Silverbridge would
lose? It was said that one at least of the large bets made on that
Tuesday evening could be traced to the same Villiers though not
actually made by him. More would be learned when the settling-day
should come. But there was quite enough already to show that there
were many men determined to get to the bottom of it all if possible.

There came upon Silverbridge in his trouble a keen sense of his
position and a feeling of the dignity which he ought to support. He
clung during great part of the morning to Mr. Lupton. Mr. Lupton was
much his senior and they had never been intimate; but now there was
comfort in his society. "I am afraid you are hit heavily," said Mr.
Lupton.

"Something over seventy thousand pounds!"

"Looking at what will be your property it is of course nothing. But
if--"

"If what?"

"If you go to the Jews for it then it will become a great deal."

"I shall certainly not do that."

"Then you may regard it as a trifle," said Lupton.

"No, I can't. It is not a trifle. I must tell my father. He'll find
the money."

"There is no doubt about that."

"He will. But I feel at present that I would rather change places
with the poorest gentleman I know than have to tell him. I have done
with races, Lupton."

"If so, this will have been a happy day for you. A man in your
position can hardly make money by it, but he may lose so much! If a
man really likes the amusement,--as I do,--and risks no more than
what he has in his pocket, that may be very well."

"At any rate I have done with it."

Nevertheless he went to see the race run, and everybody seemed to be
touched with pity for him. He carried himself well, saying as little
as he could of his own horse, and taking, or affecting to take, great
interest in the race. After the race he managed to see all those to
whom he had lost heavy stakes,--having to own to himself, as he did
so, that not one of them was a gentleman to whom he should like to
give his hand. To them he explained that his father was abroad,--that
probably his liabilities could not be settled till after his father's
return. He however would consult his father's agent and would
then appear on settling-day. They were all full of the blandest
courtesies. There was not one of them who had any doubt as to getting
his money,--unless the whole thing might be disputed on the score of
Tifto's villany. Even then payment could not be disputed, unless it
was proved that he who demanded the money had been one of the actual
conspirators. After having seen his creditors he went away up alone
to London.

When in London he went to Carlton Terrace and spent the night in
absolute solitude. It had been his plan to join Gerald for some
partridge-shooting at Matching, and then to go yachting till such
time as he should be enabled to renew his suit to Miss Boncassen.
Early in November he would again ask her to be his wife. These
had been his plans. But now it seemed that everything was changed.
Partridge-shooting and yachting must be out of the question till this
terrible load was taken off his shoulders. Soon after his arrival at
the house two telegrams followed him from Doncaster. One was from
Gerald. "What is all this about Prime Minister? Is it a sell? I am so
unhappy." The other was from Lady Mabel,--for among other luxuries
Mrs. Montacute Jones had her own telegraph-wire at Killancodlem. "Can
this be true? We are all so miserable. I do hope it is not much."
From which he learned that his misfortune was already known to all
his friends.

And now what was he to do? He ate his supper, and then without
hesitating for a moment,--feeling that if he did hesitate the task
would not be done on that night,--he sat down and wrote the following
letter:


   Carlton Terrace, Sept. 14, 18--.

   MY DEAR MR. MORETON,

   I have just come up from Doncaster. You have probably
   heard what has been Prime Minister's fate. I don't know
   whether any horse has ever been such a favourite for the
   Leger. Early in the morning he was taken out and picked up
   a nail. The consequence was he could not run.

   Now I must come to the bad part of my story. I have lost
   seventy thousand pounds! It is no use beating about the
   bush. The sum is something over that. What am I to do? If
   I tell you that I shall give up racing altogether I dare
   say you will not believe me. It is a sort of thing a man
   always says when he wants money; but I feel now I cannot
   help saying it.

   But what shall I do? Perhaps, if it be not too much
   trouble, you will come up to town and see me. You can send
   me a word by the wires.

   You may be sure of this, I shall make no attempt to raise
   the money elsewhere, unless I find that my father will not
   help me. You will understand that of course it must be
   paid. You will understand also what I must feel about
   telling my father, but I shall do so at once. I only wait
   till I can hear from you.

   Yours faithfully,

   SILVERBRIDGE.


During the next day two despatches reached Lord Silverbridge, both of
them coming as he sat down to his solitary dinner. The first
consisted of a short but very civil note.


   Messrs. Comfort and Criball present their compliments to
   the Earl of Silverbridge.

   Messrs. C. and C. beg to offer their apologies for
   interfering, but desire to inform his Lordship that should
   cash be wanting to any amount in consequence of the late
   races, they will be happy to accommodate his Lordship
   on most reasonable terms at a moment's notice, upon his
   Lordship's single bond.

   Lord Silverbridge may be sure of absolute secrecy.

   Crasham Court, Crutched Friars, Sept. 15, 18--.


The other despatch was a telegram from Mr. Moreton saying that he
would be in Carlton Terrace by noon on the following day.



CHAPTER XLV

"There Shall Not Be Another Word About It"


Early in October the Duke was at Matching with his daughter, and
Phineas Finn and his wife were both with them. On the day after they
parted at Ischl the first news respecting Prime Minister had reached
him,--namely, that his son's horse had lost the race. This would not
have annoyed him at all, but that the papers which he read contained
some vague charge of swindling against somebody, and hinted that Lord
Silverbridge had been a victim. Even this would not have troubled
him,--might in some sort have comforted him,--were it not made
evident to him that his son had been closely associated with
swindlers in these transactions. If it were a mere question of money,
that might be settled without difficulty. Even though the sum lost
might have grown out of what he might have expected into some few
thousands, still he would bear it without a word, if only he could
separate his boy from bad companions. Then came Mr. Moreton's letter
telling the whole.

At the meeting which took place between Silverbridge and his father's
agent at Carlton Terrace it was settled that Mr. Moreton should write
the letter. Silverbridge tried and found that he could not do it. He
did not know how to humiliate himself sufficiently, and yet could
not keep himself from making attempts to prove that according to all
recognised chances his bets had been good bets.

Mr. Moreton was better able to accomplish the task. He knew the
Duke's mind. A very large discretion had been left in Mr. Moreton's
hands in regard to moneys which might be needed on behalf of
that dangerous heir!--so large that he had been able to tell
Lord Silverbridge that if the money was in truth lost according
to Jockey Club rules, it should all be forthcoming on the
settling-day,--certainly without assistance from Messrs. Comfort and
Criball. The Duke had been nervously afraid of such men of business
as Comfort and Criball, and from the earliest days of his son's
semi-manhood had been on his guard against them. Let any sacrifice be
made so that his son might be kept clear from Comforts and Criballs.
To Mr. Moreton he had been very explicit. His own pecuniary resources
were so great that they could bear some ravaging without serious
detriment. It was for his son's character and standing in the world,
for his future respectability and dignity, that his fears were so
keen, and not for his own money. By one so excitable, so fond of
pleasure as Lord Silverbridge, some ravaging would probably be made.
Let it be met by ready money. Such had been the Duke's instructions
to his own trusted man of business, and, acting on these
instructions, Mr. Moreton was able to tell the heir that the money
should be forthcoming.

Mr. Moreton, after detailing the extent and the nature of the loss,
and the steps which he had decided upon taking, went on to explain
the circumstances as best he could. He had made some inquiry, and
felt no doubt that a gigantic swindle had been perpetrated by Major
Tifto and others. The swindle had been successful. Mr. Moreton had
consulted certain gentlemen of high character versed in affairs of
the turf. He mentioned Mr. Lupton among others,--and had been assured
that though the swindle was undoubted, the money had better be paid.
It was thought to be impossible to connect the men who had made the
bets with the perpetrators of the fraud;--and if Lord Silverbridge
were to abstain from paying his bets because his own partner had
ruined the animal which belonged to them jointly, the feeling would
be against him rather than in his favour. In fact the Jockey Club
could not sustain him in such refusal. Therefore the money would be
paid. Mr. Moreton, with some expressions of doubt, trusted that he
might be thought to have exercised a wise discretion. Then he went
on to express his own opinion in regard to the lasting effect which
the matter would have upon the young man. "I think," said he, "that
his Lordship is heartily sickened of racing, and that he will never
return to it."

The Duke was of course very wretched when these tidings first reached
him. Though he was a rich man, and of all men the least careful of
his riches, still he felt that seventy thousand pounds was a large
sum of money to throw away among a nest of swindlers. And then it was
excessively grievous to him that his son should have been mixed up
with such men. Wishing to screen his son, even from his own anger, he
was careful to remember that the promise made that Tifto should be
dismissed, was not to take effect till after this race had been run.
There had been no deceit in that. But then Silverbridge had promised
that he would not "plunge." There are, however, promises which from
their very nature may be broken without falsehood. Plunging is a
doubtful word, and the path down to it, like all doubtful paths,--is
slippery and easy! If that assurance with which Mr. Moreton ended his
letter could only be made true, he could bring himself to forgive
even this offence. The boy must be made to settle himself in life.
The Duke resolved that his only revenge should be to press on that
marriage with Mabel Grex.

At Coblenz, on their way home, the Duke and his daughter were caught
up by Mr. and Mrs. Finn, and the matter of the young man's losses
was discussed. Phineas had heard all about it, and was loud in
denunciations against Tifto, Captain Green, Gilbert Villiers, and
others whose names had reached him. The money, he thought, should
never have been paid. The Duke however declared that the money would
not cause a moment's regret, if only the whole thing could be got rid
of at that cost. It had reached Finn's ears that Tifto was already at
loggerheads with his associates. There was some hope that the whole
thing might be brought to light by this means. For all that the Duke
cared nothing. If only Silverbridge and Tifto could for the future be
kept apart, as far as he and his were concerned, good would have been
done rather than harm. While they were in this way together on the
Rhine it was decided that very soon after their return to England
Phineas and Mrs. Finn should go down to Matching.

When the Duke arrived in London his sons were not there. Gerald had
gone back to Oxford, and Silverbridge had merely left an address.
Then his sister wrote him a very short letter. "Papa will be so
glad if you will come to Matching. Do come." Of course he came, and
presented himself some few days after the Duke's arrival.

But he dreaded this meeting with his father which, however, let it be
postponed for ever so long, must come at last. In reference to this
he made a great resolution,--that he would go instantly as soon as he
might be sent for. When the summons came he started; but, though he
was by courtesy an Earl, and by fact was not only a man but a Member
of Parliament, though he was half engaged to marry one young lady and
ought to have been engaged to marry another, though he had come to an
age at which Pitt was a great minister and Pope a great poet, still
his heart was in his boots, as a schoolboy's might be, when he was
driven up to the house at Matching.

In two minutes, before he had washed the dust from his face and
hands, he was with his father. "I am glad to see you, Silverbridge,"
said the Duke, putting out his hand.

"I hope I see you well, sir."

"Fairly well. Thank you. Travelling I think agrees with me. I miss,
not my comforts, but a certain knowledge of how things are going on,
which comes to us I think through our skins when we are at home. A
feeling of absence pervades me. Otherwise I like it. And you;--what
have you been doing?"

"Shooting a little," said Silverbridge, in a mooncalf tone.

"Shooting a great deal, if what I see in the newspapers be true about
Mr. Reginald Dobbes and his party. I presume it is a religion to
offer up hecatombs to the autumnal gods,--who must surely take a
keener delight in blood and slaughter than those bloodthirsty gods of
old."

"You should talk to Gerald about that, sir."

"Has Gerald been so great at his sacrifices? How will that suit with
Plato? What does Mr. Simcox say?"

"Of course they were all to have a holiday just at that time. But
Gerald is reading. I fancy that Gerald is clever."

"And he is a great Nimrod?"

"As to hunting."

"Nimrod I fancy got his game in any way that he could compass it. I
do not doubt but that he trapped foxes."

"With a rifle at deer, say for four hundred yards, I would back
Gerald against any man of his age in England or Scotland."

"As for backing, Silverbridge, do not you think that we had better
have done with that?" This was said hardly in a tone of reproach,
with something even of banter in it; and as the question was asked
the Duke was smiling. But in a moment all that sense of joyousness
which the young man had felt in singing his brother's praises was
expelled. His face fell, and he stood before his father almost like a
culprit. "We might as well have it out about this racing," continued
the Duke. "Something has to be said about it. You have lost an
enormous sum of money." The Duke's tone in saying this became
terribly severe. Such at least was its sound in his son's ears. He
did not mean to be severe.

But when he did speak of that which displeased him his voice
naturally assumed that tone of indignation with which in days of yore
he had been wont to denounce the public extravagance of his opponents
in the House of Commons. The father paused, but the son could not
speak at the moment.

"And worse than that," continued the Duke; "you have lost it in
as bad company as you could have found had you picked all England
through."

"Mr. Lupton, and Sir Henry Playfair, and Lord Stirling were in the
room when the bets were made."

"Were the gentlemen you name concerned with Major Tifto?"

"No, sir."

"Who can tell with whom he may be in a room? Though rooms of that
kind are, I think, best avoided." Then the Duke paused again, but
Silverbridge was now sobbing so that he could hardly speak. "I am
sorry that you should be so grieved," continued the father, "but such
delights cannot, I think, lead to much real joy."

"It is for you, sir," said the son, rubbing his eyes with the hand
which supported his head.

"My grief in the matter might soon be cured."

"How shall I cure it? I will do anything to cure it."

"Let Major Tifto and the horses go."

"They are gone," said Silverbridge energetically, jumping from his
chair as he spoke. "I will never own a horse again, or a part of a
horse. I will have nothing more to do with races. You will believe
me?"

"I will believe anything that you tell me."

"I won't say I will not go to another race, because--"

"No; no. I would not have you hamper yourself. Nor shall you bind
yourself by any further promises. You have done with racing."

"Indeed, indeed I have, sir."

Then the father came up to the son and put his arms round the young
man's shoulders and embraced him. "Of course it made me unhappy."

"I knew it would."

"But if you are cured of this evil, the money is nothing. What is it
all for but for you and your brother and sister? It was a large sum,
but that shall not grieve me. The thing itself is so dangerous that,
if with that much of loss we can escape, I will think that we have
made not a bad market. Who owns the horse now?"

"The horses shall be sold."

"For anything they may fetch so that we may get clear of this dirt.
And the Major?"

"I know nothing of him. I have not seen him since that day."

"Has he claims on you?"

"Not a shilling. It is all the other way."

"Let it go then. Be quit of him, however it may be. Send a messenger
so that he may understand that you have abandoned racing altogether.
Mr. Moreton might perhaps see him."

That his father should forgive so readily and yet himself suffer so
deeply, affected the son's feelings so strongly that for a time he
could hardly repress his sobs. "And now there shall not be a word
more said about it," said the Duke suddenly.

Silverbridge in his confusion could make no answer.

"There shall not be another word said about it," said the Duke again.
"And now what do you mean to do with yourself immediately?"

"I'll stay here, sir, as long as you do. Finn, and Warburton, and I
have still a few coverts to shoot."

"That's a good reason for staying anywhere."

"I meant that I would remain while you remained, sir."

"That at any rate is a good reason, as far as I am concerned. But we
go to Custins next week."

"There's a deal of shooting to be done at Gatherum," said the heir.

"You speak of it as if it were the business of your life,--on which
your bread depended."

"One can't expect game to be kept up if nobody goes to shoot it."

"Can't one? I didn't know. I should have thought that the less was
shot the more there would be to shoot; but I am ignorant in such
matters." Silverbridge then broke forth into a long explanation as to
coverts, gamekeepers, poachers, breeding, and the expectations of the
neighbourhood at large, in the middle of which he was interrupted by
the Duke. "I am afraid, my dear boy, that I am too old to learn. But
as it is so manifestly a duty, go and perform it like a man. Who will
go with you?"

"I will ask Mr. Finn to be one."

"He will be very hard upon you in the way of politics."

"I can answer him better than I can you, sir. Mr. Lupton said he
would come for a day or two. He'll stand to me."

After that his father stopped him as he was about to leave the room.
"One more word, Silverbridge. Do you remember what you were saying
when you walked down to the House with me from your club that night?"
Silverbridge remembered very well what he had said. He had undertaken
to ask Mabel Grex to be his wife, and had received his father's ready
approval to the proposition. But at this moment he was unwilling to
refer to that matter. "I have thought about it very much since that,"
said the Duke. "I may say that I have been thinking of it every day.
If there were anything to tell me, you would let me know;--would you
not?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then there is nothing to be told? I hope you have not changed your
mind."

Silverbridge paused a moment, trusting that he might be able to
escape the making of any answer;--but the Duke evidently intended to
have an answer. "It appeared to me, sir, that it did not seem to suit
her," said the hardly-driven young man. He could not now say that
Mabel had shown a disposition to reject his offer, because as they
had been sitting by the brookside at Killancodlem, even he, with all
his self-diffidence, had been forced to see what were her wishes.
Her confusion, and too evident despair when she heard of the offer
to the American girl, had plainly told her tale. He could not now
plead to his father that Mabel Grex would refuse his offer. But his
self-defence, when first he found that he had lost himself in love
for the American, had been based on that idea. He had done his best
to make Mabel understand him. If he had not actually offered to her,
he had done the next thing to it. And he had run after her, till he
was ashamed of such running. She had given him no encouragement;--and
therefore he had been justified. No doubt he must have been mistaken;
that he now perceived; but still he felt himself to be justified. It
was impossible that he should explain all this to his father. One
thing he certainly could not say,--just at present. After his folly
in regard to those heavy debts he could not at once risk his father's
renewed anger by proposing to him an American daughter-in-law.
That must stand over, at any rate till the girl had accepted him
positively. "I am afraid it won't come off, sir," he said at last.

"Then I am to presume that you have changed your mind?"

"I told you when we were speaking of it that I was not confident."

"She has not--"

"I can't explain it all, sir,--but I fear it won't come off."

Then the Duke, who had been sitting, got up from his chair and with
his back to the fire made a final little speech. "We decided just
now, Silverbridge, that nothing more should be said about that
unpleasant racing business, and nothing more shall be said by me. But
you must not be surprised if I am anxious to see you settled in life.
No young man could be more bound by duty to marry early than you
are. In the first place you have to repair the injury done by my
inaptitude for society. You have explained to me that it is your duty
to have the Barsetshire coverts properly shot, and I have acceded
to your views. Surely it must be equally your duty to see your
Barsetshire neighbours. And you are a young man every feature of
whose character would be improved by matrimony. As far as means are
concerned you are almost as free to make arrangements as though you
were already the head of the family."

"No, sir."

"I could never bring myself to dictate to a son in regard to his
choice of a wife. But I will own that when you told me that you had
chosen I was much gratified. Try and think again when you are pausing
amidst your sacrifices at Gatherum, whether that be possible. If it
be not, still I would wish you to bear in mind what is my idea as to
your duty." Silverbridge said that he would bear this in mind, and
then escaped from the room.



CHAPTER XLVI

Lady Mary's Dream


When the Duke and his daughter reached Custins they found a large
party assembled, and were somewhat surprised at the crowd. Lord and
Lady Nidderdale were there, which might have been expected as they
were part of the family. With Lord Popplecourt had come his recent
friend Adolphus Longstaff. That too might have been natural. Mr.
and Miss Boncassen were there also, who at this moment were quite
strangers to the Duke; and Mr. Lupton. The Duke also found Lady
Chiltern, whose father-in-law had more than once sat in the same
Cabinet with himself, and Mr. Monk, who was generally spoken of as
the head of the coming Liberal Government, and the Ladies Adelaide
and Flora FitzHoward, the still unmarried but not very juvenile
daughters of the Duke of St. Bungay. These with a few others made a
large party, and rather confused the Duke, who had hardly reflected
that discreet and profitable love-making was more likely to go on
among numbers, than if the two young people were thrown together with
no other companions.

Lord Popplecourt had been made to understand what was expected
of him, and after some hesitation had submitted himself to the
conspiracy. There would not be less at any rate than two hundred
thousand pounds;--and the connexion would be made with one of the
highest families in Great Britain. Though Lady Cantrip had said very
few words, those words had been expressive; and the young bachelor
peer had given in his adhesion. Some vague half-defined tale had
been told him,--not about Tregear, as Tregear's name had not been
mentioned,--but respecting some dream of a young man who had flitted
across the girl's path during her mother's lifetime. "All girls have
such dreams," Lady Cantrip had suggested. Whereupon Lord Popplecourt
said that he supposed it was so. "But a softer, purer, more unsullied
flower never waited on its stalk till the proper fingers should come
to pluck it," said Lady Cantrip, rising to unaccustomed poetry on
behalf of her friend the Duke. Lord Popplecourt accepted the poetry
and was ready to do his best to pluck the flower.

Soon after the Duke's arrival Lord Popplecourt found himself
in one of the drawing-rooms with Lady Cantrip and his proposed
father-in-law. A hint had been given him that he might as well be
home early from shooting, so as to be in the way. As the hour in
which he was to make himself specially agreeable, both to the father
and to the daughter, had drawn nigh, he became somewhat nervous, and
now, at this moment, was not altogether comfortable. Though he had
been concerned in no such matter before, he had an idea that love was
a soft kind of thing which ought to steal on one unawares and come
and go without trouble. In his case it came upon him with a rough
demand for immediate hard work. He had not previously thought that
he was to be subjected to such labours, and at this moment almost
resented the interference with his ease. He was already a little
angry with Lady Cantrip, but at the same time felt himself to be so
much in subjection to her that he could not rebel.

The Duke himself when he saw the young man was hardly more
comfortable. He had brought his daughter to Custins, feeling that it
was his duty to be with her; but he would have preferred to leave
the whole operation to the care of Lady Cantrip. He hardly liked to
look at the fish whom he wished to catch for his daughter. Whenever
this aspect of affairs presented itself to him, he would endeavour
to console himself by remembering the past success of a similar
transaction. He thought of his own first interview with his wife.
"You have heard," he had said, "what our friends wish." She had
pouted her lips, and when gently pressed had at last muttered, with
her shoulder turned to him, that she supposed it was to be so. Very
much more coercion had been used to her then than either himself or
Lady Cantrip had dared to apply to his daughter. He did not think
that his girl in her present condition of mind would signify to Lord
Popplecourt that "she supposed it was to be so." Now that the time
for the transaction was present he felt almost sure it would never be
transacted. But still he must go on with it. Were he now to abandon
his scheme, would it not be tantamount to abandoning everything? So
he wreathed his face in smiles,--or made some attempt at it,--as he
greeted the young man.

"I hope you and Lady Mary had a pleasant journey abroad," said Lord
Popplecourt. Lord Popplecourt, being aware that he had been chosen
as a son-in-law, felt himself called upon to be familiar as well as
pleasant. "I often thought of you and Lady Mary, and wondered what
you were about."

"We were visiting lakes and mountains, churches and picture
galleries, cities and salt-mines," said the Duke.

"Does Lady Mary like that sort of thing?"

"I think she was pleased with what she saw."

"She has been abroad a great deal before, I believe. It depends so
much on whom you meet when abroad."

This was unfortunate, because it recalled Tregear to the Duke's mind.
"We saw very few people whom we knew," he said.

"I've been shooting in Scotland with Silverbridge, and Gerald, and
Reginald Dobbes, and Nidderdale,--and that fellow Tregear, who is so
thick with Silverbridge."

"Indeed!"

"I'm told that Lord Gerald is going to be the great shot of his day,"
said Lady Cantrip.

"It is a distinction," said the Duke bitterly.

"He did not beat me by so much," continued Popplecourt. "I think
Tregear did the best with his rifle. One morning he potted three.
Dobbes was disgusted. He hated Tregear."

"Isn't it stupid,--half-a-dozen men getting together in that way?"
asked Lady Cantrip.

"Nidderdale is always jolly."

"I am glad to hear that," said the mother-in-law.

"And Gerald is a regular brick." The Duke bowed. "Silverbridge used
always to be going off to Killancodlem, where there were a lot of
ladies. He is very sweet, you know, on this American girl whom you
have here." Again the Duke winced. "Dobbes is awfully good as to
making out the shooting, but then he is a tyrant. Nevertheless I
agree with him, if you mean to do a thing you should do it."

"Certainly," said the Duke. "But you should make up your mind first
whether the thing is worth doing."

"Just so," said Popplecourt. "And as grouse and deer together are
about the best things out, most of us made up our minds that it was
worth doing. But that fellow Tregear would argue it out. He said a
gentleman oughtn't to play billiards as well as a marker."

"I think he was right," said the Duke.

"Do you know Mr. Tregear, Duke?"

"I have met him--with my son."

"Do you like him?"

"I have seen very little of him."

"I cannot say I do. He thinks so much of himself. Of course he is
very intimate with Silverbridge, and that is all that any one knows
of him." The Duke bowed almost haughtily, though why he bowed he
could hardly have explained to himself. Lady Cantrip bit her lips in
disgust. "He's just the fellow," continued Popplecourt, "to think
that some princess has fallen in love with him." Then the Duke left
the room.

"You had better not talk to him about Mr. Tregear," said Lady
Cantrip.

"Why not?"

"I don't know whether he approves of the intimacy between him and
Lord Silverbridge."

"I should think not;--a man without any position or a shilling in the
world."

"The Duke is peculiar. If a subject is distasteful to him he does
not like it to be mentioned. You had better not mention Mr. Tregear."
Lady Cantrip, as she said this, blushed inwardly at her own
hypocrisy.

It was of course contrived at dinner that Lord Popplecourt should
take out Lady Mary. It is impossible to discover how such things get
wind, but there was already an idea prevalent at Custins that Lord
Popplecourt had matrimonial views, and that these views were looked
upon favourably. "You may be quite sure of it, Mr. Lupton," Lady
Adelaide FitzHoward had said. "I'll make a bet they're married before
this time next year."

"It will be a terrible case of Beauty and the Beast," said Lupton.

Lady Chiltern had whispered a suspicion of the same kind, and had
expressed a hope that the lover would be worthy of the girl. And
Dolly Longstaff had chaffed his friend Popplecourt on the subject,
Popplecourt having laid himself open by indiscreet allusions to
Dolly's love for Miss Boncassen. "Everybody can't have it as easily
arranged for him as you,--a Duke's daughter and a pot of money
without so much as the trouble of asking for it!"

"What do you know about the Duke's children?"

"That's what it is to be a lord and not to have a father."
Popplecourt tried to show that he was disgusted; but he felt himself
all the more strongly bound to go on with his project.

It was therefore a matter of course that these should-be lovers would
be sent out of the room together. "You'll give your arm to Mary,"
Lady Cantrip said, dropping the ceremonial prefix. Lady Mary of
course went out as she was bidden. Though everybody else knew it, no
idea of what was intended had yet come across her mind.

The should-be lover immediately reverted to the Austrian tour,
expressing a hope that his neighbour had enjoyed herself. "There's
nothing I like so much myself," said he, remembering some of the
Duke's words, "as mountains, cities, salt-mines, and all that kind of
thing. There's such a lot of interest about it."

"Did you ever see a salt-mine?"

"Well,--not exactly a salt-mine; but I have coal-mines on my property
in Staffordshire. I'm very fond of coal. I hope you like coal."

"I like salt a great deal better--to look at."

"But which do you think pays best? I don't mind telling you,--though
it's a kind of thing I never talk about to strangers,--the royalties
from the Blogownie and Toodlem mines go up regularly two thousand
pounds every year."

"I thought we were talking about what was pretty to look at."

"So we were. I'm as fond of pretty things as anybody. Do you know
Reginald Dobbes?"

"No, I don't. Is he pretty?"

"He used to be so angry with Silverbridge, because Silverbridge would
say Crummie-Toddie was ugly."

"Was Crummie-Toddie ugly?"

"Just a plain house on a moor."

"That sounds ugly."

"I suppose your family like pretty things?"

"I hope so."

"I do, I know." Lord Popplecourt endeavoured to look as though he
intended her to understand that she was the pretty thing which he
most particularly liked. She partly conceived his meaning, and was
disgusted accordingly. On the other side of her sat Mr. Boncassen, to
whom she had been introduced in the drawing-room,--and who had said a
few words to her about some Norwegian poet. She turned round to him,
and asked him some questions about the Skald, and so, getting into
conversation with him, managed to turn her shoulder to her suitor. On
the other side of him sat Lady Rosina de Courcy, to whom, as being
an old woman and an old maid, he felt very little inclined to be
courteous. She said a word, asking him whether he did not think the
weather was treacherous. He answered her very curtly, and sat bolt
upright, looking forward on the table, and taking his dinner as it
came to him. He had been put there in order that Lady Mary Palliser
might talk to him, and he regarded interference on the part of
that old American as being ungentlemanlike. But the old American
disregarded him, and went on with his quotations from the
Scandinavian bard.

But Mr. Boncassen sat next to Lady Cantrip, and when at last he was
called upon to give his ear to the Countess, Lady Mary was again
vacant for Popplecourt's attentions.

"Are you very fond of poetry?" he asked.

"Very fond."

"So am I. Which do you like best, Tennyson or Shakespeare?"

"They are very unlike."

"Yes;--they are unlike. Or Moore's Melodies? I am very fond of 'When
in death I shall calm recline.' I think this equal to anything.
Reginald Dobbes would have it that poetry is all bosh."

"Then I think that Mr. Reginald Dobbes must be all bosh himself."

"There was a man there named Tregear who had brought some books."
Then there was a pause. Lady Mary had not a word to say. "Dobbes used
to declare that he was always pretending to read poetry."

"Mr. Tregear never pretends anything."

"Do you know him?" asked the rival.

"He is my brother's most particular friend."

"Ah! yes. I dare say Silverbridge has talked to you about him. I
think he's a stuck-up sort of fellow." To this there was not a word
of reply. "Where did your brother pick him up?"

"They were at Oxford together."

"I must say I think he gives himself airs;--because, you know, he's
nobody."

"I don't know anything of the kind," said Lady Mary, becoming very
red. "And as he is my brother's most particular friend,--his very
friend of friends,--I think you had better not abuse him to me."

"I don't think the Duke is very fond of him."

"I don't care who is fond of him. I am very fond of Silverbridge, and
I won't hear his friend ill-spoken of. I dare say he had some books
with him. He is not at all the sort of a man to go to a place and
satisfy himself with doing nothing but killing animals."

"Do you know him, Lady Mary?"

"I have seen him, and of course I have heard a great deal of him from
Silverbridge. I would rather not talk any more about him."

"You seem to be very fond of Mr. Tregear," he said angrily.

"It is no business of yours, Lord Popplecourt, whether I am fond of
anybody or not. I have told you that Mr. Tregear is my brother's
friend, and that ought to be enough."

Lord Popplecourt was a young man possessed of a certain amount of
ingenuity. It was said of him that he knew on which side his bread
was buttered, and that if you wished to take him in you must get up
early. After dinner and during the night he pondered a good deal on
what he had heard. Lady Cantrip had told him there had been a--dream.
What was he to believe about that dream? Had he not better avoid the
error of putting too fine a point upon it, and tell himself at once
that a dream in this instance meant a--lover? Lady Mary had already
been troubled by a lover! He was disposed to believe that young
ladies often do have objectionable lovers, and that things get
themselves right afterwards. Young ladies can be made to understand
the beauty of coal-mines almost as readily as young gentlemen. There
would be the two hundred thousand pounds; and there was the girl,
beautiful, well-born, and thoroughly well-mannered. But what if
this Tregear and the dream were one and the same? If so, had he not
received plenty of evidence that the dream had not yet passed away?
A remnant of affection for the dream would not have been a fatal
barrier, had not the girl been so fierce with him in defence of her
dream. He remembered, too, what the Duke had said about Tregear, and
Lady Cantrip's advice to him to be silent in respect to this man. And
then do girls generally defend their brothers' friends as she had
defended Tregear? He thought not. Putting all these things together
on the following morning he came to an uncomfortable belief that
Tregear was the dream.

Soon after that he found himself near to Dolly Longstaff as they were
shooting. "You know that fellow Tregear, don't you?"

"Oh Lord, yes. He is Silverbridge's pal."

"Did you ever hear anything about him?"

"What sort of thing?"

"Was he ever--ever in love with any one?"

"I fancy he used to be awfully spooney on Mab Grex. I remember
hearing that they were to have been married, only that neither of
them had sixpence."

"Oh--Lady Mabel Grex! That's a horse of another colour."

"And which is the horse of your colour?"

"I haven't got a horse," said Lord Popplecourt, going away to his own
corner.



CHAPTER XLVII

Miss Boncassen's Idea of Heaven


It was generally known that Dolly Longstaff had been heavily smitten
by the charms of Miss Boncassen; but the world hardly gave him credit
for the earnestness of his affection. Dolly had never been known to
be in earnest in anything;--but now he was in very truth in love. He
had agreed to be Popplecourt's companion at Custins because he had
heard that Miss Boncassen would be there. He had thought over the
matter with more consideration than he had ever before given to any
subject. He had gone so far as to see his own man of business, with a
view of ascertaining what settlements he could make and what income
he might be able to spend. He had told himself over and over again
that he was not the "sort of fellow" that ought to marry; but it
was all of no avail. He confessed to himself that he was completely
"bowled over,"--"knocked off his pins!"

"Is a fellow to have no chance?" he said to Miss Boncassen at
Custins.

"If I understand what a fellow means, I am afraid not."

"No man alive was ever more in earnest than I am."

"Well, Mr. Longstaff, I do not suppose that you have been trying to
take me in all this time."

"I hope you do not think ill of me."

"I may think well of a great many gentlemen without wishing to marry
them."

"But does love go for nothing?" said Dolly, putting his hand upon his
heart. "Perhaps there are so many that love you."

"Not above half-a-dozen or so."

"You can make a joke of it, when I--. But I don't think, Miss
Boncassen, you at all realise what I feel. As to settlements and all
that, your father could do what he likes with me."

"My father has nothing to do with it, and I don't know what
settlements mean. We never think anything of settlements in our
country. If two young people love each other they go and get
married."

"Let us do the same here."

"But the two young people don't love each other. Look here, Mr.
Longstaff; it's my opinion that a young woman ought not to be
pestered."

"Pestered!"

"You force me to speak in that way. I've given you an answer ever so
many times. I will not be made to do it over and over again."

"It's that d---- fellow, Silverbridge," he exclaimed almost angrily.
On hearing this Miss Boncassen left the room without speaking another
word, and Dolly Longstaff found himself alone. He saw what he had
done as soon as she was gone. After that he could hardly venture to
persevere again--here at Custins. He weighed it over in his mind for
a long time, almost coming to a resolution in favour of hard drink.
He had never felt anything like this before. He was so uncomfortable
that he couldn't eat his luncheon, though in accordance with his
usual habit he had breakfasted off soda-and-brandy and a morsel of
devilled toast. He did not know himself in his changed character.
"I wonder whether she understands that I have four thousand pounds
a year of my own, and shall have twelve thousand pounds more when
my governor goes! She was so headstrong that it was impossible to
explain anything to her."

"I'm off to London," he said to Popplecourt that afternoon.

"Nonsense! you said you'd stay for ten days."

"All the same, I'm going at once. I've sent to Bridport for a trap,
and I shall sleep to-night at Dorchester."

"What's the meaning of it all?"

"I've had some words with somebody. Don't mind asking any more."

"Not with the Duke?"

"The Duke! No; I haven't spoken to him."

"Or Lord Cantrip?"

"I wish you wouldn't ask questions."

"If you've quarrelled with anybody you ought to consult a friend."

"It's nothing of that kind."

"Then it's a lady. It's the American girl!"

"Don't I tell you I don't want to talk about it? I'm going. I've told
Lady Cantrip that my mother wasn't well and wants to see me. You'll
stop your time out, I suppose?"

"I don't know."

"You've got it all square, no doubt. I wish I'd a handle to my name.
I never cared for it before."

"I'm sorry you're so down in the mouth. Why don't you try again? The
thing is to stick to 'em like wax. If ten times of asking won't do,
go in twenty times."

Dolly shook his head despondently. "What can you do when a girl walks
out of the room and slams the door in your face? She'll get it hot
and heavy before she has done. I know what she's after. She might as
well cry for the moon." And so Dolly got into the trap and went to
Bridport, and slept that night at the hotel at Dorchester.

Lord Popplecourt, though he could give such excellent advice to his
friend, had been able as yet to do very little in his own case. He
had been a week at Custins, and had said not a word to denote his
passion. Day after day he had prepared himself for the encounter, but
the lady had never given him the opportunity. When he sat next to her
at dinner she would be very silent. If he stayed at home on a morning
she was not visible. During the short evenings he could never get her
attention. And he made no progress with the Duke. The Duke had been
very courteous to him at Richmond, but here he was monosyllabic and
almost sullen.

Once or twice Lord Popplecourt had a little conversation with Lady
Cantrip. "Dear girl!" said her ladyship. "She is so little given to
seeking admiration."

"I dare say."

"Girls are so different, Lord Popplecourt. With some of them it seems
that a gentleman need have no trouble in explaining what it is that
he wishes."

"I don't think Lady Mary is like that at all."

"Not in the least. Any one who addresses her must be prepared to
explain himself fully. Nor ought he to hope to get much encouragement
at first. I do not think that Lady Mary will bestow her heart till
she is sure she can give it with safety." There was an amount
of falsehood in this which was proof at any rate of very strong
friendship on the part of Lady Cantrip.

After a few days Lady Mary became more intimate with the American and
his daughter than with any others of the party. Perhaps she liked
to talk about the Scandinavian poets, of whom Mr. Boncassen was so
fond. Perhaps she felt sure that her transatlantic friend would not
make love to her. Perhaps it was that she yielded to the various
allurements of Miss Boncassen. Miss Boncassen saw the Duke of Omnium
for the first time at Custins, and there had the first opportunity of
asking herself how such a man as that would receive from his son and
heir such an announcement as Lord Silverbridge would have to make him
should she at the end of three months accept his offer. She was quite
aware that Lord Silverbridge need not repeat the offer unless he
were so pleased. But she thought that he would come again. He had so
spoken that she was sure of his love; and had so spoken as to obtain
hers. Yes;--she was sure that she loved him. She had never seen
anything like him before;--so glorious in his beauty, so gentle in
his manhood, so powerful and yet so little imperious, so great in
condition, and yet so little confident in his own greatness, so
bolstered up with external advantages, and so little apt to trust
anything but his own heart and his own voice. In asking for her
love he had put forward no claim but his own love. She was glad he
was what he was. She counted at their full value all his natural
advantages. To be an English Duchess! Oh--yes; her ambition
understood it all! But she loved him, because in the expression of
his love no hint had fallen from him of the greatness of the benefits
which he could confer upon her. Yes, she would like to be a Duchess;
but not to be a Duchess would she become the wife of a man who should
begin his courtship by assuming a superiority.

Now the chances of society had brought her into the company of his
nearest friends. She was in the house with his father and with his
sister. Now and again the Duke spoke a few words to her, and always
did so with a peculiar courtesy. But she was sure that the Duke had
heard nothing of his son's courtship. And she was equally sure that
the matter had not reached Lady Mary's ears. She perceived that the
Duke and her father would often converse together. Mr. Boncassen
would discuss republicanism generally, and the Duke would explain
that theory of monarchy as it prevails in England, which but very few
Americans have ever been made to understand. All this Miss Boncassen
watched with pleasure. She was still of opinion that it would not
become her to force her way into a family which would endeavour to
repudiate her. She would not become this young man's wife if all
connected with the young man were resolved to reject the contact. But
if she could conquer them,--then,--then she thought that she could
put her little hand into that young man's grasp with a happy heart.

It was in this frame of mind that she laid herself out not
unsuccessfully to win the esteem of Lady Mary Palliser. "I do not
know whether you approve it," Lady Cantrip said to the Duke; "but
Mary has become very intimate with our new American friend." At this
time Lady Cantrip had become very nervous,--so as almost to wish
that Lady Mary's difficulties might be unravelled elsewhere than at
Custins.

"They seem to be sensible people," said the Duke. "I don't know when
I have met a man with higher ideas on politics than Mr. Boncassen."

"His daughter is popular with everybody."

"A nice ladylike girl," said the Duke, "and appears to have been well
educated."

It was now near the end of October, and the weather was peculiarly
fine. Perhaps in our climate, October would of all months be the most
delightful if something of its charms were not detracted from by the
feeling that with it will depart the last relics of the delights of
summer. The leaves are still there with their gorgeous colouring, but
they are going. The last rose still lingers on the bush, but it is
the last. The woodland walks are still pleasant to the feet, but
caution is heard on every side as to the coming winter.

The park at Custins, which was spacious, had many woodland walks
attached to it, from which, through vistas of the timber, distant
glimpses of the sea were caught. Within half a mile of the house the
woods were reached, and within a mile the open sea was in sight,--and
yet the wanderers might walk for miles without going over the same
ground. Here, without other companions, Lady Mary and Miss Boncassen
found themselves one afternoon, and here the latter told her story to
her lover's sister. "I so long to tell you something," she said.

"Is it a secret?" asked Lady Mary.

"Well; yes; it is,--if you will keep it so. I would rather you should
keep it a secret. But I will tell you." Then she stood still, looking
into the other's face. "I wonder how you will take it."

"What can it be?"

"Your brother has asked me to be his wife."

"Silverbridge!"

"Yes;--Lord Silverbridge. You are astonished."

Lady Mary was very much astonished,--so much astonished that words
escaped from her, which she regretted afterwards. "I thought there
was someone else."

"Who else?"

"Lady Mabel Grex. But I know nothing."

"I think not," said Miss Boncassen slowly. "I have seen them together
and I think not. There might be somebody, though I think not her. But
why do I say that? Why do I malign him, and make so little of myself?
There is no one else, Lady Mary. Is he not true?"

"I think he is true."

"I am sure he is true. And he has asked me to be his wife."

"What did you say?"

"Well;--what do you think? What is it probable that such a girl as I
would say when such a man as your brother asks her to be his wife? Is
he not such a man as a girl would love?"

"Oh yes."

"Is he not handsome as a god?" Mary stared at her with all her eyes.
"And sweeter than any god those pagan races knew? And is he not
good-tempered, and loving; and has he not that perfection of manly
dash without which I do not think I could give my heart to any man?"

"Then you have accepted him?"

"And his rank and his wealth! The highest position in all the world
in my eyes."

"I do not think you should take him for that."

"Does it not all help? Can you put yourself in my place? Why should I
refuse him? No, not for that. I would not take him for that. But if I
love him,--because he is all that my imagination tells me that a man
ought to be;--if to be his wife seems to me to be the greatest bliss
that could happen to a woman; if I feel that I could die to serve
him, that I could live to worship him, that his touch would be sweet
to me, his voice music, his strength the only support in the world on
which I would care to lean,--what then?"

"Is it so?"

"Yes, it is so. It is after that fashion that I love him. He is my
hero;--and not the less so because there is none higher than he among
the nobles of the greatest land under the sun. Would you have me for
a sister?" Lady Mary could not answer all at once. She had to think
of her father;--and then she thought of her own lover. Why should
not Silverbridge be as well entitled to his choice as she considered
herself to be? And yet how would it be with her father? Silverbridge
would in process of time be the head of the family. Would it be
proper that he should marry an American?

"You would not like me for a sister?"

"I was thinking of my father. For myself I like you."

"Shall I tell you what I said to him?"

"If you will."

"I told him that he must ask his friends;--that I would not be his
wife to be rejected by them all. Nor will I. Though it be heaven I
will not creep there through a hole. If I cannot go in with my head
upright, I will not go even there." Then she turned round as though
she were prepared in her emotion to walk back to the house alone. But
Lady Mary ran after her, and having caught her, put her arm round her
waist and kissed her.

"I at any rate will love you," said Lady Mary.

"I will do as I have said," continued Miss Boncassen. "I will do as I
have said. Though I love your brother down to the ground he shall not
marry me without his father's consent." Then they returned arm-in-arm
close together; but very little more was said between them.

When Lady Mary entered the house she was told that Lady Cantrip
wished to see her in her own room.



CHAPTER XLVIII

The Party at Custins Is Broken Up


The message was given to Lady Mary after so solemn a fashion that she
was sure some important communication was to be made to her. Her mind
at that moment had been filled with her new friend's story. She felt
that she required some time to meditate before she could determine
what she herself would wish; but when she was going to her own room,
in order that she might think it over, she was summoned to Lady
Cantrip. "My dear," said the Countess, "I wish you to do something to
oblige me."

"Of course I will."

"Lord Popplecourt wants to speak to you."

"Who?"

"Lord Popplecourt."

"What can Lord Popplecourt have to say to me?"

"Can you not guess? Lord Popplecourt is a young nobleman, standing
very high in the world, possessed of ample means, just in that
position in which it behoves such a man to look about for a wife."
Lady Mary pressed her lips together, and clenched her two hands. "Can
you not imagine what such a gentleman may have to say?" Then there
was a pause, but she made no immediate answer. "I am to tell you, my
dear, that your father would approve of it."

"Approve of what?"

"He approves of Lord Popplecourt as a suitor for your hand."

"How can he?"

"Why not, Mary? Of course he has made it his business to ascertain
all particulars as to Lord Popplecourt's character and property."

"Papa knows that I love somebody else."

"My dear Mary, that is all vanity."

"I don't think that papa can want to see me married to a man when he
knows that with all my heart and soul--"

"Oh Mary!"

"When he knows," continued Mary, who would not be put down, "that I
love another man with all my heart. What will Lord Popplecourt say if
I tell him that? If he says anything to me, I shall tell him. Lord
Popplecourt! He cares for nothing but his coal-mines. Of course, if
you bid me see him I will; but it can do no good. I despise him, and
if he troubles me I shall hate him. As for marrying him,--I would
sooner die this minute."

After this Lady Cantrip did not insist on the interview. She
expressed her regret that things should be as they were,--explained
in sweetly innocent phrases that in a certain rank of life young
ladies could not always marry the gentlemen to whom their fancies
might attach them, but must, not unfrequently, postpone their
youthful inclinations to the will of their elders,--or in less
delicate language, that though they might love in one direction they
must marry in another; and then expressed a hope that her dear Mary
would think over these things and try to please her father. "Why does
he not try to please me?" said Mary. Then Lady Cantrip was obliged to
see Lord Popplecourt, a necessity which was a great nuisance to her.
"Yes;--she understands what you mean. But she is not prepared for it
yet. You must wait awhile."

"I don't see why I am to wait."

"She is very young,--and so are you, indeed. There is plenty of
time."

"There is somebody else I suppose."

"I told you," said Lady Cantrip, in her softest voice, "that there
has been a dream across her path."

"It's that Tregear!"

"I am not prepared to mention names," said Lady Cantrip, astonished
that he should know so much. "But indeed you must wait."

"I don't see it, Lady Cantrip."

"What can I say more? If you think that such a girl as Lady Mary
Palliser, the daughter of the Duke of Omnium, possessed of fortune,
beauty, and every good gift, is to come like a bird to your call, you
will find yourself mistaken. All that her friends can do for you will
be done. The rest must remain with yourself." During that evening
Lord Popplecourt endeavoured to make himself pleasant to one of the
FitzHoward young ladies, and on the next morning he took his leave of
Custins.

"I will never interfere again in reference to anybody else's child as
long as I live," Lady Cantrip said to her husband that night.

Lady Mary was very much tempted to open her heart to Miss Boncassen.
It would be delightful to her to have a friend; but were she to
engage Miss Boncassen's sympathies on her behalf, she must of course
sympathise with Miss Boncassen in return. And what if, after all,
Silverbridge were not devoted to the American beauty! What if it
should turn out that he was going to marry Lady Mabel Grex! "I
wish you would call me Isabel," her friend said to her. "It is so
odd,--since I have left New York I have never heard my name from any
lips except father's and mother's."

"Has not Silverbridge ever called you by your Christian name?"

"I think not. I am sure he never has." But he had, though it had
passed by her at the moment without attention. "It all came from
him so suddenly. And yet I expected it. But it was too sudden for
Christian names and pretty talk. I do not even know what his name
is."

"Plantagenet;--but we always call him Silverbridge."

"Plantagenet is very much prettier. I shall always call him
Plantagenet. But I recall that. You will not remember that against
me?"

"I will remember nothing that you do not wish."

"I mean that if,--if all the grandeurs of all the Pallisers could
consent to put up with poor me, if heaven were opened to me with a
straight gate, so that I could walk out of our republic into your
aristocracy with my head erect, with the stars and stripes waving
proudly round me till I had been accepted into the shelter of the
Omnium griffins,--then I would call him--"

"There's one Palliser would welcome you."

"Would you, dear? Then I will love you so dearly. May I call you
Mary?"

"Of course you may."

"Mary is the prettiest name under the sun. But Plantagenet is so
grand! Which of the kings did you branch off from?"

"I know nothing about it. From none of them, I should think. There is
some story about a Sir Guy who was a king's friend. I never trouble
myself about it. I hate aristocracy."

"Do you, dear?"

"Yes," said Mary, full of her own grievances. "It is an abominable
bondage, and I do not see that it does any good at all."

"I think it is so glorious," said the American. "There is no such
mischievous nonsense in all the world as equality. That is what
father says. What men ought to want is liberty."

"It is terrible to be tied up in a small circle," said the Duke's
daughter.

"What do you mean, Lady Mary?"

"I thought you were to call me Mary. What I mean is this. Suppose
that Silverbridge loves you better than all the world."

"I hope he does. I think he does."

"And suppose he cannot marry you, because of his--aristocracy?"

"But he can."

"I thought you were saying yourself--"

"Saying what? That he could not marry me! No, indeed! But that under
certain circumstances I would not marry him. You don't suppose that
I think he would be disgraced? If so I would go away at once, and
he should never again see my face or hear my voice. I think myself
good enough for the best man God ever made. But if others think
differently, and those others are so closely concerned with him,
and would be so closely concerned with me, as to trouble our joint
lives,--then will I neither subject him to such sorrow nor will I
encounter it myself."

"It all comes from what you call aristocracy."

"No, dear;--but from the prejudices of an aristocracy. To tell the
truth, Mary, the more difficult a place is to get into, the more the
right of going in is valued. If everybody could be a Duchess and a
Palliser, I should not perhaps think so much about it."

"I thought it was because you loved him."

"So I do. I love him entirely. I have said not a word of that to
him;--but I do, if I know at all what love is. But if you love a
star, the pride you have in your star will enhance your love. Though
you know that you must die of your love, still you must love your
star."

And yet Mary could not tell her tale in return. She could not show
the reverse picture;--that she being a star was anxious to dispose of
herself after the fashion of poor human rushlights. It was not that
she was ashamed of her love, but that she could not bring herself to
yield altogether in reference to the great descent which Silverbridge
would have to make.

On the day after this,--the last day of the Duke's sojourn at
Custins, the last also of the Boncassens' visit,--it came to pass
that the Duke and Mr. Boncassen, with Lady Mary and Isabel, were all
walking in the woods together. And it so happened when they were at
a little distance from the house, each of the girls was walking with
the other girl's father. Isabel had calculated what she would say to
the Duke should a time for speaking come to her. She could not tell
him of his son's love. She could not ask his permission. She could
not explain to him all her feelings, or tell him what she thought of
her proper way of getting into heaven. That must come afterwards if
it should ever come at all. But there was something that she could
tell. "We are so different from you," she said, speaking of her own
country.

"And yet so like," said the Duke, smiling;--"your language, your
laws, your habits!"

"But still there is such a difference! I do not think there is a man
in the whole Union more respected than father."

"I dare say not."

"Many people think that if he would only allow himself to be put in
nomination, he might be the next president."

"The choice, I am sure, would do your country honour."

"And yet his father was a poor labourer who earned his bread among
the shipping at New York. That kind of thing would be impossible
here."

"My dear young lady, there you wrong us."

"Do I?"

"Certainly! A Prime Minister with us might as easily come from the
same class."

"Here you think so much of rank. You are--a Duke."

"But a Prime Minister can make a Duke; and if a man can raise himself
by his own intellect to that position, no one will think of his
father or his grandfather. The sons of merchants have with us been
Prime Ministers more than once, and no Englishmen ever were more
honoured among their countrymen. Our peerage is being continually
recruited from the ranks of the people, and hence it gets its
strength."

"Is it so?"

"There is no greater mistake than to suppose that inferiority of
birth is a barrier to success in this country."

She listened to this and to much more on the same subject with
attentive ears,--not shaken in her ideas as to the English
aristocracy in general, but thinking that she was perhaps learning
something of his own individual opinions. If he were more liberal
than others, on that liberality might perhaps be based her own
happiness and fortune.

He, in all this, was quite unconscious of the working of her mind.
Nor in discussing such matters generally did he ever mingle his own
private feelings, his own pride of race and name, his own ideas of
what was due to his ancient rank with the political creed by which
his conduct in public life was governed. The peer who sat next to him
in the House of Lords, whose grandmother had been a washerwoman and
whose father an innkeeper, was to him every whit as good a peer as
himself. And he would as soon sit in counsel with Mr. Monk, whose
father had risen from a mechanic to be a merchant, as with any
nobleman who could count ancestors against himself. But there was an
inner feeling in his bosom as to his own family, his own name, his
own children, and his own personal self, which was kept altogether
apart from his grand political theories. It was a subject on which
he never spoke; but the feeling had come to him as a part of his
birthright. And he conceived that it would pass through him to his
children after the same fashion. It was this which made the idea of
a marriage between his daughter and Tregear intolerable to him, and
which would operate as strongly in regard to any marriage which
his son might contemplate. Lord Grex was not a man with whom he
would wish to form any intimacy. He was, we may say, a wretched
unprincipled old man, bad all round; and such the Duke knew him to
be. But the blue blood and the rank were there; and as the girl was
good herself, he would have been quite contented that his son should
marry the daughter of Lord Grex. That one and the same man should
have been in one part of himself so unlike the other part,--that he
should have one set of opinions so contrary to another set,--poor
Isabel Boncassen did not understand.



CHAPTER XLIX

The Major's Fate


The affair of Prime Minister and the nail was not allowed to fade
away into obscurity. Through September and October it was made
matter for pungent inquiry. The Jockey Club was alive. Mr. Pook was
very instant,--with many Pookites anxious to free themselves from
suspicion. Sporting men declared that the honour of the turf required
that every detail of the case should be laid open. But by the end of
October, though every detail had been surmised, nothing had in truth
been discovered. Nobody doubted but that Tifto had driven the nail
into the horse's foot, and that Green and Gilbert Villiers had shared
the bulk of the plunder. They had gone off on their travels together,
and the fact that each of them had been in possession of about twenty
thousand pounds was proved. But then there is no law against two
gentlemen having such a sum of money. It was notorious that Captain
Green and Mr. Gilbert Villiers had enriched themselves to this extent
by the failure of Prime Minister. But yet nothing was proved!

That the Major had either himself driven in the nail or seen it done,
all racing men were agreed. He had been out with the horse in the
morning and had been the first to declare that the animal was lame.
And he had been with the horse till the farrier had come. But he had
concocted a story for himself. He did not dispute that the horse
had been lamed by the machinations of Green and Villiers,--with the
assistance of the groom. No doubt, he said, these men, who had been
afraid to face an inquiry, had contrived and had carried out the
iniquity. How the lameness had been caused he could not pretend to
say. The groom who was at the horse's head, and who evidently knew
how these things were done, might have struck a nerve in the horse's
foot with his boot. But when the horse was got into the stable he,
Tifto,--so he declared,--at once ran out to send for the farrier.
During the minutes so occupied the operation must have been made with
the nail. That was Tifto's story,--and as he kept his ground, there
were some few who believed it.

But though the story was so far good, he had at moments been
imprudent, and had talked when he should have been silent. The whole
matter had been a torment to him. In the first place his conscience
made him miserable. As long as it had been possible to prevent the
evil he had hoped to make a clean breast of it to Lord Silverbridge.
Up to this period of his life everything had been "square" with him.
He had betted "square," and had ridden "square," and had run horses
"square." He had taken a pride in this, as though it had been a great
virtue. It was not without great inward grief that he had deprived
himself of the consolations of these reflections! But when he had
approached his noble partner, his noble partner snubbed him at every
turn,--and he did the deed.

His reward was to be three thousand pounds,--and he got his money.
The money was very much to him,--would perhaps have been almost
enough to comfort him in his misery, had not those other rascals
got so much more. When he heard that the groom's fee was higher
than his own, it almost broke his heart. Green and Villiers, men of
infinitely lower standing,--men at whom the Beargarden would not have
looked,--had absolutely netted fortunes on which they could live
in comfort. No doubt they had run away while Tifto still stood his
ground;--but he soon began to doubt whether to have run away with
twenty thousand pounds was not better than to remain with such
small plunder as had fallen to his lot, among such faces as those
which now looked upon him! Then when he had drunk a few glasses of
whisky-and-water, he said something very foolish as to his power of
punishing that swindler Green.

An attempt had been made to induce Silverbridge to delay the payment
of his bets;--but he had been very eager that they should be paid.
Under the joint auspices of Mr. Lupton and Mr. Moreton the horses
were sold, and the establishment was annihilated,--with considerable
loss, but with great despatch. The Duke had been urgent. The Jockey
Club, and the racing world, and the horsey fraternity generally,
might do what seemed to them good,--so that Silverbridge was
extricated from the matter. Silverbridge was extricated,--and the
Duke cared nothing for the rest.

But Silverbridge could not get out of the mess quite so easily as
his father wished. Two questions arose about Major Tifto, outside
the racing world, but within the domain of the world of sport and
pleasure generally, as to one of which it was impossible that
Silverbridge should not express an opinion. The first question had
reference to the Mastership of the Runnymede hounds. In this our
young friend was not bound to concern himself. The other affected the
Beargarden Club; and, as Lord Silverbridge had introduced the Major,
he could hardly forbear from the expression of an opinion.

There was a meeting of the subscribers to the hunt in the last week
of October. At that meeting Major Tifto told his story. There he was,
to answer any charge which might be brought against him. If he had
made money by losing the race,--where was it and whence had it come?
Was it not clear that a conspiracy might have been made without his
knowledge;--and clear also that the real conspirators had levanted?
He had not levanted! The hounds were his own. He had undertaken to
hunt the country for this season, and they had undertaken to pay
him a certain sum of money. He should expect and demand that sum of
money. If they chose to make any other arrangement for the year
following they could do so. Then he sat down and the meeting was
adjourned,--the secretary having declared that he would not act in
that capacity any longer, nor collect the funds. A farmer had also
asserted that he and his friends had resolved that Major Tifto should
not ride over their fields. On the next day the Major had his hounds
out, and some of the London men, with a few of the neighbours, joined
him. Gates were locked; but the hounds ran, and those who chose to
ride managed to follow them. There are men who will stick to their
sport though Apollyon himself should carry the horn. Who cares
whether the lady who fills a theatre be or be not a moral young
woman, or whether the bandmaster who keeps such excellent time in a
ball has or has not paid his debts? There were men of this sort who
supported Major Tifto;--but then there was a general opinion that
the Runnymede hunt would come to an end unless a new Master could be
found.

Then in the first week in November a special meeting was called at
the Beargarden, at which Lord Silverbridge was asked to attend. "It
is impossible that he should be allowed to remain in the club." This
was said to Lord Silverbridge by Mr. Lupton. "Either he must go or
the club must be broken up."

Silverbridge was very unhappy on the occasion. He had at last been
reasoned into believing that the horse had been made the victim of
foul play; but he persisted in saying that there was no conclusive
evidence against Tifto. The matter was argued with him. Tifto had
laid bets against the horse; Tifto had been hand-and-glove with
Green; Tifto could not have been absent from the horse above two
minutes; the thing could not have been arranged without Tifto. As
he had brought Tifto into the club, and had been his partner on the
turf, it was his business to look into the matter. "But for all
that," said he, "I'm not going to jump on a man when he's down,
unless I feel sure that he's guilty."

Then the meeting was held, and Tifto himself appeared. When the
accusation was made by Mr. Lupton, who proposed that he should be
expelled, he burst into tears. The whole story was repeated,--the
nail, and the hammer, and the lameness; and the moments were counted
up, and poor Tifto's bets and friendship with Green were made
apparent,--and the case was submitted to the club. An old gentleman
who had been connected with the turf all his life, and who would not
have scrupled, by square betting, to rob his dearest friend of his
last shilling, seconded the proposition,--telling all the story over
again. Then Major Tifto was asked whether he wished to say anything.

"I've got to say that I'm here," said Tifto, still crying, "and if
I'd done anything of that kind, of course I'd have gone with the rest
of 'em. I put it to Lord Silverbridge to say whether I'm that sort of
fellow." Then he sat down.

Upon this there was a pause, and the club was manifestly of opinion
that Lord Silverbridge ought to say something. "I think that Major
Tifto should not have betted against the horse," said Silverbridge.

"I can explain that," said the Major. "Let me explain that. Everybody
knows that I'm a man of small means. I wanted to 'edge, I only wanted
to 'edge."

Mr. Lupton shook his head. "Why have you not shown me your book?"

"I told you before that it was stolen. Green got hold of it. I did
win a little. I never said I didn't. But what has that to do with
hammering a nail into a horse's foot? I have always been true to you,
Lord Silverbridge, and you ought to stick up for me now."

"I will have nothing further to do with the matter," said
Silverbridge, "one way or the other," and he walked out of the
room,--and out of the club. The affair was ended by a magnanimous
declaration on the part of Major Tifto that he would not remain in a
club in which he was suspected, and by a consent on the part of the
meeting to receive the Major's instant resignation.



CHAPTER L

The Duke's Arguments


The Duke before he left Custins had an interview with Lady Cantrip,
at which that lady found herself called upon to speak her mind
freely. "I don't think she cares about Lord Popplecourt," Lady
Cantrip said.

"I am sure I don't know why she should," said the Duke, who was often
very aggravating even to his friend.

"But as we had thought--"

"She ought to do as she is told," said the Duke, remembering how
obedient his Glencora had been. "Has he spoken to her?"

"I think not."

"Then how can we tell?"

"I asked her to see him, but she expressed so much dislike that I
could not press it. I am afraid, Duke, that you will find it
difficult to deal with her."

"I have found it very difficult!"

"As you have trusted me so much--"

"Yes;--I have trusted you, and do trust you. I hope you understand
that I appreciate your kindness."

"Perhaps then you will let me say what I think."

"Certainly, Lady Cantrip."

"Mary is a very peculiar girl,--with great gifts,--but--"

"But what?"

"She is obstinate. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that she has
great firmness of character. It is within your power to separate her
from Mr. Tregear. It would be foreign to her character to--to--leave
you, except with your approbation."

"You mean, she will not run away."

"She will do nothing without your permission. But she will remain
unmarried unless she be allowed to marry Mr. Tregear."

"What do you advise then?"

"That you should yield. As regards money, you could give them what
they want. Let him go into public life. You could manage that for
him."

"He is Conservative!"

"What does that matter when the question is one of your daughter's
happiness? Everybody tells me that he is clever and well conducted."

He betrayed nothing by his face as this was said to him. But as he
got into the carriage he was a miserable man. It is very well to tell
a man that he should yield, but there is nothing so wretched to a man
as yielding. Young people and women have to yield,--but for such a
man as this, to yield is in itself a misery. In this matter the Duke
was quite certain of the propriety of his judgment. To yield would
be not only to mortify himself, but to do wrong at the same time. He
had convinced himself that the Popplecourt arrangement would come to
nothing. Nor had he and Lady Cantrip combined been able to exercise
over her the sort of power to which Lady Glencora had been subjected.
If he persevered,--and he still was sure, almost sure, that he would
persevere,--his object must be achieved after a different fashion.
There must be infinite suffering,--suffering both to him and to her.
Could she have been made to consent to marry someone else, terrible
as the rupture might have been, she would have reconciled herself at
last to her new life. So it had been with his Glencora, after a time.
Now the misery must go on from day to day beneath his eyes, with the
knowledge on his part that he was crushing all joy out of her young
life, and the conviction on her part that she was being treated with
continued cruelty by her father! It was a terrible prospect! But if
it was manifestly his duty to act after this fashion, must he not do
his duty?

If he were to find that by persevering in this course he would doom
her to death, or perchance to madness,--what then? If it were right,
he must still do it. He must still do it, if the weakness incident to
his human nature did not rob him of the necessary firmness. If every
foolish girl were indulged, all restraint would be lost, and there
would be an end to those rules as to birth and position by which he
thought his world was kept straight. And then, mixed with all this,
was his feeling of the young man's arrogance in looking for such a
match. Here was a man without a shilling, whose manifest duty it was
to go to work so that he might earn his bread, who instead of doing
so, had hoped to raise himself to wealth and position by entrapping
the heart of an unwary girl! There was something to the Duke's
thinking base in this, and much more base because the unwary girl was
his own daughter. That such a man as Tregear should make an attack
upon him and select his rank, his wealth, and his child as the
stepping-stones by which he intended to rise! What could be so
mean as that a man should seek to live by looking out for a wife
with money? But what so impudent, so arrogant, so unblushingly
disregardful of propriety, as that he should endeavour to select
his victim from such a family as that of the Pallisers, and that
he should lay his impious hand on the very daughter of the Duke of
Omnium?

But together with all this there came upon him moments of ineffable
tenderness. He felt as though he longed to take her in his arms and
tell her, that if she were unhappy, so would he be unhappy too,--to
make her understand that a hard necessity had made this sorrow common
to them both. He thought that, if she would only allow it, he could
speak of her love as a calamity which had befallen them, as from the
hand of fate, and not as a fault. If he could make a partnership in
misery with her, so that each might believe that each was acting for
the best, then he could endure all that might come. But, as he was
well aware, she regarded him as being simply cruel to her. She did
not understand that he was performing an imperative duty. She had set
her heart upon a certain object, and having taught herself that in
that way happiness might be reached, had no conception that there
should be something in the world, some idea of personal dignity, more
valuable to her than the fruition of her own desires! And yet every
word he spoke to her was affectionate. He knew that she was bruised,
and if it might be possible he would pour oil into her wounds,--even
though she would not recognise the hand which relieved her.

They slept one night in town,--where they encountered Silverbridge
soon after his retreat from the Beargarden. "I cannot quite make up
my mind, sir, about that fellow Tifto," he said to his father.

"I hope you have made up your mind that he is no fit companion for
yourself."

"That's over. Everybody understands that, sir."

"Is anything more necessary?"

"I don't like feeling that he has been ill-used. They have made him
resign the club, and I fancy they won't have him at the hunt."

"He has lost no money by you?"

"Oh no."

"Then I think you may be indifferent. From all that I hear I think he
must have won money,--which will probably be a consolation to him."

"I think they have been hard upon him," continued Silverbridge. "Of
course he is not a good man, nor a gentleman, nor possessed of very
high feelings. But a man is not to be sacrificed altogether for that.
There are so many men who are not gentlemen, and so many gentlemen
who are bad fellows."

"I have no doubt Mr. Lupton knew what he was about," replied the
Duke.

On the next morning the Duke and Lady Mary went down to Matching,
and as they sat together in the carriage after leaving the railway
the father endeavoured to make himself pleasant to his daughter. "I
suppose we shall stay at Matching now till Christmas," he said.

"I hope so."

"Whom would you like to have here?"

"I don't want any one, papa."

"You will be very sad without somebody. Would you like the Finns?"

"If you please, papa. I like her. He never talks anything but
politics."

"He is none the worse for that, Mary. I wonder whether Lady Mabel
Grex would come."

"Lady Mabel Grex!"

"Do you not like her?"

"Oh yes, I like her;--but what made you think of her, papa?"

"Perhaps Silverbridge would come to us then."

Lady Mary thought that she knew a great deal more about that than her
father did. "Is he fond of Lady Mabel, papa?"

"Well,--I don't know. There are secrets which should not be told. I
think they are very good friends. I would not have her asked unless
it would please you."

"I like her very much, papa."

"And perhaps we might get the Boncassens to come to us. I did say
a word to him about it." Now, as Mary felt, difficulty was heaping
itself upon difficulty. "I have seldom met a man in whose company I
could take more pleasure than in that of Mr. Boncassen; and the young
lady seems to be worthy of her father." Mary was silent, feeling the
complication of the difficulties. "Do you not like her?" asked the
Duke.

"Very much indeed," said Mary.

"Then let us fix a day and ask them. If you will come to me after
dinner with an almanac we will arrange it. Of course you will invite
that Miss Cassewary too?"

The complication seemed to be very bad indeed. In the first place was
it not clear that she, Lady Mary, ought not to be a party to asking
Miss Boncassen to meet her brother at Matching? Would it not be
imperative on her part to tell her father the whole story? And yet
how could she do that? It had been told her in confidence, and
she remembered what her own feelings had been when Mrs. Finn had
suggested the propriety of telling the story which had been told
to her! And how would it be possible to ask Lady Mabel to come to
Matching to meet Miss Boncassen in the presence of Silverbridge? If
the party could be made up without Silverbridge things might run
smoothly.

As she was thinking of this in her own room, thinking also how happy
she could be if one other name might be added to the list of guests,
the Duke had gone alone into his library. There a pile of letters
reached him, among which he found one marked "Private," and addressed
in a hand which he did not recognise. This he opened suddenly,--with
a conviction that it would contain a thorn,--and, turning over the
page, found the signature to it was "Francis Tregear." The man's name
was wormwood to him. He at once felt that he would wish to have his
dinner, his fragment of a dinner, brought to him in that solitary
room, and that he might remain secluded for the rest of the evening.
But still he must read the letter;--and he read it.


   MY DEAR LORD DUKE,

   If my mode of addressing your Grace be too familiar I hope
   you will excuse it. It seems to me that if I were to use
   one more distant, I should myself be detracting something
   from my right to make the claim which I intend to put
   forward. You know what my feelings are in reference to
   your daughter. I do not pretend to suppose that they
   should have the least weight with you. But you know also
   what her feelings are for me. A man seems to be vain when
   he expresses his conviction of a woman's love for himself.
   But this matter is so important to her as well as to me
   that I am compelled to lay aside all pretence. If she do
   not love me as I love her, then the whole thing drops to
   the ground. Then it will be for me to take myself off from
   out of your notice,--and from hers, and to keep to myself
   whatever heart-breaking I may have to undergo. But if she
   be as steadfast in this matter as I am,--if her happiness
   be fixed on marrying me as mine is on marrying her,--then,
   I think, I am entitled to ask you whether you are
   justified in keeping us apart.

   I know well what are the discrepancies. Speaking from my
   own feeling I regard very little those of rank. I believe
   myself to be as good a gentleman as though my father's
   forefathers had sat for centuries past in the House of
   Lords. I believe that you would have thought so also, had
   you and I been brought in contact on any other subject.
   The discrepancy in regard to money is, I own, a great
   trouble to me. Having no wealth of my own I wish that your
   daughter were so circumstanced that I could go out into
   the world and earn bread for her. I know myself so well
   that I dare say positively that her money,--if it be that
   she will have money,--had no attractions for me when I
   first became acquainted with her, and adds nothing now to
   the persistency with which I claim her hand.

   But I venture to ask whether you can dare to keep us apart
   if her happiness depends on her love for me? It is now
   more than six months since I called upon you in London and
   explained my wishes. You will understand me when I say
   that I cannot be contented to sit idle, trusting simply to
   the assurance which I have of her affection. Did I doubt
   it, my way would be more clear. I should feel in that case
   that she would yield to your wishes, and I should then, as
   I have said before, just take myself out of the way. But
   if it be not so, then I am bound to do something,--on her
   behalf as well as my own. What am I to do? Any endeavour
   to meet her clandestinely is against my instincts,
   and would certainly be rejected by her. A secret
   correspondence would be equally distasteful to both of us.
   Whatever I do in this matter, I wish you to know that I do
   it.

   Yours always,
   Most faithfully, and with the greatest respect,

   FRANCIS TREGEAR.


He read the letter very carefully, and at first was simply astonished
by what he considered to be the unparalleled arrogance of the young
man. In regard to rank this young gentleman thought himself to be
as good as anybody else! In regard to money he did acknowledge some
inferiority. But that was a misfortune, and could not be helped! Not
only was the letter arrogant;--but the fact that he should dare to
write any letter on such a subject was proof of most unpardonable
arrogance. The Duke walked about the room thinking of it till he was
almost in a passion. Then he read the letter again and was gradually
pervaded by a feeling of its manliness. Its arrogance remained,
but with its arrogance there was a certain boldness which induced
respect. Whether I am such a son-in-law as you would like or not, it
is your duty to accept me, if by refusing to do so you will render
your daughter miserable. That was Mr. Tregear's argument. He himself
might be prepared to argue in answer that it was his duty to reject
such a son-in-law, even though by rejecting him he might make his
daughter miserable. He was not shaken; but with his condemnation of
the young man there was mingled something of respect.

He continued to digest the letter before the hour of dinner, and
when the almanac was brought to him he fixed on certain days. The
Boncassens he knew would be free from engagements in ten days' time.
As to Lady Mabel, he seemed to think it almost certain that she would
come. "I believe she is always going about from one house to another
at this time of the year," said Mary.

"I think she will come to us if it be possible," said the Duke. "And
you must write to Silverbridge."

"And what about Mr. and Mrs. Finn?"

"She promised she would come again, you know. They are at their own
place in Surrey. They will come unless they have friends with them.
They have no shooting, and nothing brings people together now except
shooting. I suppose there are things here to be shot. And be sure you
write to Silverbridge."



CHAPTER LI

The Duke's Guests


"The Duke of Omnium presents his compliments to Mr. Francis Tregear,
and begs to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Tregear's letter of ----.
The Duke has no other communication to make to Mr. Tregear, and must
beg to decline any further correspondence." This was the reply which
the Duke wrote to the applicant for his daughter's hand. And he wrote
it at once. He had acknowledged to himself that Tregear had shown a
certain manliness in his appeal; but not on that account was such a
man to have all that he demanded! It seemed to the Duke that there
was no alternative between such a note as that given above and a
total surrender.

But the post did not go out during the night, and the note lay hidden
in the Duke's private drawer till the morning. There was still that
"locus poenitentiæ" which should be accorded to all letters written
in anger. During the day he thought over it all constantly, not
in any spirit of yielding, not descending a single step from that
altitude of conviction which made him feel that it might be his duty
absolutely to sacrifice his daughter,--but asking himself whether it
might not be well that he should explain the whole matter at length
to the young man. He thought he could put the matter strongly. It
was not by his own doing that he belonged to an aristocracy which,
if all exclusiveness were banished from it, must cease to exist.
But being what he was, having been born to such privileges and
such limitations, was he not bound in duty to maintain a certain
exclusiveness? He would appeal to the young man himself to say
whether marriage ought to be free between all classes of the
community. And if not between all, who was to maintain the limits but
they to whom authority in such matters is given? So much in regard
to rank! And then he would ask this young man whether he thought
it fitting that a young man whose duty, according to all known
principles, it must be to earn his bread, should avoid that manifest
duty by taking a wife who could maintain him. As he roamed about his
park alone he felt that he could write such a letter as would make an
impression even upon a lover. But when he had come back to his study,
other reflections came to his aid. Though he might write the most
appropriate letter in the world, would there not certainly be a
reply? As to conviction, had he ever known an instance of a man
who had been convinced by an adversary? Of course there would be a
reply,--and replies. And to such a correspondence there would be
no visible end. Words when once written remain, or may remain, in
testimony for ever. So at last when the moment came he sent off those
three lines, with his uncourteous compliments and his demand that
there should be no further correspondence.

At dinner he endeavoured to make up for this harshness by increased
tenderness to his daughter, who was altogether ignorant of the
correspondence. "Have you written your letters, dear?" She said she
had written them.

"I hope the people will come."

"If it will make you comfortable, papa!"

"It is for your sake I wish them to be here. I think that Lady Mabel
and Miss Boncassen are just such girls as you would like."

"I do like them; only--"

"Only what?"

"Miss Boncassen is an American."

"Is that an objection? According to my ideas it is desirable to
become acquainted with persons of various nations. I have heard, no
doubt, many stories of the awkward manners displayed by American
ladies. If you look for them you may probably find American women who
are not polished. I do not think I shall calumniate my own country if
I say the same of English women. It should be our object to select
for our own acquaintances the best we can find of all countries. It
seems to me that Miss Boncassen is a young lady with whom any other
young lady might be glad to form an acquaintance."

This was a little sermon which Mary was quite contented to endure in
silence. She was, in truth, fond of the young American beauty, and
had felt a pleasure in the intimacy which the girl had proposed to
her. But she thought it inexpedient that Miss Boncassen, Lady Mabel,
and Silverbridge should be at Matching together. Therefore she made a
reply to her father's sermon which hardly seemed to go to the point
at issue. "She is so beautiful!" she said.

"Very beautiful," said the Duke. "But what has that to do with it?
My girl need not be jealous of any girl's beauty." Mary laughed and
shook her head. "What is it, then?"

"Perhaps Silverbridge might admire her."

"I have no doubt he would,--or does, for I am aware that they have
met. But why should he not admire her?"

"I don't know," said Lady Mary sheepishly.

"I fancy that there is no danger in that direction. I think
Silverbridge understands what is expected from him." Had not
Silverbridge plainly shown that he understood what was expected from
him when he selected Lady Mabel? Nothing could have been more proper,
and the Duke had been altogether satisfied. That in such a matter
there should have been a change in so short a time did not occur to
him. Poor Mary was now completely silenced. She had been told that
Silverbridge understood what was expected from him; and of course
could not fail to carry home to herself an accusation that she failed
to understand what was expected from her.

She had written her letters, but had not as yet sent them. Those to
Mrs. Finn and to the two young ladies had been easy enough. Could Mr.
and Mrs. Finn come to Matching on the 20th of November? "Papa says
that you promised to return, and thinks this time will perhaps
suit you." And then to Lady Mabel: "Do come if you can; and papa
particularly says that he hopes Miss Cassewary will come also." To
Miss Boncassen she had written a long letter, but that too had been
written very easily. "I write to you instead of your mamma, because I
know you. You must tell her that, and then she will not be angry. I
am only papa's messenger, and I am to say how much he hopes that you
will come on the 20th. Mr. Boncassen is to bring the whole British
Museum if he wishes." Then there was a little postscript which showed
that there was already considerable intimacy between the two young
ladies. "We won't have either Mr. L. or Lord P." Not a word was said
about Lord Silverbridge. There was not even an initial to indicate
his name.

But the letter to her brother was more difficult. In her epistles to
those others she had so framed her words as if possible to bring them
to Matching. But in writing to her brother, she was anxious so to
write as to deter him from coming. She was bound to obey her father's
commands. He had desired that Silverbridge should be asked to
come,--and he was asked to come. But she craftily endeavoured so to
word the invitation that he should be induced to remain away. "It is
all papa's doing," she said; "and I am glad that he should like to
have people here. I have asked the Finns, with whom papa seems to
have made up everything. Mr. Warburton will be here of course, and I
think Mr. Moreton is coming. He seems to think that a certain amount
of shooting ought to be done. Then I have invited Lady Mabel Grex and
Miss Cassewary,--all of papa's choosing, and the Boncassens. Now you
will know whether the set will suit you. Papa has particularly begged
that you will come,--apparently because of Lady Mabel. I don't at all
know what that means. Perhaps you do. As I like Lady Mabel, I hope
she will come." Surely Silverbridge would not run himself into the
jaws of the lion. When he heard that he was specially expected by
his father to come to Matching in order that he might make himself
agreeable to one young lady, he would hardly venture to come, seeing
that he would be bound to make love to another young lady!

To Mary's great horror, all the invitations were accepted. Mr. and
Mrs. Finn were quite at the Duke's disposal. That she had expected.
The Boncassens would all come. This was signified in a note from
Isabel, which covered four sides of the paper and was full of fun.
But under her signature had been written a few words,--not in
fun,--words which Lady Mary perfectly understood. "I wonder, I
wonder, I wonder!" Did the Duke when inviting her know anything of
his son's inclinations? Would he be made to know them now, during
this visit? And what would he say when he did know them?

That the Boncassens would come was a matter of course; but Mary had
thought that Lady Mabel would refuse. She had told Lady Mabel that
the Boncassens had been asked, and to her thinking it had not been
improbable that the young lady would be unwilling to meet her rival
at Matching. But the invitation was accepted.

But it was her brother's ready acquiescence which troubled Mary
chiefly. He wrote as though there were no doubt about the matter.
"Of course there is a deal of shooting to be done," he said, "and I
consider myself bound to look after it. There ought not to be less
than four guns,--particularly if Warburton is to be one of them. I
like Warburton very much, and I think he shoots badly to ingratiate
himself with the governor. I wonder whether the governor would get
leave for Gerald for a week. He has been sticking to his work like
a brick. If not, would he mind my bringing someone? You ask the
governor and let me know. I'll be there on the 20th. I wonder whether
they'll let me hear what goes on among them about politics. I'm sure
there is not one of them hates Sir Timothy worse than I do. Lady Mab
is a brick, and I'm glad you have asked her. I don't think she'll
come, as she likes shutting herself up at Grex. Miss Boncassen is
another brick. And if you can manage about Gerald I will say that you
are a third."

This would have been all very well had she not known that secret.
Could it be that Miss Boncassen had been mistaken? She was forced to
write again to say that her father did not think it right that Gerald
should be brought away from his studies for the sake of shooting, and
that the necessary fourth gun would be there in the person of one
Barrington Erle. Then she added: "Lady Mabel Grex is coming, and so
is Miss Boncassen." But to this she received no reply.

Though Silverbridge had written to his sister in his usual careless
style, he had considered the matter much. The three months were over.
He had no idea of any hesitation on his part. He had asked her to be
his wife, and he was determined to go on with his suit. Had he ever
been enabled to make the same request to Mabel Grex, or had she
answered him when he did half make it in a serious manner, he would
have been true to her. He had not told his father, or his sister,
or his friends, as Isabel had suggested. He would not do so till
he should have received some more certain answer from her. But in
respect to his love he was prepared to be quite as obstinate as his
sister. It was a matter for his own consideration, and he would
choose for himself. The three months were over, and it was now his
business to present himself to the lady again.

That Lady Mabel should also be at Matching, would certainly be a
misfortune. He thought it probable that she, knowing that Isabel
Boncassen and he would be there together, would refuse the
invitation. Surely she ought to do so. That was his opinion when he
wrote to his sister. When he heard afterwards that she intended to
be there, he could only suppose that she was prepared to accept the
circumstances as they stood.



CHAPTER LII

Miss Boncassen Tells the Truth


On the 20th of the month all the guests came rattling in at Matching
one after another. The Boncassens were the first, but Lady Mabel with
Miss Cassewary followed them quickly. Then came the Finns, and with
them Barrington Erle. Lord Silverbridge was the last. He arrived by a
train which reached the station at 7 P.M., and only entered the house
as his father was taking Mrs. Boncassen into the dining-room. He
dressed himself in ten minutes, and joined the party as they had
finished their fish. "I am awfully sorry," he said, rushing up to his
father, "but I thought that I should just hit it."

"There is no occasion for awe," said the Duke, "as a sufficiency of
dinner is left. But how you should have hit it, as you say,--seeing
that the train is not due at Bridstock till 7.05, I do not know."

"I've done it often, sir," said Silverbridge, taking the seat left
vacant for him next to Lady Mabel. "We've had a political caucus of
the party,--all the members who could be got together in London,--at
Sir Timothy's, and I was bound to attend."

"We've all heard of that," said Phineas Finn.

"And we pretty well know all the points of Sir Timothy's eloquence,"
said Barrington Erle.

"I am not going to tell any of the secrets. I have no doubt that
there were reporters present, and you will see the whole of it in the
papers to-morrow." Then Silverbridge turned to his neighbour. "Well,
Lady Mab, and how are you this long time?"

"But how are you? Think what you have gone through since we were at
Killancodlem!"

"Don't talk of it."

"I suppose it is not to be talked of."

"Though upon the whole it has happened very luckily. I have got rid
of the accursed horses, and my governor has shown what a brick he can
be. I don't think there is another man in England who would have done
as he did."

"There are not many who could."

"There are fewer who would. When they came into my bedroom that
morning and told me that the horse could not run, I thought I should
have broken my heart. Seventy thousand pounds gone!"

"Seventy thousand pounds!"

"And the honour and glory of winning the race! And then the feeling
that one had been so awfully swindled! Of course I had to look as
though I did not care a straw about it, and to go and see the race,
with a jaunty air and a cigar in my mouth. That is what I call hard
work."

"But you did it!"

"I tried. I wish I could explain to you my state of mind that day.
In the first place the money had to be got. Though it was to go into
the hands of swindlers, still it had to be paid. I don't know how
your father and Percival get on together;--but I felt very like the
prodigal son."

"It is very different with papa."

"I suppose so. I felt very like hanging myself when I was alone that
evening. And now everything is right again."

"I am glad that everything is right," she said, with a strong
emphasis on the "everything."

"I have done with racing, at any rate. The feeling of being in the
power of a lot of low blackguards is so terrible! I did love the poor
brute so dearly. And now what have you been doing?"

"Just nothing;--and have seen nobody. I went back to Grex after
leaving Killancodlem, and shut myself up in my misery."

"Why misery?"

"Why misery! What a question for you to ask! Though I love Grex, I am
not altogether fond of living alone; and though Grex has its charms,
they are of a melancholy kind. And when I think of the state of our
family affairs, that is not reassuring. Your father has just paid
seventy thousand pounds for you. My father has been good enough to
take something less than a quarter of that sum from me;--but still it
was all that I was ever to have."

"Girls don't want money."

"Don't they? When I look forward it seems to me that a time will come
when I shall want it very much."

"You will marry," he said. She turned round for a moment and looked
at him, full in the face, after such a fashion that he did not dare
to promise her further comfort in that direction. "Things always do
come right, somehow."

"Let us hope so. Only nothing has ever come right with me yet. What
is Frank doing?"

"I haven't seen him since he left Crummie-Toddie."

"And your sister?" she whispered.

"I know nothing about it at all."

"And you? I have told you everything about myself."

"As for me, I think of nothing but politics now. I have told you
about my racing experiences. Just at present shooting is up. Before
Christmas I shall go into Chiltern's country for a little hunting."

"You can hunt here?"

"I shan't stay long enough to make it worth while to have my horses
down. If Tregear will go with me to the Brake, I can mount him for a
day or two. But I dare say you know more of his plans than I do. He
went to see you at Grex."

"And you did not."

"I was not asked."

"Nor was he."

"Then all I can say is," replied Silverbridge, speaking in a low
voice, but with considerable energy, "that he can use a freedom with
Lady Mabel Grex upon which I cannot venture."

"I believe you begrudge me his friendship. If you had no one else
belonging to you with whom you could have any sympathy, would not you
find comfort in a relation who could be almost as near to you as a
brother?"

"I do not grudge him to you."

"Yes; you do. And what business have you to interfere?"

"None at all;--certainly. I will never do it again."

"Don't say that, Lord Silverbridge. You ought to have more mercy on
me. You ought to put up with anything from me,--knowing how much I
suffer."

"I will put up with anything," said he.

"Do, do. And now I will try to talk to Mr. Erle."

Miss Boncassen was sitting on the other side of the table, between
Mr. Monk and Phineas Finn, and throughout the dinner talked mock
politics with the greatest liveliness. Silverbridge when he entered
the room had gone round the table and had shaken hands with everyone.
But there had been no other greeting between him and Isabel, nor had
any sign passed from one to the other. No such greeting or sign had
been possible. Nothing had been left undone which she had expected,
or hoped. But, though she was lively, nevertheless she kept her eye
upon her lover and Lady Mabel. Lady Mary had said that she thought
her brother was in love with Lady Mabel. Could it be possible? In
her own land she had heard absurd stories,--stories which seemed to
her to be absurd,--of the treachery of lords and countesses, of the
baseness of aristocrats, of the iniquities of high life in London.
But her father had told her that, go where she might, she would find
people in the main to be very like each other. It had seemed to her
that nothing could be more ingenuous than this young man had been in
the declaration of his love. No simplest republican could have spoken
more plainly. But now, at this moment, she could not doubt but that
her lover was very intimate with this other girl. Of course he was
free. When she had refused to say a word to him of her own love or
want of love, she had necessarily left him his liberty. When she had
put him off for three months, of course he was to be his own master.
But what must she think of him if it were so? And how could he have
the courage to face her in his father's house if he intended to treat
her in such a fashion? But of all this she showed nothing, nor was
there a tone in her voice which betrayed her. She said her last word
to Mr. Monk with so sweet a smile that that old bachelor wished he
were younger for her sake.

In the evening after dinner there was music. It was discovered that
Miss Boncassen sang divinely, and both Lady Mabel and Lady Mary
accompanied her. Mr. Erle, and Mr. Warburton, and Mr. Monk, all of
whom were unmarried, stood by enraptured. But Lord Silverbridge kept
himself apart, and interested himself in a description which Mrs.
Boncassen gave him of their young men and their young ladies in the
States. He had hardly spoken to Miss Boncassen,--till he offered her
sherry or soda-water before she retired for the night. She refused
his courtesy with her usual smile, but showed no more emotion than
though they two had now met for the first time in their lives.

He had quite made up his mind as to what he would do. When the
opportunity should come in his way he would simply remind her that
the three months were passed. But he was shy of talking to her in
the presence of Lady Mabel and his father. He was quite determined
that the thing should be done at once, but he certainly wished that
Lady Mabel had not been there. In what she had said to him at the
dinner-table she had made him understand that she would be a trouble
to him. He remembered her look when he told her she would marry. It
was as though she had declared to him that it was he who ought to be
her husband. It referred back to that proffer of love which he had
once made to her. Of course all this was disagreeable. Of course it
made things difficult for him. But not the less was it a thing quite
assured that he would press his suit to Miss Boncassen. When he was
talking to Mrs. Boncassen he was thinking of nothing else. When he
was offering Isabel the glass of sherry he was telling himself that
he would find his opportunity on the morrow,--though now, at that
moment, it was impossible that he should make a sign. She, as she
went to bed, asked herself whether it were possible that there should
be such treachery;--whether it were possible that he should pass it
all by as though he had never said a word to her!

During the whole of the next day, which was Sunday, he was equally
silent. Immediately after breakfast, on the Monday, shooting
commenced, and he could not find a moment in which to speak. It
seemed to him that she purposely kept out of his way. With Mabel he
did find himself for a few minutes alone, and was then interrupted by
his sister and Isabel. "I hope you have killed a lot of things," said
Miss Boncassen.

"Pretty well, among us all."

"What an odd amusement it seems, going out to commit wholesale
slaughter. However it is the proper thing, no doubt."

"Quite the proper thing," said Lord Silverbridge, and that was all.

On the next morning he dressed himself for shooting,--and then sent
out the party without him. He had heard, he said, of a young horse
for sale in the neighbourhood, and had sent to desire that it might
be brought to him. And now he found his occasion.

"Come and play a game of billiards," he said to Isabel, as the three
girls with the other ladies were together in the drawing-room. She
got up very slowly from her seat, and very slowly crept away to the
door. Then she looked round as though expecting the others to follow
her. None of them did follow her. Mary felt that she ought to do so;
but, knowing all that she knew, did not dare. And what good could she
have done by one such interruption? Lady Mabel would fain have gone
too;--but neither did she quite dare. Had there been no special
reason why she should or should not have gone with them, the thing
would have been easy enough. When two people go to play billiards, a
third may surely accompany them. But now, Lady Mabel found that she
could not stir. Mrs. Finn, Mrs. Boncassen, and Miss Cassewary were
all in the room, but none of them moved. Silverbridge led the way
quickly across the hall, and Isabel Boncassen followed him very
slowly. When she entered the room she found him standing with a cue
in his hand. He at once shut the door, and walking up to her dropped
the butt of the cue on the floor and spoke one word. "Well!" he said.

"What does 'well' mean?"

"The three months are over."

"Certainly they are 'over.'"

"And I have been a model of patience."

"Perhaps your patience is more remarkable than your constancy. Is not
Lady Mabel Grex in the ascendant just now?"

"What do you mean by that? Why do you ask that? You told me to wait
for three months. I have waited, and here I am."

"How very--very--downright you are."

"Is not that the proper thing?"

"I thought I was downright,--but you beat me hollow. Yes, the three
months are over. And now what have you got to say?" He put down his
cue, and stretched out his arms as though he were going to take her
and hold her to his heart. "No;--no; not that," she said laughing.
"But if you will speak, I will hear you."

"You know what I said before. Will you love me, Isabel?"

"And you know what I said before. Do they know that you love me? Does
your father know it, and your sister? Why did they ask me to come
here?"

"Nobody knows it. But say that you love me, and everyone shall know
it at once. Yes; one person knows it. Why did you mention Lady
Mabel's name? She knows it."

"Did you tell her?"

"Yes. I went again to Killancodlem after you were gone, and then I
told her."

"But why her? Come, Lord Silverbridge. You are straightforward with
me, and I will be the same with you. You have told Lady Mabel; I have
told Lady Mary."

"My sister!"

"Yes;--your sister. And I am sure she disapproves it. She did not say
so; but I am sure it is so. And then she told me something."

"What did she tell you?"

"Has there never been reason to think that you intended to offer your
hand to Lady Mabel Grex?"

"Did she tell you so?"

"You should answer my question, Lord Silverbridge. It is surely one
which I have a right to ask." Then she stood waiting for his reply,
keeping herself at some little distance from him as though she were
afraid that he would fly upon her. And indeed there seemed to be
cause for such fear from the frequent gestures of his hands. "Why do
you not answer me? Has there been reason for such expectations?"

"Yes;--there has."

"There has!"

"I thought of it,--not knowing myself; before I had seen you. You
shall know it all if you will only say that you love me."

"I should like to know it all first."

"You do know it all;--almost. I have told you that she knows what I
said to you at Killancodlem. Is not that enough?"

"And she approves!"

"What has that to do with it? Lady Mabel is my friend, but not my
guardian."

"Has she a right to expect that she should be your wife?"

"No;--certainly not. Why should you ask all this? Do you love me?
Come, Isabel; say that you love me. Will you call me vain if I say
that I almost think you do? You cannot doubt about my love;--not
now."

"No;--not now."

"You needn't. Why won't you be as honest to me? If you hate me, say
so;--but if you love me--!"

"I do not hate you, Lord Silverbridge."

"And is that all?"

"You asked me the question."

"But you do love me? By George, I thought you would be more honest
and straightforward."

Then she dropped her badinage and answered him seriously. "I thought
I had been honest and straightforward. When I found that you were in
earnest at Killancodlem--"

"Why did you ever doubt me?"

"When I felt that you were in earnest, then I had to be in earnest
too. And I thought so much about it that I lay awake nearly all that
night. Shall I tell you what I thought?"

"Tell me something that I should like to hear."

"I will tell you the truth. 'Is it possible,' I said to myself, 'that
such a man as that can want me to be his wife; he an Englishman, of
the highest rank and the greatest wealth, and one that any girl in
the world would love?'"

"Psha!" he exclaimed.

"That is what I said to myself." Then she paused, and looking into
her face he saw that there was a glimmer of a tear in each eye. "One
that any girl must love when asked for her love;--because he is so
sweet, so good, and so pleasant."

"I know that you are chaffing."

"Then I went on asking myself questions. And is it possible that
I, who by all his friends will be regarded as a nobody, who am an
American,--with merely human workaday blood in my veins,--that such a
one as I should become his wife? Then I told myself that it was not
possible. It was not in accordance with the fitness of things. All
the dukes in England would rise up against it, and especially that
duke whose good-will would be imperative."

"Why should he rise up against it?"

"You know he will. But I will go on with my story of myself. When I
had settled that in my mind, I just cried myself to sleep. It had
been a dream. I had come across one who in his own self seemed to
combine all that I had ever thought of as being lovable in a man--"

"Isabel!"

"And in his outward circumstances soared as much above my thoughts
as the heaven is above the earth. And he had whispered to me soft,
loving, heavenly words. No;--no, you shall not touch me. But you
shall listen to me. In my sleep I could be happy again and not see
the barriers. But when I woke I made up my mind. 'If he comes to me
again,' I said--'if it should be that he should come to me again, I
will tell him that he shall be my heaven on earth,--if,--if,--if the
ill-will of his friends would not make that heaven a hell to both of
us.' I did not tell you quite all that."

"You told me nothing but that I was to come again in three months."

"I said more than that. I bade you ask your father. Now you have come
again. You cannot understand a girl's fears and doubts. How should
you? I thought perhaps you would not come. When I saw you whispering
to that highly-born well-bred beauty, and remembered what I was
myself, I thought that--you would not come."

"Then you must love me."

"Love you! Oh, my darling!--No, no, no," she said, as she retreated
from him round the corner of the billiard-table, and stood guarding
herself from him with her little hands. "You ask if I love you. You
are entitled to know the truth. From the sole of your foot to the
crown of your head I love you as I think a man would wish to be
loved by the girl he loves. You have come across my life, and have
swallowed me up, and made me all your own. But I will not marry you
to be rejected by your people. No; nor shall there be a kiss between
us till I know that it will not be so."

"May I speak to your father?"

"For what good? I have not spoken to father or mother because I have
known that it must depend upon your father. Lord Silverbridge, if
he will tell me that I shall be his daughter, I will become your
wife,--oh, with such perfect joy, with such perfect truth! If it can
never be so, then let us be torn apart,--with whatever struggle,
still at once. In that case I will get myself back to my own country
as best I may, and will pray to God that all this may be forgotten."
Then she made her way round to the door, leaving him fixed to the
spot in which she had been standing. But as she went she made a
little prayer to him. "Do not delay my fate. It is all in all to me."
And so he was left alone in the billiard-room.



CHAPTER LIII

"Then I Am As Proud As a Queen"


During the next day or two the shooting went on without much
interruption from love-making. The love-making was not prosperous all
round. Poor Lady Mary had nothing to comfort her. Could she have been
allowed to see the letter which her lover had written to her father,
the comfort would have been, if not ample, still very great. Mary
told herself again and again that she was quite sure of Tregear;--but
it was hard upon her that she could not be made certain that her
certainty was well grounded. Had she known that Tregear had written,
though she had not seen a word of his letter, it would have comforted
her. But she had heard nothing of the letter. In June last she had
seen him, by chance, for a few minutes, in Lady Mabel's drawing-room.
Since that she had not heard from him or of him. That was now more
than five months since. How could her love serve her,--how could her
very life serve her, if things were to go on like that? How was she
to bear it? Thinking of this she resolved--she almost resolved--that
she would go boldly to her father and desire that she might be given
up to her lover.

Her brother, though more triumphant,--for how could he fail to
triumph after such words as Isabel had spoken to him?--still felt his
difficulties very seriously. She had imbued him with a strong sense
of her own firmness, and she had declared that she would go away and
leave him altogether if the Duke should be unwilling to receive her.
He knew that the Duke would be unwilling. The Duke, who certainly was
not handy in those duties of match-making which seemed to have fallen
upon him at the death of his wife, showed by a hundred little signs
his anxiety that his son and heir should arrange his affairs with
Lady Mabel. These signs were manifest to Mary,--were disagreeably
manifest to Silverbridge,--were unfortunately manifest to Lady Mabel
herself. They were manifest to Mrs. Finn, who was clever enough to
perceive that the inclinations of the young heir were turned in
another direction. And gradually they became manifest to Isabel
Boncassen. The host himself, as host, was courteous to all his
guests. They had been of his own selection, and he did his best
to make himself pleasant to them all. But he selected two for his
peculiar notice,--and those two were Miss Boncassen and Lady Mabel.
While he would himself walk, and talk, and argue after his own
peculiar fashion with the American beauty,--explaining to her matters
political and social, till he persuaded her to promise to read his
pamphlet upon decimal coinage,--he was always making awkward efforts
to throw Silverbridge and Lady Mabel together. The two girls saw it
all and knew well how the matter was,--knew that they were rivals,
and knew each the ground on which she herself and on which the other
stood. But neither was satisfied with her advantage, or nearly
satisfied. Isabel would not take the prize without the Duke's
consent;--and Mabel could not have it without that other consent. "If
you want to marry an English Duke," she once said to Isabel in that
anger which she was unable to restrain, "there is the Duke himself. I
never saw a man more absolutely in love." "But I do not want to marry
an English Duke," said Isabel, "and I pity any girl who has any idea
of marriage except that which comes from a wish to give back love for
love."

Through it all the father never suspected the real state of his son's
mind. He was too simple to think it possible that the purpose which
Silverbridge had declared to him as they walked together from the
Beargarden had already been thrown to the winds. He did not like
to ask why the thing was not settled. Young men, he thought, were
sometimes shy, and young ladies not always ready to give immediate
encouragement. But, when he saw them together, he concluded that
matters were going in the right direction. It was, however, an
opinion which he had all to himself.

During the three or four days which followed the scene in the
billiard-room Isabel kept herself out of her lover's way. She had
explained to him that which she wished him to do, and she left him to
do it. Day by day she watched the circumstances of the life around
her, and knew that it had not been done. She was sure that it could
not have been done while the Duke was explaining to her the beauty of
quints, and expatiating on the horrors of twelve pennies, and twelve
inches, and twelve ounces,--variegated in some matters by sixteen and
fourteen! He could not know that she was ambitious of becoming his
daughter-in-law, while he was opening out to her the mysteries of
the House of Lords, and explaining how it came to pass that while he
was a member of one House of Parliament, his son should be sitting
as a member of another;--how it was that a nobleman could be a
commoner, and how a peer of one part of the Empire could sit as the
representative of a borough in another part. She was an apt scholar.
Had there been a question of any other young man marrying her, he
would probably have thought that no other young man could have done
better.

Silverbridge was discontented with himself. The greatest misfortune
was that Lady Mabel should be there. While she was present to his
father's eyes he did not know how to declare his altered wishes.
Every now and then she would say to him some little word indicating
her feelings of the absurdity of his passion. "I declare I don't know
whether it is you or your father that Miss Boncassen most affects,"
she said. But to this and to other similar speeches he would make no
answer. She had extracted his secret from him at Killancodlem, and
might use it against him if she pleased. In his present frame of mind
he was not disposed to joke with her upon the subject.

On that second Sunday,--the Boncassens were to return to London on
the following Tuesday,--he found himself alone with Isabel's father.
The American had been brought out at his own request to see the
stables, and had been accompanied round the premises by Silverbridge
and by Mr. Warburton, by Isabel and by Lady Mary. As they got out
into the park the party were divided, and Silverbridge found himself
with Mr. Boncassen. Then it occurred to him that the proper thing
for a young man in love was to go, not to his own father, but to the
lady's father. Why should not he do as others always did? Isabel no
doubt had suggested a different course. But that which Isabel had
suggested was at the present moment impossible to him. Now, at this
instant, without a moment's forethought, he determined to tell his
story to Isabel's father,--as any other lover might tell it to any
other father.

"I am very glad to find ourselves alone, Mr. Boncassen," he said. Mr.
Boncassen bowed and showed himself prepared to listen. Though so many
at Matching had seen the whole play, Mr. Boncassen had seen nothing
of it.

"I don't know whether you are aware of what I have got to say."

"I cannot quite say that I am, my Lord. But whatever it is, I am sure
I shall be delighted to hear it."

"I want to marry your daughter," said Silverbridge. Isabel had told
him that he was downright, and in such a matter he had hardly as
yet learned how to express himself with those paraphrases in which
the world delights. Mr. Boncassen stood stock still, and in the
excitement of the moment pulled off his hat. "The proper thing is to
ask your permission to go on with it."

"You want to marry my daughter!"

"Yes. That is what I have got to say."

"Is she aware of your--intention?"

"Quite aware. I believe I may say that if other things go straight,
she will consent."

"And your father--the Duke?"

"He knows nothing about it,--as yet."

"Really this takes me quite by surprise. I am afraid you have not
given enough thought to the matter."

"I have been thinking about it for the last three months," said Lord
Silverbridge.

"Marriage is a very serious thing."

"Of course it is."

"And men generally like to marry their equals."

"I don't know about that. I don't think that counts for much. People
don't always know who are their equals."

"That is quite true. If I were speaking to you or to your father
theoretically I should perhaps be unwilling to admit superiority on
your side because of your rank and wealth. I could make an argument
in favour of any equality with the best Briton that ever lived,--as
would become a true-born Republican."

"That is just what I mean."

"But when the question becomes one of practising,--a question for our
lives, for our happiness, for our own conduct, then, knowing what
must be the feelings of an aristocracy in such a country as this, I
am prepared to admit that your father would be as well justified in
objecting to a marriage between a child of his and a child of mine,
as I should be in objecting to one between my child and the son of
some mechanic in our native city."

"He wouldn't be a gentleman," said Silverbridge.

"That is a word of which I don't quite know the meaning."

"I do," said Silverbridge confidently.

"But you could not define it. If a man be well educated, and can keep
a good house over his head, perhaps you may call him a gentleman. But
there are many such with whom your father would not wish to be so
closely connected as you propose."

"But I may have your sanction?" Mr. Boncassen again took off his hat
and walked along thoughtfully. "I hope you don't object to me
personally."

"My dear young lord, your father has gone out of his way to be civil
to me. Am I to return his courtesy by bringing a great trouble upon
him?"

"He seems to be very fond of Miss Boncassen."

"Will he continue to be fond of her when he has heard this? What does
Isabel say?"

"She says the same as you, of course."

"Why of course;--except that it is evident to you as it is to me that
she could not with propriety say anything else."

"I think she would,--would like it, you know."

"She would like to be your wife!"

"Well;--yes. If it were all serene, I think she would consent."

"I dare say she would consent,--if it were all serene. Why should she
not? Do not try her too hard, Lord Silverbridge. You say you love
her."

"I do, indeed."

"Then think of the position in which you are placing her. You are
struggling to win her heart." Silverbridge as he heard this assured
himself that there was no need for any further struggling in that
direction. "Perhaps you have won it. Yet she may feel that she cannot
become your wife. She may well say to herself that this which is
offered to her is so great, that she does not know how to refuse it;
and may yet have to say, at the same time, that she cannot accept it
without disgrace. You would not put one that you love into such a
position?"

"As for disgrace,--that is nonsense. I beg your pardon, Mr.
Boncassen."

"Would it be no disgrace that she should be known here, in England,
to be your wife, and that none of those of your rank,--of what would
then be her own rank,--should welcome her into her new world?"

"That would be out of the question."

"If your own father refused to welcome her, would not others follow
suit?"

"You don't know my father."

"You seem to know him well enough to fear that he would object."

"Yes;--that is true."

"What more do I want to know?"

"If she were once my wife he would not reject her. Of all human
beings he is in truth the kindest and most affectionate."

"And therefore you would try him after this fashion? No, my Lord; I
cannot see my way through these difficulties. You can say what you
please to him as to your own wishes. But you must not tell him that
you have any sanction from me."

That evening the story was told to Mrs. Boncassen, and the matter
was discussed among the family. Isabel in talking to them made no
scruple of declaring her own feelings; and though in speaking to
Lord Silverbridge she had spoken very much as her father had done
afterwards, yet in this family conclave she took her lover's part.
"That is all very well, father," she said; "I told him the same thing
myself. But if he is man enough to be firm I shall not throw him
over,--not for all the dukes in Europe. I shall not stay here to be
pointed at. I will go back home. If he follows me then I shall choose
to forget all about his rank. If he loves me well enough to show that
he is in earnest, I shall not disappoint him for the sake of pleasing
his father." To this neither Mr. nor Mrs. Boncassen was able to make
any efficient answer. Mrs. Boncassen, dear good woman, could see
no reason why two young people who loved each other should not be
married at once. Dukes and duchesses were nothing to her. If they
couldn't be happy in England, then let them come and live in New
York. She didn't understand that anybody could be too good for her
daughter. Was there not an idea that Mr. Boncassen would be the next
President? And was not the President of the United States as good as
the Queen of England?

Lord Silverbridge, when he left Mr. Boncassen, wandered about the
park by himself. King Cophetua married the beggar's daughter. He
was sure of that. King Cophetua probably had not a father; and the
beggar, probably, was not high-minded. But the discrepancy in that
case was much greater. He intended to persevere, trusting much to a
belief that when once he was married his father would "come round."
His father always did come round. But the more he thought of it, the
more impossible it seemed to him that he should ask his father's
consent at the present moment. Lady Mabel's presence in the house
was an insuperable obstacle. He thought that he could do it if he
and his father were alone together, or comparatively alone. He must
be prepared for an opposition, at any rate of some days, which
opposition would make his father quite unable to entertain his guests
while it lasted.

But as he could not declare his wishes to his father, and was thus
disobeying Isabel's behests, he must explain the difficulty to her.
He felt already that she would despise him for his cowardice,--that
she would not perceive the difficulties in his way, or understand
that he might injure his cause by precipitation. Then he considered
whether he might not possibly make some bargain with his father. How
would it be if he should consent to go back to the Liberal party on
being allowed to marry the girl he loved? As far as his political
feelings were concerned he did not think that he would much object
to make the change. There was only one thing certain,--that he must
explain his condition to Miss Boncassen before she went.

He found no difficulty now in getting the opportunity. She was
equally anxious, and as well disposed to acknowledge her anxiety.
After what had passed between them she was not desirous of pretending
that the matter was one of small moment to herself. She had told him
that it was all the world to her, and had begged him to let her know
her fate as quickly as possible. On that last Monday morning they
were in the grounds together, and Lady Mabel, who was walking with
Mrs. Finn, saw them pass through a little gate which led from the
gardens into the Priory ruins. "It all means nothing," Mabel said
with a little laugh to her companion.

"If so, I am sorry for the young lady," said Mrs. Finn.

"Don't you think that one always has to be sorry for the young
ladies? Young ladies generally have a bad time of it. Did you ever
hear of a gentleman who had always to roll a stone to the top of a
hill, but it would always come back upon him?"

"That gentleman I believe never succeeded," said Mrs. Finn. "The
young ladies I suppose do sometimes."

In the meantime Isabel and Silverbridge were among the ruins
together. "This is where the old Pallisers used to be buried," he
said.

"Oh, indeed. And married, I suppose."

"I dare say. They had a priest of their own, no doubt, which must
have been convenient. This block of a fellow without any legs left
is supposed to represent Sir Guy. He ran away with half-a-dozen
heiresses, they say. I wish things were as easily done now."

"Nobody should have run away with me. I have no idea of going on such
a journey except on terms of equality,--just step and step alike."
Then she took hold of his arm and put out one foot. "Are you ready?"

"I am very willing."

"But are you ready,--for a straightforward walk off to church before
all the world? None of your private chaplains, such as Sir Guy had at
his command. Just the registrar, if there is nothing better,--so that
it be public, before all the world."

"I wish we could start this instant."

"But we can't,--can we?"

"No, dear. So many things have to be settled."

"And what have you settled on since you last spoke to me?"

"I have told your father everything."

"Yes;--I know that. What good does that do? Father is not a Duke of
Omnium. No one supposed that he would object."

"But he did," said Silverbridge.

"Yes;--as I do,--for the same reason; because he would not have his
daughter creep in at a hole. But to your own father you have not
ventured to speak." Then he told his story, as best he knew how. It
was not that he feared his father, but that he felt that the present
moment was not fit. "He wishes you to marry that Lady Mabel Grex,"
she said. He nodded his head. "And you will marry her?"

"Never! I might have done so, had I not seen you. I should have done
so, if she had been willing. But now I never can,--never, never."
Her hand had dropped from his arm, but now she put it up again for a
moment, so that he might feel the pressure of her fingers. "Say that
you believe me."

"I think I do."

"You know I love you."

"I think you do. I am sure I hope you do. If you don't, then I am--a
miserable wretch."

"With all my heart I do."

"Then I am as proud as a queen. You will tell him soon?"

"As soon as you are gone. As soon as we are alone together. I
will;--and then I will follow you to London. Now shall we not say,
Good-bye?"

"Good-bye, my own," she whispered.

"You will let me have one kiss?"

Her hand was in his, and she looked about as though to see that no
eyes were watching them. But then, as the thoughts came rushing to
her mind, she changed her purpose. "No," she said. "What is it but a
trifle! It is nothing in itself. But I have bound myself to myself by
certain promises, and you must not ask me to break them. You are as
sweet to me as I can be to you, but there shall be no kissing till I
know that I shall be your wife. Now take me back."



CHAPTER LIV

"I Don't Think She Is a Snake"


On the following day, Tuesday, the Boncassens went, and then there
were none of the guests left but Mrs. Finn and Lady Mabel Grex,--with
of course Miss Cassewary. The Duke had especially asked both Mrs.
Finn and Lady Mabel to remain, the former, through his anxiety to
show his repentance for the injustice he had formerly done her, and
the latter in the hope that something might be settled as soon as
the crowd of visitors should have gone. He had never spoken quite
distinctly to Mabel. He had felt that the manner in which he had
learned his son's purpose,--that which once had been his son's
purpose,--forbade him to do so. But he had so spoken as to make Lady
Mabel quite aware of his wish. He would not have told her how sure he
was that Silverbridge would keep no more racehorses, how he trusted
that Silverbridge had done with betting, how he believed that the
young member would take a real interest in the House of Commons, had
he not intended that she should take a special interest in the young
man. And then he had spoken about the house in London. It was to
be made over to Silverbridge as soon as Silverbridge should marry.
And there was Gatherum Castle. Gatherum was rather a trouble than
otherwise. He had ever felt it to be so, but had nevertheless always
kept it open perhaps for a month in the year. His uncle had always
resided there for a fortnight at Christmas. When Silverbridge was
married it would become the young man's duty to do something of
the same kind. Gatherum was the White Elephant of the family, and
Silverbridge must enter in upon his share of the trouble. He did not
know that in saying all this he was offering his son as a husband
to Lady Mabel, but she understood it as thoroughly as though he had
spoken the words.

But she knew the son's mind also. He had indeed himself told her all
his mind. "Of course I love her best of all," he had said. When he
told her of it she had been so overcome that she had wept in her
despair;--had wept in his presence. She had declared to him her
secret,--that it had been her intention to become his wife, and
then he had rejected her! It had all been shame, and sorrow, and
disappointment to her. And she could not but remember that there had
been a moment when she might have secured him by a word. A look would
have done it; a touch of her finger on that morning. She had known
then that he had intended to be in earnest,--that he only waited for
encouragement. She had not given it because she had not wished to
grasp too eagerly at the prize,--and now the prize was gone! She had
said that she had spared him;--but then she could afford to joke,
thinking that he would surely come back to her.

She had begun her world with so fatal a mistake! When she was quite
young, when she was little more than a child but still not a child,
she had given all her love to a man whom she soon found that it would
be impossible she should ever marry. He had offered to face the world
with her, promising to do the best to smooth the rough places, and to
soften the stones for her feet. But she, young as she was, had felt
that both he and she belonged to a class which could hardly endure
poverty with contentment. The grinding need for money, the absolute
necessity of luxurious living, had been pressed upon her from her
childhood. She had seen it and acknowledged it, and had told him,
with precocious wisdom, that that which he offered to do for her sake
would be a folly for them both. She had not stinted the assurance of
her love, but had told him that they must both turn aside and learn
to love elsewhere. He had done so, with too complete readiness!
She had dreamed of a second love, which should obliterate the
first,--which might still leave to her the memory of the romance of
her early passion. Then this boy had come in her way! With him all
her ambition might have been satisfied. She desired high rank and
great wealth. With him she might have had it all. And then, too,
though there would always be the memory of that early passion, yet
she could in another fashion love this youth. He was pleasant to her,
and gracious;--and she had told herself that if it should be so that
this great fortune might be hers, she would atone to him fully for
that past romance by the wife-like devotion of her life. The cup had
come within the reach of her fingers, but she had not grasped it. Her
happiness, her triumphs, her great success had been there, present to
her, and she had dallied with her fortune. There had been a day on
which he had been all but at her feet, and on the next he had been
prostrate at the feet of another. He had even dared to tell her
so,--saying of that American that "of course he loved her the best!"

Over and over again since that, she had asked herself whether there
was no chance. Though he had loved that other one best she would take
him if it were possible. When the invitation came from the Duke she
would not lose a chance. She had told him that it was impossible that
he, the heir to the Duke of Omnium, should marry an American. All his
family, all his friends, all his world would be against him. And then
he was so young,--and, as she thought, so easily led. He was lovable
and prone to love;--but surely his love could not be very strong, or
he would not have changed so easily.

She did not hesitate to own to herself that this American was very
lovely. She too, herself, was beautiful. She too had a reputation for
grace, loveliness, and feminine high-bred charm. She knew all that,
but she knew also that her attractions were not so bright as those
of her rival. She could not smile or laugh and throw sparks of
brilliance around her as did the American girl. Miss Boncassen could
be graceful as a nymph in doing the awkwardest thing! When she had
pretended to walk stiffly along, to some imaginary marriage ceremony,
with her foot stuck out before her, with her chin in the air, and one
arm akimbo, Silverbridge had been all afire with admiration. Lady
Mabel understood it all. The American girl must be taken away,--from
out of the reach of the young man's senses,--and then the struggle
must be made.

Lady Mabel had not been long at Matching before she learned that she
had much in her favour. She perceived that the Duke himself had no
suspicion of what was going on, and that he was strongly disposed in
her favour. She unravelled it all in her own mind. There must have
been some agreement, between the father and the son, when the son had
all but made his offer to her. More than once she was half-minded to
speak openly to the Duke, to tell him all that Silverbridge had said
to her and all that he had not said, and to ask the father's help in
scheming against that rival. But she could not find the words with
which to begin. And then, might he not despise her, and, despising
her, reject her, were she to declare her desire to marry a man who
had given his heart to another woman? And so, when the Duke asked her
to remain after the departure of the other guests, she decided that
it would be best to bide her time. The Duke, as she assented, kissed
her hand, and she knew that this sign of grace was given to his
intended daughter-in-law.

In all this she half-confided her thoughts and her prospects to her
old friend, Miss Cassewary. "That girl has gone at last," she said to
Miss Cass.

"I fear she has left her spells behind her, my dear."

"Of course she has. The venom out of the snake's tooth will poison
all the blood; but still the poor bitten wretch does not always die."

"I don't think she is a snake."

"Don't be moral, Cass. She is a snake in my sense. She has got her
weapons, and of course it is natural enough that she should use them.
If I want to be Duchess of Omnium, why shouldn't she?"

"I hate to hear you talk of yourself in that way."

"Because you have enough of the old school about you to like
conventional falsehood. This young man did in fact ask me to be his
wife. Of course I meant to accept him,--but I didn't. Then comes this
convict's granddaughter."

"Not a convict's!"

"You know what I mean. Had he been a convict it would have been all
the same. I take upon myself to say that, had the world been informed
that an alliance had been arranged between the eldest son of the Duke
of Omnium and the daughter of Earl Grex,--the world would have been
satisfied. Every unmarried daughter of every peer in England would
have envied me,--but it would have been comme il faut."

"Certainly, my dear."

"But what would be the feeling as to the convict's granddaughter?"

"You don't suppose that I would approve it;--but it seems to me that
in these days young men do just what they please."

"He shall do what he pleases, but he must be made to be pleased with
me." So much she said to Miss Cassewary; but she did not divulge
any plan. The Boncassens had just gone off to the station, and
Silverbridge was out shooting. If anything could be done here at
Matching, it must be done quickly, as Silverbridge would soon take
his departure. She did not know it, but, in truth, he was remaining
in order that he might, as he said, "have all this out with the
governor."

She tried to realise for herself some plan, but when the evening came
nothing was fixed. For a quarter of an hour, just as the sun was
setting, the Duke joined her in the gardens,--and spoke to her more
plainly than he had ever spoken before. "Has Silverbridge come home?"
he asked.

"I have not seen him."

"I hope you and Mary get on well together."

"I think so, Duke. I am sure we should if we saw more of each other."

"I sincerely hope you may. There is nothing I wish for Mary so much
as that she should have a sister. And there is no one whom I would be
so glad to hear her call by that name as yourself." How could he have
spoken plainer?

The ladies were all together in the drawing-room when Silverbridge
came bursting in rather late. "Where's the governor?" he asked,
turning to his sister.

"Dressing, I should think; but what is the matter?"

"I want to see him. I must be off to Cornwall to-morrow morning."

"To Cornwall!" said Miss Cassewary. "Why to Cornwall?" asked Lady
Mabel. But Mary, connecting Cornwall with Frank Tregear, held her
peace.

"I can't explain it all now, but I must start very early to-morrow."
Then he went off to his father's study, and finding the Duke still
there explained the cause of his intended journey. The member for
Polpenno had died, and Frank Tregear had been invited to stand for
the borough. He had written to his friend to ask him to come and
assist in the struggle. "Years ago there used to be always a Tregear
in for Polpenno," said Silverbridge.

"But he is a younger son."

"I don't know anything about it," said Silverbridge, "but as he
has asked me to go I think I ought to do it." The Duke, who was by
no means the man to make light of the political obligations of
friendship, raised no objection.

"I wish," said he, "that something could have been arranged between
you and Mabel before you went." The young man stood in the gloom
of the dark room aghast. This was certainly not the moment for
explaining everything to his father. "I have set my heart very much
upon it, and you ought to be gratified by knowing that I quite
approve your choice."

All that had been years ago,--in last June;--before Mrs. Montacute
Jones's garden-party, before that day in the rain at Maidenhead,
before the brightness of Killancodlem, before the glories of Miss
Boncassen had been revealed to him. "There is no time for that kind
of thing now," he said weakly.

"I thought that when you were here together--"

"I must dress now, sir; but I will tell you all about it when I get
back from Cornwall. I will come back direct to Matching, and will
explain everything." So he escaped.

It was clear to Lady Mabel that there was no opportunity now for any
scheme. Whatever might be possible must be postponed till after this
Cornish business had been completed. Perhaps it might be better so.
She had thought that she would appeal to himself, that she would tell
him of his father's wishes, of her love for him,--of the authority
which he had once given her for loving him,--and of the absolute
impossibility of his marriage with the American. She thought that she
could do it, if not efficiently at any rate effectively. But it could
not be done on the very day on which the American had gone.

It came out in the course of the evening that he was going to assist
Frank Tregear in his canvass. The matter was not spoken of openly, as
Tregear's name could hardly be mentioned. But everybody knew it, and
it gave occasion to Mabel for a few words apart with Silverbridge. "I
am so glad you are going to him," she said in a little whisper.

"Of course I go when he wishes me. I don't know that I can do him any
good."

"The greatest good in the world. Your name will go so far! It will be
everything to him to be in Parliament. And when are we to meet
again?" she said.

"I shall turn up somewhere," he replied as he gave her his hand to
wish her good-bye.

On the following morning the Duke proposed to Lady Mabel that she
should stay at Matching for yet another fortnight,--or even for a
month if it might be possible. Lady Mabel, whose father was still
abroad, was not sorry to accept the invitation.



CHAPTER LV

Polpenno


Polwenning, the seat of Mr. Tregear, Frank's father, was close to the
borough of Polpenno,--so close that the gates of the grounds opened
into the town. As Silverbridge had told his father, many of the
Tregear family had sat for the borough. Then there had come changes,
and strangers had made themselves welcome by their money. When the
vacancy now occurred a deputation waited upon Squire Tregear and
asked him to stand. The deputation would guarantee that the expense
should not exceed--a certain limited sum. Mr. Tregear for himself
had no such ambition. His eldest son was abroad and was not at all
such a man as one would choose to make into a Member of Parliament.
After much consideration in the family, Frank was invited to present
himself to the constituency. Frank's aspirations in regard to Lady
Mary Palliser were known at Polwenning, and it was thought that they
would have a better chance of success if he could write the letters
M.P. after his name. Frank acceded, and as he was starting wrote
to ask the assistance of his friend Lord Silverbridge. At that
time there were only nine days more before the election, and Mr.
Carbottle, the Liberal candidate, was already living in great style
at the Camborne Arms.

Mr. and Mrs. Tregear and an elder sister of Frank's, who quite
acknowledged herself to be an old maid, were very glad to welcome
Frank's friend. On the first morning of course they discussed the
candidates' prospects. "My best chance of success," said Frank,
"arises from the fact that Mr. Carbottle is fatter than the people
here seem to approve."

"If his purse be fat," said old Mr. Tregear, "that will carry off any
personal defect." Lord Silverbridge asked whether the candidate was
not too fat to make speeches. Miss Tregear declared that he had made
three speeches daily for the last week, and that Mr. Williams the
rector, who had heard him, declared him to be a godless dissenter.
Mrs. Tregear thought that it would be much better that the place
should be disfranchised altogether than that such a horrid man should
be brought into the neighbourhood. "A godless dissenter!" she said,
holding up her hands in dismay. Frank thought that they had better
abstain from allusion to their opponent's religion. Then Mr. Tregear
made a little speech. "We used," he said, "to endeavour to get
someone to represent us in Parliament, who would agree with us on
vital subjects, such as the Church of England and the necessity of
religion. Now it seems to be considered ill-mannered to make any
allusion to such subjects!" From which it may be seen that this old
Tregear was very conservative indeed.

When the old people were gone to bed the two young men discussed the
matter. "I hope you'll get in," said Silverbridge. "And if I can do
anything for you of course I will."

"It is always good to have a real member along with one," said
Tregear.

"But I begin to think I am a very shaky Conservative myself."

"I am sorry for that."

"Sir Timothy is such a beast," said Silverbridge.

"Is that your notion of a political opinion? Are you to be this
or that in accordance with your own liking or disliking for some
particular man? One is supposed to have opinions of one's own."

"Your father would be down on a man because he is a dissenter."

"Of course my father is old-fashioned."

"It does seem so hard to me," said Silverbridge, "to find any
difference between the two sets. You who are a true Conservative are
much more like to my father, who is a Liberal, than to your own, who
is on the same side as yourself."

"It may be so, and still I may be a good Conservative."

"It seems to me in the House to mean nothing more than choosing one
set of companions or choosing another. There are some awful cads who
sit along with Mr. Monk;--fellows that make you sick to hear them,
and whom I couldn't be civil to. But I don't think there is anybody I
hate so much as old Beeswax. He has a contemptuous way with his nose
which makes me long to pull it."

"And you mean to go over in order that you may be justified in doing
so. I think I soar a little higher," said Tregear.

"Oh, of course. You're a clever fellow," said Silverbridge, not
without a touch of sarcasm.

"A man may soar higher than that without being very clever. If the
party that calls itself Liberal were to have all its own way who is
there that doesn't believe that the church would go at once, then
all distinction between boroughs, the House of Lords immediately
afterwards, and after that the Crown?"

"Those are not my governor's ideas."

"Your governor couldn't help himself. A Liberal party, with
plenipotentiary power, must go on right away to the logical
conclusion of its arguments. It is only the conservative feeling of
the country which saves such men as your father from being carried
headlong to ruin by their own machinery. You have read Carlyle's
French Revolution."

"Yes, I have read that."

"Wasn't it so there? There were a lot of honest men who thought
they could do a deal of good by making everybody equal. A good many
were made equal by having their heads cut off. That's why I mean
to be member for Polpenno and to send Mr. Carbottle back to London.
Carbottle probably doesn't want to cut anybody's head off."

"I dare say he's as conservative as anybody."

"But he wants to be a member of Parliament; and, as he hasn't thought
much about anything, he is quite willing to lend a hand to communism,
radicalism, socialism, chopping people's heads off, or anything
else."

"That's all very well," said Silverbridge, "but where should we have
been if there had been no Liberals? Robespierre and his pals cut off
a lot of heads, but Louis XIV and Louis XV locked up more in prison."
And so he had the last word in the argument.

The whole of the next morning was spent in canvassing, and the whole
of the afternoon. In the evening there was a great meeting at the
Polwenning Assembly Room, which at the present moment was in the
hands of the Conservative party. Here Frank Tregear made an oration,
in which he declared his political convictions. The whole speech was
said at the time to be very good; but the portion of it which was
apparently esteemed the most, had direct reference to Mr. Carbottle.
Who was Mr. Carbottle? Why had he come to Polpenno? Who had sent for
him? Why Mr. Carbottle rather than anybody else? Did not the people
of Polpenno think that it might be as well to send Mr. Carbottle back
to the place from whence he had come? These questions, which seemed
to Silverbridge to be as easy as they were attractive, almost made
him desirous of making a speech himself.

Then Mr. Williams, the rector, followed, a gentleman who had many
staunch friends and many bitter enemies in the town. He addressed
himself chiefly to that bane of the whole country,--as he conceived
them,--the godless dissenters; and was felt by Tregear to be injuring
the cause by every word he spoke. It was necessary that Mr. Williams
should liberate his own mind, and therefore he persevered with the
godless dissenters at great length,--not explaining, however, how a
man who thought enough about his religion to be a dissenter could be
godless, or how a godless man should care enough about religion to be
a dissenter.

Mr. Williams was heard with impatience, and then there was a clamour
for the young lord. He was the son of an ex-Prime Minister, and
therefore of course he could speak. He was himself a member of
Parliament, and therefore could speak. He had boldly severed himself
from the faulty political tenets of his family, and therefore on such
an occasion as this was peculiarly entitled to speak. When a man
goes electioneering, he must speak. At a dinner-table to refuse
is possible:--or in any assembly convened for a semi-private
purpose, a gentleman may declare that he is not prepared for the
occasion. But in such an emergency as this, a man,--and a member of
Parliament,--cannot plead that he is not prepared. A son of a former
Prime Minister who had already taken so strong a part in politics
as to have severed himself from his father, not prepared to address
the voters of a borough whom he had come to canvass! The plea was so
absurd, that he was thrust on to his feet before he knew what he was
about.

It was in truth his first public speech. At Silverbridge he had
attempted to repeat a few words, and in his failure had been covered
by the Sprugeons and the Sprouts. But now he was on his legs in a
great room, in an unknown town, with all the aristocracy of the place
before him! His eyes at first swam a little, and there was a moment
in which he thought he would run away. But, on that morning, as he
was dressing, there had come to his mind the idea of the possibility
of such a moment as this, and a few words had occurred to him. "My
friend Frank Tregear," he began, rushing at once at his subject, "is
a very good fellow, and I hope you'll elect him." Then he paused, not
remembering what was to come next; but the sentiment which he had
uttered appeared to his auditors to be so good in itself and so
well-delivered, that they filled up a long pause with continued
clappings and exclamations. "Yes," continued the young member of
Parliament, encouraged by the kindness of the crowd, "I have known
Frank Tregear ever so long, and I don't think you could find a better
member of Parliament anywhere." There were many ladies present and
they thought that the Duke's son was just the person who ought to
come electioneering among them. His voice was much pleasanter to
their ears than that of old Mr. Williams. The women waved their
handkerchiefs and the men stamped their feet. Here was an orator
come among them! "You all know all about it just as well as I do,"
continued the orator, "and I am sure you feel that he ought to be
member for Polpenno." There could be no doubt about that as far as
the opinion of the audience went. "There can't be a better fellow
than Frank Tregear, and I ask you all to give three cheers for the
new member." Ten times three cheers were given, and the Carbottleites
outside the door who had come to report what was going on at the
Tregear meeting were quite of opinion that this eldest son of the
former Prime Minister was a tower of strength. "I don't know anything
about Mr. Carbottle," continued Silverbridge, who was almost growing
to like the sound of his own voice. "Perhaps he's a good fellow too."
"No; no, no. A very bad fellow indeed," was heard from different
parts of the room. "I don't know anything about him. I wasn't at
school with Carbottle." This was taken as a stroke of the keenest
wit, and was received with infinite cheering. Silverbridge was in the
pride of his youth, and Carbottle was sixty at the least. Nothing
could have been funnier. "He seems to be a stout old party, but I
don't think he's the man for Polpenno. I think you'll return Frank
Tregear. I was at school with him;--and I tell you, that you can't
find a better fellow anywhere than Frank Tregear." Then he sat down,
and I am afraid he felt that he had made the speech of the evening.
"We are so much obliged to you, Lord Silverbridge," Miss Tregear said
as they were walking home together. "That's just the sort of thing
that the people like. So reassuring, you know. What Mr. Williams says
about the dissenters is of course true; but it isn't reassuring."

"I hope I didn't make a fool of myself to-night," Silverbridge said
when he was alone with Tregear,--probably with some little pride in
his heart.

"I ought to say that you did, seeing that you praised me so
violently. But, whatever it was, it was well taken. I don't know
whether they will elect me; but had you come down as a candidate, I
am quite sure they would have elected you." Silverbridge was hardly
satisfied with this. He wished to have been told that he had spoken
well. He did not, however, resent his friend's coldness. "Perhaps,
after all, I did make a fool of myself," he said to himself as he
went to bed.

On the next day, after breakfast, it was found to be raining heavily.
Canvassing was of course the business of the hour, and canvassing is
a business which cannot be done indoors. It was soon decided that the
rain should go for nothing. Could an agreement have been come to with
the Carbottleites it might have been decided that both parties should
abstain, but as that was impossible the Tregear party could not
afford to lose the day. As Mr. Carbottle, by reason of his fatness
and natural slowness, would perhaps be specially averse to walking
about in the slush and mud, it might be that they would gain
something; so after breakfast they started with umbrellas,--Tregear,
Silverbridge, Mr. Newcomb the curate, Mr. Pinebott the conservative
attorney, with four or five followers who were armed with books and
pencils, and who ticked off on the list of the voters the names of
the friendly, the doubtful, and the inimical.

Parliamentary canvassing is not a pleasant occupation. Perhaps
nothing more disagreeable, more squalid, more revolting to the
senses, more opposed to personal dignity, can be conceived. The
same words have to be repeated over and over again in the cottages,
hovels, and lodgings of poor men and women who only understand that
the time has come round in which they are to be flattered instead of
being the flatterers. "I think I am right in supposing that your
husband's principles are Conservative, Mrs. Bubbs." "I don't know
nothing about it. You'd better call again and see Bubbs hissel."
"Certainly I will do so. I shouldn't at all like to leave the borough
without seeing Mr. Bubbs. I hope we shall have your influence, Mrs.
Bubbs." "I don't know nothing about it. My folk at home allays vote
buff; and I think Bubbs ought to go buff too. Only mind this; Bubbs
don't never come home to his dinner. You must come arter six, and I
hope he's to have some'at for his trouble. He won't have my word to
vote unless he have some'at." Such is the conversation in which the
candidate takes a part, while his cortège at the door is criticising
his very imperfect mode of securing Mrs. Bubbs' good wishes. Then he
goes on to the next house, and the same thing with some variation is
endured again. Some guide, philosopher, and friend, who accompanies
him, and who is the chief of the cortège, has calculated on his
behalf that he ought to make twenty such visitations an hour, and to
call on two hundred constituents in the course of the day. As he is
always falling behind in his number, he is always being driven on by
his philosopher, till he comes to hate the poor creatures to whom he
is forced to address himself, with a most cordial hatred.

It is a nuisance to which no man should subject himself in any
weather. But when it rains there is superadded a squalor and an ill
humour to all the party which makes it almost impossible for them not
to quarrel before the day is over. To talk politics to Mrs. Bubbs
under any circumstances is bad, but to do so with the conviction that
the moisture is penetrating from your greatcoat through your shirt to
your bones, and that while so employed you are breathing the steam
from those seven other wet men at the door, is abominable. To have
to go through this is enough to take away all the pride which a man
might otherwise take from becoming a member of Parliament. But to
go through it and then not to become a member is base indeed! To
go through it and to feel that you are probably paying at the rate
of a hundred pounds a day for the privilege is most disheartening.
Silverbridge, as he backed up Tregear in the uncomfortable work,
congratulated himself on the comfort of having a Mr. Sprugeon and a
Mr. Sprout who could manage his borough for him without a contest.

They worked on that day all the morning till one, when they took
luncheon, all reeking with wet, at the King's Head,--so that a little
money might be legitimately spent in the cause. Then, at two, they
sallied out again, vainly endeavouring to make their twenty calls
within the hour. About four, when it was beginning to be dusk, they
were very tired, and Silverbridge had ventured to suggest that as
they were all wet through, and as there was to be another meeting in
the Assembly Room that night, and as nobody in that part of the town
seemed to be at home, they might perhaps be allowed to adjourn for
the present. He was thinking how nice it would be to have a glass
of hot brandy-and-water and then lounge till dinner-time. But the
philosophers received the proposition with stern disdain. Was his
Lordship aware that Mr. Carbottle had been out all day from eight
in the morning, and was still at work; that the Carbottleites had
already sent for lanterns and were determined to go on till eight
o'clock among the artisans who would then have returned from their
work? When a man had put his hand to the plough, the philosophers
thought that that man should complete the furrow!

The philosophers' view had just carried the day, the discussion
having been held under seven or eight wet umbrellas at the corner
of a dirty little lane leading into the High Street; when suddenly,
on the other side of the way, Mr. Carbottle's cortège made its
appearance. The philosophers at once informed them that on such
occasions it was customary that the rival candidates should be
introduced. "It will take ten minutes," said the philosophers; "but
then it will take them ten minutes too." Upon this Tregear, as being
the younger of the two, crossed over the road, and the introduction
was made.

There was something comfortable in it to the Tregear party, as no
imagination could conceive anything more wretched than the appearance
of Mr. Carbottle. He was a very stout man of sixty, and seemed to be
almost carried along by his companions. He had pulled his coat-collar
up and his hat down till very little of his face was visible, and in
attempting to look at Tregear and Silverbridge he had to lift up his
chin till the rain ran off his hat on to his nose. He had an umbrella
in one hand and a stick in the other, and was wet through to his very
skin. What were his own feelings cannot be told, but his
philosophers, guides, and friends would allow him no rest. "Very hard
work, Mr. Tregear," he said, shaking his head.

"Very hard indeed, Mr. Carbottle." Then the two parties went on, each
their own way, without another word.



CHAPTER LVI

The News Is Sent to Matching


There were nine days of this work, during which Lord Silverbridge
became very popular and made many speeches. Tregear did not win half
so many hearts, or recommend himself so thoroughly to the political
predilections of the borough;--but nevertheless he was returned. It
would probably be unjust to attribute this success chiefly to the
young Lord's eloquence. It certainly was not due to the strong
religious feelings of the rector. It is to be feared that even the
thoughtful political convictions of the candidate did not altogether
produce the result. It was that chief man among the candidate's
guides and friends, that leading philosopher who would not allow
anybody to go home from the rain, and who kept his eyes so sharply
open to the pecuniary doings of the Carbottleites, that Mr.
Carbottle's guides and friends had hardly dared to spend a
shilling;--it was he who had in truth been efficacious. In every
attempt they had made to spend their money they had been looked into
and circumvented. As Mr. Carbottle had been brought down to Polpenno
on purpose that he might spend money,--as he had nothing but his
money to recommend him, and as he had not spent it,--the free and
independent electors of the borough had not seen their way to
vote for him. Therefore the Conservatives were very elate with
their triumph. There was a great Conservative reaction. But the
electioneering guide, philosopher, and friend, in the humble
retirement of his own home,--he was a tailor in the town, whose
assistance at such periods had long been in requisition,--he knew
very well how the seat had been secured. Ten shillings a head would
have sent three hundred true Liberals to the ballot-boxes! The mode
of distributing the money had been arranged; but the Conservative
tailor had been too acute, and not half-a-sovereign could be passed.
The tailor got twenty-five pounds for his work, and that was smuggled
in among the bills for printing.

Mr. Williams, however, was sure that he had so opened out the
iniquities of the dissenters as to have convinced the borough. Yes;
every Salem and Zion and Ebenezer in his large parish would be
closed. "It is a great thing for the country," said Mr. Williams.

"He'll make a capital member," said Silverbridge, clapping his friend
on the back.

"I hope he'll never forget," said Mr. Williams, "that he owes his
seat to the Protestant and Church-of-England principles which have
sunk so deeply into the minds of the thoughtful portion of the
inhabitants of this borough."

"Whom should they elect but a Tregear?" said the mother, feeling that
her rector took too much of the praise to himself.

"I think you have done more for us than any one else," whispered
Miss Tregear to the young Lord. "What you said was so reassuring!"
The father before he went to bed expressed to his son, with some
trepidation, a hope that all this would lead to no great permanent
increase of expenditure.

That evening before he went to bed Lord Silverbridge wrote to his
father an account of what had taken place at Polpenno.


   Polwenning, 15th December.

   MY DEAR FATHER,

   Among us all we have managed to return Tregear. I am
   afraid you will not be quite pleased because it will be a
   vote lost to your party. But I really think that he is
   just the fellow to be in Parliament. If he were on your
   side I'm sure he's the kind of man you'd like to bring
   into office. He is always thinking about those sort of
   things. He says that, if there were no Conservatives, such
   Liberals as you and Mr. Monk would be destroyed by the
   Jacobins. There is something in that. Whether a man is a
   Conservative or not himself, I suppose there ought to be
   Conservatives.


The Duke as he read this made a memorandum in his own mind that he
would explain to his son that every carriage should have a drag
to its wheels, but that an ambitious soul would choose to be the
coachman rather than the drag.


   It was beastly work!


The Duke made another memorandum to instruct his son that no
gentleman above the age of a schoolboy should allow himself to use
such a word in such a sense.


   We had to go about in the rain up to our knees in mud for
   eight or nine days, always saying the same thing. And of
   course all that we said was bosh.


Another memorandum--or rather two, one as to the slang, and another
as to the expediency of teaching something to the poor voters on such
occasions.


   Our only comfort was that the Carbottle people were quite
   as badly off as us.


Another memorandum as to the grammar. The absence of Christian
charity did not at the moment affect the Duke.


   I made ever so many speeches, till at last it seemed to be
   quite easy.


Here there was a very grave memorandum. Speeches easy to young
speakers are generally very difficult to old listeners.


   But of course it was all bosh.


This required no separate memorandum.


   I have promised to go up to town with Tregear for a day
   or two. After that I will stick to my purpose of going to
   Matching again. I will be there about the 22nd, and will
   then stay over Christmas. After that I am going into the
   Brake country for some hunting. It is such a shame to have
   a lot of horses and never to ride them!

   Your most affectionate Son,

   SILVERBRIDGE.


The last sentence gave rise in the Duke's mind to the necessity of a
very elaborate memorandum on the subject of amusements generally.

By the same post another letter went from Polpenno to Matching which
also gave rise to some mental memoranda. It was as follows:


   MY DEAR MABEL,

   I am a Member of the British House of Commons! I have
   sometimes regarded myself as being one of the most
   peculiarly unfortunate men in the world, and yet now I
   have achieved that which all commoners in England think to
   be the greatest honour within their reach, and have done
   so at an age at which very few achieve it but the sons of
   the wealthy and the powerful.

   I now come to my misfortunes. I know that as a poor man
   I ought not to be a member of Parliament. I ought to
   be earning my bread as a lawyer or a doctor. I have no
   business to be what I am, and when I am forty I shall find
   that I have eaten up all my good things instead of having
   them to eat.

   I have one chance before me. You know very well what that
   is. Tell her that my pride in being a member of Parliament
   is much more on her behalf than on my own. The man who
   dares to love her ought at any rate to be something in the
   world. If it might be,--if ever it may be,--I should wish
   to be something for her sake. I am sure you will be glad
   of my success yourself, for my own sake.

   Your affectionate Friend and Cousin,

   FRANCIS TREGEAR.


The first mental memorandum in regard to this came from the writer's
assertion that he at forty would have eaten up all his good things.
No! He being a man might make his way to good things though he was
not born to them. He surely would win his good things for himself.
But what good things were in store for her? What chance of success
was there for her? But the reflection which was the most bitter to
her of all came from her assurance that his love for that other
girl was so genuine. Even when he was writing to her there was no
spark left of the old romance! Some hint of a recollection of past
feelings, some half-concealed reference to the former passion might
have been allowed to him! She as a woman,--as a woman all whose
fortune must depend on marriage,--could indulge in no such allusions;
but surely he need not have been so hard!

But still there was another memorandum. At the present moment she
would do all that he desired as far as it was in her power. She was
anxious that he should marry Lady Mary Palliser, though so anxious
also that something of his love should remain with herself! She was
quite willing to convey that message,--if it might be done without
offence to the Duke. She was there with the object of ingratiating
herself with the Duke. She must not impede her favour with the Duke
by making herself the medium of any secret communications between
Mary and her lover.

But how should she serve Tregear without risk of offending the Duke?
She read the letter again and again, and thinking it to be a good
letter she determined to show it to the Duke.

"Mr. Tregear has got in at Polpenno," she said on the day on which
she and the Duke had received their letters.

"So I hear from Silverbridge."

"It will be a good thing for him, I suppose."

"I do not know," said the Duke coldly.

"He is my cousin, and I have always been interested in his welfare."

"That is natural."

"And a seat in Parliament will give him something to do."

"Certainly it ought," said the Duke.

"I do not think that he is an idle man." To this the Duke made no
answer. He did not wish to be made to talk about Tregear. "May I
tell you why I say all this?" she asked softly, pressing her hand on
the Duke's arm ever so gently. To this the Duke assented, but still
coldly. "Because I want to know what I ought to do. Would you mind
reading that letter? Of course you will remember that Frank and I
have been brought up almost as brother and sister."

The Duke took the letter in his hand and did read it, very slowly.
"What he says about young men without means going into Parliament
is true enough." This was not encouraging, but as the Duke went on
reading, Mabel did not think it necessary to argue the matter. He had
to read the last paragraph twice before he understood it. He did read
it twice, and then folding the letter very slowly gave it back to his
companion.

"What ought I to do?" asked Lady Mabel.

"As you and I, my dear, are friends, I think that any carrying of a
message to Mary would be breaking confidence. I think that you should
not speak to Mary about Mr. Tregear." Then he changed the subject.
Lady Mabel of course understood that after that she could not say a
word to Mary about the election at Polpenno.



CHAPTER LVII

The Meeting at "The Bobtailed Fox"


It was now the middle of December, and matters were not comfortable
in the Runnymede country. The Major with much pluck had carried on
his operations in opposition to the wishes of the resident members of
the hunt. The owners of coverts had protested, and farmers had sworn
that he should not ride over their lands. There had even been some
talk among the younger men of thrashing him if he persevered. But he
did persevere, and had managed to have one or two good runs. Now it
was the fortune of the Runnymede hunt that many of those who rode
with the hounds were strangers to the country,--men who came down by
train from London, gentlemen of perhaps no great distinction, who
could ride hard, but as to whom it was thought that as they did not
provide the land to ride over, or the fences to be destroyed, or the
coverts for the foxes, or the greater part of the subscription, they
ought not to oppose those by whom all these things were supplied. But
the Major, knowing where his strength lay, had managed to get a party
to support him. The contract to hunt the country had been made with
him in last March, and was good for one year. Having the kennels and
the hounds under his command he did hunt the country; but he did so
amidst a storm of contumely and ill will.

At last it was decided that a general meeting of the members of the
hunt should be called together with the express object of getting rid
of the Major. The gentlemen of the neighbourhood felt that the Major
was not to be borne, and the farmers were very much stronger against
him than the gentlemen. It had now become a settled belief among
sporting men in England that the Major had with his own hands driven
the nail into the horse's foot. Was it to be endured that the
Runnymede farmers should ride to hounds under a Master who had been
guilty of such an iniquity as that? "The Staines and Egham Gazette,"
which had always supported the Runnymede hunt, declared in very plain
terms that all who rode with the Major were enjoying their sport out
of the plunder which had been extracted from Lord Silverbridge. Then
a meeting was called for Saturday, the 18th December, to be held at
that well-known sporting little inn The Bobtailed Fox. The members of
the hunt were earnestly called upon to attend. It was,--so said the
printed document which was issued,--the only means by which the hunt
could be preserved. If gentlemen who were interested did not put
their shoulders to the wheel, the Runnymede hunt must be regarded
as a thing of the past. One of the documents was sent to the Major
with an intimation that if he wished to attend no objection would be
made to his presence. The chair would be taken at half-past twelve
punctually by that popular and well-known old sportsman Mr. Mahogany
Topps.

Was ever the Master of a hunt treated in such a way! His presence not
objected to! As a rule the Master of a hunt does not attend hunt
meetings, because the matter to be discussed is generally that of the
money to be subscribed for him, as to which it is as well he should
not hear the pros and cons. But it is presumed that he is to be the
hero of the hour, and that he is to be treated to his face, and
spoken of behind his back, with love, admiration, and respect. But
now this Master was told his presence would be allowed! And then
this fox-hunting meeting was summoned for half-past twelve on a
hunting-day;--when, as all the world knew, the hounds were to meet at
eleven, twelve miles off! Was ever anything so base? said the Major
to himself. But he resolved that he would be equal to the occasion.
He immediately issued cards to all the members, stating that on that
day the meet had been changed from Croppingham Bushes, which was ever
so much on the other side of Bagshot, to The Bobtailed Fox,--for the
benefit of the hunt at large, said the card,--and that the hounds
would be there at half-past one.

Whatever might happen, he must show a spirit. In all this there were
one or two of the London brigade who stood fast to him. "Cock your
tail, Tifto," said one hard-riding supporter, "and show 'em you
aren't afraid of nothing." So Tifto cocked his tail and went to the
meeting in his best new scarlet coat, with his whitest breeches, his
pinkest boots, and his neatest little bows at his knees. He entered
the room with his horn in his hand, as a symbol of authority, and
took off his hunting-cap to salute the assembly with a jaunty air. He
had taken two glasses of cherry brandy, and as long as the stimulant
lasted would no doubt be able to support himself with audacity.

Old Mr. Topps, in rising from his chair, did not say very much. He
had been hunting in the Runnymede country for nearly fifty years, and
had never seen anything so sad as this before. It made him, he knew,
very unhappy. As for foxes, there were always plenty of foxes in his
coverts. His friend Mr. Jawstock, on the right, would explain what
all this was about. All he wanted was to see the Runnymede hunt
properly kept up. Then he sat down, and Mr. Jawstock rose to his
legs.

Mr. Jawstock was a gentleman well known in the Runnymede country,
who had himself been instrumental in bringing Major Tifto into these
parts. There is often someone in a hunting country who never becomes
a Master of hounds himself, but who has almost as much to say about
the business as the Master himself. Sometimes at hunt meetings he is
rather unpopular, as he is always inclined to talk. But there are
occasions on which his services are felt to be valuable,--as were Mr.
Jawstock's at present. He was about forty-five years of age, was not
much given to riding, owned no coverts himself, and was not a man of
wealth; but he understood the nature of hunting, knew all its laws,
and was a judge of horses, of hounds,--and of men; and could say a
thing when he had to say it.

Mr. Jawstock sat on the right hand of Mr. Topps, and a place was left
for the Master opposite. The task to be performed was neither easy
nor pleasant. It was necessary that the orator should accuse the
gentleman opposite to him,--a man with whom he himself had been very
intimate,--of iniquity so gross and so mean, that nothing worse can
be conceived. "You are a swindler, a cheat, a rascal of the very
deepest dye;--a rogue so mean that it is revolting to be in the same
room with you!" That was what Mr. Jawstock had to say. And he said
it. Looking round the room, occasionally appealing to Mr. Topps,
who on these occasions would lift up his hands in horror, but never
letting his eye fall for a moment on the Major, Mr. Jawstock told his
story. "I did not see it done," said he. "I know nothing about it. I
never was at Doncaster in my life. But you have evidence of what the
Jockey Club thinks. The Master of our Hunt has been banished from
racecourses." Here there was considerable opposition, and a few short
but excited little dialogues were maintained;--throughout all which
Tifto restrained himself like a Spartan. "At any rate he has been
thoroughly disgraced," continued Mr. Jawstock, "as a sporting man. He
has been driven out of the Beargarden Club." "He resigned in disgust
at their treatment," said a friend of the Major's. "Then let him
resign in disgust at ours," said Mr. Jawstock, "for we won't have him
here. Cæsar wouldn't keep a wife who was suspected of infidelity, nor
will the Runnymede country endure a Master of Hounds who is supposed
to have driven a nail into a horse's foot."

Two or three other gentlemen had something to say before the Major
was allowed to speak,--the upshot of the discourse of all of them
being the same. The Major must go.

Then the Major got up, and certainly as far as attention went he
had full justice done him. However clamorous they might intend to
be afterwards that amount of fair play they were all determined
to afford him. The Major was not excellent at speaking, but he
did perhaps better than might have been expected. "This is a very
disagreeable position," he said, "very disagreeable indeed. As for
the nail in the horse's foot I know no more about it than the babe
unborn. But I've got two things to say, and I'll say what aren't the
most consequence first. These hounds belong to me." Here he paused,
and a loud contradiction came from many parts of the room. Mr.
Jawstock, however, proposed that the Major should be heard to the
end. "I say they belong to me," repeated the Major. "If anybody
tries his hand at anything else the law will soon set that to rights.
But that aren't of much consequence. What I've got to say is this.
Let the matter be referred. If that 'orse had a nail run into his
foot,--and I don't say he hadn't,--who was the man most injured? Why,
Lord Silverbridge. Everybody knows that. I suppose he dropped well on
to eighty thousand pounds! I propose to leave it to him. Let him say.
He ought to know more about it than any one. He and I were partners
in the horse. His Lordship aren't very sweet upon me just at present.
Nobody need fear that he'll do me a good turn. I say leave it to
him."

In this matter the Major had certainly been well advised. A rumour
had become prevalent among sporting circles that Silverbridge had
refused to condemn the Major. It was known that he had paid his bets
without delay, and that he had, to some extent, declined to take
advice from the leaders of the Jockey Club. The Major's friends were
informed that the young lord had refused to vote against him at the
club. Was it not more than probable that if this matter were referred
to him he would refuse to give a verdict against his late partner?

The Major sat down, put on his cap, and folded his arms akimbo,
with his horn sticking out from his left hand. For a time there was
general silence, broken, however, by murmurs in different parts of
the room. Then Mr. Jawstock whispered something into the ear of the
Chairman, and Mr. Topps, rising from his seat, suggested to Tifto
that he should retire. "I think so," said Mr. Jawstock. "The
proposition you have made can be discussed only in your absence."
Then the Major held a consultation with one of his friends, and after
that did retire.

When he was gone the real hubbub of the meeting commenced. There were
some there who understood the nature of Lord Silverbridge's feelings
in the matter. "He would be the last man in England to declare him
guilty," said Mr. Jawstock. "Whatever my lord says, he shan't ride
across my land," said a farmer in the background. "I don't think
any gentleman ever made a fairer proposition,--since anything was
anything," said a friend of the Major's, a gentleman who kept
livery stables in Long Acre. "We won't have him here," said another
farmer,--whereupon Mr. Topps shook his head sadly. "I don't think
any gentleman ought to be condemned without a 'earing," said one
of Tifto's admirers, "and where you're to get any one to hunt the
country like him, I don't know as any body is prepared to say."
"We'll manage that," said a young gentleman from the neighbourhood of
Bagshot, who thought that he could hunt the country himself quite as
well as Major Tifto. "He must go from here; that's the long and the
short of it," said Mr. Jawstock. "Put it to the vote, Mr. Jawstock,"
said the livery-stable keeper. Mr. Topps, who had had great
experience in public meetings, hereupon expressed an opinion that
they might as well go to a vote. No doubt he was right if the matter
was one which must sooner or later be decided in that manner.

Mr. Jawstock looked round the room trying to calculate what might
be the effect of a show of hands. The majority was with him; but he
was well aware that of this majority some few would be drawn away by
the apparent justice of Tifto's proposition. And what was the use of
voting? Let them vote as they might, it was out of the question that
Tifto should remain Master of the hunt. But the chairman had acceded,
and on such occasions it is difficult to go against the chairman.

Then there came a show of hands,--first for those who desired to
refer the matter to Lord Silverbridge, and afterwards for Tifto's
direct enemies,--for those who were anxious to banish Tifto out of
hand, without reference to any one. At last the matter was settled.
To the great annoyance of Mr. Jawstock and the farmers, the meeting
voted that Lord Silverbridge should be invited to give his opinion as
to the innocence or guilt of his late partner.

The Major's friends carried the discussion out to him as he sat on
horseback, as though he had altogether gained the battle and was
secure in his position as Master of the Runnymede Hunt for the next
dozen years. But at the same time there came a message from Mr.
Mahogany Topps. It was now half-past two, and Mr. Topps expressed
a hope that Major Tifto would not draw the country on the present
occasion. The Major, thinking that it might be as well to conciliate
his enemies, rode solemnly and slowly home to Tallyho Lodge in the
middle of his hounds.



CHAPTER LVIII

The Major Is Deposed


When Silverbridge undertook to return with Tregear to London instead
of going off direct to Matching, it is to be feared that he was
simply actuated by a desire to postpone his further visit to his
father's house. He had thought that Lady Mabel would surely be gone
before his task at Polpenno was completed. As soon as he should again
find himself in his father's presence he would at once declare his
intention of marrying Isabel Boncassen. But he could not see his way
to doing it while Lady Mabel should be in the house.

"I think you will find Mabel still at Matching," said Tregear on
their way up. "She will wait for you, I fancy."

"I don't know why she should wait for me," said Silverbridge almost
angrily.

"I thought that you and she were fast friends."

"I suppose we are--after a fashion. She might wait for you perhaps."

"I think she would,--if I could go there."

"You are much thicker with her than I ever was. You went to see her
at Grex,--when nobody else was there."

"Is Miss Cassewary nobody?"

"Next door to it," said Silverbridge, half jealous of the favours
shown to Tregear.

"I thought," said Tregear, "that there would be a closer intimacy
between you and her."

"I don't know why you should think so."

"Had you never any such idea yourself?"

"I haven't any now,--so there may be an end of it. I don't think a
fellow ought to be cross-questioned on such a subject."

"Then I am very sorry for Mabel," said Tregear. This was uttered
solemnly, so that Silverbridge found himself debarred from making any
flippant answer. He could not altogether defend himself. He had been
quite justified, he thought, in changing his mind, but he did not
like to own that he had changed it so quickly.

"I think we had better not talk any more about it," he said, after
pausing for a few moments. After that nothing more was said between
them on the subject.

Up in town Silverbridge spent two or three days pleasantly enough,
while a thunderbolt was being prepared for him, or rather, in truth,
two thunderbolts. During these days he was much with Tregear; and
though he could not speak freely of his own matrimonial projects,
still he was brought round to give some sort of assent to the
engagement between Tregear and his sister. This new position which
his friend had won for himself did in some degree operate on his
judgment. It was not perhaps that he himself imagined that Tregear as
a member of Parliament would be worthier, but that he fancied that
such would be the Duke's feelings. The Duke had declared that Tregear
was nobody. That could hardly be said of a man who had a seat in
the House of Commons;--certainly could not be said by so staunch a
politician as the Duke.

But had he known of those two thunderbolts he would not have enjoyed
his time at the Beargarden. The thunderbolts fell upon him in the
shape of two letters which reached his hands at the same time, and
were as follows:


   The Bobtailed Fox. Egham. 18th December.

   MY LORD,

   At a meeting held in this house to-day in reference to the
   hunting of the Runnymede country, it was proposed that the
   management of the hounds should be taken out of the hands
   of Major Tifto, in consequence of certain conduct of which
   it is alleged that he was guilty at the last Doncaster
   races.

   Major Tifto was present, and requested that your
   Lordship's opinion should be asked as to his guilt. I do
   not know myself that we are warranted in troubling your
   Lordship on the subject. I am, however, commissioned by
   the majority of the gentlemen who were present to ask
   you whether you think that Major Tifto's conduct on that
   occasion was of such a nature as to make him unfit to be
   the depositary of that influence, authority, and intimacy
   which ought to be at the command of a Master of Hounds.

   I feel myself bound to inform your Lordship that the hunt
   generally will be inclined to place great weight upon your
   opinion; but that it does not undertake to reinstate Major
   Tifto, even should your opinion be in his favour.

   I have the honour to be,
   My Lord,
   Your Lordship's most obedient Servant,

   JEREMIAH JAWSTOCK.

   Juniper Lodge, Staines.


Mr. Jawstock, when he had written this letter, was proud of his own
language, but still felt that the application was a very lame one.
Why ask any man for an opinion, and tell him at the same time that
his opinion might probably not be taken? And yet no other alternative
had been left to him. The meeting had decided that the application
should be made; but Mr. Jawstock was well aware that let the young
Lord's answer be what it might, the Major would not be endured as
Master in the Runnymede country. Mr. Jawstock felt that the passage
in which he explained that a Master of Hounds should be a depositary
of influence and intimacy, was good;--but yet the application was
lame, very lame.

Lord Silverbridge as he read it thought that it was very unfair.
It was a most disagreeable thunderbolt. Then he opened the second
letter, of which he well knew the handwriting. It was from the Major.
Tifto's letters were very legible, but the writing was cramped,
showing that the operation had been performed with difficulty.
Silverbridge had hoped that he might never receive another epistle
from his late partner. The letter, as follows, had been drawn out for
Tifto in rough by the livery-stable keeper in Long Acre.


   MY DEAR LORD SILVERBRIDGE,

   I venture respectfully to appeal to your Lordship for
   an act of justice. Nobody has more of a true-born
   Englishman's feeling of fair play between man and man than
   your Lordship; and as you and me have been a good deal
   together, and your Lordship ought to know me pretty well,
   I venture to appeal to your Lordship for a good word.

   All that story from Doncaster has got down into the
   country where I am M.F.H. Nobody could have been more
   sorry than me that your Lordship dropped your money. Would
   not I have been prouder than anything to have a horse in
   my name win the race! Was it likely I should lame him?
   Anyways I didn't, and I don't think your Lordship thinks
   it was me. Of course your Lordship and me is two now;--but
   that don't alter the facts.

   What I want is your Lordship to send me a line, just
   stating your Lordship's opinion that I didn't do it, and
   didn't have nothing to do with it;--which I didn't. There
   was a meeting at The Bobtailed Fox yesterday, and the
   gentlemen was all of one mind to go by what your Lordship
   would say. I couldn't desire nothing fairer. So I hope
   your Lordship will stand to me now, and write something
   that will pull me through.

   With all respects I beg to remain,
   Your Lordship's most dutiful Servant,

   T. TIFTO.


There was something in this letter which the Major himself did not
quite approve. There was an absence of familiarity about it which
annoyed him. He would have liked to call upon his late partner to
declare that a more honourable man than Major Tifto had never been
known on the turf. But he felt himself to be so far down in the world
that it was not safe for him to hold an opinion of his own, even
against the livery-stable keeper!

Silverbridge was for a time in doubt whether he should answer the
letters at all, and if so how he should answer them. In regard to Mr.
Jawstock and the meeting at large, he regarded the application as
an impertinence. But as to Tifto himself he vacillated much between
pity, contempt, and absolute condemnation. Everybody had assured him
that the man had certainly been guilty. The fact that he had made
bets against their joint horse,--bets as to which he had said nothing
till after the race was over,--had been admitted by himself. And yet
it was possible that the man might not be such a rascal as to be
unfit to manage the Runnymede hounds. Having himself got rid of
Tifto, he would have been glad that the poor wretch should have been
left with his hunting honours. But he did not think that he could
write to his late partner any letter that would preserve those
honours to him.

At Tregear's advice he referred the matter to Mr. Lupton. Mr. Lupton
was of opinion that both the letters should be answered, but that
the answer to each should be very short. "There is a prejudice about
the world just at present," said Mr. Lupton, "in favour of answering
letters. I don't see why I am to be subjected to an annoyance because
another man has taken a liberty. But it is better to submit to public
opinion. Public opinion thinks that letters should be answered." Then
Mr. Lupton dictated the answers.

"Lord Silverbridge presents his compliments to Mr. Jawstock, and
begs to say that he does not feel himself called upon to express
any opinion as to Major Tifto's conduct at Doncaster." That was the
first. The second was rather less simple, but not much longer.


   SIR,

   I do not feel myself called upon to express any opinion
   either to you or to others as to your conduct at
   Doncaster. Having received a letter on the subject from
   Mr. Jawstock I have written to him to this effect.

   Your obedient Servant,

   SILVERBRIDGE.

   To T. Tifto, Esq.,
   Tallyho Lodge.


Poor Tifto, when he got this very curt epistle, was broken-hearted.
He did not dare to show it. Day after day he told the livery-stable
keeper that he had received no reply, and at last asserted that his
appeal had remained altogether unanswered. Even this he thought
was better than acknowledging the rebuff which had reached him.
As regarded the meeting which had been held,--and any further
meetings which might be held,--at The Bobtailed Fox, he did not
see the necessity, as he explained to the livery-stable keeper, of
acknowledging that he had written any letter to Lord Silverbridge.

The letter to Mr. Jawstock was of course brought forward. Another
meeting at The Bobtailed Fox was convened. But in the meantime
hunting had been discontinued in the Runnymede country. The Major
with all his pluck, with infinite cherry brandy, could not do it. Men
who had a few weeks since been on very friendly terms, and who had
called each other Dick and Harry when the squabble first began, were
now talking of "punching" each other's heads. Special whips had been
procured by men who intended to ride, and special bludgeons by the
young farmers who intended that nobody should ride as long as Major
Tifto kept the hounds. It was said that the police would interfere.
It was whispered that the hounds would be shot,--though Mr. Topps,
Mr. Jawstock, and others declared that no crime so heinous as that
had ever been contemplated in the Runnymede country.

The difficulties were too many for poor Tifto, and the hounds were
not brought out again under his influence.

A second meeting was summoned, and an invitation was sent to the
Major similar to that which he had before received;--but on this
occasion he did not appear. Nor were there many of the gentlemen
down from London. This second meeting might almost have been called
select. Mr. Mahogany Topps was there of course, in the chair, and
Mr. Jawstock took the place of honour and of difficulty on his right
hand. There was the young gentleman from Bagshot, who considered
himself quite fit to take Tifto's place if somebody else would pay
the bills and settle the money, and there was the sporting old parson
from Croppingham. Three or four other members of the hunt were
present, and perhaps half-a-dozen farmers, ready to declare that
Major Tifto should never be allowed to cross their fields again.

But there was no opposition. Mr. Jawstock read the young lord's note,
and declared that it was quite as much as he expected. He considered
that the note, short as it was, must be decisive. Major Tifto, in
appealing to Lord Silverbridge, had agreed to abide by his Lordship's
answer, and that answer was now before them. Mr. Jawstock ventured to
propose that Major Tifto should be declared to be no longer Master
of the Runnymede Hounds. The parson from Croppingham seconded the
proposition, and Major Tifto was formally deposed.



CHAPTER LIX

No One Can Tell What May Come to Pass


Then Lord Silverbridge necessarily went down to Matching, knowing
that he must meet Mabel Grex. Why should she have prolonged her
visit? No doubt it might be very pleasant for her to be his father's
guest at Matching, but she had been there above a month! He could
understand that his father should ask her to remain. His father was
still brooding over that foolish communication which had been made
to him on the night of the dinner at the Beargarden. His father was
still intending to take Mabel to his arms as a daughter-in-law. But
Lady Mabel herself knew that it could not be so! The whole truth had
been told to her. Why should she remain at Matching for the sake of
being mixed up in a scene the acting of which could not fail to be
disagreeable to her?

He found the house very quiet and nearly empty. Mrs. Finn was there
with the two girls, and Mr. Warburton had come back. Miss Cassewary
had gone to a brother's house. Other guests to make Christmas merry
there were none. As he looked round at the large rooms he reflected
that he himself was there only for a special purpose. It was his duty
to break the news of his intended marriage to his father. As he stood
before the fire, thinking how best he might do this, it occurred
to him that a letter from a distance would have been the ready and
simple way. But then it had occurred to him also, when at a distance,
that a declaration of his purpose face to face was the simplest and
readiest way. If you have to go headlong into the water you should
take your plunge without hesitating. So he told himself, making up
his mind that he would have it all out that evening.

At dinner Lady Mabel sat next to his father, and he could watch the
special courtesy with which the Duke treated the girl whom he was so
desirous of introducing to his house. Silverbridge could not talk
about the election at Polpenno because all conversation about Tregear
was interdicted in the presence of his sister. He could say nothing
as to the Runnymede hunt and the two thunderbolts which had fallen
on him, as Major Tifto was not a subject on which he could expatiate
in the presence of his father. He asked a few questions about the
shooting, and referred with great regret to his absence from the
Brake country.

"I am sure Mr. Cassewary could spare you for another fortnight,"
the Duke said to his neighbour, alluding to a visit which she now
intended to make.

"If so he would have to spare me altogether," said Mabel, "for I must
meet my father in London in the middle of January."

"Could you not put it off to another year?"

"You would think I had taken root and was growing at Matching."

"Of all our products you would be the most delightful, and the most
charming,--and we would hope the most permanent," said the courteous
Duke.

"After being here so long I need hardly say that I like Matching
better than any place in the world. I suppose it is the contrast to
Grex."

"Grex was a palace," said the Duke, "before a wall of this house had
been built."

"Grex is very old, and very wild,--and very uncomfortable. But I love
it dearly. Matching is the very reverse of Grex."

"Not I hope in your affections."

"I did not mean that. I think one likes a contrast. But I must go,
say on the first of January, to pick up Miss Cassewary."

It was certain, therefore, that she was going on the first of
January. How would it be if he put off the telling of his story for
yet another week, till she should be gone? Then he looked around and
bethought himself that the time would hang very heavy with him. And
his father would daily expect from him a declaration exactly opposed
to that which he had to make. He had no horses to ride. As he went
on listening he almost convinced himself that the proper thing to do
would be to go back to London and thence write to his father. He made
no confession to his father on that night.

On the next morning there was a heavy fall of snow, but nevertheless
everybody managed to go to church. The Duke, as he looked at Lady
Mabel tripping along over the swept paths in her furs and short
petticoats and well-made boots, thought that his son was a lucky
fellow to have the chance of winning the love of such a girl. No
remembrance of Miss Boncassen came across his mind as he saw them
close together. It was so important that Silverbridge should marry
and thus be kept from further follies! And it was so momentous to the
fortunes of the Palliser family generally that he should marry well!
In thinking so it did not occur to him that the granddaughter of an
American labourer might be offered to him. A young lady fit to be
Duchess of Omnium was not to be found everywhere. But this girl,
he thought as he saw her walking briskly and strongly through the
snow, with every mark of health about her, with every sign of high
breeding, very beautiful, exquisite in manner, gracious as a goddess,
was fit to be a Duchess! Silverbridge at this moment was walking
close to her side,--in good looks, in gracious manner, in high
breeding her equal,--in worldly gifts infinitely her superior. Surely
she would not despise him! Silverbridge at the moment was expressing
a hope that the sermon would not be very long.

After lunch Mabel came suddenly behind the chair on which
Silverbridge was sitting and asked him to take a walk with her. Was
she not afraid of the snow? "Perhaps you are," she said laughing. "I
do not mind it in the least." When they were but a few yards from the
front door, she put her hand upon his arm, and spoke to him as though
she had arranged the walk with reference to that special question,
"And now tell me all about Frank."

She had arranged everything. She had a plan before her now, and had
determined in accordance with that plan that she would say nothing to
disturb him on this occasion. If she could succeed in bringing him
into good humour with herself, that should be sufficient for to-day.
"Now tell me everything about Frank."

"Frank is member of Parliament for Polpenno. That is all."

"That is so like a man and so unlike a woman. What did he say? What
did he do? How did he look? What did you say? What did you do? How
did you look?"

"We looked very miserable, when we got wet through, walking about all
day in the rain."

"Was that necessary?"

"Quite necessary. We looked so mean and draggled that nobody would
have voted for us, only that poor Mr. Carbottle looked meaner and
more draggled."

"The Duke says you made ever so many speeches."

"I should think I did. It is very easy to make speeches down at a
place like that. Tregear spoke like a book."

"He spoke well?"

"Awfully well. He told them that all the good things that had ever
been done in Parliament had been carried by the Tories. He went back
to Pitt's time, and had it all at his fingers' ends."

"And quite true."

"That's just what it was not. It was all a crammer. But it did as
well."

"I am glad he is a member. Don't you think the Duke will come round a
little now?"

When Tregear and the election had been sufficiently discussed,
they came by degrees to Major Tifto and the two thunderbolts.
Silverbridge, when he perceived that nothing was to be said about
Isabel Boncassen, or his own freedom in the matter of love-making,
was not sorry to have a friend from whom he could find sympathy for
himself in his own troubles. With some encouragement from Mabel the
whole story was told. "Was it not a great impertinence?" she asked.

"It was an awful bore. What could I say? I was not going to pronounce
judgment against the poor devil. I daresay he was good enough for Mr.
Jawstock."

"But I suppose he did cheat horribly."

"I daresay he did. A great many of them do cheat. But what of that? I
was not bound to give him a character, bad or good."

"Certainly not."

"He had not been my servant. It was such a letter. I'll show it you
when we get in!--asking whether Tifto was fit to be the depositary of
the intimacy of the Runnymede hunt! And then Tif's letter;--I almost
wept over that."

"How could he have had the audacity to write at all?"

"He said that 'him and me had been a good deal together.'
Unfortunately that was true. Even now I am not quite sure that he
lamed the horse himself."

"Everybody thinks he did. Percival says there is no doubt about it."

"Percival knows nothing about it. Three of the gang ran away, and he
stood his ground. That's about all we do know."

"What did you say to him?"

"I had to address him as Sir, and beg him not to write to me any
more. Of course they mean to get rid of him, and I couldn't do him
any good. Poor Tifto! Upon the whole I think I hate Jawstock worse
than Tifto."

Lady Mabel was content with her afternoon's work. When they had been
at Matching before the Polpenno election, there had apparently been
no friendship between them,--at any rate no confidential friendship.
Miss Boncassen had been there, and he had had neither ears nor eyes
for any one else. But now something like the feeling of old days had
been restored. She had not done much towards her great object;--but
then she had known that nothing could be done till he should again be
in a good humour with her.

On the Sunday, the Monday, and the Tuesday they were again together.
In some of these interviews Silverbridge described the Polpenno
people, and told her how Miss Tregear had been reassured by his
eloquence. He also read to her the Jawstock and Tifto correspondence,
and was complimented by her as to his prudence and foresight. "To
tell the truth I consulted Mr. Lupton," he said, not liking to take
credit for wisdom which had not been his own. Then they talked about
Grex, and Killancodlem, about Gerald and the shooting, about Mary's
love for Tregear, and about the work of the coming Session. On
all these subjects they were comfortable and confidential,--Miss
Boncassen's name never having been as yet so much as mentioned.

But still the real work was before her. She had not hoped to bring
him round to kneel once more at her feet by such gentle measures as
these. She had not dared to dream that he could in this way be taught
to forget the past autumn and all its charms. She knew well that
there was something very difficult before her. But, if that difficult
thing might be done at all, these were the preparations which must be
made for the doing of it.

It was arranged that she should leave Matching on Saturday, the first
day of the new year. Things had gone on in the manner described till
the Thursday had come. The Duke had been impatient but had restrained
himself. He had seen that they were much together and that they were
apparently friends. He too told himself that there were two more
days, and that before the end of those days everything might be
pleasantly settled!

It had become a matter of course that Silverbridge and Mabel should
walk together in the afternoon. He himself had felt that there was
danger in this,--not danger that he should be untrue to Isabel, but
that he should make others think that he was true to Mabel. But he
excused himself on the plea that he and Mabel had been intimate
friends,--were still intimate friends, and that she was going away
in a day or two. Mary, who watched it all, was sure that misery was
being prepared for someone. She was aware that by this time her
father was anxious to welcome Mabel as his daughter-in-law. She
strongly suspected that something had been said between her father
and her brother on the subject. But then she had Isabel Boncassen's
direct assurance that Silverbridge was engaged to her! Now when
Isabel's back was turned, Silverbridge and Mabel were always
together.

On the Thursday after lunch they were again out together. It had
become so much a habit that the walk repeated itself without an
effort. It had been part of Mabel's scheme that it should be so.
During all this morning she had been thinking of her scheme. It was
all but hopeless. So much she had declared to herself. But forlorn
hopes do sometimes end in splendid triumphs. That which she might
gain was so much! And what could she lose? The sweet bloom of her
maiden shame? That, she told herself, with bitterest inward tears,
was already gone from her. Frank Tregear at any rate knew where her
heart had been given. Frank Tregear knew that having lost her heart
to one man she was anxious to marry another. He knew that she was
willing to accept the coronet of a duchess as her consolation.
That bloom of her maiden shame, of which she quite understood the
sweetness, the charm, the value--was gone when she had brought
herself to such a state that any human being should know that, loving
one man, she should be willing to marry another. The sweet treasure
was gone from her. Its aroma was fled. It behoved her now to be
ambitious, cautious,--and if possible successful.

When first she had so resolved, success seemed to be easily within
her reach. Of all the golden youths that crossed her path no one was
so pleasant to her eye, to her ear, to her feelings generally as this
Duke's young heir. There was a coming manliness about him which she
liked,--and she liked even the slight want of present manliness.
Putting aside Frank Tregear she could go nearer to loving him than
any other man she had ever seen. With him she would not be turned
from her duties by disgust, by dislike, or dismay. She could even
think that the time would come when she might really love him. Then
she had all but succeeded, and she might have succeeded altogether
had she been but a little more prudent. But she had allowed her great
prize to escape from her fingers.

But the prize was not yet utterly beyond her grasp. To recover
it,--to recover even the smallest chance of recovering it, there
would be need of great exertion. She must be bold, sudden,
unwomanlike,--and yet with such display of woman's charm that he at
least should discover no want. She must be false, but false with
such perfect deceit, that he must regard her as a pearl of truth.
If anything could lure him back it must be his conviction of her
passionate love. And she must be strong;--so strong as to overcome
not only his weakness, but all that was strong in him. She knew that
he did love that other girl,--and she must overcome even that. And to
do this she must prostrate herself at his feet,--as, since the world
began, it has been man's province to prostrate himself at the feet of
the woman he loves.

To do this she must indeed bid adieu to the sweet bloom of her maiden
shame! But had she not done so already when, by the side of the brook
at Killancodlem, she had declared to him plainly enough her despair
at hearing that he loved that other girl? Though she were to grovel
at his feet she could not speak more plainly than she had spoken
then. She could not tell her story now more plainly than she had done
then; but,--though the chances were small,--perchance she might tell
it more effectually.

"Perhaps this will be our last walk," she said. "Come down to the
seat over the river."

"Why should it be the last? You'll be here to-morrow."

"There are so many slips in such things," she said laughing. "You may
get a letter from your constituents that will want all the day to
answer. Or your father may have a political communication to make to
me. But at any rate come." So they went to the seat.

It was a spot in the park from whence there was a distant view over
many lands, and low beneath the bench, which stood on the edge of a
steep bank, ran a stream which made a sweeping bend in this place, so
that a reach of the little river might be seen both to the right and
to the left. Though the sun was shining, the snow under their feet
was hard with frost. It was an air such as one sometimes finds in
England, and often in America. Though the cold was very perceptible,
though water in the shade was freezing at this moment, there was no
feeling of damp, no sense of bitter wind. It was a sweet and jocund
air, such as would make young people prone to run and skip. "You
are not going to sit down with all the snow on the bench," said
Silverbridge.

On their way thither she had not said a word that would disturb him.
She had spoken to him of the coming Session, and had managed to
display to him the interest which she took in his parliamentary
career. In doing this she had flattered him to the top of his bent.
If he would return to his father's politics, then would she too
become a renegade. Would he speak in the next Session? She hoped he
would speak. And if he did, might she be there to hear him? She was
cautious not to say a word of Frank Tregear, understanding something
of that strange jealousy which could exist even when he who was
jealous did not love the woman who caused it.

"No," she said, "I do not think we can sit. But still I like to
be here with you. All that some day will be your own." Then she
stretched her hands out to the far view.

"Some of it, I suppose. I don't think it is all ours. As for that, if
we cared for extent of acres, one ought to go to Barsetshire."

"Is that larger?"

"Twice as large, I believe, and yet none of the family like being
there. The rental is very well."

"And the borough," she said, leaning on his arm and looking up into
his face. "What a happy fellow you ought to be."

"Bar Tifto,--and Mr. Jawstock."

"You have got rid of Tifto and all those troubles very easily."

"Thanks to the governor."

"Yes, indeed. I do love your father so dearly."

"So do I--rather."

"May I tell you something about him?" As she asked the question she
was standing very close to him, leaning upon his arm, with her left
hand crossed upon her right. Had others been there, of course she
would not have stood in such a guise. She knew that,--and he knew it
too. Of course there was something in it of declared affection,--of
that kind of love which most of us have been happy enough to give and
receive, without intending to show more than true friendship will
allow at special moments.

"Don't tell me anything about him I shan't like to hear."

"Ah;--that is so hard to know. I wish you would like to hear it."

"What can it be?"

"I cannot tell you now."

"Why not? And why did you offer?"

"Because-- Oh, Silverbridge."

He certainly as yet did not understand it. It had never occurred to
him that she would know what were his father's wishes. Perhaps he was
slow of comprehension as he urged her to tell him what this was about
his father. "What can you tell me about him, that I should not like
to hear?"

"You do not know? Oh, Silverbridge, I think you know." Then there
came upon him a glimmering of the truth. "You do know." And she stood
apart looking him full in the face.

"I do not know what you can have to tell me."

"No;--no. It is not I that should tell you. But yet it is so.
Silverbridge, what did you say to me when you came to me that morning
in the Square?"

"What did I say?"

"Was I not entitled to think that you--loved me?" To this he had
nothing to reply, but stood before her silent and frowning. "Think of
it, Silverbridge. Was it not so? And because I did not at once tell
you all the truth, because I did not there say that my heart was all
yours, were you right to leave me?"

"You only laughed at me."

"No;--no; no; I never laughed at you. How could I laugh when you were
all the world to me? Ask Frank;--he knew. Ask Miss Cass;--she knew.
And can you say you did not know; you, you, you yourself? Can any
girl suppose that such words as these are to mean nothing when they
have been spoken? You knew I loved you."

"No;--no."

"You must have known it. I will never believe but that you knew it.
Why should your father be so sure of it?"

"He never was sure of it."

"Yes, Silverbridge; yes. There is not one in the house who does not
see that he treats me as though he expected me to be his son's wife.
Do you not know that he wishes it?" He fain would not have answered
this; but she paused for his answer and then repeated her question.
"Do you not know that he wishes it?"

"I think he does," said Silverbridge; "but it can never be so."

"Oh, Silverbridge;--oh, my loved one! Do not say that to me! Do not
kill me at once!" Now she placed her hands one on each arm as she
stood opposite to him and looked up into his face. "You said you
loved me once. Why do you desert me now? Have you a right to treat me
like that;--when I tell you that you have all my heart?" The tears
were now streaming down her face, and they were not counterfeit
tears.

"You know," he said, submitting to her hands, but not lifting his arm
to embrace her.

"What do I know?"

"That I have given all I have to give to another." As he said this he
looked away sternly, over her shoulder, to the distance.

"That American girl!" she exclaimed, starting back, with some show of
sternness also on her brow.

"Yes;--that American girl," said Silverbridge.

Then she recovered herself immediately. Indignation, natural
indignation, would not serve her turn in the present emergency. "You
know that cannot be. You ought to know it. What will your father
say? You have not dared to tell him. That is so natural," she added,
trying to appease his frown. "How possibly can it be told to him? I
will not say a word against her."

"No; do not do that."

"But there are fitnesses of things which such a one as you cannot
disregard without preparing for yourself a whole life of repentance."

"Look here, Mabel."

"Well?"

"I will tell you the truth."

"Well?"

"I would sooner lose all;--the rank I have; the rank that I am to
have; all these lands that you have been looking on; my father's
wealth, my seat in Parliament,--everything that fortune has done for
me,--I would give them all up, sooner than lose her." Now at any rate
he was a man. She was sure of that now. This was more, very much
more, not only than she had expected from him, but more than she had
thought it possible that his character should have produced.

His strength reduced her to weakness. "And I am nothing," she said.

"Yes, indeed; you are Lady Mabel Grex,--whom all women envy, and whom
all men honour."

"The poorest wretch this day under the sun."

"Do not say that. You should take shame to say that."

"I do take shame;--and I do say it. Sir, do you not feel what you owe
me? Do you not know that you have made me the wretch I am? How did
you dare to talk to me as you did talk when you were in London? You
tell me that I am Lady Mabel Grex;--and yet you come to me with a lie
on your lips,--with such a lie as that! You must have taken me for
some nursemaid on whom you had condescended to cast your eye! It
cannot be that even you should have dared to treat Lady Mabel Grex
after such a fashion as that! And now you have cast your eye on this
other girl. You can never marry her!"

"I shall endeavour to do so."

"You can never marry her," she said, stamping her foot. She had now
lost all the caution which she had taught herself for the prosecution
of her scheme,--all the care with which she had burdened herself. Now
she was natural enough. "No,--you can never marry her. You could not
show yourself after it in your clubs, or in Parliament, or in the
world. Come home, do you say? No, I will not go to your home. It is
not my home. Cold;--of course I am cold;--cold through to the heart."

"I cannot leave you alone here," he said, for she had now turned from
him, and was walking with hurried steps and short turns on the edge
of the bank, which at this place was almost a precipice.

"You have left me,--utterly in the cold--more desolate than I am here
even though I should spend the night among the trees. But I will go
back, and will tell your father everything. If my father were other
than he is,--if my brother were better to me, you would not have done
this."

"If you had a legion of brothers it would have been the same," he
said, turning sharp upon her.

They walked on together, but without a word till the house was in
sight. Then she looked round at him, and stopped him on the path as
she caught his eye. "Silverbridge!" she said.

"Lady Mabel."

"Call me Mabel. At any rate call me Mabel. If I have said anything to
offend you--I beg your pardon."

"I am not offended--but unhappy."

"If you are unhappy, what must I be? What have I to look forward to?
Give me your hand, and say that we are friends."

"Certainly we are friends," he said, as he gave her his hand.

"Who can tell what may come to pass?" To this he would make no
answer, as it seemed to imply that some division between himself and
Isabel Boncassen might possibly come to pass. "You will not tell any
one that I love you?"

"I tell such a thing as that!"

"But never forget it yourself. No one can tell what may come to
pass."

Lady Mabel at once went up to her room. She had played her scene, but
was well aware that she had played it altogether unsuccessfully.



CHAPTER LX

Lord Gerald in Further Trouble


When Silverbridge got back to the house he was by no means well
pleased with himself. In the first place he was unhappy to think that
Mabel was unhappy, and that he had made her so. And then she had told
him that he would not have dared to have acted as he had done, but
that her father and her brother were careless to defend her. He had
replied fiercely that a legion of brothers, ready to act on her
behalf, would not have altered his conduct; but not the less did he
feel that he had behaved badly to her. It could not now be altered.
He could not now be untrue to Isabel. But certainly he had said a
word or two to Mabel which he could not remember without regret. He
had not thought that a word from him could have been so powerful.
Now, when that word was recalled to his memory by the girl to whom it
had been spoken, he could not quite acquit himself.

And Mabel had declared to him that she would at once appeal to his
father. There was an absurdity in this at which he could not but
smile,--that the girl should complain to his father because he would
not marry her! But even in doing this she might cause him great
vexation. He could not bring himself to ask her not to tell her story
to the Duke. He must take all that as it might come.

While he was thinking of all this in his own room a servant brought
him two letters. From the first which he opened he soon perceived
that it contained an account of more troubles. It was from his
brother Gerald, and was written from Auld Reikie, the name of a house
in Scotland belonging to Lord Nidderdale's people.


   DEAR SILVER,

   I have got into a most awful scrape. That fellow Percival
   is here, and Dolly Longstaff, and Nidderdale, and
   Popplecourt, and Jack Hindes, and Perry who is in the
   Coldstreams, and one or two more, and there has been a lot
   of cards, and I have lost ever so much money. I wouldn't
   mind it so much but Percival has won it all,--a fellow
   I hate; and now I owe him--three thousand four hundred
   pounds! He has just told me he is hard up and that he
   wants the money before the week is over. He can't be hard
   up because he has won from everybody;--but of course I had
   to tell him that I would pay him.

   Can you help me? Of course I know that I have been a fool.
   Percival knows what he is about and plays regularly for
   money. When I began I didn't think that I could lose above
   twenty or thirty pounds. But it got on from one thing to
   another, and when I woke this morning I felt I didn't know
   what to do with myself. You can't think how the luck went
   against me. Everybody says that they never saw such cards.

   And now do tell me how I am to get out of it. Could you
   manage it with Mr. Moreton? Of course I will make it all
   right with you some day. Moreton always lets you have
   whatever you want. But perhaps you couldn't do this
   without letting the governor know. I would rather anything
   than that. There is some money owing at Oxford also, which
   of course he must know.

   I was thinking that perhaps I might get it from some of
   those fellows in London. There are people called Comfort
   and Criball, who let men have money constantly. I know two
   or three up at Oxford who have had it from them. Of course
   I couldn't go to them as you could do, for, in spite of
   what the governor said to us up in London one day, there
   is nothing that must come to me. But you could do anything
   in that way, and of course I would stand to it.

   I know you won't throw me over, because you always have
   been such a brick. But above all things don't tell the
   governor. Percival is such a nasty fellow, otherwise I
   shouldn't mind it. He spoke this morning as though I was
   treating him badly,--though the money was only lost last
   night; and he looked at me in a way that made me long to
   kick him. I told him not to flurry himself, and that he
   should have his money. If he speaks to me like that again
   I will kick him.

   I will be at Matching as soon as possible, but I cannot go
   till this is settled. Nid--[meaning Lord Nidderdale]--is a
   brick.

   Your affectionate Brother,

   GERALD.


The other was from Nidderdale, and referred to the same subject.


   DEAR SILVERBRIDGE,

   Here has been a terrible nuisance. Last night some of
   the men got to playing cards, and Gerald lost a terribly
   large sum to Percival. I did all that I could to stop it,
   because I saw that Percival was going in for a big thing.
   I fancy that he got as much from Dolly Longstaff as he did
   from Gerald;--but it won't matter much to Dolly; or if it
   does, nobody cares. Gerald told me he was writing to you
   about it, so I am not betraying him.

   What is to be done? Of course Percival is behaving badly.
   He always does. I can't turn him out of the house, and he
   seems to intend to stick to Gerald till he has got the
   money. He has taken a cheque from Dolly dated two months
   hence. I am in an awful funk for fear Gerald should pitch
   into him. He will, in a minute, if anything rough is said
   to him. I suppose the straightest thing would be to go to
   the Duke at once, but Gerald won't hear of it. I hope you
   won't think me wrong to tell you. If I could help him I
   would. You know what a bad doctor I am for that sort of
   complaint.

   Yours always,

   NIDDERDALE.


The dinner-bell had rung before Silverbridge had come to an end of
thinking of this new vexation, and he had not as yet made up his mind
what he had better do for his brother. There was one thing as to
which he was determined,--that it should not be done by him, nor,
if he could prevent it, by Gerald. There should be no dealings with
Comfort and Criball. The Duke had succeeded, at any rate, in filling
his son's mind with a horror of aid of that sort. Nidderdale had
suggested that the "straightest" thing would be to go direct to the
Duke. That no doubt would be straight,--and efficacious. The Duke
would not have allowed a boy of his to be a debtor to Lord Percival
for a day, let the debt have been contracted how it might. But
Gerald had declared against this course,--and Silverbridge himself
would have been most unwilling to adopt it. How could he have told
that story to the Duke, while there was that other infinitely more
important story of his own, which must be told at once?

In the midst of all these troubles he went down to dinner. "Lady
Mabel," said the Duke, "tells me that you two have been to see Sir
Guy's look-out."

She was standing close to the Duke and whispered a word into his ear.
"You said you would call me Mabel."

"Yes, sir," said Silverbridge, "and I have made up my mind that Sir
Guy never stayed there very long in winter. It was awfully cold."

"I had furs on," said Mabel. "What a lovely spot it is, even in this
weather." Then dinner was announced. She had not been cold. She could
still feel the tingling heat of her blood as she had implored him to
love her.

Silverbridge felt that he must write to his brother by the first
post. The communication was of a nature that would bear no delay.
If his hands had been free he would himself have gone off to Auld
Reikie. At last he made up his mind. The first letter he wrote was
neither to Nidderdale nor to Gerald, but to Lord Percival himself.


   DEAR PERCIVAL,

   Gerald writes me word that he has lost to you at cards
   £3,400, and he wants me to get him the money. It is a
   terrible nuisance, and he has been an ass. But of course
   I shall stand to him for anything he wants. I haven't
   got £3,400 in my pocket, and I don't know any one who
   has;--that is among our set. But I send you my I.O.U. for
   the amount, and will promise to get you the money in two
   months. I suppose that will be sufficient, and that you
   will not bother Gerald any more about it.

   Yours truly,

   SILVERBRIDGE.


Then he copied this letter and enclosed the copy in another which he
wrote to his brother.


   DEAR GERALD,

   What an ass you have been! But I don't suppose you are
   worse than I was at Doncaster. I will have nothing to do
   with such people as Comfort and Criball. That is the sure
   way to the D----! As for telling Moreton, that is only
   a polite and roundabout way of telling the governor. He
   would immediately ask the governor what was to be done.
   You will see what I have done. Of course I must tell the
   governor before the end of February, as I cannot get the
   money in any other way. But that I will do. It does seem
   hard upon him. Not that the money will hurt him much; but
   that he would so like to have a steady-going son.

   I suppose Percival won't make any bother about the I.O.U.
   He'll be a fool if he does. I wouldn't kick him if I were
   you,--unless he says anything very bad. You would be sure
   to come to grief somehow. He is a beast.

   Your affectionate Brother,

   SILVERBRIDGE.


With these letters that special grief was removed from his mind for
awhile. Looking over the dark river of possible trouble which seemed
to run between the present moment and the time at which the money
must be procured, he thought that he had driven off this calamity of
Gerald's to infinite distance. But into that dark river he must now
plunge almost at once. On the next day, he managed so that there
should be no walk with Mabel. In the evening he could see that the
Duke was uneasy;--but not a word was said to him. On the following
morning Lady Mabel took her departure. When she went from the door,
both the Duke and Silverbridge were there to bid her farewell. She
smiled and was as gracious as though everything had gone according
to her heart's delight. "Dear Duke, I am so obliged to you for your
kindness," she said, as she put up her cheek for him to kiss. Then
she gave her hand to Silverbridge. "Of course you will come and see
me in town." And she smiled upon them all;--having courage enough to
keep down all her sufferings.

"Come in here a moment, Silverbridge," said the father as they
returned into the house together. "How is it now between you and
her?"



CHAPTER LXI

"Bone of My Bone"


"How is it now between you and her?" That was the question which the
Duke put to his son as soon as he had closed the door of the study.
Lady Mabel had just been dismissed from the front door on her
journey, and there could be no doubt as to the "her" intended. No
such question would have been asked had not Silverbridge himself
declared to his father his purpose of making Lady Mabel his wife.
On that subject the Duke, without such authority, would not have
interfered. But he had been consulted, had acceded, and had
encouraged the idea by excessive liberality on his part. He had never
dropped it out of his mind for a moment. But when he found that the
girl was leaving his house without any explanation, then he became
restless and inquisitive.

They say that perfect love casteth out fear. If it be so the love of
children to their parents is seldom altogether perfect,--and perhaps
had better not be quite perfect. With this young man it was not that
he feared anything which his father could do to him, that he believed
that in consequence of the declaration which he had to make his
comforts and pleasures would be curtailed, or his independence
diminished. He knew his father too well to dread such punishment.
But he feared that he would make his father unhappy, and he was
conscious that he had so often sinned in that way. He had stumbled so
frequently! Though in action he would so often be thoughtless,--yet
he understood perfectly the effect which had been produced on his
father's mind by his conduct. He had it at heart "to be good to the
governor," to gratify that most loving of all possible friends, who,
as he knew well, was always thinking of his welfare. And yet he never
had been "good to the governor";--nor had Gerald;--and to all this
was added his sister's determined perversity. It was thus he feared
his father.

He paused for a moment, while the Duke stood with his back to the
fire looking at him. "I'm afraid that it is all over, sir," he said.

"All over!"

"I am afraid so."

"Why is it all over? Has she refused you?"

"Well, sir;--it isn't quite that." Then he paused again. It was so
difficult to begin about Isabel Boncassen.

"I am sorry for that," said the Duke, almost hesitating; "very sorry.
You will understand, I hope, that I should make no inquiry in such a
matter, unless I had felt myself warranted in doing so by what you
had yourself told me in London."

"I understand all that."

"I have been very anxious about it, and have even gone so far as
to make some preparations for what I had hoped would be your early
marriage."

"Preparations!" exclaimed Silverbridge, thinking of church bells,
bride cake, and wedding presents.

"As to the property. I am so anxious that you should enjoy all the
settled independence which can belong to an English gentleman. I
never plough or sow. I know no more of sheep and bulls than of the
extinct animals of earlier ages. I would not have it so with you. I
would fain see you surrounded by those things which ought to interest
a nobleman in this country. Why is it all over with Lady Mabel Grex?"

The young man looked imploringly at his father, as though earnestly
begging that nothing more might be said about Mabel. "I had changed
my mind before I found out that she was really in love with me!" He
could not say that. He could not hint that he might still have Mabel
if he would. The only thing for him was to tell everything about
Isabel Boncassen. He felt that in doing this he must begin with
himself. "I have rather changed my mind, sir," he said, "since we
were walking together in London that night."

"Have you quarrelled with Lady Mabel?"

"Oh dear no. I am very fond of Mabel;--only not just like that."

"Not just like what?"

"I had better tell the whole truth at once."

"Certainly tell the truth, Silverbridge. I cannot say that you are
bound in duty to tell the whole truth even to your father in such a
matter."

"But I mean to tell you everything. Mabel did not seem to care for me
much--in London. And then I saw someone,--someone I liked better."
Then he stopped, but as the Duke did not ask any questions he plunged
on. "It was Miss Boncassen."

"Miss Boncassen!"

"Yes, sir," said Silverbridge, with a little access of decision.

"The American young lady?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you know anything of her family?"

"I think I know all about her family. It is not much in the way
of--family."

"You have not spoken to her about it?"

"Yes, sir;--I have settled it all with her, on condition--"

"Settled it with her that she is to be your wife!"

"Yes, sir,--on condition that you will approve."

"Did you go to her, Silverbridge, with such a stipulation as that?"

"It was not like that."

"How was it then?"

"She stipulated. She will marry me if you will consent."

"It was she then who thought of my wishes and my feeling;--not you?"

"I knew that I loved her. What is a man to do when he feels like
that? Of course I meant to tell you." The Duke was now looking very
black. "I thought you liked her, sir."

"Liked her! I did like her. I do like her. What has that to do with
it? Do you think I like none but those with whom I should think it
fitting to ally myself in marriage? Is there to be no duty in such
matters, no restraint, no feeling of what is due to your own name,
and to others who bear it? The lad out there who is sweeping the
walks can marry the first girl that pleases his eye if she will take
him. Perhaps his lot is the happier because he owns such liberty.
Have you the same freedom?"

"I suppose I have,--by law."

"Do you recognise no duty but what the laws impose upon you? Should
you be disposed to eat and drink in bestial excess, because the laws
would not hinder you? Should you lie and sleep all the day, the law
would say nothing! Should you neglect every duty which your position
imposes on you, the law could not interfere! To such a one as you
the law can be no guide. You should so live as not to come near the
law,--or to have the law to come near to you. From all evil against
which the law bars you, you should be barred, at an infinite
distance, by honour, by conscience, and nobility. Does the law
require patriotism, philanthropy, self-abnegation, public service,
purity of purpose, devotion to the needs of others who have been
placed in the world below you? The law is a great thing,--because men
are poor and weak, and bad. And it is great, because where it exists
in its strength, no tyrant can be above it. But between you and me
there should be no mention of law as the guide of conduct. Speak to
me of honour, of duty, and of nobility; and tell me what they require
of you."

Silverbridge listened in silence and with something of true
admiration in his heart. But he felt the strong necessity of
declaring his own convictions on one special point here, at once,
in this new crisis of the conversation. That accident in regard to
the colour of the Dean's lodge had stood in the way of his logical
studies,--so that he was unable to put his argument into proper
shape; but there belonged to him a certain natural astuteness which
told him that he must put in his rejoinder at this particular point.
"I think I am bound in honour and in duty to marry Miss Boncassen,"
he said. "And, if I understand what you mean, by nobility just as
much."

"Because you have promised."

"Not only for that. I have promised and therefore I am bound. She
has--well, she has said that she loves me, and therefore of course I
am bound. But it is not only that."

"What do you mean?"

"I suppose a man ought to marry the woman he loves,--if he can get
her."

"No; no; not so; not always so. Do you think that love is a passion
that cannot be withstood?"

"But here we are both of one mind, sir. When I saw how you seemed to
take to her--"

"Take to her! Can I not interest myself in human beings without
wishing to make them flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone? What am
I to think of you? It was but the other day that all that you are
now telling me of Miss Boncassen, you were telling me of Lady Mabel
Grex." Here poor Silverbridge bit his lips and shook his head, and
looked down upon the ground. This was the weak part of his case. He
could not tell his father the whole story about Mabel,--that she had
coyed his love, so that he had been justified in thinking himself
free from any claim in that direction when he had encountered the
infinitely sweeter charms of Isabel Boncassen. "You are weak as
water," said the unhappy father.

"I am not weak in this."

"Did you not say exactly the same about Lady Mabel?"

There was a pause, so that he was driven to reply. "I found her as I
thought indifferent, and then--I changed my mind."

"Indifferent! What does she think about it now? Does she know of
this? How does it stand between you two at the present moment?"

"She knows that I am engaged to--Miss Boncassen."

"Does she approve of it?"

"Why should I ask her, sir? I have not asked her."

"Then why did you tell her? She could not but have spoken her mind
when you told her. There must have been much between you when this
was talked of."

The unfortunate young man was obliged to take some time before he
could answer this appeal. He had to own that his father had some
justice on his side, but at the same time he could reveal nothing of
Mabel's secret. "I told her because we were friends. I did not ask
her approval; but she did disapprove. She thought that your son
should not marry an American girl without family."

"Of course she would feel that."

"Now I have told you what she said, and I hope you will ask me
no further questions about her. I cannot make Lady Mabel my
wife;--though, for the matter of that, I ought not to presume that
she would take me if I wished it. I had intended to ask you to-day to
consent to my marriage with Miss Boncassen."

"I cannot give you my consent."

"Then I am very unhappy."

"How can I believe as to your unhappiness when you would have said
the same about Lady Mabel Grex a few weeks ago?"

"Nearly eight months," said Silverbridge.

"What is the difference? It is not the time, but the disposition of
the man! I cannot give you my consent. The young lady sees it in the
right light, and that will make your escape easy."

"I do not want to escape."

"She has indicated the cause which will separate you."

"I will not be separated from her," said Silverbridge, who was
beginning to feel that he was subjugated to tyranny. If he chose to
marry Isabel, no one could have a right to hinder him.

"I can only hope that you will think better of it, and that when next
you speak to me on that or any other subject you will answer me with
less arrogance."

This rebuke was terrible to the son, whose mind at the present moment
was filled with two ideas, that of constancy to Isabel Boncassen, and
then of respect and affection for his father. "Indeed, sir," he said,
"I am not arrogant, and if I have answered improperly I beg your
pardon. But my mind is made up about this, and I thought you had
better know how it is."

"I do not see that I can say anything else to you now."

"I think of going to Harrington this afternoon." Then the Duke, with
further very visible annoyance, asked where Harrington was. It was
explained that Harrington was Lord Chiltern's seat, Lord Chiltern
being the Master of the Brake hounds;--that it was his son's purpose
to remain six weeks among the Brake hounds, but that he should
stay only a day or two with Lord Chiltern. Then it appeared that
Silverbridge intended to put himself up at a hunting inn in the
neighbourhood, and the Duke did not at all like the plan. That his
son should choose to live at an inn, when the comforts of an English
country house were open to him, was distasteful and almost offensive
to the Duke. And the matter was not improved when he was made to
understand that all this was to be done for the sake of hunting.
There had been the shooting in Scotland; then the racing,--ah, alas!
yes,--the racing, and the betting at Doncaster! Then the shooting
at Matching had been made to appear to be the chief reason why he
himself had been living in his own house! And now his son was going
away to live at an inn in order that more time might be devoted to
hunting! "Why can't you hunt here at home, if you must hunt?"

"It is all woodland," said Silverbridge.

"I thought you wanted woods. Lord Chiltern is always troubling me
about Trumpington Wood."

This breeze about the hunting enabled the son to escape without any
further allusion to Miss Boncassen. He did escape, and proceeded to
turn over in his mind all that had been said. His tale had been told.
A great burden was thus taken off his shoulders. He could tell Isabel
so much, and thus free himself from the suspicion of having been
afraid to declare his purpose. She should know what he had done,
and should be made to understand that he had been firm. He had, he
thought, been very firm and gave himself some credit on that head.
His father, no doubt, had been firm too, but that he had expected.
His father had said much. All that about honour and duty had been
very good; but this was certain,--that when a young man had promised
a young woman he ought to keep his word. And he thought that there
were certain changes going on in the management of the world
which his father did not quite understand. Fathers never do quite
understand the changes which are manifest to their sons. Some years
ago it might have been improper that an American girl should be
elevated to the rank of an English Duchess; but now all that was
altered.

The Duke spent the rest of the day alone, and was not happy in his
solitude. All that Silverbridge had told him was sad to him. He
had taught himself to think that he could love Lady Mabel as an
affectionate father wishes to love his son's wife. He had set himself
to wish to like her, and had been successful. Being most anxious
that his son should marry he had prepared himself to be more than
ordinarily liberal,--to be in every way gracious. His children were
now everything to him, and among his children his son and heir was
the chief. From the moment in which he had heard from Silverbridge
that Lady Mabel was chosen he had given himself up to considering
how he might best promote their interests,--how he might best enable
them to live, with that dignity and splendour which he himself had
unwisely despised. That the son who was to come after him should
be worthy of the place assigned to his name had been, of personal
objects, the nearest to his heart. There had been failures, but still
there had been left room for hope. The boy had been unfortunate at
Eton;--but how many unfortunate boys had become great men! He had
disgraced himself by his folly at college,--but, though some lads
will be men at twenty, others are then little more than children.
The fruit that ripens the soonest is seldom the best. Then had come
Tifto and the racing mania. Nothing could be worse than Tifto and
race-horses. But from that evil Silverbridge had seemed to be made
free by the very disgust which the vileness of the circumstance had
produced. Perhaps Tifto driving a nail into his horse's foot had on
the whole been serviceable. That apostasy from the political creed of
the Pallisers had been a blow,--much more felt than the loss of the
seventy thousand pounds;--but even under that blow he had consoled
himself by thinking that a Conservative patriotic nobleman may serve
his country,--even as a Conservative. In the midst of this he had
felt that the surest resource for his son against evil would be in an
early marriage. If he would marry becomingly, then might everything
still be made pleasant. If his son would marry becomingly nothing
which a father could do should be wanting to add splendour and
dignity to his son's life.

In thinking of all this he had by no means regarded his own mode of
life with favour. He knew how jejune his life had been,--how devoid
of other interests than that of the public service to which he had
devoted himself. He was thinking of this when he told his son that
he had neither ploughed and sowed or been the owner of sheep or oxen.
He often thought of this, when he heard those around him talking of
the sports, which, though he condemned them as the employments of a
life, he now regarded wistfully, hopelessly as far as he himself was
concerned, as proper recreations for a man of wealth. Silverbridge
should have it all, if he could arrange it. The one thing necessary
was a fitting wife;--and the fitting wife had been absolutely chosen
by Silverbridge himself.

It may be conceived, therefore, that he was again unhappy. He
had already been driven to acknowledge that these children of
his,--thoughtless, restless, though they seemed to be,--still had a
will of their own. In all which how like they were to their mother!
With her, however, his word, though it might be resisted, had never
lost its authority. When he had declared that a thing should not
be done, she had never persisted in saying that she would do it.
But with his children it was otherwise. What power had he over
Silverbridge,--or for the matter of that, even over his daughter?
They had only to be firm and he knew that he must be conquered.

"I thought that you liked her," Silverbridge had said to him. How
utterly unconscious, thought the Duke, must the young man have
been of all that his position required of him when he used such an
argument! Liked her! He did like her. She was clever, accomplished,
beautiful, well-mannered,--as far as he knew endowed with all good
qualities! Would not many an old Roman have said as much for some
favourite Greek slave,--for some freedman whom he would admit to his
very heart? But what old Roman ever dreamed of giving his daughter to
the son of a Greek bondsman! Had he done so, what would have become
of the name of a Roman citizen? And was it not his duty to fortify
and maintain that higher, smaller, more precious pinnacle of rank on
which Fortune had placed him and his children?

Like her! Yes! he liked her certainly. He had by no means always
found that he best liked the companionship of his own order. He had
liked to feel around him the free battle of the House of Commons. He
liked the power of attack and defence in carrying on which an English
politician cares nothing for rank. He liked to remember that the
son of any tradesman might, by his own merits, become a peer of
Parliament. He would have liked to think that his son should share
all these tastes with him. Yes,--he liked Isabel Boncassen. But how
different was that liking from a desire that she should be bone of
his bone, and flesh of his flesh!



CHAPTER LXII

The Brake Country


"What does your father mean to do about Trumpington Wood?" That was
the first word from Lord Chiltern after he had shaken hands with his
guest.

"Isn't it all right yet?"

"All right? No! How can a wood like that be all right without a man
about the place who knows anything of the nature of a fox? In your
grandfather's time--"

"My great-uncle you mean."

"Well;--your great-uncle!--they used to trap the foxes there. There
was a fellow named Fothergill who used to come there for shooting.
Now it is worse than ever. Nobody shoots there because there is
nothing to shoot. There isn't a keeper. Every scamp is allowed to go
where he pleases, and of course there isn't a fox in the whole place.
My huntsman laughs at me when I ask him to draw it." As the indignant
Master of the Brake Hounds said this the very fire flashed from his
eyes.

"My dear," said Lady Chiltern expostulating, "Lord Silverbridge
hasn't been in the house above half an hour."

"What does that matter? When a thing has to be said it had better be
said at once."

Phineas Finn was staying at Harrington with his intimate friends
the Chilterns, as were also a certain Mr. and Mrs. Maule, both of
whom were addicted to hunting,--the lady, whose maiden name had
been Palliser, being a cousin to Lord Silverbridge. On that day
also a certain Mr. and Mrs. Spooner dined at Harrington. Mr. and
Mrs. Spooner were both very much given to hunting, as seemed to
be necessarily the case with everybody admitted to that house. Mr.
Spooner was a gentleman who might be on the wrong side of fifty, with
a red nose, very vigorous, and submissive in regard to all things
but port-wine. His wife was perhaps something more than half his age,
a stout, hard-riding, handsome woman. She had been the penniless
daughter of a retired officer,--but yet had managed to ride on
whatever animal any one would lend her. Then Mr. Spooner, who had for
many years been part and parcel of the Brake hunt, and who was much
in want of a wife, had, luckily for her, cast his eyes upon Miss
Leatherside. It was thought that upon the whole she made him a good
wife. She hunted four days a week, and he could afford to keep horses
for her. She never flirted, and wanted no one to open gates. Tom
Spooner himself was not always so forward as he used to be; but his
wife was always there and would tell him all that he did not see
himself. And she was a good housewife, taking care that nothing
should be spent lavishly, except upon the stable. Of him, too, and of
his health, she was careful, never scrupling to say a word in season
when he was likely to hurt himself, either among the fences or among
the decanters. "You ain't so young as you were, Tom. Don't think of
doing it." This she would say to him with a loud voice when she would
find him pausing at a fence. Then she would hop over herself and he
would go round. She was "quite a providence to him," as her mother,
old Mrs. Leatherside, would say.

She was hardly the woman that one would have expected to meet as
a friend in the drawing-room of Lady Chiltern. Lord Chiltern was
perhaps a little rough, but Lady Chiltern was all that a mother, a
wife, and a lady ought to be. She probably felt that some little
apology ought to be made for Mrs. Spooner. "I hope you like hunting,"
she said to Silverbridge.

"Best of all things," said he, enthusiastically.

"Because you know this is Castle Nimrod, in which nothing is allowed
to interfere with the one great business of life."

"It's like that; is it?"

"Quite like that. Lord Chiltern has taken up hunting as his duty in
life, and he does it with his might and main. Not to have a good day
is a misery to him;--not for himself but because he feels that he is
responsible. We had one blank day last year, and I thought that he
never would recover it. It was that unfortunate Trumpington Wood."

"How he will hate me."

"Not if you will praise the hounds judiciously. And then there is
a Mr. Spooner coming here to-night. He is the first-lieutenant. He
understands all about the foxes, and all about the farmers. He has
got a wife."

"Does she understand anything?"

"She understands him. She is coming too. They have not been married
long, and he never goes anywhere without her."

"Does she ride?"

"Well; yes. I never go out myself now because I have so much of it
all at home. But I fancy she does ride a good deal. She will talk
hunting too. If Chiltern were to leave the country I think they ought
to make her master. Perhaps you'll think her rather odd; but really
she is a very good woman."

"I am sure I shall like her."

"I hope you will. You know Mr. Finn. He is here. He and my husband
are very old friends. And Adelaide Maule is your cousin. She hunts
too. And so does Mr. Maule,--only not quite so energetically. I think
that is all we shall have."

Immediately after that all the guests came in at once, and a
discussion was heard as they were passing through the hall.
"No;--that wasn't it," said Mrs. Spooner loudly. "I don't care what
Dick said." Dick Rabbit was the first whip, and seemed to have been
much exercised with the matter now under dispute. "The fox never went
into Grobby Gorse at all. I was there and saw Sappho give him a line
down the bank."

"I think he must have gone into the gorse, my dear," said her
husband. "The earth was open, you know."

"I tell you she didn't. You weren't there, and you can't know. I'm
sure it was a vixen by her running. We ought to have killed that
fox, my Lord." Then Mrs. Spooner made her obeisance to her hostess.
Perhaps she was rather slow in doing this, but the greatness of the
subject had been the cause. These are matters so important, that the
ordinary civilities of the world should not stand in their way.

"What do you say, Chiltern?" asked the husband.

"I say that Mrs. Spooner isn't very often wrong, and that Dick Rabbit
isn't very often right about a fox."

"It was a pretty run," said Phineas.

"Just thirty-four minutes," said Mr. Spooner.

"Thirty-two up to Grobby Gorse," asserted Mrs. Spooner. "The hounds
never hunted a yard after that. Dick hurried them into the gorse, and
the old hound wouldn't stick to his line when she found that no one
believed her."

This was on a Monday evening, and the Brake hounds went out generally
five days a week. "You'll hunt to-morrow, I suppose?" Lady Chiltern
said to Silverbridge.

"I hope so."

"You must hunt to-morrow. Indeed there is nothing else to do.
Chiltern has taken such a dislike to shooting-men, that he won't
shoot pheasants himself. We don't hunt on Wednesdays or Sundays, and
then everybody lies in bed. Here is Mr. Maule, he lies in bed on
other mornings as well, and spends the rest of his day riding about
the country looking for the hounds."

"Does he ever find them?"

"What did become of you all to-day?" said Mr. Maule, as he took his
place at the dinner-table. "You can't have drawn any of the coverts
regularly."

"Then we found our foxes without drawing them," said the Master.

"We chopped one at Bromleys," said Mr. Spooner.

"I went there."

"Then you ought to have known better," said Mrs. Spooner. "When a man
loses the hounds in that country, he ought to go direct to Brackett's
Wood. If you had come on to Brackett's, you'd have seen as good a
thirty-two minutes as ever you wished to ride." When the ladies went
out of the room Mrs. Spooner gave a parting word of advice to her
husband, and to the host. "Now, Tom, don't you drink port-wine. Lord
Chiltern, look after him, and don't let him have port-wine."

Then there began an altogether different phase of hunting
conversation. As long as the ladies were there it was all very well
to talk of hunting as an amusement; good sport, a thirty minutes
or so, the delight of having a friend in a ditch, or the glory of
a stiff-built rail were fitting subjects for a lighter hour. But
now the business of the night was to begin. The difficulties, the
enmities, the precautions, the resolutions, the resources of the
Brake hunt were to be discussed. And from thence the conversation of
these devotees strayed away to the perils at large to which hunting
in these modern days is subjected;--not the perils of broken necks
and crushed ribs, which can be reduced to an average, and so an end
made of that small matter; but the perils from outsiders, the perils
from new-fangled prejudices, the perils from more modern sports, the
perils from over-cultivation, the perils from extended population,
the perils from increasing railroads, the perils from literary
ignorances, the perils from intruding cads, the perils from
indifferent magnates,--the Duke of Omnium, for instance;--and that
peril of perils, the peril of decrease of funds and increase of
expenditure! The jaunty gentleman who puts on his dainty breeches,
and his pair of boots, and on his single horse rides out on a
pleasant morning to some neighbouring meet, thinking himself a
sportsman, has but a faint idea of the troubles which a few staunch
workmen endure in order that he may not be made to think that his
boots, and his breeches, and his horse, have been in vain.

A word or two further was at first said about that unfortunate wood
for which Silverbridge at the present felt himself responsible. Finn
said that he was sure the Duke would look to it, if Silverbridge
would mention it. Chiltern simply groaned. Silverbridge said nothing,
remembering how many troubles he had on hand at this moment. Then
by degrees their solicitude worked itself round to the cares of a
neighbouring hunt. The A. R. U. had lost their Master. One Captain
Glomax was going, and the county had been driven to the necessity
of advertising for a successor. "When hunting comes to that," said
Lord Chiltern, "one begins to think that it is in a bad way." It may
always be observed that when hunting-men speak seriously of their
sport, they speak despondingly. Everything is going wrong. Perhaps
the same thing may be remarked in other pursuits. Farmers are
generally on the verge of ruin. Trade is always bad. The Church is in
danger. The House of Lords isn't worth a dozen years' purchase. The
throne totters.

"An itinerant Master with a carpet-bag never can carry on a country,"
said Mr. Spooner.

"You ought really to have a gentleman of property in the county,"
said Lord Chiltern, in a self-deprecating tone. His father's acres
lay elsewhere.

"It should be someone who has a real stake in the country," replied
Mr. Spooner,--"whom the farmers can respect. Glomax understood
hunting no doubt, but the farmers didn't care for him. If you don't
have the farmers with you you can't have hunting." Then he filled a
glass of port.

"If you don't approve of Glomax, what do you think of a man like
Major Tifto?" asked Mr. Maule.

"That was in the Runnymede," said Spooner contemptuously.

"Who is Major Tifto?" asked Lord Chiltern.

"He is the man," said Silverbridge, boldly, "who owned Prime Minister
with me, when he didn't win the Leger last September."

"There was a deuce of a row," said Maule. Then Mr. Spooner, who read
his "Bell's Life" and "Field" very religiously, and who never missed
an article in "Bayley's," proceeded to give them an account of
everything that had taken place in the Runnymede Hunt. It mattered
but little that he was wrong in all his details. Narrations always
are. The result to which he came was nearly right when he declared
that the Major had been turned off, that a committee had been
appointed, and that Messrs. Topps and Jawstock had been threatened
with a lawsuit.

"That comes," said Lord Chiltern solemnly, "of employing men like
Major Tifto in places for which they are radically unfit. I dare say
Major Tifto knew how to handle a pack of hounds,--perhaps almost as
well as my huntsman, Fowler. But I don't think a county would get on
very well which appointed Fowler Master of Hounds. He is an honest
man, and therefore would be better than Tifto. But--it would not do.
It is a position in which a man should at any rate be a gentleman. If
he be not, all those who should be concerned in maintaining the hunt
will turn their backs upon him. When I take my hounds over this man's
ground, and that man's ground, certainly without doing him any good,
I have to think of a great many things. I have to understand that
those whom I cannot compensate by money, I have to compensate by
courtesy. When I shake hands with a farmer and express my obligation
to him because he does not lock his gates, he is gratified. I don't
think any decent farmer would care much for shaking hands with Major
Tifto. If we fall into that kind of thing there must soon be an end
of hunting. Major Tiftos are cheap no doubt; but in hunting, as in
most other things, cheap and nasty go together. If men don't choose
to put their hands in their pockets they had better say so, and give
the thing up altogether. If you won't take any more wine, we'll go to
the ladies. Silverbridge, the trap will start from the door to-morrow
morning precisely at 9.30 A.M. Grantingham Cross is fourteen miles."
Then they all left their chairs,--but as they did so Mr. Spooner
finished the bottle of port-wine.

"I never heard Chiltern speak so much like a book before," said
Spooner to his wife, as she drove him home that night.

The next morning everybody was ready for a start at half-past nine,
except Mr. Maule,--as to whom his wife declared that she had left him
in bed when she came down to breakfast. "He can never get there if
we don't take him," said Lord Chiltern, who was in truth the most
good-natured man in the world. Five minutes were allowed him, and
then he came down with a large sandwich in one hand and a button-hook
in the other, with which he was prepared to complete his toilet.
"What the deuce makes you always in such a hurry?" were the first
words he spoke as Lord Chiltern got on the box. The Master knew him
too well to argue the point. "Well;--he always is in a hurry," said
the sinner, when his wife accused him of ingratitude.

"Where's Spooner?" asked the Master when he saw Mrs. Spooner without
her husband at the meet.

"I knew how it would be when I saw the port-wine," she said in a
whisper that could be heard all round. "He has got it this time
sharp,--in his great toe. We shan't find at Grantingham. They were
cutting wood there last week. If I were you, my Lord, I'd go away to
the Spinnies at once."

"I must draw the country regularly," muttered the Master.

The country was drawn regularly, but in vain till about two o'clock.
Not only was there no fox at Grantingham Wood, but none even at
the Spinnies. And at two, Fowler, with an anxious face, held a
consultation with his more anxious Master. Trumpington Wood lay on
their right, and that no doubt would have been the proper draw. "I
suppose we must try it," said Lord Chiltern.

Old Fowler looked very sour. "You might as well look for a fox under
my wife's bed, my Lord."

"I dare say we should find one there," said one of the wags of the
hunt. Fowler shook his head, feeling that this was no time for
joking.

"It ought to be drawn," said Chiltern.

"Of course you know best, my Lord. I wouldn't touch it,--never no
more. Let 'em all know what the Duke's Wood is."

"This is Lord Silverbridge, the Duke's son," said Chiltern, laughing.

"I beg your Lordship's pardon," said Fowler, taking off his cap.
"We shall have a good time coming, some day. Let me trot 'em off to
Michaelmas Daisies, my Lord. I'll be there in thirty minutes." In the
neighbouring parish of St. Michael de Dezier there was a favourite
little gorse which among hunting-men had acquired this unreasonable
name. After a little consideration the Master yielded, and away they
trotted.

"You'll cross the ford, Fowler?" asked Mrs. Spooner.

"Oh yes, ma'am; we couldn't draw the Daisies this afternoon if we
didn't."

"It'll be up to the horses' bellies."

"Those who don't like it can go round."

"They'd never be there in time, Fowler."

"There's a many, ma'am, as don't mind that. You won't be one to stay
behind." The water was up to the horses' bellies, but, nevertheless,
Mrs. Spooner was at the gorse side when the Daisies were drawn.

They found and were away in a minute. It was all done so quickly that
Fowler, who had alone gone into the gorse, had hardly time to get out
with his hounds. The fox ran right back, as though he were making
for the Duke's pernicious wood. In the first field or two there was
a succession of gates, and there was not much to do in the way of
jumping. Then the fox, keeping straight ahead, deviated from the line
by which they had come, making for the brook by a more direct course.
The ruck of the horsemen, understanding the matter very well, left
the hounds, and went to the right, riding for the ford. The ford was
of such a nature that but one horse could pass it at a time, and that
one had to scramble through deep mud. "There'll be the devil to pay
there," said Lord Chiltern, going straight with his hounds. Phineas
Finn and Dick Rabbit were close after him. Old Fowler had craftily
gone to the ford; but Mrs. Spooner, who did not intend to be shaken
off, followed the Master, and close with her was Lord Silverbridge.
"Lord Chiltern hasn't got it right," she said. "He can't do it among
these bushes." As she spoke the Master put his horse at the bushes
and then--disappeared. The lady had been right. There was no ground
at that spot to take off from, and the bushes had impeded him. Lord
Chiltern got over, but his horse was in the water. Dick Rabbit and
poor Phineas Finn were stopped in their course by the necessity of
helping the Master in his trouble.

But Mrs. Spooner, the judicious Mrs. Spooner, rode at the stream
where it was, indeed, a little wider, but at a place in which the
horse could see what he was about, and where he could jump from and
to firm ground. Lord Silverbridge followed her gallantly. They both
jumped the brook well, and then were together. "You'll beat me in
pace," said the lady as he rode alongside of her. "Take the fence
ahead straight, and then turn sharp to your right." With all her
faults Mrs. Spooner was a thorough sportsman.

He did take the fence ahead,--or rather tried to do so. It was a
bank and a double ditch,--not very great in itself, but requiring a
horse to land on the top and go off with a second spring. Our young
friend's nag, not quite understanding the nature of the impediment,
endeavoured to "swallow it whole," as hard-riding men say, and came
down in the further ditch. Silverbridge came down on his head, but
the horse pursued his course,--across a heavily-ploughed field.

This was very disagreeable. He was not in the least hurt, but it
became his duty to run after his horse. A very few furrows of that
work suffice to make a man think that hunting altogether is a
"beastly sort of thing." Mrs. Spooner's horse, who had shown himself
to be a little less quick of foot than his own, had known all about
the bank and the double ditch, and had, apparently of his own accord,
turned down to the right, either seeing or hearing the hounds, and
knowing that the ploughed ground was to be avoided. But his rider
soon changed his course. She went straight after the riderless horse,
and when Silverbridge had reduced himself to utter speechlessness by
his exertions, brought him back his steed.

"I am,--I am, I am--so sorry," he struggled to say,--and then as she
held his horse for him he struggled up into the saddle.

"Keep down this furrow," said Mrs. Spooner, "and we shall be with
them in the second field. There's nobody near them yet."



CHAPTER LXIII

"I've Seen 'Em Like That Before"


On this occasion Silverbridge stayed only a few days at Harrington,
having promised Tregear to entertain him at The Baldfaced Stag. It
was here that his horses were standing, and he now intended, by
limiting himself to one horse a day, to mount his friend for a
couple of weeks. It was settled at last that Tregear should ride his
friend's horse one day, hire the next, and so on. "I wonder what
you'll think of Mrs. Spooner?" he said.

"Why should I think anything of her?"

"Because I doubt whether you ever saw such a woman before. She does
nothing but hunt."

"Then I certainly shan't want to see her again."

"And she talks as I never heard a lady talk before."

"Then I don't care if I never see her at all."

"But she is the most plucky and most good-natured human being I ever
saw in my life. After all, hunting is very good fun."

"Very; if you don't do it so often as to be sick of it."

"Long as I have known you I don't think I ever saw you ride yet."

"We used to have hunting down in Cornwall, and thought we did it
pretty well. And I have ridden in South Wales, which I can assure you
isn't an easy thing to do. But you mustn't expect much from me."

They were both out the Monday and Tuesday in that week, and then
again on the Thursday without anything special in the way of sport.
Lord Chiltern, who had found Silverbridge to be a young man after
his own heart, was anxious that he should come back to Harrington
and bring Tregear with him. But to this Tregear would not assent,
alleging that he should feel himself to be a burden both to Lord and
Lady Chiltern. On the Friday Tregear did not go out, saying that he
would avoid the expense, and on that day there was a good run. "It is
always the way," said Silverbridge. "If you miss a day, it is sure to
be the best thing of the season. An hour and a quarter with hardly
anything you could call a check! It is the only very good thing I
have seen since I have been here. Mrs. Spooner was with them all
through."

"And I suppose you were with Mrs. Spooner."

"I wasn't far off. I wish you had been there."

On the next day the meet was at the kennels, close to Harrington,
and Silverbridge drove his friend over in a gig. The Master and Lady
Chiltern, Spooner and Mrs. Spooner, Maule and Mrs. Maule, Phineas
Finn, and a host of others condoled with the unfortunate young man
because he had not seen the good thing yesterday. "We've had it a
little faster once or twice," said Mrs. Spooner with deliberation,
"but never for so long. Then it was straight as a line, and a real
open kill. No changing, you know. We did go through the Daisies,
but I'll swear to its being the same fox." All of which set Tregear
wondering. How could she swear to her fox? And if they had changed,
what did it matter? And if it had been a little crooked, why would it
have been less enjoyable? And was she really so exact a judge of pace
as she pretended to be? "I'm afraid we shan't have anything like that
to-day," she continued. "The wind's in the west, and I never do like
a westerly wind."

"A little to the north," said her husband, looking round the compass.

"My dear," said the lady, "you never know where the wind comes from.
Now don't you think of taking off your comforter. I won't have it."

Tregear was riding his friend's favourite hunter, a thoroughbred bay
horse, very much more than up to his rider's weight, and supposed
to be peculiarly good at timber, water, or any well-defined kind of
fence, however high or however broad. They found at a covert near the
kennels, and killed their fox after a burst of a few minutes. They
found again, and having lost their fox, all declared that there was
not a yard of scent. "I always know what a west wind means," said
Mrs. Spooner.

Then they lunched, and smoked, and trotted about with an apparent
acknowledgement that there wasn't much to be done. It was not right
that they should expect much after so good a thing as they had had
yesterday. At half-past two Mr. Spooner had been sent home by his
Providence, and Mrs. Spooner was calculating that she would be
able to ride her horse again on the Tuesday, when on a sudden the
hounds were on a fox. It turned out afterwards that Dick Rabbit had
absolutely ridden him up among the stubble, and that the hounds had
nearly killed him before he had gone a yard. But the astute animal,
making the best use of his legs till he could get the advantage of
the first ditch, ran, and crept, and jumped absolutely through the
pack. Then there was shouting, and yelling, and riding. The men who
were idly smoking threw away their cigars. Those who were loitering
at a distance lost their chance. But the real sportsmen, always on
the alert, always thinking of the business in hand, always mindful
that there may be at any moment a fox just before the hounds, had
a glorious opportunity of getting "well away." Among these no one
was more intent, or, when the moment came, "better away," than Mrs.
Spooner.

Silverbridge had been talking to her and had the full advantage of
her care. Tregear was riding behind with Lord Chiltern, who had been
pressing him to come with his friend to Harrington. As soon as the
shouting was heard Chiltern was off like a rocket. It was not only
that he was anxious to "get well away," but that a sense of duty
compelled him to see how the thing was being done. Old Fowler
certainly was a little slow, and Dick Rabbit, with the true
bloody-minded instinct of a whip, was a little apt to bustle a fox
back into covert. And then, when a run commences with a fast rush,
riders are apt to over-ride the hounds, and then the hounds will
over-run the fox. All of which has to be seen to by a Master who
knows his business.

Tregear followed, and being mounted on a fast horse was soon as
forward as a judicious rider would desire. "Now, Runks, don't you
press on and spoil it all," said Mrs. Spooner to the hard-riding,
objectionable son of old Runks the vet from Rufford. But young Runks
did press on till the Master spoke a word. The word shall not be
repeated, but it was efficacious.

At that moment there had been a check,--as there is generally after a
short spurt, when fox, hounds, and horsemen get off together, and not
always in the order in which they have been placed here. There is too
much bustle, and the pack becomes disconcerted. But it enabled Fowler
to get up, and by dint of growling at the men and conciliating his
hounds, he soon picked up the scent. "If they'd all stand still
for two minutes and be ---- to them," he muttered aloud to himself,
"they'd 'ave some'at to ride arter. They might go then, and there's
some of 'em 'd soon be nowhere."

But in spite of Fowler's denunciations there was, of course, another
rush. Runks had slunk away, but by making a little distance was now
again ahead of the hounds. And unfortunately there was half-a-dozen
with him. Lord Chiltern was very wrath. "When he's like that," said
Mrs. Spooner to Tregear, "it's always well to give him a wide berth."
But as the hounds were now running fast it was necessary that even
in taking this precaution due regard should be had to the fox's line.
"He's back for Harrington bushes," said Mrs. Spooner. And as she
said so, she rode at a bank, with a rail at the top of it perhaps a
foot-and-a-half high, with a deep drop into the field beyond. It was
not a very nice place, but it was apparently the only available spot
in the fence. She seemed to know it well, for as she got close to it
she brought her horse almost to a stand and so took it. The horse
cleared the rail, seemed just to touch the bank on the other side,
while she threw herself back almost on to his crupper, and so came
down with perfect ease. But she, knowing that it would not be easy to
all horses, paused a moment to see what would happen.

Tregear was next to her and was intending to "fly" the fence. But
when he saw Mrs. Spooner pull her horse and pause, he also had to
pull his horse. This he did so as to enable her to take her leap
without danger or encumbrance from him, but hardly so as to bring
his horse to the bank in the same way. It may be doubted whether the
animal he was riding would have known enough and been quiet enough
to have performed the acrobatic manoeuvre which had carried Mrs.
Spooner so pleasantly over the peril. He had some idea of this, for
the thought occurred to him that he would turn and ride fast at the
jump. But before he could turn he saw that Silverbridge was pressing
on him. It was thus his only resource to do as Mrs. Spooner had
done. He was too close to the rail, but still he tried it. The horse
attempted to jump, caught his foot against the bar, and of course
went over head-foremost. This probably would have been nothing, had
not Silverbridge with his rushing beast been immediately after them.
When the young lord saw that his friend was down it was too late
for him to stop his course. His horse was determined to have the
fence,--and did have it. He touched nothing, and would have skimmed
in glory over the next field had he not come right down on Tregear
and Tregear's steed. There they were, four of them, two men and two
horses in one confused heap.

The first person with them was Mrs. Spooner, who was off her horse in
a minute. And Silverbridge too was very soon on his legs. He at any
rate was unhurt, and the two horses were up before Mrs. Spooner was
out of her saddle. But Tregear did not move. "What are we to do?"
said Lord Silverbridge, kneeling down over his friend. "Oh, Mrs.
Spooner, what are we to do?"

The hunt had passed on and no one else was immediately with them. But
at this moment Dick Rabbit, who had been left behind to bring up his
hounds, appeared above the bank. "Leave your horse and come down,"
said Mrs. Spooner. "Here is a gentleman who has hurt himself." Dick
wouldn't leave his horse, but was soon on the scene, having found his
way through another part of the fence.

"No; he ain't dead," said Dick--"I've seen 'em like that before, and
they wurn't dead. But he's had a hawful squeege." Then he passed his
hand over the man's neck and chest. "There's a lot of 'em is broke,"
said he. "We must get him into farmer Tooby's."

After awhile he was got into farmer Tooby's, when that surgeon came
who is always in attendance on a hunting-field. The surgeon declared
that he had broken his collar-bone, two of his ribs, and his left
arm. And then one of the animals had struck him on the chest as he
raised himself. A little brandy was poured down his throat, but even
under that operation he gave no sign of life. "No, missis, he aren't
dead," said Dick to Mrs. Tooby; "no more he won't die this bout; but
he's got it very nasty."

That night Silverbridge was sitting by his friend's bedside at ten
o'clock in Lord Chiltern's house. Tregear had spoken a few words, and
the bones had been set. But the doctor had not felt himself justified
in speaking with that assurance which Dick had expressed. The man's
whole body had been bruised by the horse which had fallen on him. The
agony of Silverbridge was extreme, for he knew that it had been his
doing. "You were a little too close," Mrs. Spooner had said to him,
"but nobody saw it and we'll hold our tongues." Silverbridge however
would not hold his tongue. He told everybody how it had happened,
how he had been unable to stop his horse, how he had jumped upon his
friend, and perhaps killed him. "I don't know what I am to do. I am
so miserable," he said to Lady Chiltern with the tears running down
his face.

The two remained at Harrington and their luggage was brought over
from The Baldfaced Stag. The accident had happened on a Saturday.
On the Sunday there was no comfort. On the Monday the patient's
recollection and mind were re-established, and the doctor thought
that perhaps, with great care, his constitution would pull him
through. On that day the consternation at Harrington was so great
that Mrs. Spooner would not go to the meet. She came over from Spoon
Hall, and spent a considerable part of the day in the sick man's
room. "It's sure to come right if it's above the vitals," she said,
expressing an opinion which had come from much experience. "That is,"
she added, "unless the neck's broke. When poor old Jack Stubbs drove
his head into his cap and dislocated his wertebury, of course it was
all up with him." The patient heard this and was seen to smile.

On the Tuesday there arose the question of family communication. As
the accident would make its way into the papers a message had been
sent to Polwenning to say that various bones had been broken, but
that the patient was upon the whole doing well. Then there had been
different messages backwards and forwards, in all of which there
had been an attempt to comfort old Mrs. Tregear. But on the Tuesday
letters were written. Silverbridge, sitting in his friend's room,
sent a long account of the accident to Mrs. Tregear, giving a list of
the injuries done.

"Your sister," whispered the poor fellow from his pillow.

"Yes,--yes;--yes, I will."

"And Mabel Grex." Silverbridge nodded assent and again went to the
writing-table. He did write to his sister, and in plain words told
her everything. "The doctor says he is not now in danger." Then he
added a postscript. "As long as I am here I will let you know how he
is."



CHAPTER LXIV

"I Believe Him to Be a Worthy Young Man"


Lady Mary and Mrs. Finn were alone when the tidings came from
Silverbridge. The Duke had been absent, having gone to spend an
unpleasant week in Barsetshire. Mary had taken the opportunity of his
absence to discuss her own prospects at full length. "My dear," said
Mrs. Finn, "I will not express an opinion. How can I after all that
has passed? I have told the Duke the same. I cannot be heart and hand
with either without being false to the other." But still Lady Mary
continued to talk about Tregear.

"I don't think papa has a right to treat me in this way," she said.
"He wouldn't be allowed to kill me, and this is killing me."

"While there is life there is hope," said Mrs. Finn.

"Yes; while there is life there is hope. But one doesn't want to grow
old first."

"There is no danger of that yet, Mary."

"I feel very old. What is the use of life without something to make
it sweet? I am not even allowed to hear anything that he is doing. If
he were to ask me, I think I would go away with him to-morrow."

"He would not be foolish enough for that."

"Because he does not suffer as I do. He has his borough, and his
public life, and a hundred things to think of. I have got nothing but
him. I know he is true;--quite as true as I am. But it is I that have
the suffering in all this. A man can never be like a girl. Papa ought
not to make me suffer like this."

That took place on the Monday. On the Tuesday Mrs. Finn received
a letter from her husband giving his account of the accident. "As
far as I can learn," he said, "Silverbridge will write about it
to-morrow." Then he went on to give a by no means good account of
the state of the patient. The doctor had declared him to be out of
immediate danger, and had set the broken bones. As tidings would be
sent on the next day she had better say nothing about the accident
to Lady Mary. This letter reached Matching on Tuesday and made the
position of Mrs. Finn very disagreeable. She was bound to carry
herself as though nothing was amiss, knowing, as she did so, the
condition of Mary's lover.

On the evening of that day Lady Mary was more lively than usual,
though her liveliness was hardly of a happy nature. "I don't know
what papa can expect. I've heard him say a hundred times that to be
in Parliament is the highest place a gentleman can fill, and now
Frank is in Parliament." Mrs. Finn looked at her with beseeching
eyes, as though begging her not to speak of Tregear. "And then to
think of their having that Lord Popplecourt there! I shall always
hate Lady Cantrip, for it was her place. That she should have thought
it possible! Lord Popplecourt! Such a creature! Hyperion to a satyr.
Isn't it true? Oh, that papa should have thought it possible!" Then
she got up, and walked about the room, beating her hands together.
All this time Mrs. Finn knew that Tregear was lying at Harrington
with half his bones broken, and in danger of his life!

On the next morning Lady Mary received her letters. There were two
lying before her plate when she came into breakfast, one from her
father and the other from Silverbridge. She read that from the
Duke first while Mrs. Finn was watching her. "Papa will be home on
Saturday," she said. "He declares that the people in the borough
are quite delighted with Silverbridge for a member. And he is quite
jocose. 'They used to be delighted with me once,' he says, 'but I
suppose everybody changes.'" Then she began to pour out the tea
before she opened her brother's letter. Mrs. Finn's eyes were still
on her anxiously. "I wonder what Silverbridge has got to say about
the Brake Hunt." Then she opened her letter.

"Oh;--oh!" she exclaimed,--"Frank has killed himself."

"Killed himself! Not that. It is not so bad as that."

"You had heard it before?"

"How is he, Mary?"

"Oh, heavens! I cannot read it. Do you read it. Tell me all. Tell me
the truth. What am I to do? Where shall I go?" Then she threw up her
hands, and with a loud scream fell on her knees with her head upon
the chair. In the next moment Mrs. Finn was down beside her on the
floor. "Read it; why do you not read it? If you will not read it,
give it to me."

Mrs. Finn did read the letter, which was very short, but still giving
by no means an unfavourable account of the patient. "I am sorry
to say he has broken ever so many bones, and we were very much
frightened about him." Then the writer went into details, from which
a reader who did not read the words carefully might well imagine that
the man's life was still in danger.

Mrs. Finn did read it all, and did her best to comfort her friend.
"It has been a bad accident," she said, "but it is clear that he is
getting better. Men do so often break their bones, and then seem to
think nothing of it afterwards."

"Silverbridge says it was his fault. What does he mean?"

"I suppose he was riding too close to Mr. Tregear, and that they came
down together. Of course it is distressing, but I do not think you
need make yourself positively unhappy about it."

"Would you not be unhappy if it were Mr. Finn?" said Mary, jumping
up from her knees. "I shall go to him. I should go mad if I were to
remain here and know nothing about it but what Silverbridge will tell
me."

"I will telegraph to Mr. Finn."

"Mr. Finn won't care. Men are so heartless. They write about each
other just as though it did not signify in the least whether anybody
were dead or alive. I shall go to him."

"You cannot do that."

"I don't care now what anybody may think. I choose to be considered
as belonging to him, and if papa were here I would say the same." It
was of course not difficult to make her understand that she could not
go to Harrington, but it was by no means easy to keep her tranquil.
She would send a telegram herself. This was debated for a long time,
till at last Lady Mary insisted that she was not subject to Mrs.
Finn's authority. "If papa were here, even then I would send it." And
she did send it, in her own name, regardless of the fact pointed out
to her by Mrs. Finn, that the people at the post-office would thus
know her secret. "It is no secret," she said. "I don't want it to be
a secret." The telegram went in the following words: "I have heard
it. I am so wretched. Send me one word to say how you are." She got
an answer back, with Tregear's own name to it, on that afternoon. "Do
not be unhappy. I am doing well. Silverbridge is with me."

On the Thursday Gerald came home from Scotland. He had arranged
his little affair with Lord Percival, not however without some
difficulty. Lord Percival had declared he did not understand I.O.U.'s
in an affair of that kind. He had always thought that gentlemen did
not play for stakes which they could not pay at once. This was not
said to Gerald himself;--or the result would have been calamitous.
Nidderdale was the go-between, and at last arranged it,--not however
till he had pointed out that Percival, having won so large a sum of
money from a lad under twenty-one years of age, was very lucky in
receiving substantial security for its payment.

Gerald had chosen the period of his father's absence for his return.
It was necessary that the story of the gambling debt should be told
the Duke in February. Silverbridge had explained that to him, and
he had quite understood it. He, indeed, would be up at Oxford in
February, and, in that case, the first horror of the thing would be
left to poor Silverbridge! Thinking of this, Gerald felt that he was
bound to tell his father himself. He resolved that he would do so,
but was anxious to postpone the evil day. He lingered therefore in
Scotland till he knew that his father was in Barsetshire.

On his arrival he was told of Tregear's accident. "Oh, Gerald; have
you heard?" said his sister. He had not as yet heard, and then the
history was repeated to him. Mary did not attempt to conceal her own
feelings. She was as open with her brother as she had been with Mrs.
Finn.

"I suppose he'll get over it," said Gerald.

"Is that all you say?" she asked.

"What can I say better? I suppose he will. Fellows always do get over
that kind of thing. Herbert de Burgh smashed both his thighs, and now
he can move about again,--of course with crutches."

"Gerald! How can you be so unfeeling!"

"I don't know what you mean. I always liked Tregear, and I am very
sorry for him. If you would take it a little quieter, I think it
would be better."

"I could not take it quietly. How can I take it quietly when he is
more than all the world to me?"

"You should keep that to yourself."

"Yes,--and so let people think that I didn't care, till I broke my
heart! I shall say just the same to papa when he comes home." After
that the brother and sister were not on very good terms with each
other for the remainder of the day.

On the Saturday there was a letter from Silverbridge to Mrs. Finn.
Tregear was better; but was unhappy because it had been decided
that he could not be moved for the next month. This entailed
two misfortunes on him;--first that of being the enforced guest
of persons who were not,--or, hitherto had not been, his own
friends,--and then his absence from the first meeting of Parliament.
When a gentleman has been in Parliament some years he may be able to
reconcile himself to an obligatory vacation with a calm mind. But
when the honours and glory are new, and the tedium of the benches
has not yet been experienced, then such an accident is felt to be
a grievance. But the young member was out of danger, and was, as
Silverbridge declared, in the very best quarters which could be
provided for a man in such a position.

Phineas Finn told him all the politics; Mrs. Spooner related to
him, on Sundays and Wednesdays, all the hunting details; while Lady
Chiltern read to him light literature, because he was not allowed to
hold a book in his hand. "I wish it were me," said Gerald. "I wish I
were there to read to him," said Mary.

Then the Duke came home. "Mary," said he, "I have been distressed to
hear of this accident." This seemed to her to be the kindest word she
had heard from him for a long time. "I believe him to be a worthy
young man. I am sorry that he should be the cause of so much sorrow
to you--and to me."

"Of course I was sorry for his accident," she replied, after pausing
awhile; "but now that he is better I will not call him a cause of
sorrow--to me." Then the Duke said nothing further about Tregear; nor
did she.

"So you have come at last," he said to Gerald. That was the first
greeting,--to which the son responded by an awkward smile. But in the
course of the evening he walked straight up to his father--"I have
something to tell you, sir," said he.

"Something to tell me?"

"Something that will make you very angry."



CHAPTER LXV

"Do You Ever Think What Money Is?"


Gerald told his story, standing bolt upright, and looking his father
full in the face as he told it. "You lost three thousand four hundred
pounds at one sitting to Lord Percival--at cards!"

"Yes, sir."

"In Lord Nidderdale's house?"

"Yes, sir. Nidderdale wasn't playing. It wasn't his fault."

"Who were playing?"

"Percival, and Dolly Longstaff, and Jack Hindes,--and I. Popplecourt
was playing at first."

"Lord Popplecourt!"

"Yes, sir. But he went away when he began to lose."

"Three thousand four hundred pounds! How old are you?"

"I am just twenty-one."

"You are beginning the world well, Gerald! What is the engagement
which Silverbridge has made with Lord Percival?"

"To pay him the money at the end of next month."

"What had Silverbridge to do with it?"

"Nothing, sir. I wrote to Silverbridge because I didn't know what to
do. I knew he would stand to me."

"Who is to stand to either of you if you go on thus I do not know."
To this Gerald of course made no reply, but an idea came across his
mind that he knew who would stand both to himself and his brother.
"How did Silverbridge mean to get the money?"

"He said he would ask you. But I thought that I ought to tell you."

"Is that all?"

"All what, sir?"

"Are there other debts?" To this Gerald made no reply. "Other
gambling debts."

"No, sir;--not a shilling of that kind. I have never played before."

"Does it ever occur to you that going on at that rate you may very
soon lose all the fortune that will ever come to you? You were not
yet of age and you lost three thousand four hundred pounds at cards
to a man whom you probably knew to be a professed gambler!" The Duke
seemed to wait for a reply, but poor Gerald had not a word to say.
"Can you explain to me what benefit you proposed to yourself when you
played for such stakes as that?"

"I hoped to win back what I had lost."

"Facilis descensus Averni!" said the Duke, shaking his head. "Noctes
atque dies patet atri janua Ditis." No doubt, he thought, that as his
son was at Oxford, admonitions in Latin would serve him better than
in his native tongue. But Gerald, when he heard the grand hexameter
rolled out in his father's grandest tone, entertained a comfortable
feeling that the worst of the interview was over. "Win back what
you had lost! Do you think that that is the common fortune of young
gamblers when they fall among those who are more experienced than
themselves?"

"One goes on, sir, without reflecting."

"Go on without reflecting! Yes; and where to? where to? Oh Gerald,
where to? Whither will such progress without reflection take you?"
"He means--to the devil," the lad said inwardly to himself, without
moving his lips. "There is but one goal for such going on as that. I
can pay three thousand four hundred pounds for you certainly. I think
it hard that I should have to do so; but I can do it,--and I will do
it."

"Thank you, sir," murmured Gerald.

"But how can I wash your young mind clean from the foul stain which
has already defiled it? Why did you sit down to play? Was it to win
the money which these men had in their pockets?"

"Not particularly."

"It cannot be that a rational being should consent to risk the
money he has himself,--to risk even the money which he has not
himself,--without a desire to win that which as yet belongs to his
opponents. You desired to win."

"I suppose I did hope to win."

"And why? Why did you want to extract their property from their
pockets, and to put it into your own? That the footpad on the road
should have such desire when, with his pistol, he stops the traveller
on his journey we all understand. And we know what we think of the
footpad,--and what we do to him. He is a poor creature, who from his
youth upwards has had no good thing done for him, uneducated, an
outcast, whom we should pity more than we despise him. We take him as
a pest which we cannot endure, and lock him up where he can harm us
no more. On my word, Gerald, I think that the so-called gentleman
who sits down with the deliberate intention of extracting money from
the pockets of his antagonists, who lays out for himself that way of
repairing the shortcomings of fortune, who looks to that resource as
an aid to his means,--is worse, much worse, than the public robber!
He is meaner, more cowardly, and has I think in his bosom less of the
feelings of an honest man. And he probably has been educated,--as you
have been. He calls himself a gentleman. He should know black from
white. It is considered terrible to cheat at cards."

"There was nothing of that, sir."

"The man who plays and cheats has fallen low indeed."

"I understand that, sir."

"He who plays that he may make an income, but does not cheat, has
fallen nearly as low. Do you ever think what money is?"

The Duke paused so long, collecting his own thoughts and thinking of
his own words, that Gerald found himself obliged to answer. "Cheques,
and sovereigns, and bank-notes," he replied with much hesitation.

"Money is the reward of labour," said the Duke, "or rather, in the
shape it reaches you, it is your representation of that reward. You
may earn it yourself, or, as is, I am afraid, more likely to be the
case with you, you may possess it honestly as prepared for you by the
labour of others who have stored it up for you. But it is a commodity
of which you are bound to see that the source is not only clean but
noble. You would not let Lord Percival give you money."

"He wouldn't do that, sir, I am sure."

"Nor would you take it. There is nothing so comfortable as
money,--but nothing so defiling if it be come by unworthily; nothing
so comfortable, but nothing so noxious if the mind be allowed to
dwell upon it constantly. If a man have enough, let him spend
it freely. If he wants it, let him earn it honestly. Let him do
something for it, so that the man who pays it to him may get its
value. But to think that it may be got by gambling, to hope to live
after that fashion, to sit down with your fingers almost in your
neighbour's pockets, with your eye on his purse, trusting that you
may know better than he some studied calculations as to the pips
concealed in your hands, praying to the only god you worship that
some special card may be vouchsafed to you,--that I say is to have
left far, far behind you, all nobility, all gentleness, all manhood!
Write me down Lord Percival's address and I will send him the money."

Then the Duke wrote a cheque for the money claimed and sent it with
a note, as follows:--"The Duke of Omnium presents his compliments to
Lord Percival. The Duke has been informed by Lord Gerald Palliser
that Lord Percival has won at cards from him the sum of three
thousand four hundred pounds. The Duke now encloses a cheque for that
amount, and requests that the document which Lord Percival holds from
Lord Silverbridge as security for the amount, may be returned to
Lord Gerald." Let the noble gambler have his prey. He was little
solicitous about that. If he could only so operate on the mind of
this son,--so operate on the minds of both his sons, as to make them
see the foolishness of folly, the ugliness of what is mean, the
squalor and dirt of ignoble pursuits, then he could easily pardon
past faults. If it were half his wealth, what would it signify if he
could teach his children to accept those lessons without which no man
can live as a gentleman, let his rank be the highest known, let his
wealth be as the sands, his fashion unrivalled?

The word or two which his daughter had said to him, declaring
that she still took pride in her lover's love, and then this new
misfortune on Gerald's part, upset him greatly. He almost sickened of
politics when he thought of his domestic bereavement and his domestic
misfortunes. How completely had he failed to indoctrinate his
children with the ideas by which his own mind was fortified and
controlled! Nothing was so base to him as a gambler, and they had
both commenced their career by gambling. From their young boyhood
nothing had seemed so desirable to him as that they should be
accustomed by early training to devote themselves to the service of
their country. He saw other young noblemen around him who at eighteen
were known as debaters at their colleges, or at twenty-five were
already deep in politics, social science, and educational projects.
What good would all his wealth or all his position do for his
children if their minds could rise to nothing beyond the shooting
of deer and the hunting of foxes? There was young Lord Buttercup,
the son of the Earl of Woolantallow, only a few months older than
Silverbridge,--who was already a junior lord, and as constant at his
office, or during the Session on the Treasury Bench, as though there
were not a pack of hounds or a card-table in Great Britain! Lord
Buttercup, too, had already written an article in "The Fortnightly"
on the subject of Turkish finance. How long would it be before
Silverbridge would write an article, or Gerald sign his name in the
service of the public?

And then those proposed marriages,--as to which he was beginning to
know that his children would be too strong for him! Anxious as he was
that both his sons should be permeated by Liberal politics, studious
as he had ever been to teach them that the highest duty of those high
in rank was to use their authority to elevate those beneath them,
still he was hardly less anxious to make them understand that their
second duty required them to maintain their own position. It was by
feeling this second duty,--by feeling it and performing it,--that
they would be enabled to perform the rest. And now both Silverbridge
and his girl were bent upon marriages by which they would depart out
of their own order! Let Silverbridge marry whom he might, he could
not be other than heir to the honours of his family. But by his
marriage he might either support or derogate from these honours. And
now, having at first made a choice that was good, he had altered
his mind from simple freak, captivated by a pair of bright eyes and
an arch smile; and without a feeling in regard to his family, was
anxious to take to his bosom the granddaughter of an American
day-labourer!

And then his girl,--of whose beauty he was so proud, from whose
manners, and tastes, and modes of life he had expected to reap those
good things, in a feminine degree, which his sons as young men seemed
so little fitted to give him! By slow degrees he had been brought
round to acknowledge that the young man was worthy. Tregear's conduct
had been felt by the Duke to be manly. The letter he had written was
a good letter. And then he had won for himself a seat in the House of
Commons. When forced to speak of him to this girl he had been driven
by justice to call him worthy. But how could he serve to support and
strengthen that nobility, the endurance and perpetuation of which
should be the peculiar care of every Palliser?

And yet as the Duke walked about his room he felt that his opposition
either to the one marriage or to the other was vain. Of course they
would marry according to their wills.

That same night Gerald wrote to his brother before he went to bed, as
follows:


   DEAR SILVER,--I was awfully obliged to you for sending me
   the I.O.U. for that brute Percival. He only sneered when
   he took it, and would have said something disagreeable,
   but that he saw that I was in earnest. I know he did say
   something to Nid, only I can't find out what. Nid is an
   easy-going fellow, and, as I saw, didn't want to have a
   rumpus.

   But now what do you think I've done? Directly I got home
   I told the governor all about it! As I was in the train I
   made up my mind that I would. I went slap at it. If there
   is anything that never does any good, it's craning. I did
   it all at one rush, just as though I was swallowing a dose
   of physic. I wish I could tell you all that the governor
   said, because it was really tip-top. What is a fellow to
   get by playing high,--a fellow like you and me? I didn't
   want any of that beast's money. I don't suppose he had
   any. But one's dander gets up, and one doesn't like to be
   done, and so it goes on. I shall cut that kind of thing
   altogether. You should have heard the governor spouting
   Latin! And then the way he sat upon Percival, without
   mentioning the fellow's name! I do think it mean to set
   yourself to work to win money at cards,--and it is awfully
   mean to lose more than you have got to pay.

   Then at the end the governor said he'd send the beast a
   cheque for the amount. You know his way of finishing up,
   just like two fellows fighting;--when one has awfully
   punished the other he goes up and shakes hands with him.
   He did pitch into me,--not abusing me, nor even saying
   a word about the money, which he at once promised
   to pay, but laying it on to gambling with a regular
   cat-o'-nine-tails. And then there was an end of it. He
   just asked the fellow's address and said that he would
   send him the money. I will say this;--I don't think
   there's a greater brick than the governor out anywhere.

   I am awfully sorry about Tregear. I can't quite make out
   how it happened. I suppose you were too near him, and
   Melrose always does rush at his fences. One fellow
   shouldn't be too near another fellow,--only it so often
   happens that it can't be helped. It's just like anything
   else, if nothing comes of it then it's all right. But if
   anybody comes to grief then he has got to be pitched into.
   Do you remember when I nearly cut over old Sir Simon
   Slobody? Didn't I hear about it!

   I am awfully glad you didn't smash up Tregear altogether,
   because of Mary. I am quite sure it is no good anybody
   setting up his back against that. It's one of the things
   that have got to be. You always have said that he is a
   good fellow. If so, what's the harm? At any rate it has
   got to be.

   Your affectionate Brother,

   GERALD.

   I go up in about a week.



CHAPTER LXVI

The Three Attacks


During the following week the communications between Harrington and
Matching were very frequent. There were no further direct messages
between Tregear and Lady Mary, but she heard daily of his progress.
The Duke was conscious of the special interest which existed in his
house as to the condition of the young man, but, after his arrival,
not a word was spoken for some days between him and his daughter on
the subject. Then Gerald went back to his college, and the Duke made
his preparations for going up to town and making some attempt at
parliamentary activity.

It was by no concert that an attack was made upon him from three
quarters at once as he was preparing to leave Matching. On the Sunday
morning during church time,--for on that day Lady Mary went to her
devotions alone,--Mrs. Finn was closeted for an hour with the Duke
in his study. "I think you ought to be aware," she said to the Duke,
"that though I trust Mary implicitly and know her to be thoroughly
high principled, I cannot be responsible for her, if I remain with
her here."

"I do not quite follow your meaning."

"Of course there is but one matter on which there can, probably,
be any difference between us. If she should choose to write to Mr.
Tregear, or to send him a message, or even to go to him, I could not
prevent it."

"Go to him!" exclaimed the horrified Duke.

"I merely suggest such a thing in order to make you understand that I
have absolutely no control over her."

"What control have I?"

"Nay; I cannot define that. You are her father, and she acknowledges
your authority. She regards me as a friend--and as such treats me
with the sweetest affection. Nothing can be more gratifying than her
manner to me personally."

"It ought to be so."

"She has thoroughly won my heart. But still I know that if there were
a difference between us she would not obey me. Why should she?"

"Because you hold my deputed authority."

"Oh, Duke, that goes for very little anywhere. No one can depute
authority. It comes too much from personal accidents, and too little
from reason or law to be handed over to others. Besides, I fear, that
on one matter concerning her you and I are not agreed."

"I shall be sorry if it be so."

"I feel that I am bound to tell you my opinion."

"Oh yes."

"You think that in the end Lady Mary will allow herself to be
separated from Tregear. I think that in the end they will become man
and wife."

This seemed to the Duke to be not quite so bad as it might have been.
Any speculation as to results were very different from an expressed
opinion as to propriety. Were he to tell the truth as to his own
mind, he might perhaps have said the same thing. But one is not to
relax in one's endeavours to prevent that which is wrong, because one
fears that the wrong may be ultimately perpetrated. "Let that be as
it may," he said, "it cannot alter my duty."

"Nor mine, Duke, if I may presume to think that I have a duty in this
matter."

"That you should encounter the burden of the duty binds me to you for
ever."

"If it be that they will certainly be married one day--"

"Who has said that? Who has admitted that?"

"If it be so; if it seems to me that it must be so,--then how can I
be anxious to prolong her sufferings? She does suffer terribly." Upon
this the Duke frowned, but there was more of tenderness in his frown
than in the hard smile which he had hitherto worn. "I do not know
whether you see it all." He well remembered all that he had seen when
he and Mary were travelling together. "I see it; and I do not pass
half an hour with her without sorrowing for her." On hearing this he
sighed and turned his face away. "Girls are so different! There are
many who though they be genuinely in love, though their natures are
sweet and affectionate, are not strong enough to support their own
feelings in resistance to the will of those who have authority over
them." Had it been so with his wife? At this moment all the former
history passed through his mind. "They yield to that which seems to
be inevitable, and allow themselves to be fashioned by the purposes
of others. It is well for them often that they are so plastic.
Whether it would be better for her that she should be so I will not
say."

"It would be better," said the Duke doggedly.

"But such is not her nature. She is as determined as ever."

"I may be determined too."

"But if at last it will be of no use,--if it be her fate either to be
married to this man or die of a broken heart--"

"What justifies you in saying that? How can you torture me by such a
threat?"

"If I think so, Duke, I am justified. Of late I have been with her
daily,--almost hourly. I do not say that this will kill her now,--in
her youth. It is not often, I fancy, that women die after that
fashion. But a broken heart may bring the sufferer to the grave after
a lapse of many years. How will it be with you if she should live
like a ghost beside you for the next twenty years, and you should
then see her die, faded and withered before her time,--all her life
gone without a joy,--because she had loved a man whose position in
life was displeasing to you? Would the ground on which the sacrifice
had been made then justify itself to you? In thus performing your
duty to your order would you feel satisfied that you had performed
that to your child?"

She had come there determined to say it all,--to liberate her own
soul as it were,--but had much doubted the spirit in which the Duke
would listen to her. That he would listen to her she was sure,--and
then if he chose to cast her out, she would endure his wrath. It
would not be to her now as it had been when he accused her of
treachery. But, nevertheless, bold as she was and independent, he had
imbued her, as he did all those around him, with so strong a sense of
his personal dignity, that when she had finished she almost trembled
as she looked in his face. Since he had asked her how she could
justify to herself the threats which she was using he had sat still
with his eyes fixed upon her. Now, when she had done, he was in no
hurry to speak. He rose slowly and walking towards the fireplace
stood with his back towards her, looking down upon the fire. She was
the first to speak again. "Shall I leave you now?" she said in a low
voice.

"Perhaps it will be better," he answered. His voice, too, was very
low. In truth he was so moved that he hardly knew how to speak at
all. Then she rose and was already on her way to the door when he
followed her. "One moment, if you please," he said almost sternly.
"I am under a debt of gratitude to you of which I cannot express
my sense in words. How far I may agree with you, and where I may
disagree, I will not attempt to point out to you now."

"Oh no."

"But all that you have troubled yourself to think and to feel in this
matter, and all that true friendship has compelled you to say to me,
shall be written down in the tablets of my memory."

"Duke!"

"My child has at any rate been fortunate in securing the friendship
of such a friend." Then he turned back to the fireplace, and she was
constrained to leave the room without another word.

She had determined to make the best plea in her power for Mary; and
while she was making the plea had been almost surprised by her own
vehemence; but the greater had been her vehemence, the stronger, she
thought, would have been the Duke's anger. And as she had watched the
workings of his face she had felt for a moment that the vials of his
wrath were about to be poured out upon her. Even when she left the
room she almost believed that had he not taken those moments for
consideration at the fireplace his parting words would have been
different. But, as it was, there could be no question now of her
departure. No power was left to her of separating herself from
Lady Mary. Though the Duke had not as yet acknowledged himself to
be conquered, there was no doubt to her now but that he would be
conquered. And she, either here or in London, must be the girl's
nearest friend up to the day when she should be given over to Mr.
Tregear.

That was one of the three attacks which were made upon the Duke
before he went up to his parliamentary duties.

The second was as follows: Among the letters on the following morning
one was brought to him from Tregear. It is hoped that the reader will
remember the lover's former letter and the very unsatisfactory answer
which had been sent to it. Nothing could have been colder, less
propitious, or more inveterately hostile than the reply. As he lay
in bed with his broken bones at Harrington he had ample time for
thinking over all this. He knew every word of the Duke's distressing
note by heart, and had often lashed himself to rage as he had
repeated it. But he could effect nothing by showing his anger. He
must go on and still do something. Since the writing of that letter
he had done something. He had got his seat in Parliament. And he
had secured the interest of his friend Silverbridge. This had been
partially done at Polwenning; but the accident in the Brake country
had completed the work. The brother had at last declared himself
in his friend's favour. "Of course I should be glad to see it," he
had said while sitting by Tregear's bedside. "The worst is that
everything does seem to go against the poor governor."

Then Tregear made up his mind that he would write another letter.
Personally he was not in the best condition for doing this as he was
lying in bed with his left arm tied up, and with straps and bandages
all round his body. But he could sit up in bed, and his right hand
and arm were free. So he declared to Lady Chiltern his purpose of
writing a letter. She tried to dissuade him gently and offered to be
his secretary. But when he assured her that no secretary could write
this letter for him she understood pretty well what would be the
subject of the letter. With considerable difficulty Tregear wrote his
letter.


   MY LORD DUKE,--[On this occasion he left out the epithet
   which he had before used]

   Your Grace's reply to my last letter was not encouraging,
   but in spite of your prohibition I venture to write to you
   again. If I had the slightest reason for thinking that
   your daughter was estranged from me, I would not persecute
   either you or her. But if it be true that she is as
   devoted to me as I am to her, can I be wrong in pleading
   my cause? Is it not evident to you that she is made
   of such stuff that she will not be controlled in her
   choice,--even by your will?

   I have had an accident in the hunting-field and am now
   writing from Lord Chiltern's house, where I am confined to
   bed. But I think you will understand me when I say that
   even in this helpless condition I feel myself constrained
   to do something. Of course I ask for nothing from you on
   my own behalf,--but on her behalf may I not add my prayers
   to hers?

   I have the honour to be,
   Your Grace's very faithful Servant,

   FRANCIS TREGEAR.


This coming alone would perhaps have had no effect. The Duke had
desired the young man not to address him again; and the young man had
disobeyed him. No mere courtesy would now have constrained him to
send any reply to this further letter. But coming as it did while his
heart was still throbbing with the effects of Mrs. Finn's words, it
was allowed to have a certain force. The argument used was a true
argument. His girl was devoted to the man who sought her hand. Mrs.
Finn had told him that sooner or later he must yield,--unless he was
prepared to see his child wither and fade at his side. He had once
thought that he would be prepared even for that. He had endeavoured
to strengthen his own will by arguing with himself that when he saw a
duty plainly before him, he should cleave to that let the results be
what they might. But that picture of her face withered and wan after
twenty years of sorrowing had had its effect upon his heart. He even
made excuses within his own breast in the young man's favour. He
was in Parliament now, and what may not be done for a young man in
Parliament? Altogether the young man appeared to him in a light
different from that through which he had viewed the presumptuous,
arrogant, utterly unjustifiable suitor who had come to him, now
nearly a year since, in Carlton Terrace.

He went to breakfast with Tregear's letter in his pocket, and was
then gracious to Mrs. Finn, and tender to his daughter. "When do you
go, papa?" Mary asked.

"I shall take the 11.45 train. I have ordered the carriage at a
quarter before eleven."

"May I go to the train with you, papa?"

"Certainly; I shall be delighted."

"Papa!" Mary said as soon as she found herself seated beside her
father in the carriage.

"My dear."

"Oh, papa!" and she threw herself on to his breast. He put his arm
round her and kissed her,--as he would have had so much delight in
doing, as he would have done so often before, had there not been this
ground of discord. She was very sweet to him. It had never seemed
to him that she had disgraced herself by loving Tregear--but that a
great misfortune had fallen upon her. Silverbridge when he had gone
into a racing partnership with Tifto, and Gerald when he had played
for money which he did not possess, had--degraded themselves in
his estimation. He would not have used such a word; but it was
his feeling. They were less noble, less pure than they might have
been, had they kept themselves free from such stain. But this
girl,--whether she should live and fade by his side, or whether she
should give her hand to some fitting noble suitor,--or even though
she might at last become the wife of this man who loved her, would
always have been pure. It was sweet to him to have something to
caress. Now in the solitude of his life, as years were coming on him,
he felt how necessary it was that he should have someone who would
love him. Since his wife had left him he had been debarred from these
caresses by the necessity of showing his antagonism to her dearest
wishes. It had been his duty to be stern. In all his words to his
daughter he had been governed by a conviction that he never ought to
allow the duty of separating her from her lover to be absent from
his mind. He was not prepared to acknowledge that that duty had
ceased;--but yet there had crept over him a feeling that as he
was half conquered, why should he not seek some recompense in his
daughter's love? "Papa," she said, "you do not hate me?"

"Hate you, my darling?"

"Because I am disobedient. Oh, papa, I cannot help it. He should not
have come. He should not have been let to come." He had not a word
to say to her. He could not as yet bring himself to tell her,--that
it should be as she desired. Much less could he now argue with her
as to the impossibility of such a marriage as he had done on former
occasions when the matter had been discussed. He could only press his
arm tightly round her waist, and be silent. "It cannot be altered
now, papa. Look at me. Tell me that you love me."

"Have you doubted my love?"

"No, papa,--but I would do anything to make you happy; anything that
I could do. Papa, you do not want me to marry Lord Popplecourt?"

"I would not have you marry any man without loving him."

"I never can love anybody else. That is what I wanted you to know,
papa."

To this he made no reply, nor was there anything else said upon the
subject before the carriage drove up to the railway station. "Do not
get out, dear," he said, seeing that her eyes had been filled with
tears. "It is not worth while. God bless you, my child! You will be
up in London I hope in a fortnight, and we must try to make the house
a little less dull for you."

And so he had encountered the third attack.

Lady Mary, as she was driven home, recovered her spirits wonderfully.
Not a word had fallen from her father which she could use hereafter
as a refuge from her embarrassments. He had made her no promise. He
had assented to nothing. But there had been something in his manner,
in his gait, in his eye, in the pressure of his arm, which made her
feel that her troubles would soon be at an end.

"I do love you so much," she said to Mrs. Finn late on that
afternoon.

"I am glad of that, dear."

"I shall always love you,--because you have been on my side all
through."

"No, Mary;--that is not so."

"I know it is so. Of course you have to be wise because you are
older. And papa would not have you here with me if you were not wise.
But I know you are on my side,--and papa knows it too. And someone
else shall know it some day."



CHAPTER LXVII

"He Is Such a Beast"


Lord Silverbridge remained hunting in the Brake country till a few
days before the meeting of Parliament, and had he been left to
himself he would have had another week in the country and might
probably have overstayed the opening day; but he had not been left to
himself. In the last week in January an important despatch reached
his hands, from no less important a person than Sir Timothy Beeswax,
suggesting to him that he should undertake the duty of seconding the
address in the House of Commons. When the proposition first reached
him it made his hair stand on end. He had never yet risen to his feet
in the House. He had spoken at those election meetings in Cornwall,
and had found it easy enough. After the first or second time he had
thought it good fun. But he knew that standing up in the House of
Commons would be different from that. Then there would be the dress!
"I should so hate to fig myself out and look like a guy," he said to
Tregear, to whom of course he confided the offer that was made to
him. Tregear was very anxious that he should accept it. "A man should
never refuse anything of that kind which comes in his way," Tregear
said.

"It is only because I am the governor's son," Silverbridge pleaded.

"Partly so perhaps. But if it be altogether so, what of that? Take
the goods the gods provide you. Of course all these things which our
ambition covets are easier to Duke's sons than to others. But not on
that account should a Duke's son refuse them. A man when he sees a
rung vacant on the ladder should always put his feet there."

"I'll tell you what," said Silverbridge. "If I thought this was all
fair sailing I'd do it. I should feel certain that I should come a
cropper, but still I'd try it. As you say, a fellow should try. But
it's all meant as a blow at the governor. Old Beeswax thinks that if
he can get me up to swear that he and his crew are real first-chop
hands, that will hit the governor hard. It's as much as saying to the
governor,--'This chap belongs to me, not to you.' That's a thing I
won't go in for." Then Tregear counselled him to write to his father
for advice, and at the same time to ask Sir Timothy to allow him
a day or two for consideration. This counsel he took. His letter
reached his father two days before he left Matching. In answer to it
there came first a telegram begging Silverbridge to be in London on
the Monday, and then a letter, in which the Duke expressed himself
as being anxious to see his son before giving a final answer to the
question. Thus it was that Silverbridge had been taken away from his
hunting.

Isabel Boncassen, however, was now in London, and from her it was
possible that he might find consolation. He had written to her soon
after reaching Harrington, telling her that he had had it all out
with the governor. "There is a good deal that I can only tell you
when I see you," he said. Then he assured her with many lover's
protestations that he was and always would be till death altogether
her own most loving S. To this he had received an answer by return
of post. She would be delighted to see him up in town,--as would her
father and mother. They had now got a comfortable house in Brook
Street. And then she signed herself his sincere friend, Isabel.
Silverbridge thought that it was cold, and remembered certain scraps
in another feminine handwriting in which more passion was expressed.
Perhaps this was the way with American young ladies when they were in
love.

"Yes," said the Duke, "I am glad that you have come up at once, as
Sir Timothy should have his answer without further delay."

"But what shall I say?"

The Duke, though he had already considered the matter very seriously,
nevertheless took a few minutes to consider it again. "The offer,"
said he, "must be acknowledged as very flattering."

"But the circumstances are not usual."

"It cannot often be the case that a minister should ask the son of
his keenest political opponent to render him such a service. But,
however, we will put that aside."

"Not quite, sir."

"For the present we will put that on one side. Not looking at the
party which you may be called upon to support, having for the moment
no regard to this or that line in politics, there is no opening
to the real duties of parliamentary life which I would sooner see
accorded to you than this."

"But if I were to break down?" Talking to his father he could
not quite venture to ask what might happen if he were to "come a
cropper."

"None but the brave deserve the fair," said the Duke slapping his
hands upon the table. "Why, if we fail, 'We fail! But screw your
courage to the sticking place, And we'll not fail.' What high point
would ever be reached if caution such as that were allowed to
prevail? What young men have done before cannot you do? I have no
doubt of your capacity. None."

"Haven't you, sir?" said Silverbridge, considerably gratified,--and
also surprised.

"None in the least. But, perhaps, some of your diligence."

"I could learn it by heart, sir,--if you mean that."

"But I don't mean that; or rather I mean much more than that. You
have first to realise in your mind the thing to be said, and then
the words in which you should say it, before you come to learning by
heart."

"Some of them I suppose would tell me what to say."

"No doubt with your inexperience it would be unfit that you should be
left entirely to yourself. But I would wish you to know,--perhaps I
should say to feel,--that the sentiments to be expressed by you were
just."

"I should have to praise Sir Timothy."

"Not that necessarily. But you would have to advocate that course in
Parliament which Sir Timothy and his friends have taken and propose
to take."

"But I hate him like poison."

"There need be no personal feeling in the matter. I remember that
when I moved the address in your house Mr. Mildmay was Prime
Minister,--a man for whom my regard and esteem were unbounded,--who
had been in political matters the preceptor of my youth, whom as a
patriotic statesman I almost worshipped, whom I now remember as a
man whose departure from the arena of politics left the country very
destitute. No one has sprung up since like to him,--or hardly second
to him. But in speaking on so large a subject as the policy of a
party, I thought it beneath me to eulogise a man. The same policy
reversed may keep you silent respecting Sir Timothy."

"I needn't of course say what I think about him."

"I suppose you do agree with Sir Timothy as to his general policy? On
no other condition can you undertake such a duty."

"Of course I have voted with him."

"So I have observed,--not so regularly perhaps as Mr. Roby would have
desired." Mr. Roby was the Conservative whip.

"And I suppose the people at Silverbridge expect me to support him."

"I hardly know how that may be. They used to be contented with my
poor services. No doubt they feel they have changed for the better."

"You shouldn't say that, sir."

"I am bound to suppose that they think so, because when the matter
was left in their own hands they at once elected a Conservative. You
need not fear that you will offend them by seconding the address.
They will probably feel proud to see their young member brought
forward on such an occasion; as I shall be proud to see my son."

"You would if it were on the other side, sir."

"Yes, Silverbridge, yes; I should be very proud if it were on the
other side. But there is a useful old adage which bids us not cry
for spilt milk. You have a right to your opinions, though perhaps I
may think that in adopting what I must call new opinions you were a
little precipitate. We cannot act together in politics. But not the
less on that account do I wish to see you take an active and useful
part on that side to which you have attached yourself." As he said
this he rose from his seat and spoke with emphasis, as though he
were addressing some imaginary Speaker or a house of legislators
around. "I shall be proud to hear you second the address. If you
do it as gracefully and as fitly as I am sure you may if you will
give yourself the trouble, I shall hear you do it with infinite
satisfaction, even though I shall feel at the same time anxious to
answer all your arguments and to disprove all your assertions. I
should be listening no doubt to my opponent;--but I should be proud
to feel that I was listening to my son. My advice to you is to do as
Sir Timothy has asked you."

"He is such a beast, sir," said Silverbridge.

"Pray do not speak in that way on matters so serious."

"I do not think you quite understand it, sir."

"Perhaps not. Can you enlighten me?"

"I believe he has done this only to annoy you."

The Duke, who had again seated himself, and was leaning back in his
chair, raised himself up, placed his hands on the table before him,
and looked his son hard in the face. The idea which Silverbridge had
just expressed had certainly occurred to himself. He remembered well
all the circumstances of the time when he and Sir Timothy Beeswax
had been members of the same government;--and he remembered how
animosities had grown, and how treacherous he had thought the man.
From the moment in which he had read the minister's letter to the
young member, he had felt that the offer had too probably come from a
desire to make the political separation between himself and his son
complete. But he had thought that in counselling his son he was bound
to ignore such a feeling; and it certainly had not occurred to him
that Silverbridge would be astute enough to perceive the same thing.

"What makes you fancy that?" said the Duke, striving to conceal
by his manner, but not altogether successful in concealing, the
gratification which he certainly felt.

"Well, sir, I am not sure that I can explain it. Of course it is
putting you in a different boat from me."

"You have already chosen your boat."

"Perhaps he thinks I may get out again. I dislike the skipper so
much, that I am not sure that I shall not."

"Oh, Silverbridge,--that is such a fault! So much is included in that
which is unstatesmanlike, unpatriotic, almost dishonest! Do you mean
to say that you would be this or that in politics according to your
personal liking for an individual?"

"When you don't trust the leader, you can't believe very firmly in
the followers," said Silverbridge doggedly. "I won't say, sir, what I
may do. Though I dare say that what I think is not of much account, I
do think a good deal about it."

"I am glad of that."

"And as I think it not at all improbable that I may go back again, if
you don't mind it, I will refuse." Of course after that the Duke had
no further arguments to use in favour of Sir Timothy's proposition.



CHAPTER LXVIII

Brook Street


Silverbridge had now a week on his hands which he felt he might
devote to the lady of his love. It was a comfort to him that he need
have nothing to do with the address. To have to go, day after day,
to the Treasury in order that he might learn his lesson, would have
been disagreeable to him. He did not quite know how the lesson
would have been communicated, but fancied it would have come from
"Old Roby," whom he did not love much better than Sir Timothy. Then
the speech must have been composed, and afterwards submitted to
someone,--probably to old Roby again, by whom no doubt it would
be cut and slashed, and made quite a different speech than he had
intended. If he had not praised Sir Timothy himself, Roby,--or
whatever other tutor might have been assigned to him,--would have put
the praise in. And then how many hours it would have taken to learn
"the horrid thing" by heart. He proudly felt that he had not been
prompted by idleness to decline the task; but not the less was he
glad to have shuffled the burden from off his shoulders.

Early the next morning he was in Brook Street, having sent a note to
say he would call, and having even named the hour. And yet when he
knocked at the door, he was told with the utmost indifference by a
London footman, that Miss Boncassen was not at home,--also that Mrs.
Boncassen was not at home;--also that Mr. Boncassen was not at home.
When he asked at what hour Miss Boncassen was expected home, the man
answered him, just as though he had been anybody else, that he knew
nothing about it. He turned away in disgust, and had himself driven
to the Beargarden. In his misery he had recourse to game-pie and a
pint of champagne for his lunch. "Halloa, old fellow, what is this I
hear about you?" said Nidderdale, coming in and sitting opposite to
him.

"I don't know what you have heard."

"You are going to second the address. What made them pick you out
from the lot of us?"

"It is just what I am not going to do."

"I saw it all in the papers."

"I dare say;--and yet it isn't true. I shouldn't wonder if they ask
you." At this moment a waiter handed a large official letter to Lord
Nidderdale, saying that the messenger who had brought it was waiting
for an answer in the hall. The letter bore the important signature
of T. Beeswax on the corner of the envelope, and so disturbed Lord
Nidderdale that he called at once for a glass of soda-and-brandy.
When opened it was found to be very nearly a counterpart of that
which Silverbridge had received down in the country. There was,
however, added a little prayer that Lord Nidderdale would at once
come down to the Treasury Chambers.

"They must be very hard up," said Lord Nidderdale. "But I shall do
it. Cantrip is always at me to do something, and you see if I don't
butter them up properly." Then having fortified himself with game-pie
and a glass of brown sherry he went away at once to the Treasury
Chambers.

Silverbridge felt himself a little better after his lunch,--better
still when he had smoked a couple of cigarettes walking about the
empty smoking-room. And as he walked he collected his thoughts.
She could hardly have meant to slight him. No doubt her letter
down to him at Harrington had been very cold. No doubt he had been
ill-treated in being sent away so unceremoniously from the door. But
yet she could hardly intend that everything between them should be
over. Even an American girl could not be so unreasonable as that. He
remembered the passionate way in which she had assured him of her
love. All that could not have been forgotten! He had done nothing by
which he could have forfeited her esteem. She had desired him to tell
the whole affair to her father, and he had done so. Mr. Boncassen
might perhaps have objected. It might be that this American was so
prejudiced against English aristocrats as to desire no commerce with
them. There were not many Englishmen who would not have welcomed him
as son-in-law, but Americans might be different. Still,--still Isabel
would hardly have shown her obedience to her father in this way. She
was too independent to obey her father in a matter concerning her own
heart. And if he had not been the possessor of her heart at that last
interview, then she must have been false indeed! So he got once more
into his hansom and had himself taken back to Brook Street.

Mrs. Boncassen was in the drawing-room alone.

"I am so sorry," said the lady, "but Mr. Boncassen has, I think, just
gone out."

"Indeed! and where is Isabel?"

"Isabel is downstairs,--that is if she hasn't gone out too. She did
talk of going with her father to the Museum. She is getting quite
bookish. She has got a ticket, and goes there, and has all the things
brought to her just like the other learned folks."

"I am anxious to see her, Mrs. Boncassen."

"My! If she has gone out it will be a pity. She was only saying
yesterday she wouldn't wonder if you shouldn't turn up."

"Of course I've turned up, Mrs. Boncassen. I was here an hour ago."

"Was it you who called and asked all them questions? My! We couldn't
make out who it was. The man said it was a flurried young gentleman
who wouldn't leave a card,--but who wanted to see Mr. Boncassen most
especial."

"It was Isabel I wanted to see. Didn't I leave a card? No; I don't
think I did. I felt so--almost at home, that I didn't think of a
card."

"That's very kind of you, Lord Silverbridge."

"I hope you are going to be my friend, Mrs. Boncassen."

"I am sure I don't know, Lord Silverbridge. Isabel is most used to
having her own way, I guess. I think when hearts are joined almost
nothing ought to stand between them. But Mr. Boncassen does have
doubts. He don't wish as Isabel should force herself anywhere. But
here she is, and now she can speak for herself." Whereupon not only
did Isabel enter the room, but at the same time Mrs. Boncassen most
discreetly left it. It must be confessed that American mothers are
not afraid of their daughters.

Silverbridge, when the door was closed, stood looking at the girl
for a moment and thought that she was more lovely than ever. She was
dressed for walking. She still had on her fur jacket, but had taken
off her hat. "I was in the parlour downstairs," she said, "when you
came in, with papa; and we were going out together; but when I heard
who was here, I made him go alone. Was I not good?"

He had not thought of a word to say, or a thing to do;--but he felt
as he looked at her that the only thing in the world worth living
for, was to have her for his own. For a moment he was half abashed.
Then in the next she was close in his arms with his lips pressed
to hers. He had been so sudden that she had been unable, at any
rate thought that she had been unable, to repress him. "Lord
Silverbridge," she said, "I told you I would not have it. You have
offended me."

"Isabel!"

"Yes; Isabel! Isabel is offended with you. Why did you do it?"

Why did he do it? It seemed to him to be the most unnecessary
question. "I want you to know how I love you."

"Will that tell me? That only tells me how little you think of me."

"Then it tells you a falsehood;--for I am thinking of you always.
And I always think of you as being the best and dearest and sweetest
thing in the world. And now I think you dearer and sweeter than
ever." Upon this she tried to frown; but her frown at once broke out
into