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Title: Lady Anna
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 "Lady Anna" ***

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LADY ANNA.

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE.

In Two Volumes.

VOL. I.



London:
Chapman and Hall, 193, Piccadilly.
1874.

[All rights reserved.]

London:
Printed by Virtue and Co.,
City Road.



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.

       I. THE EARLY HISTORY OF LADY LOVEL.
      II. THE EARL'S WILL.
     III. LADY ANNA.
      IV. THE TAILOR OF KESWICK.
       V. THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL MAKES A PROPOSITION.
      VI. YOXHAM RECTORY.
     VII. THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL PERSEVERES.
    VIII. IMPOSSIBLE!
      IX. IT ISN'T LAW.
       X. THE FIRST INTERVIEW.
      XI. IT IS TOO LATE.
     XII. HAVE THEY SURRENDERED?
    XIII. NEW FRIENDS.
     XIV. THE EARL ARRIVES.
      XV. WHARFEDALE.
     XVI. FOR EVER.
    XVII. THE JOURNEY HOME.
   XVIII. TOO HEAVY FOR SECRETS.
     XIX. LADY ANNA RETURNS TO LONDON.
      XX. LADY ANNA'S RECEPTION.
     XXI. DANIEL AND THE LAWYER.
    XXII. THERE IS A GULF FIXED.
   XXIII. BEDFORD SQUARE.
    XXIV. THE DOG IN THE MANGER.



LADY ANNA.

CHAPTER I.

THE EARLY HISTORY OF LADY LOVEL.


Women have often been hardly used by men, but perhaps no harder
usage, no fiercer cruelty was ever experienced by a woman than
that which fell to the lot of Josephine Murray from the hands
of Earl Lovel, to whom she was married in the parish church of
Applethwaite,--a parish without a village, lying among the mountains
of Cumberland,--on the 1st of June, 181--. That her marriage was
valid according to all the forms of the Church, if Lord Lovel were
then capable of marrying, no one ever doubted; nor did the Earl
ever allege that it was not so. Lovel Grange is a small house,
surrounded by a small domain,--small as being the residence of a rich
nobleman, lying among the mountains which separate Cumberland from
Westmoreland, about ten miles from Keswick, very lovely, from the
brightness of its own green sward and the luxuriance of its wild
woodland, from the contiguity of overhanging mountains, and from the
beauty of Lovel Tarn, a small lake belonging to the property, studded
with little islands, each of which is covered with its own thicket
of hollies, birch, and dwarfed oaks. The house itself is poor, ill
built, with straggling passages and low rooms, and is a sombre,
ill-omened looking place. When Josephine Murray was brought there
as a bride she thought it to be very sombre and ill-omened; but she
loved the lakes and mountains, and dreamed of some vague mysterious
joy of life which was to come to her from the wildness of her
domicile.

I fear that she had no other ground, firmer than this, on which to
found her hopes of happiness. She could not have thought Lord Lovel
to be a good man when she married him, and it can hardly be said that
she loved him. She was then twenty-four years old, and he had counted
double as many years. She was very beautiful, dark, with large, bold,
blue eyes, with hair almost black, tall, well made, almost robust, a
well-born, brave, ambitious woman, of whom it must be acknowledged
that she thought it very much to be the wife of a lord. Though our
story will be concerned much with her sufferings, the record of her
bridal days may be very short. It is with struggles that came to
her in after years that we shall be most concerned, and the reader,
therefore, need be troubled with no long description of Josephine
Murray as she was when she became the Countess Lovel. It is hoped
that her wrongs may be thought worthy of sympathy,--and may be felt
in some sort to atone for the ignoble motives of her marriage.

The Earl, when he found his bride, had been living almost in solitude
for a twelvemonth. Among the neighbouring gentry in the lake country
he kept no friendly relations. His property there was small, and his
character was evil. He was an English earl, and as such known in
some unfamiliar fashion to those who know all earls; but he was a
man never seen in Parliament, who had spent the greater part of his
manhood abroad, who had sold estates in other counties, converting
unentailed acres into increased wealth, but wealth of a kind much
less acceptable to the general English aristocrat than that which
comes direct from land. Lovel Grange was his only remaining English
property, and when in London he had rooms at an hotel. He never
entertained, and he never accepted hospitality. It was known of him
that he was very rich, and men said that he was mad. Such was the man
whom Josephine Murray had chosen to marry because he was an earl.

He had found her near Keswick, living with her father in a pretty
cottage looking down upon Derwentwater,--a thorough gentleman, for
Captain Murray had come of the right Murrays;--and thence he had
carried her to Lovel Grange. She had brought with her no penny of
fortune, and no settlement had been made on her. Her father, who
was then an old man, had mildly expostulated; but the ambition
of the daughter had prevailed, and the marriage was accomplished.
The beautiful young woman was carried off as a bride. It will be
unnecessary to relate what efforts had been made to take her away
from her father's house without bridal honours; but it must be told
that the Earl was a man who had never yet spared a woman in his lust.
It had been the rule, almost the creed of his life, that woman was
made to gratify the appetite of man, and that the man is but a poor
creature who does not lay hold of the sweetness that is offered to
him. He had so lived as to teach himself that those men who devote
themselves to their wives, as a wife devotes herself to her husband,
are the poor lubberly clods of creation, who had lacked the power to
reach the only purpose of living which could make life worth having.
Women had been to him a prey, as the fox is a prey to the huntsman
and the salmon to the angler. But he had acquired great skill in his
sport, and could pursue his game with all the craft which experience
will give. He could look at a woman as though he saw all heaven in
her eyes, and could listen to her as though the music of the spheres
was to be heard in her voice. Then he could whisper words which, to
many women, were as the music of the spheres, and he could persevere,
abandoning all other pleasures, devoting himself to the one
wickedness with a perseverance which almost made success certain.
But with Josephine Murray he could be successful on no other terms
than those which enabled her to walk out of the church with him as
Countess Lovel.

She had not lived with him six months before he told her that the
marriage was no marriage, and that she was--his mistress. There was
an audacity about the man which threw aside all fear of the law, and
which was impervious to threats and interference. He assured her that
he loved her, and that she was welcome to live with him; but that she
was not his wife, and that the child which she bore could not be the
heir to his title, and could claim no heirship to his property. He
did love her,--having found her to be a woman of whose company he had
not tired in six months. He was going back to Italy, and he offered
to take her with him,--but he could not, he said, permit the farce of
her remaining at Lovel Grange and calling herself the Countess Lovel.
If she chose to go with him to Palermo, where he had a castle, and to
remain with him in his yacht, she might for the present travel under
the name of his wife. But she must know that she was not his wife.
She was only his mistress.

Of course she told her father. Of course she invoked every Murray
in and out of Scotland. Of course there were many threats. A duel
was fought up near London, in which Lord Lovel consented to be shot
at twice,--declaring that after that he did not think that the
circumstances of the case required that he should be shot at any
more. In the midst of this a daughter was born to her and her father
died,--during which time she was still allowed to live at Lovel
Grange. But what was it expedient that she should do? He declared
that he had a former wife when he married her, and that therefore she
was not and could not be his wife. Should she institute a prosecution
against him for bigamy, thereby acknowledging that she was herself
no wife and that her child was illegitimate? From such evidence as
she could get, she believed that the Italian woman whom the Earl in
former years had married had died before her own marriage. The Earl
declared that the Countess, the real Countess, had not paid her debt
to nature, till some months after the little ceremony which had taken
place in Applethwaite Church. In a moment of weakness Josephine fell
at his feet and asked him to renew the ceremony. He stooped over her,
kissed her, and smiled. "My pretty child," he said, "why should I do
that?" He never kissed her again.

What should she do? Before she had decided, he was in his yacht
sailing to Palermo;--sailing no doubt not alone. What should she do?
He had left her an income,--sufficient for the cast-off mistress
of an Earl,--some few hundreds a year, on condition that she would
quietly leave Lovel Grange, cease to call herself a Countess, and
take herself and her bairn,--whither she would. Every abode of sin
in London was open to her for what he cared. But what should she
do? It seemed to her to be incredible that so great a wrong should
befall her, and that the man should escape from her and be free from
punishment,--unless she chose to own the baseness of her own position
by prosecuting him for bigamy. The Murrays were not very generous in
their succour, as the old man had been much blamed for giving his
daughter to one of whom all the world knew nothing but evil. One
Murray had fired two shots on her behalf, in answer to each one of
which the Earl had fired into the air; but beyond this the Murrays
could do nothing. Josephine herself was haughty and proud, conscious
that her rank was greater than that of any of the Murrays with whom
she came in contact. But what should she do?

The Earl had been gone five years, sailing about the world she knew
not where, when at last she determined to institute a prosecution for
bigamy. During these years she was still living at the Grange, with
her child, and the Courts of Law had allotted her some sum by way of
alimony till her cause should be decided; but upon this alimony she
found it very difficult to lay her hands,--quite impossible to lay
her hands upon the entirety of it. And then it came to pass that
she was eaten up by lawyers and tradesmen, and fell into bad repute
as asserting that claims made against her, should legally be made
against the very man whom she was about to prosecute because she was
not his wife. And this went on till further life at Lovel Grange
became impossible to her.

In those days there was living in Keswick a certain Mr. Thomas
Thwaite, a tailor, who by degrees had taken a strong part in
denouncing the wrongs to which Lady Lovel had been subjected. He
was a powerful, sturdy man, with good means for his position, a
well-known Radical in a county in which Radicals have never been
popular, and in which fifty years ago they were much rarer than they
are now. At this time Keswick and its vicinities were beginning to be
known as the abodes of poets, and Thomas Thwaite was acquainted with
Southey and Wordsworth. He was an intelligent, up-standing, impulsive
man, who thought well of his own position in the world, and who could
speak his mind. He was tall, massive, and square; tender-hearted and
very generous; and he hated the Earl of Lovel with all his heart.
Once the two men had met since the story of the Countess's wrongs
had become known, and the tailor had struck the Earl to the ground.
This had occurred as the Earl was leaving Lovel Grange, and when he
was starting on his long journey. The scene took place after he had
parted from his Countess,--whom he never was to see again. He rose to
his feet and rushed at the tailor; but the two were separated, and
the Earl thought it best to go on upon his journey. Nothing further
was done as to the blow, and many years rolled by before the Earl
came back to Cumberland.

It became impossible for the Countess and her daughter, the young
Lady Anna as she was usually called, to remain at Lovel Grange,
and they were taken to the house of Mr. Thwaite, in Keswick, as a
temporary residence. At this time the Countess was in debt, and
already there were lawsuits as to the practicability of obtaining
payment of those debts from the husband's estate. And as soon as it
was determined that the prosecution for bigamy should be instituted,
the confusion in this respect was increased. The Countess ceased to
call herself a countess, as she certainly would not be a countess
should she succeed in proving the Earl to have been guilty. And
had he been guilty of bigamy, the decree under which alimony was
assigned to her would become void. Should she succeed, she would
be a penniless unmarried female with a daughter, her child would
be unfathered and base, and he,--as far as she could see,--would be
beyond the reach of punishment. But, in truth, she and her friend the
tailor were not in quest of success. She and all her friends believed
that the Earl had committed no such crime. But if he were acquitted,
then would her claim to be called Lady Lovel, and to enjoy the
appanages of her rank, be substantiated. Or, at least, something
would have been done towards substantiating those claims. But during
this time she called herself Mrs. Murray, and the little Lady Anna
was called Anna Murray.

It added much to the hardship of the woman's case that public
sympathy in distant parts of the country,--up in London, and in
southern counties, and even among a portion of the gentry in
Cumberland and Westmoreland,--did not go with her. She had married
without due care. Some men said,--and many women repeated the
story,--that she had known of the existence of the former wife, when
she had married the Earl. She had run into debt, and then repudiated
her debts. She was now residing in the house of a low radical tailor,
who had assaulted the man she called her husband; and she was living
under her maiden name. Tales were told of her which were utterly
false,--as when it was said that she drank. Others were reported
which had in them some grains of truth,--as that she was violent,
stiff-necked, and vindictive. Had they said of her that it had
become her one religion to assert her daughter's right,--per fas aut
nefas,--to assert it by right or wrong; to do justice to her child
let what injustice might be done to herself or others,--then the
truth would have been spoken.

The case dragged itself on slowly, and little Anna Murray was a child
of nine years old when at last the Earl was acquitted of the criminal
charge which had been brought against him. During all this time he
had been absent. Even had there been a wish to bring him personally
into court, the law would have been powerless to reach him. But there
was no such wish. It had been found impossible to prove the former
marriage, which had taken place in Sicily;--or if not impossible, at
least no adequate proof was forthcoming. There was no real desire
that there should be such proof. The Earl's lawyers abstained, as
far as they could abstain, from taking any steps in the matter. They
spent what money was necessary, and the Attorney-General of the day
defended him. In doing so, the Attorney-General declared that he had
nothing to do with the Earl's treatment of the lady who now called
herself Mrs. Murray. He knew nothing of the circumstances of that
connection, and would not travel beyond his brief. He was there to
defend Earl Lovel on a charge of bigamy. This he did successfully,
and the Earl was acquitted. Then, in court, the counsel for the wife
declared that his client would again call herself Lady Lovel.

But it was not so easy to induce other people to call her Lady Lovel.

And now not only was she much hampered by money difficulties, but so
also was the tailor. But Thomas Thwaite never for a moment slackened
in his labours to make good the position of the woman whom he had
determined to succour; and for another and a longer period of eight
years the battle went on. It went on very slowly, as is the wont with
such battles; and very little way was made. The world, as a rule, did
not believe that she who now again called herself the Countess Lovel
was entitled to that name. The Murrays, her own people,--as far as
they were her own people,--had been taught to doubt her claim. If
she were a countess why had she thrown herself into the arms of an
old tailor? Why did she let her daughter play with the tailor's
child,--if, in truth, that daughter was the Lady Anna? Why, above
all things, was the name of the Lady Anna allowed to be mentioned,
as it was mentioned, in connection with that of Daniel Thwaite, the
tailor's son?

During these eight weary years Lady Lovel,--for so she shall be
called,--lived in a small cottage about a mile from Keswick, on the
road to Grassmere and Ambleside, which she rented from quarter to
quarter. She still obtained a certain amount of alimony, which,
however, was dribbled out to her through various sieves, and which
reached her with protestations as to the impossibility of obtaining
anything like the moderate sum which had been awarded to her. And
it came at last to be the case that she hardly knew what she was
struggling to obtain. It was, of course, her object that all the
world should acknowledge her to be the Countess Lovel, and her
daughter to be the Lady Anna. But all the world could not be made to
do this by course of law. Nor could the law make her lord come home
and live with her, even such a cat and dog life as must in such case
have been hers. Her money rights were all that she could demand;--and
she found it to be impossible to get anybody to tell her what were
her money rights. To be kept out of the poorhouse seemed to be all
that she could claim. But the old tailor was true to her,--swearing
that she should even yet become Countess Lovel in very truth.

Then, of a sudden, she heard one day,--that Earl Lovel was again at
the Grange, living there with a strange woman.



CHAPTER II.

THE EARL'S WILL.


Not a word had been heard in Keswick of the proposed return of the
old lord,--for the Earl was now an old man,--past his sixtieth year,
and in truth with as many signs of age as some men bear at eighty.
The life which he had led no doubt had had its allurements, but it
is one which hardly admits of a hale and happy evening. Men who make
women a prey, prey also on themselves. But there he was, back at
Lovel Grange, and no one knew why he had come, nor whence, nor how.
To Lovel Grange in those days, now some forty years ago, there was no
road for wheels but that which ran through Keswick. Through Keswick
he had passed in the middle of the night, taking on the post-horses
which he had brought with him from Grassmere, so that no one in the
town should see him and his companion. But it was soon known that
he was there, and known also that he had a companion. For months he
resided thus, and no one saw him but the domestics who waited upon
him. But rumours got abroad as to his conduct, and people through the
county declared that Earl Lovel was a maniac. Still his property was
in his own control, and he did what it listed him to do.

As soon as men knew that he was in the land, claim after claim was
made upon him for money due on behalf of his wife, and loudest among
the claimants was Thomas Thwaite, the tailor. He was loudest and
fiercest among the claimants, but was loud and fierce not in enmity
to his old friend the Countess, but with a firm resolve to make the
lord pay the only price of his wickedness which could be exacted from
him. And if the Earl could be made to pay the claims against him
which were made by his wife's creditors, then would the law, so far,
have decided that the woman was his wife. No answer was made to any
letter addressed to the Earl, and no one calling at the Grange could
obtain speech or even sight of the noble owner. The lord's steward at
the Grange referred all comers to the lord's attorneys in London, and
the lord's attorneys simply repeated the allegation that the lady was
not the lord's wife. At last there came tidings that an inquiry was
to be made as to the state of the lord's health and the state of the
lord's mind, on behalf of Frederic Lovel, the distant heir to the
title. Let that question of the lord's marriage with Josephine Murray
go as it might, Frederic Lovel, who had never seen his far-away
cousin, must be the future earl. Of that there was no doubt;--and new
inquiries were to be made. But it might well be that the interest of
the young heir would be more deeply involved in the marriage question
than in other matters concerning the family. Lovel Grange and the few
mountain farms attached to the Cumberland estate must become his, let
the frantic Earl do what damage he might to those who bore his name;
but the bulk of the property, the wealth of the Lovels, the great
riches which had enabled this mighty lord to live as a beast of prey
among his kind, were at his own disposal. He had one child certainly,
the Lady Anna, who would inherit it all were the father to die
intestate, and were the marriage proved. The young heir and those
near to him altogether disbelieved the marriage,--as was natural.
They had never seen her who now called herself the Countess, but
who for some years after her child was born had called herself Mrs.
Murray,--who had been discarded by her own relations, and had taken
herself to live with a country tailor. As years had rolled by the
memory of what had really occurred in Applethwaite Church had become
indistinct; and, though the reader knows that that marriage was
capable of easy proof,--that there would have been but little
difficulty had the only difficulty consisted in proving that,--the
young heir and the distant Lovels were not assured of it. Their
interest was adverse, and they were determined to disbelieve. But the
Earl might, and probably would, leave all his wealth to a stranger.
He had never in any way noticed his heir. He cared for none that
bore his name. Those ties in the world which we call love, and deem
respectable, and regard as happy, because they have to do with
marriage and blood relationship as established by all laws since
the days of Moses, were odious to him and ridiculous in his sight,
because all obligations were distasteful to him,--and all laws,
except those which preserved to him the use of his own money. But now
there came up the great question whether he was mad or sane. It was
at once rumoured that he was about to leave the country, and fly back
to Sicily. Then it was announced that he was dead.

And he was dead. He had died at the age of sixty-seven, in the arms
of the woman he had brought there. His evil career was over, and his
soul had gone to that future life for which he had made it fit by the
life he had led here. His body was buried in Applethwaite churchyard,
in the further corner of which long, straggling valley parish Lovel
Grange is situated. At his grave there stood no single mourner;--but
the young lord was there, of his right, disdaining even to wear a
crape band round his hat. But the woman remained shut up in her own
chamber,--a difficulty to the young lord and his lawyer, who could
hardly tell the foreigner to pack and begone before the body of her
late--lover had been laid in the grave. It had been simply intimated
to her that on such a date,--within a week from the funeral,--her
presence in the house could not longer be endured. She had flashed
round upon the lawyer, who had attempted to make this award known to
her in broken French, but had answered simply by some words of scorn,
spoken in Italian to her waiting-maid.

Then the will was read in the presence of the young earl;--for there
was a will. Everything that the late lord had possessed was left, in
one line, to his best-beloved friend, the Signorina Camilla Spondi;
and it was stated, and very fully explained, that Camilla Spondi was
the Italian lady living at the Grange at the date on which the will
was made. Of the old lord's heir, the now existing Earl Lovel, no
mention was made whatever. There were, however, two other clauses
or parts in the will. There was a schedule giving in detail the
particulars of the property left to Camilla Spondi; and there was
a rambling statement that the maker of the will acknowledged Anna
Murray to be his illegitimate daughter,--that Anna Murray's mother
had never been the testator's legitimate wife, as his real wife,
the true Countess Lovel, for whom he had separately made adequate
provision, was still alive in Sicily at the date of that will,--and
that by a former will now destroyed he had made provision for
Anna Murray, which provision he had revoked in consequence of
the treatment which he had received from Josephine Murray and
her friends. They who believed the statements made in this will
afterwards asserted that Anna had been deprived of her inheritance by
the blow with which the tailor had felled the Earl to the earth.

To Camilla Spondi intimation was given of the contents of the Earl's
will as far as they concerned her; but she was told at the same time
that no portion of the dead man's wealth would be placed in her hands
till the courts should have decided whether or no the old lord had
been sane or insane when he signed the document. A sum of money was,
however, given her, on condition that she should take her immediate
departure;--and she departed. With her personally we need have no
further concern. Of her cause and of her claim some mention must be
made; but in a few pages she will drop altogether from our story.

A copy of the will was also sent to the lawyers who had hitherto
taken charge of the interests of the repudiated Countess, and it
was intimated that the allowance hitherto made to her must now of
necessity cease. If she thought fit to prosecute any further claim,
she must do so by proving her marriage;--and it was explained to her,
probably without much of legal or precise truth in the explanation,
that such proof must include the disproving of the assertion made in
the Earl's will. As it was the intention of the heir to set aside
that will, such assurance was, to say the least of it, disingenuous.
But the whole thing had now become so confused that it could hardly
be expected that lawyers should be ingenuous in discussing it.

The young Earl clearly inherited the title and the small estate at
Lovel Grange. The Italian woman was primâ facie heiress to everything
else,--except to such portion of the large personal property as the
widow could claim as widow, in the event of her being able to prove
that she had been a wife. But in the event of the will being no will,
the Italian woman would have nothing. In such case the male heir
would have all if the marriage were no marriage;--but would have
nothing if the marriage could be made good. If the marriage could
be made good, the Lady Anna would have the entire property, except
such portion as would be claimed of right by her mother, the widow.
Thus the Italian woman and the young lord were combined in interest
against the mother and daughter as regarded the marriage; and the
young lord and the mother and daughter were combined against the
Italian woman as regarded the will;--but the young lord had to act
alone against the Italian woman, and against the mother and daughter
whom he and his friends regarded as swindlers and impostors. It was
for him to set aside the will in reference to the Italian woman,
and then to stand the brunt of the assault made upon him by the
soi-disant wife.

In a very short time after the old Earl's death a double compromise
was offered on behalf of the young Earl. The money at stake was
immense. Would the Italian woman take £10,000, and go her way back
to Italy, renouncing all further claim; and would the soi-disant
Countess abandon her title, acknowledge her child to be illegitimate,
and go her way with another £10,000;--or with £20,000, as was soon
hinted by the gentlemen acting on the Earl's behalf? The proposition
was one somewhat difficult in the making, as the compromise, if made
with both, would be excellent, but could not be made to any good
effect with one only. The young Earl certainly could not afford to
buy off the Italian woman for £10,000, if the effect of such buying
off would only be to place the whole of the late lord's wealth in the
hands of his daughter and of his daughter's mother.

The Italian woman consented. She declared with Italian energy that
her late loving friend had never been a day insane; but she knew
nothing of English laws, and but little of English money. She would
take the £10,000,--having had a calculation made for her of the
number of lire into which it would run. The number was enormous, and
she would take the offer. But when the proposal was mentioned to the
Countess, and explained to her by her old friend, Thomas Thwaite, who
had now become a poor man in her cause, she repudiated it with bitter
scorn,--with a scorn in which she almost included the old man who
had made it to her. "Is it for that, that I have been fighting?" she
said.

"For that in part," said the old man.

"No, Mr. Thwaite, not for that at all; but that my girl may have her
birth allowed and her name acknowledged."

"Her name shall be allowed and her birth shall be acknowledged," said
the tailor, in whose heart there was nothing base. "She shall be the
Lady Anna, and her mother shall be the Countess Lovel." The estate of
the Countess, if she had an estate, then owed the tailor some five or
six thousand pounds, and the compromise offered would have paid the
tailor every shilling and have left a comfortable income for the two
women.

"For myself I care but little," said the mother, taking the tailor's
hand in hers and kissing it. "My child is the Lady Anna, and I do not
dare to barter away her rights." This took place down at the cottage
in Cumberland, and the tailor at once went up to London to make known
the decision of the Countess,--as he invariably called her.

Then the lawyers went to work. As the double compromise could not be
effected, the single compromise could not stand. The Italian woman
raved and stamped, and swore that she must have her half million of
lire. But of course no right to such a claim had been made good to
her, and the lawyers on behalf of the young Earl went on with their
work. Public sympathy as a matter of course went with the young
Earl. As against the Italian woman he had with him every English man
and woman. It was horrible to the minds of English men and English
women that an old English Earldom should be starved in order that
an Italian harlot might revel in untold riches. It was felt by most
men and protested by all women that any sign of madness, be it what
it might,--however insignificant,--should be held to be sufficient
against such a claimant. Was not the fact that the man had made such
a will in itself sufficient proof of his madness? There were not a
few who protested that no further proof could be necessary. But with
us the law is the same for an Italian harlot and an English widow;
and it may well be that in its niceties it shall be found kinder to
the former than to the latter. But the Earl had been mad, and the
law said that he was mad when he had made his will,--and the Italian
woman went away, raging, into obscurity.

The Italian woman was conquered, and now the battle was open and free
between the young Earl and the claimant Countess. Applications were
made on behalf of the Countess for funds from the estate wherewith to
prove the claim, and to a certain limited amount they were granted.
Such had been the life of the late Earl that it was held that the
cost of all litigation resulting from his misdeeds should be paid
from his estate;--but ready money was wanted, immediate ready
money, to be at the disposal of the Countess to any amount needed
by her agent, and this was hardly to be obtained. By this time
public sympathy ran almost entirely with the Earl. Though it was
acknowledged that the late lord was mad, and though it had become
a cause of rejoicing that the Italian woman had been sent away
penniless, howling into obscurity, because of the old man's madness,
still it was believed that he had written the truth when he declared
that the marriage had been a mock marriage. It would be better for
the English world that the young Earl should be a rich man, fit to
do honour to his position, fit to marry the daughter of a duke, fit
to carry on the glory of the English peerage, than that a woman, ill
reputed in the world, should be established as a Countess, with a
daughter dowered with tens of thousands, as to whom it was already
said that she was in love with a tailor's son. Nothing could be more
touching, more likely to awaken sympathy, than the manner in which
Josephine Murray had been carried away in marriage, and then roughly
told by the man who should have protected her from every harshly
blowing wind of heaven, that he had deceived her and that she was not
his wife. No usage to which woman had ever been subjected, as has
been said before, was more adapted to elicit compassion and energetic
aid. But nineteen years had now passed by since the deed was done,
and the facts were forgotten. One energetic friend there still
was,--or we may say two, the tailor and his son Daniel. But public
belief ran against the Countess, and nobody who was anybody in the
world would give her her title. Bets were laid, two and three to one
against her; and it was believed that she was an impostor. The Earl
had all the glory of success over his first opponent, and the loud
boasting of self-confident barristers buoyed up his cause.

But loud-boasting barristers may nevertheless be wise lawyers, and
the question of a compromise was again mooted. If the lady would take
thirty thousand pounds and vanish, she should have the money clear
of deduction, and all expenses should be paid. The amount offered
was thought to be very liberal, but it did not amount to the annual
income that was at stake. It was rejected with scorn. Had it been
quadrupled, it would have been rejected with equal scorn. The
loud-boasting barristers were still confident; but--. Though it
was never admitted in words still it was felt that there might be
a doubt. What if the contending parties were to join forces, if
the Countess-ship of the Countess were to be admitted, and the
heiress-ship of the Lady Anna, and if the Earl and the Lady Anna were
to be united in holy wedlock? Might there not be a safe solution from
further difficulty in that way?



CHAPTER III.

LADY ANNA.


The idea of this further compromise, of this something more than
compromise, of this half acknowledgment of their own weakness, came
from Mr. Flick, of the firm of Norton and Flick, the solicitors who
were employed in substantiating the Earl's position. When Mr. Flick
mentioned it to Sir William Patterson, the great barrister, who was
at that time Solicitor-General and leading counsel on behalf of Lord
Lovel, Sir William Patterson stood aghast and was dismayed. Sir
William intended to make mince-meat of the Countess. It was said of
him that he intended to cross-examine the Countess off her legs,
right out of her claim, and almost into her grave. He certainly did
believe her to be an impostor, who had not thought herself to be
entitled to her name when she first assumed it.

"I should be sorry, Mr. Flick, to be driven to think that anything of
that kind could be expedient."

"It would make sure of the fortune to the family," said Mr. Flick.

"And what about our friend, the Countess?"

"Let her call herself Countess Lovel, Sir William. That will break no
bones. As to the formality of her own marriage, there can be no doubt
about that."

"We can prove by Grogram that she was told that another wife was
living," said Sir William. Grogram was an old butler who had been in
the old Earl's service for thirty years.

"I believe we can, Sir William; but--. It is quite clear that we
shall never get the other wife to come over and face an English jury.
It is of no use blinking it. The gentleman whom we have sent over
doubts her altogether. That there was a marriage is certain, but
he fears that this woman is not the old Countess. There were two
sisters, and it may be that this was the other sister."

Sir William was a good deal dismayed, but he recovered himself. The
stakes were so high that it was quite possible that the gentleman who
had been sent over might have been induced to open his eyes to the
possibility of such personation by overtures from the other side. Sir
William was of opinion that Mr. Flick himself should go to Sicily. He
was not sure that he, Sir William, her Majesty's Solicitor-General,
would not make the journey in person. He was by no means disposed to
give way. "They tell me that the girl is no better than she should
be," he said to Mr. Flick.

"I don't think so bad as that of her," said Mr. Flick.

"Is she a lady,--or anything like a lady?"

"I am told she is very beautiful."

"I dare say;--and so was her mother before her. I never saw a
handsomer woman of her age than our friend the Countess. But I could
not recommend the young lord to marry an underbred, bad girl, and a
bastard who claims to be his cousin,--and support my proposition
merely on the ground of her looks."

"Thirty-five thousand a year, Sir William!" pleaded the attorney.

"I hope we can get the thirty-five thousand a year for our client
without paying so dear for them."

It had been presumed that the real Countess, the original Countess,
the Italian lady whom the Earl had married in early life, would be
brought over, with properly attested documentary evidence in her
pocket, to prove that she was the existing Countess, and that any
other Countess must be either an impostor or a deluded dupe. No doubt
the old Earl had declared, when first informing Josephine Murray
that she was not his wife, that his real wife had died during the
few months which had intervened since his mock marriage; but it was
acknowledged on all sides, that the old Earl had been a villain and a
liar. It was no part of the duty of the young Earl, or of those who
acted for him, to defend the character of the old Earl. To wash that
blackamoor white, or even to make him whity-brown, was not necessary
to anybody. No one was now concerned to account for his crooked
courses. But if it could be shown that he had married the lady in
Italy,--as to which there was no doubt,--and that the lady was still
alive, or that she had been alive when the second marriage took
place, then the Lady Anna could not inherit the property which had
been freed from the grasp of the Italian mistress. But it seemed that
the lady, if she lived, could not be made to come. Mr. Flick did go
to Sicily, and came back renewing his advice to Sir William that Lord
Lovel should be advised to marry the Lady Anna.

At this time the Countess, with her daughter, had moved their
residence from Keswick up to London, and was living in very humble
lodgings in a small street turning out of the New Road, near the
Yorkshire Stingo. Old Thomas Thwaite had accompanied them from
Cumberland, but the rooms had been taken for them by his son, Daniel
Thwaite, who was at this time foreman to a somewhat celebrated
tailor who carried on his business in Wigmore Street; and he, Daniel
Thwaite, had a bedroom in the house in which the Countess lodged. The
arrangement was not a wise one, as reports had already been spread
abroad as to the partiality of the Lady Anna for the young tailor.
But how should she not have been partial both to the father and to
the son, feeling as she did that they were the only two men who
befriended her cause and her mother's? As to the Countess herself,
she, perhaps, alone of all those who interested themselves in her
daughter's cause, had heard no word of these insinuations against her
child. To her both Thomas and Daniel Thwaite were dear friends, to
repay whom for their exertions with lavish generosity,--should the
means to do so ever come within her reach,--was one of the dreams
of her existence. But she was an ambitious woman, thinking much
of her rank, thinking much even of the blood of her own ancestors,
constantly urgent with her daughter in teaching her the duties
and privileges of wealth and rank. For the Countess never doubted
that she would at last attain success. That the Lady Anna should
throw herself away upon Daniel Thwaite did not occur to her as a
possibility. She had not even dreamed that Daniel Thwaite would
aspire to her daughter's hand. And yet every shop-boy and every
shop-girl in Keswick had been so saying for the last twelvemonth,
and rumours which had hitherto been confined to Keswick and its
neighbourhood, were now common in London. For the case was becoming
one of the celebrated causes of the age, and all the world was
talking of the Countess and her daughter. No momentary suspicion had
crossed the mind of the Countess till after their arrival in London;
and then when the suspicion did touch her it was not love that she
suspected,--but rather an unbecoming familiarity which she attributed
to her child's ignorance of the great life which awaited her. "My
dear," she said one day when Daniel Thwaite had left them, "you
should be less free in your manner with that young man."

"What do you mean, mamma?" said the daughter, blushing.

"You had better call him Mr. Thwaite."

"But I have called him Daniel ever since I was born."

"He always calls you Lady Anna."

"Sometimes he does, mamma."

"I never heard him call you anything else," said the Countess, almost
with indignation. "It is all very well for the old man, because he is
an old man and has done so much for us."

"So has Daniel;--quite as much, mamma. They have both done
everything."

"True; they have both been warm friends; and if ever I forget them
may God forget me. I trust that we may both live to show them that
they are not forgotten. But it is not fitting that there should exist
between you and him the intimacy of equal positions. You are not and
cannot be his equal. He has been born to be a tailor, and you are the
daughter and heiress of an Earl."

These last words were spoken in a tone that was almost awful to
the Lady Anna. She had heard so much of her father's rank and her
father's wealth,--rank and wealth which were always to be hers,
but which had never as yet reached her, which had been a perpetual
trouble to her, and a crushing weight upon her young life, that she
had almost learned to hate the title and the claim. Of course it was
a part of the religion of her life that her mother had been duly
married to her father. It was beyond a doubt to her that such was the
case. But the constant battling for denied rights, the assumption of
a position which could not be attained, the use of titles which were
simply ridiculous in themselves as connected with the kind of life
which she was obliged to lead,--these things had all become odious
to her. She lacked the ambition which gave her mother strength, and
would gladly have become Anna Murray or Anna Lovel, with a girl's
ordinary privilege of loving her lover, had such an easy life been
possible to her.

In person she was very lovely, less tall and robust than her mother
had been, but with a sweeter, softer face. Her hair was less dark,
and her eyes were neither blue nor bold. But they were bright and
soft and very eloquent, and when laden with tears would have softened
the heart,--almost of her father. She was as yet less powerful than
her mother, both in body and mind, but probably better calculated to
make a happy home for a husband and children. She was affectionate,
self-denying, and feminine. Had that offer of compromise for thirty,
twenty, or for ten thousand pounds been made to her, she would have
accepted it willingly,--caring little for her name, little even for
fame, so that she might have been happy and quiet, and at liberty to
think of a lover as are other girls. In her present condition, how
could she have any happy love? She was the Lady Anna Lovel, heir to
a ducal fortune,--but she lived in small close lodgings in Wyndham
Street, New Road. She did not believe in the good time coming as did
her mother. Their enemy was an undoubted Earl, undoubtedly owner of
Lovel Grange of which she had heard all her life. Would it not be
better to take what the young lord chose to give them and to be at
rest? But she did not dare to express such thoughts to her mother.
Her mother would have crushed her with a look.

"I have told Mr. Thwaite," the mother said to her daughter, "what we
were saying this morning."

"About his son?"

"Yes,--about his son."

"Oh, mamma!"

"I was bound to do so."

"And what did he say, mamma?"

"He did not like it, and told me that he did not like it;--but he
admitted that it was true. He admitted that his son was no fitting
intimate for Lady Anna Lovel."

"What should we have done without him?"

"Badly indeed; but that cannot change his duty, or ours. He is
helping us to struggle for that which is our own; but he would mar
his generosity if he put a taint on that which he is endeavouring to
restore to us."

"Put a taint, mamma!"

"Yes;--a taint would rest upon your rank if you as Lady Anna Lovel
were familiar with Daniel Thwaite as with an equal. His father
understands it, and will speak to him."

"Mamma, Daniel will be very angry."

"Then will he be very unreasonable;--but, Anna, I will not have you
call him Daniel any more."



CHAPTER IV.

THE TAILOR OF KESWICK.


Old Thomas Thwaite was at this time up in London about the business
of the Countess, but had no intention of residing there. He still
kept his shop in Keswick, and still made coats and trousers for
Cumberland statesmen. He was by no means in a condition to retire
from business, having spent the savings of his life in the cause of
the Countess and her daughter. Men had told him that, had he not
struck the Earl in the yard of the Crown at Keswick, as horses were
being brought out for the lord's travelling carriage, ample provision
would have been made by the rich old sinner for his daughter. That
might have been so, or might not, but the saying instigated the
tailor to further zeal and increased generosity. To oppose an Earl,
even though it might be on behalf of a Countess, was a joy to him; to
set wrong right, and to put down cruelty and to relieve distressed
women was the pride of his heart,--especially when his efforts were
made in antagonism to one of high rank. And he was a man who would
certainly be thorough in his work, though his thoroughness should
be ruinous to himself. He had despised the Murrays, who ought to
have stuck to their distant cousin, and had exulted in his heart
at thinking that the world would say how much better and truer had
been the Keswick tailor than the well-born and comparatively wealthy
Scotch relations. And the poets of the lakes, who had not as yet
become altogether Tories, had taken him by the hand and praised him.
The rights of the Countess and the wrongs of the Countess had become
his life. But he still kept on a diminished business in the north,
and it was now needful that he should return to Cumberland. He had
heard that renewed offers of compromise were to be made,--though
no idea of the proposed marriage between the distant cousins had
been suggested to him. He had been discussing the question of some
compromise with the Countess when she spoke to him respecting his
son; and had recommended that certain terms should, if possible, be
effected. Let the money be divided, on condition that the marriage
were allowed. There could be no difficulty in this if the young
lord would accede to such an arrangement, as the marriage must
be acknowledged unless an adverse party should bring home proof
from Italy to the contrary. The sufficiency of the ceremony in
Applethwaite Church was incontestable. Let the money be divided, and
the Countess be Countess Lovel, and Lady Anna be the Lady Anna to all
the world. Old Thomas Thwaite himself had seemed to think that there
would be enough of triumph in such a settlement. "But the woman might
afterwards be bribed to come over and renew her claim," said the
Countess. "Unless it be absolutely settled now, they will say when I
am dead and gone that my daughter has no right to her name." Then the
tailor said that he would make further inquiry how that might be. He
was inclined to think that there might be a decision which should be
absolute, even though that decision should be reached by compromise
between the now contending parties.

Then the Countess had said her word about Daniel Thwaite the son, and
Thomas Thwaite the father had heard it with ill-concealed anger. To
fight against an Earl on behalf of the Earl's injured wife had been
very sweet to him, but to be checked in his fight because he and his
were unfit to associate with the child of that injured wife, was very
bitter. And yet he had sense to know that what the Countess said to
him was true. As far as words went, he admitted the truth; but his
face was more eloquent than his words, and his face showed plainly
his displeasure.

"It is not of you that I am speaking," said the Countess, laying her
hand upon the old man's sleeve.

"Daniel is, at any rate, fitter than I," said the tailor. "He has
been educated, and I never was."

"He is as good as gold. It is not of that I speak. You know what I
mean."

"I know very well what you mean, Lady Lovel."

"I have no friend like you, Mr. Thwaite;--none whom I love as I do
you. And next to you is your son. For myself, there is nothing that
I would not do for him or you;--no service, however menial, that I
would not render you with my own hands. There is no limit to the
gratitude which I owe you. But my girl is young, and if this burden
of rank and wealth is to be hers,--it is proper that she do honour to
it."

"And it is not honourable that she should be seen speaking--to a
tailor?"

"Ah,--if you choose to take it so!"

"How should I take it? What I say is true. And what you say is true
also. I will speak to Daniel." But she knew well, as he left her,
that his heart was bitter against her.

The old man did speak to his son, sitting with him up in the bed-room
over that which the Countess occupied. Old Thomas Thwaite was a
strong man, but his son was in some respects stronger. As his father
had said of him, he had been educated,--or rather instructed; and
instruction leads to the power of thinking. He looked deeper into
things than did his father, and was governed by wider and greater
motives. His father had been a Radical all his life, guided thereto
probably by some early training, and made steadfast in his creed by
feelings which induced him to hate the pretensions of an assumed
superiority. Old Thwaite could not endure to think that one man
should be considered to be worthier than another because he was
richer. He would admit the riches, and even the justice of the
riches,--having been himself, during much of his life, a rich man in
his own sphere; but would deny the worthiness; and would adduce, in
proof of his creed, the unworthiness of certain exalted sinners. The
career of the Earl Lovel had been to him a sure proof of the baseness
of English aristocracy generally. He had dreams of a republic in
which a tailor might be president or senator, or something almost
noble. But no rational scheme of governance among mankind had ever
entered his mind, and of pure politics he knew no more than the
journeyman who sat stitching upon his board.

But Daniel Thwaite was a thoughtful man who had read many books.
More's Utopia and Harrington's Oceana, with many a tale written
in the same spirit, had taught him to believe that a perfect form
of government, or rather of policy, under which all men might be
happy and satisfied, was practicable upon earth, and was to be
achieved,--not merely by the slow amelioration of mankind under
God's fostering ordinances,--but by the continued efforts of good and
wise men who, by their goodness and wisdom, should be able to make
the multitude believe in them. To diminish the distances, not only
between the rich and the poor, but between the high and the low, was
the grand political theory upon which his mind was always running.
His father was ever thinking of himself and of Earl Lovel; while
Daniel Thwaite was considering the injustice of the difference
between ten thousand aristocrats and thirty million of people, who
were for the most part ignorant and hungry. But it was not that he
also had not thoughts of himself. Gradually he had come to learn that
he need not have been a tailor's foreman in Wigmore Street had not
his father spent on behalf of the Countess Lovel the means by which
he, the son, might already have become a master tradesman. And yet
he had never begrudged it. He had been as keen as his father in the
cause. It had been the romance of his life, since his life had been
capable of romance;--but with him it had been no respect for the
rank to which his father was so anxious to restore the Countess,
no value which he attached to the names claimed by the mother and
the daughter. He hated the countess-ship of the Countess, and
the ladyship of the Lady Anna. He would fain that they should
have abandoned them. They were to him odious signs of iniquitous
pretensions. But he was keen enough to punish and to remedy the
wickedness of the wicked Earl. He reverenced his father because he
assaulted the wicked Earl and struck him to the ground. He was heart
and soul in the cause of the injured wife. And then the one thing on
earth that was really dear to him was the Lady Anna.

It had been the romance of his life. They had grown up together as
playmates in Cumberland. He had fought scores of battles on her
behalf with those who had denied that she was the Lady Anna,--even
though he had then hated the title. Boys had jeered him because of
his noble little sweetheart, and he had exulted at hearing her so
called. His only sister and his mother had died when he was young,
and there had been none in the house but his father and himself. As
a boy he had ever been at the cottage of the Countess, and he had
sworn to Lady Anna a thousand times that he would do and die in her
service. Now he was a strong man, and was more devoted to her than
ever. It was the great romance of his life. How could it be brought
to pass that the acknowledged daughter of an Earl, dowered with
enormous wealth, should become the wife of a tailor? And yet such
was his ambition and such his purpose. It was not that he cared for
her dower. It was not, at any rate, the hope of her dower that had
induced him to love her. His passion had grown and his purpose had
been formed before the old Earl had returned for the last time to
Lovel Grange,--when nothing was known of the manner in which his
wealth might be distributed. That her prospect of riches now joined
itself to his aspirations it would be an affectation to deny. The man
who is insensible to the power which money brings with it must be a
dolt; and Daniel Thwaite was not a dolt, and was fond of power. But
he was proud of heart, and he said to himself over and over again
that should it ever come to pass that the possession of the girl was
to depend on the abandonment of the wealth, the wealth should be
abandoned without a further thought.

It may be imagined that with such a man the words which his father
would speak to him about the Lady Anna, suggesting the respectful
distance with which she should be approached by a tailor's foreman,
would be very bitter. They were bitter to the speaker and very bitter
to him who heard them. "Daniel," said the father, "this is a queer
life you are leading with the Countess and Lady Anna just beneath
you, in the same house."

"It was a quiet house for them to come to;--and cheap."

"Quiet enough, and as cheap as any, I dare say;--but I don't know
whether it is well that you should be thrown so much with them. They
are different from us." The son looked at his father, but made no
immediate reply. "Our lot has been cast with theirs because of their
difficulties," continued the old man, "but the time is coming when we
had better stand aloof."

"What do you mean, father?"

"I mean that we are tailors, and these people are born nobles."

"They have taken our help, father."

"Well; yes, they have. But it is not for us to say anything of that.
It has been given with a heart."

"Certainly with a heart."

"And shall be given to the end. But the end of it will come soon now.
One will be a Countess and the other will be the Lady Anna. Are they
fit associates for such as you and me?"

"If you ask me, father, I think they are."

"They don't think so. You may be sure of that."

"Have they said so, father?"

"The Countess has said so. She has complained that you call her
daughter simply Anna. In future you must give her a handle to
her name." Daniel Thwaite was a dark brown man, with no tinge of
ruddiness about him, a thin spare man, almost swarthy, whose hands
were as brown as a nut, and whose cheeks and forehead were brown. But
now he blushed up to his eyes. The hue of the blood as it rushed to
his face forced itself through the darkness of his visage, and he
blushed, as such men do blush,--with a look of indignation on his
face. "Just call her Lady Anna," said the father.

"The Countess has been complaining of me then?"

"She has hinted that her daughter will be injured by your
familiarity, and she is right. I suppose that the Lady Anna Lovel
ought to be treated with deference by a tailor,--even though the
tailor may have spent his last farthing in her service."

"Do not let us talk about the money, father."

"Well; no. I'd as lief not think about the money either. The world is
not ripe yet, Daniel."

"No;--the world is not ripe."

"There must be earls and countesses."

"I see no must in it. There are earls and countesses as there used to
be mastodons and other senseless, over-grown brutes roaming miserable
and hungry through the undrained woods,--cold, comfortless, unwieldy
things, which have perished in the general progress. The big things
have all to give way to the intellect of those which are more finely
made."

"I hope men and women will not give way to bugs and fleas," said the
tailor, who was wont to ridicule his son's philosophy.

The son was about to explain his theory of the perfected mean size of
intellectual created beings, when his heart was at the present moment
full of Anna Lovel. "Father," he said, "I think that the Countess
might have spared her observations."

"I thought so too;--but as she said it, it was best that I should
tell you. You'll have to marry some day, and it wouldn't do that you
should look there for your sweetheart." When the matter was thus
brought home to him, Daniel Thwaite would argue it no further. "It
will all come to an end soon," continued the old man, "and it may
be that they had better not move till it is settled. They'll divide
the money, and there will be enough for both in all conscience. The
Countess will be the Countess, and the Lady Anna will be the Lady
Anna; and then there will be no more need of the old tailor from
Keswick. They will go into another world, and we shall hear from them
perhaps about Christmas time with a hamper of game, and may be a
little wine, as a gift."

"You do not think that of them, father."

"What else can they do? The lawyers will pay the money, and they
will be carried away. They cannot come to our house, nor can we go
to theirs. I shall leave to-morrow, my boy, at six o'clock; and my
advice to you is to trouble them with your presence as little as
possible. You may be sure that they do not want it."

Daniel Thwaite was certainly not disposed to take his father's
advice, but then he knew much more than did his father. The above
scene took place in the evening, when the son's work was done. As he
crept down on the following morning by the door of the room in which
the two ladies slept, he could not but think of his father's words,
"It wouldn't do that you should look there for your sweetheart." Why
should it not do? But any such advice as that was now too late. He
had looked there for his sweetheart. He had spoken, and the girl had
answered him. He had held her close to his heart, and had pressed her
lips to his own, and had called her his Anna, his well-beloved, his
pearl, his treasure; and she,--she had only sighed in his arms, and
yielded to his embrace. She had wept alone when she thought of it,
with a conscious feeling that as she was the Lady Anna there could be
no happy love between herself and the only youth whom she had known.
But when he had spoken, and had clasped her to his heart, she had
never dreamed of rebuking him. She had known nothing better than he,
and desired nothing better than to live with him and to be loved by
him. She did not think that it could be possible to know any one
better. This weary, weary title filled her with dismay. Daniel, as
he walked along thinking of her embrace, thinking of those kisses,
and thinking also of his father's caution, swore to himself that the
difficulties in his way should never stop him in his course.



CHAPTER V.

THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL MAKES A PROPOSITION.


When Mr. Flick returned from Sicily he was very strongly in favour
of some compromise. He had seen the so-called Italian Countess,--who
certainly was now called Contessa by everybody around her,--and he
did not believe that she had ever been married to the old Earl. That
an Italian lady had been married to the old lord now twenty-five
years ago, he did believe,--probably the younger sister of this
woman,--and he also believed that this wife had been dead before the
marriage at Applethwaite. That was his private opinion. Mr. Flick
was, in his way, an honest man,--one who certainly would have taken
no conscious part in getting up an unjust claim; but he was now
acting as legal agent for the young Earl, and it was not his business
to get up evidence for the Earl's opponents. He did think that were
he to use all his ingenuity and the funds at his disposal he would
be able to reach the real truth in such a manner that it should be
made clear and indubitable to an English jury; but if the real truth
were adverse to his side, why search for it? He understood that
the English Countess would stand her ground on the legality of the
Applethwaite marriage, and on the acquittal of the old Earl as to the
charge of bigamy. The English Countess being firm, so far as that
ground would make her firm, it would in reality be for the other
side--for the young Earl--to prove a former marriage. The burden of
the proof would be with him, and not with the English Countess to
disprove it. Disingenuous lawyers--Mr. Flick, who though fairly
honest could be disingenuous, among the number--had declared the
contrary. But such was the case; and, as money was scarce with the
Countess and her friends, no attempt had been made on their part to
bring home evidence from Sicily. All this Mr. Flick knew, and doubted
how far it might be wise for him further to disturb that Sicilian
romance. The Italian Countess, who was a hideous, worn-out old woman,
professing to be forty-four, probably fifty-five, and looking as
though she were seventy-seven, would not stir a step towards England.
She would swear and had sworn any number of oaths. Documentary
evidence from herself, from various priests, from servants, and
from neighbours there was in plenty. Mr. Flick learned through his
interpreter that a certain old priest ridiculed the idea of there
being a doubt. And there were letters,--letters alleged to have been
written by the Earl to the living wife in the old days, which were
shown to Mr. Flick. Mr. Flick was an educated man, and knew many
things. He knew something of the manufacture of paper, and would not
look at the letters after the first touch. It was not for him to get
up evidence for the other side. The hideous old woman was clamorous
for money. The priests were clamorous for money. The neighbours were
clamorous for money. Had not they all sworn anything that was wanted,
and were they not to be paid? Some moderate payment was made to the
hideous, screeching, greedy old woman; some trivial payment--as to
which Mr. Flick was heartily ashamed of himself--was made to the
old priest; and then Mr. Flick hurried home, fully convinced that
a compromise should be made as to the money, and that the legality
of the titles claimed by the two English ladies should be allowed.
It might be that that hideous hag had once been the Countess Lovel.
It certainly was the case that the old Earl in latter years had
so called her, though he had never once seen her during his last
residence in Sicily. It might be that the clumsy fiction of the
letters had been perpetrated with the view of bolstering up a true
case with false evidence. But Mr. Flick thought that there should be
a compromise, and expressed his opinion very plainly to Sir William
Patterson. "You mean a marriage," said the Solicitor-General. At this
time Mr. Hardy, Q.C., the second counsel acting on behalf of the
Earl, was also present.

"Not necessarily by a marriage, Sir William. They could divide the
money."

"The girl is not of age," said Mr. Hardy.

"She is barely twenty as yet," said Sir William.

"I think it might be managed on her behalf," said the attorney.

"Who could be empowered to sacrifice her rights?" said Mr. Hardy, who
was a gruff man.

"We might perhaps contrive to tide it over till she is of age," said
the Solicitor-General, who was a sweet-mannered, mild man among his
friends, though he could cross-examine a witness off his legs,--or
hers, if the necessity of the case required him to do so.

"Of course we could do that, Sir William. What is a year in such a
case as this?"

"Not much among lawyers, is it, Mr. Flick? You think that we
shouldn't bring our case into court."

"It is a good case, Sir William, no doubt. There's the
woman,--Countess, we will call her,--ready to swear, and has sworn,
that she was the old Earl's wife. All the people round call her the
Countess. The Earl undoubtedly used to speak of her as the Countess,
and send her little dribbles of money, as being his Countess, during
the ten years and more after he left Lovel Grange. There is the old
priest who married them."

"The devil's in it if that is not a good case," said Mr. Hardy.

"Go on, Mr. Flick," said the Solicitor-General.

"I've got all the documentary evidence of course, Sir William."

"Go on, Mr. Flick."

Mr. Flick scratched his head. "It's a very heavy interest, Sir
William."

"No doubt it is. Go on."

"I don't know that I've anything further to say, except that I'd
arrange it if I could. Our client, Sir William, would be in a very
pretty position if he got half the income which is at stake."

"Or the whole with the wife," said the Solicitor-General.

"Or the whole with the wife, Sir William. If he were to lose it all,
he'd be,--so to say, nowhere."

"Nowhere at all," said the Solicitor-General. "The entailed property
isn't worth above a thousand a year."

"I'd make some arrangement," said Mr. Flick, whose mind may perhaps
have had a not unnatural bend towards his own very large venture
in this concern. That his bill, including the honorarium of the
barristers, would sooner or later be paid out of the estate, he did
not doubt;--but a compromise would make the settlement easy and
pleasant.

Mr. Hardy was in favour of continued fighting. A keener, honester,
more enlightened lawyer than Mr. Hardy did not wear silk at that
moment, but he had not the gift of seeing through darkness which
belonged to the Solicitor-General. When Mr. Flick told them of the
strength of their case, as based on various heads of evidence in
their favour, Mr. Hardy believed Mr. Flick's words and rejected Mr.
Flick's opinion. He believed in his heart that the English Countess
was an impostor, not herself believing in her own claim; and it
would be gall and wormwood to him to give to such a one a moiety
of the wealth which should go to support the ancient dignity and
aristocratic grace of the house of Lovel. He hated compromise and
desired justice,--and was a great rather than a successful lawyer.
Sir William had at once perceived that there was something in the
background on which it was his duty to calculate, which he was bound
to consider,--but with which at the same time it was inexpedient
that he should form a closer or more accurate acquaintance. He must
do the best he could for his client. Earl Lovel with a thousand
a year, and that probably already embarrassed, would be a poor,
wretched creature, a mock lord, an earl without the very essence of
an earldom. But Earl Lovel with fifteen or twenty thousand a year
would be as good as most other earls. It would be but the difference
between two powdered footmen and four, between four hunters and
eight, between Belgrave Square and Eaton Place. Sir William, had he
felt confident, would of course have preferred the four footmen for
his client, and the eight hunters, and Belgrave Square; even though
the poor English Countess should have starved, or been fed by the
tailor's bounty. But he was not confident. He began to think that
that wicked old Earl had been too wicked for them all. "They say
she's a very nice girl," said Sir William.

"Very handsome indeed, I'm told," said Mr. Flick.

"And in love with the son of the old tailor from Keswick," said Mr.
Hardy.

"She'll prefer the lord to the tailor for a guinea," said Sir
William.

And thus it was decided, after some indecisive fashion, that their
client should be sounded as to the expedience of a compromise. It
was certain to them that the poor woman would be glad to accept, for
herself and her daughter, half of the wealth at stake, which half
would be to her almost unlimited riches, on the condition that their
rank was secured to them,--their rank and all the privileges of
honest legitimacy. But as to such an arrangement the necessary delay
offered no doubt a serious impediment, and it was considered that
the wisest course would be to propose the marriage. But who should
propose it, and how should it be proposed? Sir William was quite
willing to make the suggestion to the young Lord or the young Lord's
family, whose consent must of course be first obtained; but who
should then break the ice to the Countess? "I suppose we must ask our
friend, the Serjeant," said Mr. Flick. Serjeant Bluestone was the
leading counsel for our Countess, and was vehemently energetic in
this case. He swore everywhere that the Solicitor-General hadn't a
leg to stand upon, and that the Solicitor-General knew that he hadn't
a leg. Let them bring that Italian Countess over if they dared. He'd
countess her, and discountess her too! Since he had first known the
English courts of law there had been no case hard as this was hard.
Had not the old Earl been acquitted of the charge of bigamy, when
the unfortunate woman had done her best to free herself from her
position? Serjeant Bluestone, who was a very violent man, taking up
all his cases as though the very holding of a brief opposite to him
was an insult to himself, had never before been so violent. "The
Serjeant will take it as a surrender," said Mr. Flick.

"We must get round the Serjeant," said Sir William. "There are ladies
in the Lovel family; we must manage it through them." And so it was
arranged by the young Lord's lawyers that an attempt should be made
to marry him to the heiress.

The two cousins had never seen each other. Lady Anna had hardly heard
of Frederic Lovel before her father's death; but, since that, had
been brought up to regard the young Lord as her natural enemy. The
young Lord had been taught from his youth upwards to look upon the
soi-disant Countess and her daughter as impostors who would some day
strive to rob him of his birthright;--and, in these latter days, as
impostors who were hard at work upon their project. And he had been
told of the intimacy between the Countess and the old tailor,--and
also of that between the so-called Lady Anna and the young tailor. To
these distant Lovels,--to Frederic Lovel who had been brought up with
the knowledge that he must be the Earl, and to his uncle and aunt
by whom he had been brought up,--the women down at Keswick had been
represented as vulgar, odious, and disreputable. We all know how
firm can be the faith of a family in such matters. The Lovels were
not without fear as to the result of the attempt that was being
made. They understood quite as well as did Mr. Flick the glory of
the position which would attend upon success, and the wretchedness
attendant upon a pauper earldom. They were nervous enough, and in
some moods frightened. But their trust in the justice of their cause
was unbounded. The old Earl, whose memory was horrible to them, had
purposely left two enemies in their way. There had been the Italian
mistress backed up by the will; and there had been this illegitimate
child. The one was vanquished; but the other--! Ah,--it would be bad
with them indeed if that enemy could not be vanquished too! They had
offered £30,000 to the enemy; but the enemy would not accept the
bribe. The idea of ending all their troubles by a marriage had never
occurred to them. Had Mrs. Lovel been asked about it, she would have
said that Anna Murray,--as she always studiously called the Lady
Anna, was not fit to be married.

The young Lord, who a few months after his cousin's death had been
old enough to take his seat in the House of Peers, was a gayhearted,
kindly young man, who had been brought home from sea at the age of
twenty on the death of an elder brother. Some of the family had
wished that he should go on with his profession in spite of the
earldom; but it had been thought unfit that he should be an earl and
a midshipman at the same time, and his cousin's death while he was
still on shore settled the question. He was a fair-haired, well-made
young lad, looking like a sailor, and every inch a gentleman.
Had he believed that the Lady Anna was the Lady Anna, no earthly
consideration would have induced him to meddle with the money. Since
the old Lord's death, he had lived chiefly with his uncle Charles
Lovel, having passed some two or three months at Lovel Grange with
his uncle and aunt. Charles Lovel was a clergyman, with a good living
at Yoxham, in Yorkshire, who had married a rich wife, a woman with
some two thousand a year of her own, and was therefore well to do in
the world. His two sons were at Harrow, and he had one other child,
a daughter. With them also lived a Miss Lovel, Aunt Julia,--who was
supposed of all the Lovels to be the wisest and most strong-minded.
The parson, though a popular man, was not strong-minded. He was
passionate, loud, generous, affectionate and indiscreet. He was very
proud of his nephew's position as head of the family,--and very full
of his nephew's wrongs arising from the fraud of those Murray women.
He was a violent Tory, and had heard much of the Keswick Radical. He
never doubted for a moment that both old Thwaite and young Thwaite
were busy in concocting an enormous scheme of plunder by which to
enrich themselves. To hear that they had both been convicted and
transported was the hope of his life. That a Radical should not be
worthy of transportation was to him impossible. That a Radical should
be honest was to him incredible. But he was a thoroughly humane and
charitable man, whose good qualities were as little intelligible to
old Thomas Thwaite, as were those of Thomas Thwaite to him.

To whom should the Solicitor-General first break the matter? He
had already had some intercourse with the Lovels, and had not
been impressed with a sense of the parson's wisdom. He was a Whig
Solicitor-General, for there were still Whigs in those days, and
Mr. Lovel had not much liked him. Mr. Flick had seen much of the
family,--having had many interviews with the young lord, with the
parson, and with Aunt Julia. It was at last settled by Sir William's
advice that a letter should be written to Aunt Julia by Mr. Flick,
suggesting that she should come up to town.

"Mr. Lovel will be very angry," said Mr. Flick.

"We must do the best we can for our client," said Sir William. The
letter was written, and Miss Lovel was informed in Mr. Flick's most
discreet style, that as Sir William Patterson was anxious to discuss
a matter concerning Lord Lovel's case in which a woman's voice would
probably be of more service than that of a man, perhaps Miss Lovel
would not object to the trouble of a journey to London. Miss Lovel
did come up, and her brother came with her.

The interview took place in Sir William's chambers, and no one was
present but Sir William, Miss Lovel, and Mr. Flick. Mr. Flick had
been instructed to sit still and say nothing, unless he were asked
a question; and he obeyed his instructions. After some apologies,
which were perhaps too soft and sweet,--and which were by no means
needed, as Miss Lovel herself, though very wise, was neither soft nor
sweet,--the great man thus opened his case. "This is a very serious
matter, Miss Lovel."

"Very serious indeed."

"You can hardly perhaps conceive how great a load of responsibility
lies upon a lawyer's shoulders, when he has to give advice in such a
case as this, when perhaps the prosperity of a whole family may turn
upon his words."

"He can only do his best."

"Ah yes, Miss Lovel. That is easy to say; but how shall he know what
is the best?"

"I suppose the truth will prevail at last. It is impossible to think
that a young man such as my nephew should be swindled out of a noble
fortune by the intrigues of two such women as these. I can't believe
it, and I won't believe it. Of course I am only a woman, but I always
thought it wrong to offer them even a shilling." Sir William smiled
and rubbed his head, fixing his eyes on those of the lady. Though he
smiled she could see that there was real sadness in his face. "You
don't mean to say you doubt?" she said.

"Indeed I do."

"You think that a wicked scheme like this can succeed before an
English judge?"

"But if the scheme be not wicked? Let me tell you one or two things,
Miss Lovel;--or rather my own private opinion on one or two points.
I do not believe that these two ladies are swindlers."

"They are not ladies, and I feel sure that they are swindlers,"
said Miss Lovel very firmly, turning her face as she spoke to the
attorney.

"I am telling you, of course, merely my own opinion, and I will
beg you to believe of me that in forming it I have used all the
experience and all the caution which a long course of practice in
these matters has taught me. Your nephew is entitled to my best
services, and at the present moment I can perhaps do my duty to him
most thoroughly by asking you to listen to me." The lady closed her
lips together, and sat silent. "Whether Mrs. Murray, as we have
hitherto called her, was or was not the legal wife of the late Earl,
I will not just now express an opinion; but I am sure that she thinks
that she was. The marriage was formal and accurate. The Earl was
tried for bigamy, and acquitted. The people with whom we have to
do across the water, in Sicily, are not respectable. They cannot
be induced to come here to give evidence. An English jury will be
naturally averse to them. The question is one simply of facts for
a jury, and we cannot go beyond a jury. Had the daughter been a
son, it would have been in the House of Lords to decide which young
man should be the peer;--but, as it is, it is simply a question of
property, and of facts as to the ownership of the property. Should we
lose the case, your nephew would be--a very poor man."

"A very poor man, indeed, Sir William."

"His position would be distressing. I am bound to say that we should
go into court to try the case with very great distrust. Mr. Flick
quite agrees with me."

"Quite so, Sir William," said Mr. Flick.

Miss Lovel again looked at the attorney, closed her lips tighter than
ever, but did not say a word.

"In such cases as this prejudices will arise, Miss Lovel. It is
natural that you and your family should be prejudiced against these
ladies. For myself, I am not aware that anything true can be alleged
against them."

"The girl has disgraced herself with a tailor's son," almost screamed
Miss Lovel.

"You have been told so, but I do not believe it to be true. They
were, no doubt, brought up as children together; and Mr. Thwaite has
been most kind to both the ladies." It at once occurred to Miss Lovel
that Sir William was a Whig, and that there was in truth but little
difference between a Whig and a Radical. To be at heart a gentleman,
or at heart a lady, it was, to her thinking, necessary to be a Tory.
"It would be a thousand pities that so noble a property should pass
out of a family which, by its very splendour and ancient nobility,
is placed in need of ample means." On hearing this sentiment, which
might have become even a Tory, Miss Lovel relaxed somewhat the
muscles of her face. "Were the Earl to marry his cousin--"

"She is not his cousin."

"Were the Earl to marry the young lady who, it may be, will be proved
to be his cousin, the whole difficulty would be cleared away."

"Marry her!"

"I am told that she is very lovely, and that pains have been taken
with her education. Her mother was well born and well bred. If you
would get at the truth, Miss Lovel, you must teach yourself to
believe that they are not swindlers. They are no more swindlers than
I am a swindler. I will go further,--though perhaps you, and the
young Earl, and Mr. Flick, may think me unfit to be intrusted any
longer with this case, after such a declaration,--I believe, though
it is with a doubting belief, that the elder lady is the Countess
Lovel, and that her daughter is the legitimate child and the heir of
the late Earl."

Mr. Flick sat with his mouth open as he heard this,--beating his
breast almost with despair. His opinion tallied exactly with Sir
William's. Indeed, it was by his opinion, hardly expressed, but
perfectly understood, that Sir William had been led. But he had not
thought that Sir William would be so bold and candid.

"You believe that Anna Murray is the real heir?" gasped Miss Lovel.

"I do,--with a doubting belief. I am inclined that way,--having to
form my opinion on very conflicting evidence." Mr. Flick was by this
time quite sure that Sir William was right, in his opinion,--though
perhaps wrong in declaring it,--having been corroborated in his own
belief by the reflex of it on a mind more powerful than his own.
"Thinking as I do," continued Sir William,--"with a natural bias
towards my own client,--what will a jury think, who will have no such
bias? If they are cousins,--distant cousins,--why should they not
marry and be happy, one bringing the title, and the other the wealth?
There could be no more rational union, Miss Lovel."

Then there was a long pause before any one spoke a word. Mr. Flick
had been forbidden to speak, and Sir William, having made his
proposition, was determined to await the lady's reply. The lady was
aghast, and for awhile could neither think nor utter a word. At last
she opened her mouth. "I must speak to my brother about this."

"Quite right, Miss Lovel."

"Now I may go, Sir William?"

"Good morning, Miss Lovel." And Miss Lovel went.

"You have gone farther than I thought you would, Sir William," said
Mr. Flick.

"I hardly went far enough, Mr. Flick. We must go farther yet if we
mean to save any part of the property for the young man. What should
we gain, even if we succeeded in proving that the Earl was married
in early life to the old Sicilian hag that still lives? She would
inherit the property then;--not the Earl."



CHAPTER VI.

YOXHAM RECTORY.


Miss Lovel, wise and strong-minded as she was, did not dare to come
to any decision on the proposition made to her without consulting
some one. Strong as she was, she found herself at once to be too weak
to speak to her nephew on the subject of her late interview with
the great lawyer without asking her brother's opinion. The parson
had accompanied her up to London, in a state of wrath against Sir
William, in that he had not been sent for instead of his sister, and
to him she told all that had been said. Her brother was away at his
club when she got back to her hotel, and she had some hours in which
to think of what had taken place. She could not at once bring herself
to believe that all her former beliefs were vain and ill founded.

But if the opinion of the Solicitor-General had not prevailed with
her, it prevailed still less when it reached her brother second-hand.
She had been shaken, but Mr. Lovel at first was not shaken at all.
Sir William was a Whig and a traitor. He had never known a Whig who
was not a traitor. Sir William was throwing them over. The Murray
people, who were all Whigs, had got hold of him. He, Mr. Lovel, would
go at once to Mr. Hardy, and tell Mr. Hardy what he thought. The
case should be immediately taken out of the hands of Messrs. Norton
and Flick. Did not all the world know that these impostors were
impostors? Sir William should be exposed and degraded,--though,
in regard to this threatened degradation, Mr. Lovel was almost of
opinion that his party would like their Solicitor-General better for
having shown himself to be a traitor, and therefore proved himself to
be a good Whig. He stormed and flew about the room, using language
which hardly became his cloth. If his nephew married the girl, he
would never own his nephew again. If that swindle was to prevail,
let his nephew be poor and honest. He would give half of all he had
towards supporting the peerage, and was sure that his boys would
thank him for what he had done. But they should never call that woman
cousin; and as for himself, might his tongue be blistered if ever he
spoke of either of those women as Countess Lovel. He was inclined
to think that the whole case should immediately be taken out of
the hands of Norton and Flick, without further notice, and another
solicitor employed. But at last he consented to call on Mr. Norton on
the following morning.

Mr. Norton was a heavy, honest old man, who attended to simple
conveyancing, and sat amidst the tin boxes of his broad-acred
clients. He had no alternative but to send for Mr. Flick, and Mr.
Flick came. When Mr. Lovel showed his anger, Mr. Flick became
somewhat indignant. Mr. Flick knew how to assert himself, and Mr.
Lovel was not quite the same man in the lawyer's chambers that
he had been in his own parlour at the hotel. Mr. Flick was of
opinion that no better counsel was to be had in England than the
Solicitor-General, and no opinion more worthy of trust than his. If
the Earl chose to put his case into other hands, of course he could
do so, but it would behove his lordship to be very careful lest he
should prejudice most important interests by showing his own weakness
to his opponents. Mr. Flick spoke in the interests of his client,--so
he said,--and not in his own. Mr. Flick was clearly of opinion that a
compromise should be arranged; and having given that opinion, could
say nothing more on the present occasion. On the next day the young
Earl saw Mr. Flick, and also saw Sir William, and was then told by
his aunt of the proposition which had been made. The parson retired
to Yoxham, and Miss Lovel remained in London with her nephew. By
the end of the week Miss Lovel was brought round to think that some
compromise was expedient. All this took place in May. The cause had
been fixed for trial in the following November, the long interval
having been allowed because of the difficulty expected in producing
the evidence necessary for rebutting the claims of the late Earl's
daughter.

By the middle of June all the Lovels were again in London,--the
parson, his sister, the parson's wife, and the Earl. "I never saw the
young woman in my life," said the Earl to his aunt.

"As for that," said his aunt, "no doubt you could see her if you
thought it wise to do so."

"I suppose she might be asked to the rectory?" said Mrs. Lovel.

"That would be giving up altogether," said the rector.

"Sir William said that it would not be against us at all," said Aunt
Julia.

"You would have to call her Lady Anna," said Mrs. Lovel.

"I couldn't do it," said the rector. "It would be much better to give
her half."

"But why should she take the half if the whole belongs to her?" said
the young lord. "And why should I ask even for the half if nothing
belongs to me?" At this time the young lord had become almost
despondent as to his alleged rights, and now and again had made
everybody belonging to him miserable by talking of withdrawing from
his claim. He had come to understand that Sir William believed that
the daughter was the real heir, and he thought that Sir William must
know better than others. He was down-hearted and low in spirits, but
not the less determined to be just in all that he did.

"I have made inquiry," said Aunt Julia, "and I do believe that the
stories which we heard against the girl were untrue."

"The tailor and his son have been their most intimate friends," said
Mr. Lovel.

"Because they had none others," said Mrs. Lovel.

It had been settled that by the 24th of June the lord was to say
whether he would or would not take Sir William's advice. If he would
do so, Sir William was to suggest what step should next be taken as
to making the necessary overtures to the two ladies. If he would not,
then Sir William was to advise how best the case might be carried
on. They were all again at Yoxham that day, and the necessary
communication was to be made to Mr. Flick by post. The young man
had been alone the whole morning thinking of his condition, and
undoubtedly the desire for the money had grown on him strongly. Why
should it not have done so? Is there a nobleman in Great Britain who
can say that he could lose the fortune which he possesses or the
fortune which he expects without an agony that would almost break his
heart? Young Lord Lovel sighed for the wealth without which his title
would only be to him a terrible burden, and yet he was resolved that
he would take no part in anything that was unjust. This girl, he
heard, was beautiful and soft and pleasant, and now they told him
that the evil things which had been reported against her had been
slanders. He was assured that she was neither coarse, nor vulgar, nor
unmaidenly. Two or three old men, of equal rank with his own,--men
who had been his father's friends and were allied to the Lovels, and
had been taken into confidence by Sir William,--told him that the
proper way out of the difficulty had been suggested to him. There
could be nothing, they said, more fitting than that two cousins so
situated should marry. With such an acknowledgment of her rank and
birth everybody would visit his wife. There was not a countess or a
duchess in London who would not be willing to take her by the hand.
His two aunts had gradually given way, and it was clear to him that
his uncle would give way,--even his uncle,--if he would but yield
himself. It was explained to him that if the girl came to Yoxham,
with the privilege of being called Lady Anna by the inhabitants of
the rectory, she would of course do so on the understanding that she
should accept her cousin's hand. "But she might not like me," said
the young Earl to his aunt.

"Not like you!" said Mrs. Lovel, putting her hand up to his brow and
pushing away his hair. Was it possible that any girl should not like
such a man as that, and he an earl?

"And if I did not like her, Aunt Lovel?"

"Then I would not ask her to be my wife." He thought that there
was an injustice in this, and yet before the day was over he had
assented.

"I do not think that I can call her Lady Anna," said the rector. "I
don't think I can bring my tongue to do it."



CHAPTER VII.

THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL PERSEVERES.


There was considerable difficulty in making the overture to the
two ladies,--or rather in making it to the elder lady; for the
suggestion, if made to the daughter, must of course come to her from
her mother. It had been decided at last that the Lady Anna could not
be invited to the rectory till it had been positively settled that
she should be the Lady Anna without further opposition; and that all
opposition to the claim should be withdrawn, at any rate till it was
found that the young people were not inclined to be engaged to each
other. "How can I call her Lady Anna before I have made up my mind to
think that she is Lady Anna?" said the parson, almost in tears. As to
the rest of the family, it may be said that they had come silently to
think that the Countess was the Countess and that the Lady Anna was
the Lady Anna;--silently in reference to each other, for not one of
them except the young lord had positively owned to such a conviction.
Sir William Patterson had been too strong for them. It was true that
he was a Whig. It was possible that he was a traitor. But he was a
man of might, and his opinion had domineered over theirs. To make
things as straight as they could be made it would be well that the
young people should be married. What would be the Earldom of Lovel
without the wealth which the old mad Earl had amassed?

Sir William and Mr. Flick were strongly in favour of the marriage,
and Mr. Hardy at last assented. The worst of it was that something of
all this doubt on the part of the Earl and his friends was sure to
reach the opposite party. "They are shaking in their shoes," Serjeant
Bluestone said to his junior counsel, Mr. Mainsail. "I do believe
they are not going to fight at all," he said to Mr. Goffe, the
attorney for the Countess. Mr. Mainsail rubbed his hands. Mr. Goffe
shook his head. Mr. Goffe was sure that they would fight. Mr.
Mainsail, who had worked like a horse in getting up and arranging all
the evidence on behalf of the Countess, and in sifting, as best he
might, the Italian documents, was delighted. All this Sir William
feared, and he felt that it was quite possible that the Earl's
overture might be rejected because the Earl would not be thought to
be worth having. "We must count upon his coronet," said Sir William
to Mr. Flick. "She could not do better even if the property were
undoubtedly her own."

But how was the first suggestion to be made? Mr. Hardy was anxious
that everything should be straightforward,--and Sir William assented,
with a certain inward peevishness at Mr. Hardy's stiff-necked
propriety. Sir William was anxious to settle the thing comfortably
for all parties. Mr. Hardy was determined not only that right should
be done, but also that it should be done in a righteous manner. The
great question now was whether they could approach the widow and her
daughter otherwise than through Serjeant Bluestone. "The Serjeant is
such a blunderbuss," said the Solicitor-General. But the Serjeant
was counsel for these ladies, and it was at last settled that there
should be a general conference at Sir William's chambers. A very
short note was written by Mr. Flick to Mr. Goffe, stating that the
Solicitor-General thought that a meeting might be for the advantage
of all parties;--and the meeting was arranged. There were present
the two barristers and the one attorney for each side, and many an
anxious thought was given to the manner in which the meeting should
be conducted. Serjeant Bluestone was fully resolved that he would
hold his own against the Solicitor-General, and would speak his mind
freely. Mr. Mainsail got up little telling questions. Mr. Goffe and
Mr. Flick both felt that it would behove them to hold their peace,
unless questioned, but were equally determined to hang fast by their
clients. Mr. Hardy in his heart of hearts thought that his learned
friend was about to fling away his case. Sir William had quite
made up his mind as to his line of action. He seated them all most
courteously, giving them place according to their rank,--a great
arm-chair for Serjeant Bluestone, from which the Serjeant would
hardly be able to use his arms with his accustomed energy,--and then
he began at once. "Gentlemen," said he, "it would be a great pity
that this property should be wasted."

"No fear of that, Mr. Solicitor," said the Serjeant.

"It would be a great pity that this property should be wasted,"
repeated Sir William, bowing to the Serjeant, "and I am disposed to
think that the best thing the two young people can do is to marry
each other." Then he paused, and the three gentlemen opposite sat
erect, the barristers as speechless as the attorneys. But the
Solicitor-General had nothing to add. He had made his proposition,
and was desirous of seeing what effect it might have before he spoke
another word.

"Then you acknowledge the Countess's marriage, of course," said the
Serjeant.

"Pardon me, Serjeant, we acknowledge nothing. As a matter of course
she is the Countess till it be proved that another wife was living
when she was married."

"Quite as a matter of course," said the Serjeant.

"Quite as a matter of course, if that will make the case stronger,"
continued Sir William. "Her marriage was formal and regular. That she
believed her marriage to be a righteous marriage before God, I have
never doubted. God forbid that I should have a harsh thought against
a poor lady who has suffered so much cruel treatment."

"Why have things been said then?" asked the Serjeant, beginning to
throw about his left arm.

"If I am not mistaken," said Mr. Mainsail, "evidence has been
prepared to show that the Countess is a party to a contemplated
fraud."

"Then you are mistaken, Mr. Mainsail," said Sir William. "I admit
at once and clearly that the lady is not suspected of any fraud.
Whether she be actually the Countess Lovel or not it may,--I fear
it must,--take years to prove, if the law be allowed to take its
course."

"We think that we can dispose of any counter-claim in much less time
than that," said the Serjeant.

"It may be so. I myself think that it would not be so. Our
evidence in favour of the lady, who is now living some two leagues
out of Palermo, is very strong. She is a poor creature, old,
ignorant,--fairly well off through the bounty of the late Earl,
but always craving for some trifle more,--unwilling to come to
this country,--childless, and altogether indifferent to the second
marriage, except in so far as might interfere with her hopes of
getting some further subsidy from the Lovel family. One is not
very anxious on her behalf. One is only anxious,--can only be
anxious,--that the vast property at stake should not get into
improper hands."

"And that justice should be done," said Mr. Hardy.

"And that justice should be done of course, as my friend observes.
Here is a young man who is undoubtedly Earl of Lovel, and who claims
a property as heir to the late Earl. And here is a young lady, I am
told very beautiful and highly educated, who is the daughter of the
late Earl, and who claims that property believing herself to be his
legitimate heiress. The question between them is most intricate."

"The onus probandi lies with you, Mr. Solicitor," said the Serjeant.

"We acknowledge that it does, but the case on that account is none
the less intricate. With the view of avoiding litigation and expense,
and in the certainty that by such an arrangement the enjoyment of the
property will fall to the right owner, we propose that steps shall be
taken to bring these two young people together. The lady, whom for
the occasion I am quite willing to call the Countess, the mother of
the lady whom I hope the young Earl will make his own Countess, has
not been sounded on this subject."

"I should hope not," said the Serjeant.

"My excellent friend takes me up a little short," said Sir William,
laughing. "You gentlemen will probably consult together on the
subject, and whatever may be the advice which you shall consider it
to be your duty to give to the mother,--and I am sure that you will
feel bound to let her know the proposition that has been made; I do
not hesitate to say that we have a right to expect that it shall be
made known to her,--I need hardly remark that were the young lady to
accept the young lord's hand we should all be in a boat together in
reference to the mother's rank, and to the widow's claim upon the
personal property left behind him by her late husband."

And so the Solicitor-General had made his proposition, and the
conference was broken up with a promise that Mr. Flick should hear
from Mr. Goffe upon the subject. But the Serjeant had at once made
up his mind against the compromise now proposed. He desired the
danger and the dust and the glory of the battle. He was true to his
clients' interests, no doubt,--intended to be intensely true; but the
personal, doggish love of fighting prevailed in the man, and he was
clear as to the necessity of going on. "They know they are beat," he
said to Mr. Goffe. "Mr. Solicitor knows as well as I do that he has
not an inch of ground under his feet." Therefore Mr. Goffe wrote the
following letter to Messrs. Norton and Flick:--


   Raymond's Buildings, Gray's Inn,
   1st July, 183--.

   DEAR SIRS,

   In reference to the interview which took place at the
   chambers of the Solicitor-General on the 27th ult., we
   are to inform you that we are not disposed, as acting for
   our clients, the Countess of Lovel and her daughter the
   Lady Anna Lovel, to listen to the proposition then made.
   Apart from the very strong feeling we entertain as to the
   certainty of our client's success,--which certainly was
   not weakened by what we heard on that occasion,--we are
   of opinion that we could not interfere with propriety in
   suggesting the marriage of two young persons who have not
   as yet had any opportunity of becoming acquainted with
   each other. Should the Earl of Lovel seek the hand of
   his cousin, the Lady Anna Lovel, and marry her with the
   consent of the Countess, we should be delighted at such
   a family arrangement; but we do not think that we, as
   lawyers,--or, if we may be allowed to say so, that you as
   lawyers,--have anything to do with such a matter.

   We are, dear Sirs,
   Yours very faithfully,

   GOFFE AND GOFFE.

   Messrs. Norton and Flick.


"Balderdash!" said Sir William, when he had read the letter. "We are
not going to be done in that way. It was all very well going to that
Serjeant as he has the case in hand, though a worse messenger in an
affair of love--"

"Not love, as yet, Mr. Solicitor," said Mr. Flick.

"I mean it to be love, and I'm not going to be put off by Serjeant
Bluestone. We must get to the lady by some other means. Do you write
to that tailor down at Keswick, and say that you want to see him."

"Will that be regular, Sir William?"

"I'll stand the racket, Mr. Flick." Mr. Flick did write to Thomas
Thwaite, and Thomas Thwaite came up to London and called at Mr.
Flick's chambers.

When Thomas Thwaite received his commission he was much rejoiced.
Injustice would be done him unless so much were owned on his behalf.
But, nevertheless, some feeling of disappointment which he could not
analyze crept across his heart. If once the girl were married to Earl
Lovel there would be an end of his services and of his son's. He had
never really entertained an idea that his son would marry the girl.
As the reader will perhaps remember, he had warned his son that he
must seek a sweetheart elsewhere. He had told himself over and over
again that when the Countess came to her own there must be an end of
this intimacy,--that there could be nothing in common between him,
the radical tailor of Keswick, and a really established Countess.
The Countess, while not yet really established, had already begged
that his son might be instructed not to call her daughter simply by
her Christian name. Old Thwaite on receiving this intimation of the
difference of their positions, though he had acknowledged its truth,
had felt himself bitterly aggrieved, and now the moment had come. Of
course the Countess would grasp at such an offer. Of course it would
give her all that she had desired, and much more than she expected.
In adjusting his feelings on the occasion the tailor thought but
little of the girl herself. Why should she not be satisfied? Of the
young Earl he had only heard that he was a handsome, modest, gallant
lad, who only wanted a fortune to make him one of the most popular
of the golden youth of England. Why should not the girl rejoice
at the prospect of winning such a husband? To have a husband must
necessarily be in her heart, whether she were the Lady Anna Lovel,
or plain Anna Murray. And what espousals could be so auspicious as
these? Feeling all this, without much of calculation, the tailor said
that he would do as he was bidden. "We have sent for you because we
know that you have been so old a friend," said Mr. Flick, who did
not quite approve of the emissary whom he had been instructed by Sir
William to employ.

"I will do my best, sir," said Mr. Thwaite, making his bow. Thomas
Thwaite, as he went along the streets alone, determined that he would
perform this new duty imposed upon him without any reference to his
son.



CHAPTER VIII.

IMPOSSIBLE!


"They sent for me, Lady Lovel, to bid me come to your ladyship and
ask your ladyship whether you would consent to a marriage between
the two young people." It was thus that the tailor repeated for the
second time the message which had been confided to him, showing the
gall and also the pride which were at work about his heart by the
repeated titles which he gave to his old friend.

"They desire that Anna should marry the young lord!"

"Yes, my lady. That's the meaning of it."

"And what am I to be?"

"Just the Countess Lovel,--with a third of the property as your own.
I suppose it would be a third; but you might trust the lawyers to
settle that properly. When once they take your daughter among them
they won't scrimp you in your honours. They'll all swear that the
marriage was good enough then. They know that already, and have made
this offer because they know it. Your ladyship needn't fear now
but what all the world will own you as the Countess Lovel. I don't
suppose I'll be troubled to come up to London any more."

"Oh, my friend!" The ejaculation she made feeling the necessity of
saying something to soothe the tailor's pride; but her heart was
fixed upon the fruition of that for which she had spent so many years
in struggling. Was it to come to her at last? Could it be that now,
now at once, people throughout the world would call her the Countess
Lovel, and would own her daughter to be the Lady Anna,--till she also
should become a countess? Of the young man she had heard nothing
but good, and it was impossible that she should have fear in that
direction, even had she been timorous by nature. But she was bold
and eager, hopeful in spite of all that she had suffered, full of
ambition, and not prone to feminine scruples. She had been fighting
all her life in order that she and her daughter might be acknowledged
to be among the aristocrats of her country. She was so far a loving,
devoted mother that in all her battles she thought more of her child
than of herself. She would have consented to carry on the battle in
poverty to the last gasp of her own breath, could she thereby have
insured success for her surviving daughter. But she was not a woman
likely to be dismayed at the idea of giving her girl in marriage
to an absolute stranger, when that stranger was such a one as the
young Earl Lovel. She herself had been a countess, but a wretched,
unacknowledged, poverty-stricken countess, for the last half of her
eventful life. This marriage would make her daughter a countess,
prosperous, accepted by all, and very wealthy. What better end could
there be to her long struggles? Of course she would assent.

"I don't know why they should have troubled themselves to send for
me," said the tailor.

"Because you are the best friend that I have in the world. Whom else
could I have trusted as I do you? Has the Earl agreed to it?"

"They didn't tell me that, my lady."

"They would hardly have sent, unless he had agreed. Don't you think
so, Mr. Thwaite?"

"I don't know much about such things, my lady."

"You have told--Daniel?"

"No, my lady."

"Oh, Mr. Thwaite, do not talk to me in that way. It sounds as though
you were deserting me."

"There'll be no reason for not deserting now. You'll have friends by
the score more fit to see you through this than old Thomas Thwaite.
And, to own the truth, now that the matter is coming to an end, I am
getting weary of it. I'm not so young as I was, and I'd be better
left at home to my business."

"I hope that you may disregard your business now without imprudence,
Mr. Thwaite."

"No, my lady;--a man should always stick to his business. I hope that
Daniel will do so better than his father before him,--so that his son
may never have to go out to be servant to another man."

"You are speaking daggers to me."

"I have not meant it then. I am rough by nature, I know, and perhaps
a little low just at present. There is something sad in the parting
of old friends."

"Old friends needn't be parted, Mr. Thwaite."

"When your ladyship was good enough to point out to me my boy's
improper manner of speech to Lady Anna, I knew how it must be. You
were quite right, my lady. There can be no becoming friendship
between the future Lady Lovel and a journeyman tailor. I was wrong
from the beginning."

"Oh, Mr. Thwaite! without such wrong where should we have been?"

"There can be no holding ground of friendship between such as you and
such as we. Lords and ladies, earls and countesses, are our enemies,
and we are theirs. We may make their robes and take their money, and
deal with them as the Jew dealt with the Christians in the play; but
we cannot eat with them or drink with them."

"How often have I eaten and drank at your table, when no other table
was spread for me?"

"You were a Jew almost as ourselves then. We cannot now well stand
shoulder to shoulder and arm to arm as friends should do."

"How often has my child lain in your arms when she was a baby, and
been quieter there than she would be even in her mother's?"

"That has all gone by. Other arms will be open to receive her." As
the tailor said this he remembered how his boy used to take the
little child out to the mountain side, and how the two would ramble
away together through the long summer evenings; and he reflected that
the memory of those days was no doubt still strong in the heart of
his son. Some shadow of the grief which would surely fall upon the
young man now fell upon the father, and caused him almost to repent
of the work of his life. "Tailors should consort with tailors," he
said, "and lords and ladies should consort together."

Something of the same feeling struck the Countess also. If it were
not for the son, the father, after all that he had done for them,
might be almost as near and as dear to them as ever. He might have
called the Lady Anna by her Christian name, at any rate till she had
been carried away as a bride by the Earl. But, though all this was so
exquisitely painful, it had been absolutely necessary to check the
son. "Ah, well," she said; "it is hardly to be hoped that so many
crooked things should be made straight without much pain. If you
knew, Mr. Thwaite, how little it is that I expect for myself!"

"It is because I have known it that I am here."

"It will be well for her,--will it not,--to be the wife of her
cousin?"

"If he be a good man. A woman will not always make herself happy by
marrying an Earl."

"How many daggers you can use, Mr. Thwaite! But this young man is
good. You yourself have said that you have heard so."

"I have heard nothing to the contrary, my lady."

"And what shall I do?"

"Just explain it all to Lady Anna. I think it will be clear then."

"You believe that she will be so easily pleased?"

"Why should she not be pleased? She'll have some maiden scruples,
doubtless. What maid would not? But she'll exult at such an end to
all her troubles;--and what maid would not? Let them meet as soon as
may be and have it over. When he shall have placed the ring on her
finger, your battle will have been won."

Then the tailor felt that his commission was done and he might take
his leave. It had been arranged that in the event of the Countess
consenting to the proposed marriage, he should call upon Mr. Flick to
explain that it was so. Had she dissented, a short note would have
been sufficient. Had such been the case, the Solicitor-General would
have instigated the young lord to go and try what he himself could do
with the Countess and her daughter. The tailor had suggested to the
mother that she should at once make the proposition known to Lady
Anna, but the Countess felt that one other word was necessary as
her old friend left her. "Will you go back at once to Keswick, Mr.
Thwaite?"

"To-morrow morning, my lady."

"Perhaps you will not tell your son of this,--yet?"

"No, my lady. I will not tell my son of this,--yet. My son is
high-minded and stiff-necked, and of great heart. If he saw aught to
object to in this marriage, it might be that he would express himself
loudly." Then the tailor took his leave without even shaking hands
with the Countess.

The woman sat alone for the next two hours, thinking of what had
passed. There had sprung up in these days a sort of friendship
between Mrs. Bluestone and the two Miss Bluestones and the Lady
Anna, arising rather from the forlorn condition of the young lady
than from any positive choice of affection. Mrs. Bluestone was kind
and motherly. The girls were girlish and good. The father was the
Jupiter Tonans of the household,--as was of course proper,--and was
worshipped in everything. To the world at large Serjeant Bluestone
was a thundering, blundering, sanguine, energetic lawyer, whom nobody
disliked very much though he was so big and noisy. But at home
Serjeant Bluestone was all the judges of the land rolled into one.
But he was a kind-hearted man, and he had sent his wife and girls
to call upon the disconsolate Countess. The disconsolate Lady Anna
having no other friends, had found the companionship of the Bluestone
girls to be pleasant to her, and she was now with them at the
Serjeant's house in Bedford Square. Mrs. Bluestone talked of the
wrongs and coming rights of the Countess Lovel wherever she went, and
the Bluestone girls had all the case at their fingers' ends. To doubt
that the Serjeant would succeed, or to doubt that the success of the
Countess and her daughter would have had any other source than the
Serjeant's eloquence and the Serjeant's zeal, would have been heresy
in Bedford Square. The grand idea that young Jack Bluestone, who was
up at Brasenose, should marry the Lady Anna, had occurred only to the
mother.

Lady Anna was away with her friends as the Countess sat brooding over
the new hopes that had been opened to her. At first, she could not
tear her mind away from the position which she herself would occupy
as soon as her daughter should have been married and taken away
from her. The young Earl would not want his mother-in-law,--a
mother-in-law who had spent the best years of her life in the society
of a tailor. And the daughter, who would still be young enough to
begin a new life in a new sphere, would no longer want her mother to
help her. As regarded herself, the Countess was aware that the life
she had led so long, and the condition of agonizing struggling to
which she had been brought, had unfitted her for smiling, happy,
prosperous, aristocratic luxury. There was but one joy left for her,
and that was to be the joy of success. When that cup should have been
drained, there would be nothing left to her. She would have her rank,
of course,--and money enough to support it. She no longer feared that
any one would do her material injury. Her daughter's husband no doubt
would see that she had a fitting home, with all the appanages and
paraphernalia suited to a dowager Countess. But who would share her
home with her, and where should she find her friends? Even now the
two Miss Bluestones were more to her daughter than she was. When
she should be established in her new luxurious home, with servants
calling her my lady, with none to contradict her right, she would no
longer be enabled to sit late into the night discussing matters with
her friend the tailor. As regarded herself, it would have been better
for her, perhaps, if the fight had been carried on.

But the fight had been, not for herself, but for her child; and the
victory for her girl would have been won by her own perseverance.
Her whole life had been devoted to establishing the rights of her
daughter, and it should be so devoted to the end. It had been her
great resolve that the world should acknowledge the rank of her girl,
and now it would be acknowledged. Not only would she become the
Countess Lovel by marriage, but the name which had been assumed for
her amidst the ridicule of many, and in opposition to the belief of
nearly all, would be proved to have been her just and proper title.
And then, at last, it would be known by all men that she herself, the
ill-used, suffering mother, had gone to the house of that wicked man,
not as his mistress, but as his true wife!

Hardly a thought troubled her, then, as to the acquiescence of her
daughter. She had no faintest idea that the girl's heart had been
touched by the young tailor. She had so lived that she knew but
little of lovers and their love, and in her fear regarding Daniel
Thwaite she had not conceived danger such as that. It had to her
simply been unfitting that there should be close familiarity between
the two. She expected that her daughter would be ambitious, as she
was ambitious, and would rejoice greatly at such perfect success.
She herself had been preaching ambition and practising ambition all
her life. It had been the necessity of her career that she should
think more of her right to a noble name than of any other good thing
under the sun. It was only natural that she should believe that her
daughter shared the feeling.

And then Lady Anna came in. "They wanted me to stay and dine, mamma,
but I did not like to think that you should be left alone."

"I must get used to that, my dear."

"Why, mamma? Wherever we have been, we have always been together.
Mrs. Bluestone was quite unhappy because you would not come. They are
so good-natured! I wish you would go there."

"I am better here, my dear." Then there was a pause for a few
moments. "But I am glad that you have come home this evening."

"Of course, I should come home."

"I have something special to say to you."

"To me, mamma! What is it, mamma?"

"I think we will wait till after dinner. The things are here now. Go
up-stairs and take off your hat, and I will tell you after dinner."

"Mamma," Lady Anna said, as soon as the maid had left the room, "has
old Mr. Thwaite been here?"

"Yes, my dear, he was here."

"I thought so, because you have something to tell me. It is something
from him?"

"Not from himself, Anna;--though he was the messenger. Come and sit
here, my dear,--close to me. Have you ever thought, Anna, that it
would be good for you to be married?"

"No, mamma; why should I?" But that surely was a lie! How often had
she thought that it would be good to be married to Daniel Thwaite and
to have done with this weary searching after rank! And now what could
her mother mean? Thomas Thwaite had been there, but it was impossible
that her mother should think that Daniel Thwaite would be a fit
husband for her daughter. "No, mamma;--why should I?"

"It must be thought of, my dearest."

"Why now?" She could understand perfectly that there was some special
cause for her mother's manner of speech.

"After all that we have gone through, we are about to succeed
at last. They are willing to own everything, to give us all our
rights,--on one condition."

"What condition, mamma?"

"Come nearer to me, dearest. It would not make you unhappy to think
that you were going to be the wife of a man you could love?"

"No;--not if I really loved him."

"You have heard of your cousin,--the young Earl?"

"Yes, mamma;--I have heard of him."

"They say that he is everything that is good. What should you think
of having him for your husband?"

"That would be impossible, mamma."

"Impossible!--why impossible? What could be more fitting? Your rank
is equal to his;--higher even in this, that your father was himself
the Earl. In fortune you will be much more than his equal. In age you
are exactly suited. Why should it be impossible?"

"Oh, mamma, it is impossible!"

"What makes you say so, Anna?"

"We have never seen each other."

"Tush! my child. Why should you not see each other?"

"And then we are his enemies."

"We are no longer enemies, dearest. They have sent to say that if
we,--you and I,--will consent to this marriage, then will they
consent to it also. It is their wish, and it comes from them. There
can be no more proper ending to all this weary lawsuit. It is quite
right that the title and the name should be supported. It is quite
right that the fortune which your father left should, in this way,
go to support your father's family. You will be the Countess Lovel;
and all will have been conceded to us. There cannot possibly be any
fitter way out of our difficulties." Lady Anna sat looking at her
mother in dismay, but could say nothing. "You need have no fear
about the young man. Every one tells me that he is just the man
that a mother would welcome as a husband for her daughter. Will
you not be glad to see him?" But the Lady Anna would only say that
it was impossible. "Why impossible, my dear;--what do you mean by
impossible?"

"Oh, mamma, it is impossible!"

The Countess found that she was obliged to give the subject up for
that night, and could only comfort herself by endeavouring to believe
that the suddenness of the tidings had confused her child.



CHAPTER IX.

IT ISN'T LAW.


On the next morning Lady Anna was ill, and would not leave her bed.
When her mother spoke to her, she declared that her head ached
wretchedly, and she could not be persuaded to dress herself.

"Is it what I said to you last night?" asked the Countess.

"Oh, mamma, that is impossible," she said.

It seemed to the mother that the mention of the young lord's name
had produced a horror in the daughter's mind which nothing could for
the present subdue. Before the day was over, however, the girl had
acknowledged that she was bound in duty, at any rate, to meet her
cousin; and the Countess, forced to satisfy herself with so much of
concession, and acting upon that, fixed herself in her purpose to
go on with the project. The lawyers on both sides would assist her.
It was for the advantage of them all that there should be such a
marriage. She determined, therefore, that she would at once see Mr.
Goffe, her own attorney, and give him to understand in general terms
that the case might be proceeded with on this new matrimonial basis.

But there was a grievous doubt on her mind,--a fear, a spark of
suspicion, of which she had unintentionally given notice to Thomas
Thwaite when she asked him whether he had as yet spoken of the
proposed marriage to his son. He had understood what was passing in
her mind when she exacted from him a promise that nothing should as
yet be said to Daniel Thwaite upon the matter. And yet she assured
herself over and over again that her girl could not be so weak, so
vain, so foolish, so wicked as that! It could not be that, after all
the struggles of her life,--when at last success, perfect success,
was within their grasp, when all had been done and all well done,
when the great reward was then coming up to their very lips with a
full tide,--it could not be that in the very moment of victory all
should be lost through the base weakness of a young girl! Was it
possible that her daughter,--the daughter of one who had spent the
very marrow of her life in fighting for the position that was due to
her,--should spoil all by preferring a journeyman tailor to a young
nobleman of high rank, of ancient lineage, and one, too, who by his
marriage with herself would endow her with wealth sufficient to make
that rank splendid as well as illustrious? But if it were not so,
what had the girl meant by saying that it was impossible? That the
word should have been used once or twice in maidenly scruple, the
Countess could understand; but it had been repeated with a vehemence
beyond that which such natural timidity might have produced. And now
the girl professed herself to be ill in bed, and when the subject was
broached would only weep, and repeat the one word with which she had
expressed her repugnance to the match.

Hitherto she had not been like this. She had, in her own quiet way,
shared her mother's aspirations, and had always sympathised with
her mother's sufferings; and she had been dutiful through it all,
carrying herself as one who was bound to special obedience by the
peculiarity of her parent's position. She had been keenly alive to
the wrongs that her mother endured, and had in every respect been a
loving child. But now she protested that she would not do the one
thing necessary to complete their triumph, and would give no reason
for not doing so. As the Countess thought of all this, she swore
to herself that she would prefer to divest her bosom of all soft
motherly feeling than be vanquished in this matter by her own child.
Her daughter should find that she could be stern and rough enough if
she were really thwarted. What would her life be worth to her if her
child, Lady Anna Lovel, the heiress and only legitimate offspring of
the late Earl Lovel, were to marry a--tailor?

And then, again, she told herself that there was no sufficient excuse
for such alarm. Her daughter's demeanour had ever been modest. She
had never been given to easy friendship, or to that propensity to
men's acquaintance which the world calls flirting. It might be that
the very absence of such propensity,--the very fact that hitherto she
had never been thrust into society among her equals,--had produced
that feeling almost of horror which she had expressed. But she had
been driven, at any rate, to say that she would meet the young man;
and the Countess, acting upon that, called on Mr. Goffe in his
chambers, and explained to that gentleman that she proposed to settle
the whole question in dispute by giving her daughter to the young
Earl in marriage. Mr. Goffe, who had been present at the conference
among the lawyers, understood it all in a moment. The overture had
been made from the other side to his client.

"Indeed, my lady!" said Mr. Goffe.

"Do you not think it will be an excellent arrangement?"

In his heart of hearts Mr. Goffe thought that it would be an
excellent arrangement; but he could not commit himself to such an
opinion. Serjeant Bluestone thought that the matter should be fought
out, and Mr. Goffe was not prepared to separate himself from his
legal adviser. As Serjeant Bluestone had said after the conference,
with much argumentative vehemence,--"If we were to agree to this,
how would it be if the marriage should not come off? The court can't
agree to a marriage. The court must direct to whom the property
belongs. They profess that they can prove that our marriage was no
marriage. They must do so, or else they must withdraw the allegation.
Suppose the Italian woman were to come forward afterwards with her
claim as the widow, where then would be my client's position, and her
title as dowager countess, and her claim upon her husband's personal
estate? I never heard anything more irregular in my life. It is
just like Patterson, who always thinks he can make laws according
to the light of his own reason." So Serjeant Bluestone had said to
the lawyers who were acting with him; and Mr. Goffe, though he did
himself think that this marriage would be the best thing in the
world, could not differ from the Serjeant.

No doubt there might even yet be very great difficulties, even though
the young Earl and Lady Anna Lovel should agree to be married. Mr.
Goffe on that occasion said very little to the Countess, and she
left him with a feeling that a certain quantity of cold water had
been thrown upon the scheme. But she would not allow herself to be
disturbed by that. The marriage could go on without any consent on
the part of the lawyers, and the Countess was quite satisfied that,
should the marriage be once completed, the money and the titles would
all go as she desired. She had already begun to have more faith in
the Solicitor-General than in Mr. Goffe or in Serjeant Bluestone.

But Serjeant Bluestone was not a man to bear such treatment and be
quiet under it. He heard that very day from Mr. Goffe what had been
done, and was loud in the expression of his displeasure. It was the
most irregular thing that he had ever known. No other man except
Patterson in the whole profession would have done it! The counsel on
the other side--probably Patterson himself--had been to his client,
and given advice to his client, and had done so after her own counsel
had decided that no such advice should be given! He would see the
Attorney-General, and ask the Attorney-General what he thought about
it. Now, it was supposed in legal circles, just at this period, that
the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General were not the best
friends in the world; and the latter was wont to call the former an
old fogey, and the former to say of the latter that he might be a
very clever philosopher, but certainly no lawyer. And so by degrees
the thing got much talked about in the profession; and there was
perhaps a balance of opinion that the Solicitor-General had done
wrong.

But this was certain,--that no one could be put into possession of
the property till the court had decided to whom it belonged. If the
Earl withdrew from his claim, the widow would simply be called on to
prove her own marriage,--which had in truth been proved more than
once already,--and the right of her legitimate child would follow as
a matter of course. It was by no means probable that the woman over
in Italy would make any claim on her own behalf,--and even, should
she do so, she could not find the means of supporting it. "They must
be asses," said the Solicitor-General, "not to see that I am fighting
their battle for them, and that I am doing so because I can best
secure my own client's interests by securing theirs also." But even
he became nervous after a day or two, and was anxious to learn that
the marriage scheme was progressing. He told his client, Lord Lovel,
that it would be well that the marriage should take place before the
court sat in November. "In that case settlements will, of course,
have been made, and we shall simply withdraw. We shall state the fact
of this new marriage, and assert ourselves to be convinced that the
old marriage was good and valid. But you should lose no time in the
wooing, my lord." At this time the Earl had not seen his cousin, and
it had not yet been decided when they should meet.

"It is my duty to explain to you, Lady Lovel, as my client," said
Serjeant Bluestone to the Countess, "that this arrangement cannot
afford a satisfactory mode to you of establishing your own position."

"It would be so happy for the whole family!"

"As to that I can know nothing, Lady Lovel. If your daughter and the
Earl are attached to each other, there can be no reason on earth why
they should not be married. But it should be a separate thing. Your
position should not be made to depend upon hers."

"But they will withdraw, Serjeant Bluestone."

"How do you know that they will withdraw? Supposing at the last
moment Lady Anna were to decline the alliance, would they withdraw
then? Not a bit of it. The matter would be further delayed, and
referred over to next year. You and your daughter would be kept out
of your money, and there would still be danger."

"I should not care for that;--if they were married."

"And they have set up this Italian countess,--who never was a
countess,--any more than I am. Now they have put her up, they are
bound to dispose of her. If she came forward afterwards, on her own
behalf, where would you all be then?"

"My daughter would, at any rate, be safe."

The Serjeant did not like it at all. He felt that he was being thrown
over, not only by his client the Countess,--as to which he might
have been indifferent, knowing that the world at large, the laity as
distinguished from the lawyers, the children of the world as all who
were not lawyers seemed to him to be, will do and must be expected to
do, foolish things continually. They cannot be persuaded to subject
themselves to lawyers in all their doings, and, of course, go wrong
when they do not do so. The infinite simplicity and silliness of
mankind and womankind at large were too well known to the Serjeant to
cause him dismay, let them be shown in ever so egregious a fashion.
But in this case the fault came from another lawyer, who had tampered
with his clients, and who seemed to be himself as ignorant as
though he belonged to the outside world. And this man had been made
Solicitor-General,--over the heads of half the profession,--simply
because he could make a speech in Parliament!

But the Solicitor-General was himself becoming uneasy when at the end
of a fortnight he learned that the young people,--as he had come to
call them on all occasions,--had not as yet seen each other. He would
not like to have it said of him that he had thrown over his client.
And there were some who still believed that the Italian marriage
had been a real marriage, and the Italian wife alive at the time of
the Cumberland marriage,--though the Italian woman now living had
never been the countess. Mr. Hardy so believed, and, in his private
opinion, thought that the Solicitor-General had been very indiscreet.

"I don't think that we could ever dare to face a jury," said Sir
William to Mr. Hardy when they discussed the matter, about a
fortnight after the proposition had been made.

"Why did the Earl always say that the Italian woman was his wife?"

"Because the Earl was a very devil."

"Mr. Flick does not think so."

"Yes, he does; but Mr. Flick, like all attorneys with a bad case,
does not choose to say quite what he thinks, even to his own counsel.
Mr. Flick does not like to throw his client over, nor do I, nor
do you. But with such a case we have no right to create increased
expenses, and all the agony of prolonged fallacious hope. The girl is
her father's heir. Do you suppose I would not stick to my brief if I
did not feel sure that it is so?"

"Then let the Earl be told, and let the girl have her rights."

"Ah! there you have me. It may be that such would be the juster
course; but then, Hardy, cannot you understand that though I am sure,
I am not quite sure; that though the case is a bad one, it may not
be quite bad enough to be thrown up? It is just the case in which
a compromise is expedient. If but a quarter, or but an eighth of a
probability be with you, take your proportion of the thing at stake.
But here is a compromise that gives all to each. Who would wish to
rob the girl of her noble name and great inheritance if she be the
heiress? Not I, though the Earl be my client. And yet how sad would
it be to have to tell that young man that there was nothing for him
but to submit to lose all the wealth belonging to the family of which
he has been born the head! If we can bring them together there will
be nothing to make sore the hearts of any of us."

Mr. Hardy acknowledged to himself that the Solicitor-General pleaded
his own case very well; but yet he felt that it wasn't law.



CHAPTER X.

THE FIRST INTERVIEW.


For some days after the intimation of her mother's purpose, Lady Anna
kept her bed. She begged that she might not see a doctor. She had a
headache,--nothing but a headache. But it was quite impossible that
she should ever marry Earl Lovel. This she said whenever her mother
would revert to that subject,--"I have not seen him, mamma; I do not
know him. I am sure it would be impossible." Then, when at last she
was induced to dress herself, she was still unwilling to be forced to
undergo the interview to which she had acknowledged that she must be
subjected. At last she consented to spend a day in Bedford Square; to
dine there, and to be brought home in the evening. The Countess was
at this time not very full of trust in the Serjeant, having learned
that he was opposed to the marriage scheme, but she was glad that her
daughter should be induced to go out, even to the Serjeant's house,
as after that visit the girl could have no ground on which to oppose
the meeting which was to be arranged. She could hardly plead that she
was too ill to see her cousin when she had dined with Mrs. Bluestone.

During this time many plans had been proposed for the meeting. The
Solicitor-General, discussing the matter with the young lord, had
thought it best that Lady Anna should at once be asked down to
Yoxham,--as the Lady Anna; and the young lord would have been quite
satisfied with such an arrangement. He could have gone about his
obligatory wooing among his own friends, in the house to which he had
been accustomed, with much more ease than in a London lodging. But
his uncle, who had corresponded on the subject with Mr. Hardy, still
objected. "We should be giving up everything," he said, "if we were
once to call her Lady Anna. Where should we be then if they didn't
hit it off together? I don't believe, and I never shall believe, that
she is really Lady Anna Lovel." The Solicitor-General, when he heard
of this objection, shook his head, finding himself almost provoked to
anger. What asses were these people not to understand that he could
see further into the matter than they could do, and that their best
way out of their difficulty would be frankly to open their arms to
the heiress! Should they continue to be pig-headed and prejudiced,
everything would soon be gone.

Then he had a scheme for inviting the girl to his own house, and to
that scheme he obtained his wife's consent. But here his courage
failed him; or, it might be fairer to say, that his prudence
prevailed. He was very anxious, intensely eager, so to arrange this
great family dispute that all should be benefited,--believing, nay
feeling positively certain that all concerned in the matter were
honest; but he must not go so far as to do himself an absolute and
grievous damage, should it at last turn out that he was wrong in any
of his surmises. So that plan was abandoned.

There was nothing left for it but that the young Earl should himself
face the difficulty, and be introduced to the girl at the lodging in
Wyndham Street. But, as a prelude to this, a meeting was arranged
at Mr. Flick's chambers between the Countess and her proposed
son-in-law. That the Earl should go to his own attorney's chambers
was all in rule. While he was there the Countess came,--which was not
in rule, and almost induced the Serjeant to declare, when he heard
it, that he would have nothing more to do with the case. "My lord,"
said the Countess, "I am glad to meet you, and I hope that we may be
friends." The young man was less collected, and stammered out a few
words that were intended to be civil.

"It is a pity that you should have conflicting interests," said the
attorney.

"I hope it need not continue to be so," said the Countess. "My heart,
Lord Lovel, is all in the welfare of our joint family. We will
begrudge you nothing if you will not begrudge us the names which
are our own, and without which we cannot live honourably before
the world." Then some other few words were muttered, and the Earl
promised to come to Wyndham Street at a certain hour. Not a word
was then said about the marriage. Even the Countess, with all her
resolution and all her courage, did not find herself able in set
terms to ask the young man to marry her daughter.

"She is a very handsome woman," said the lord to the attorney, when
the Countess had left them.

"Yes, indeed."

"And like a lady."

"Quite like a lady. She herself was of a good family."

"I suppose she certainly was the late Earl's wife, Mr. Flick?"

"Who can say, my lord? That is just the question. The
Solicitor-General thinks that she would prove her right, and I do
not know that I have ever found him to be wrong when he has had a
steadfast opinion."

"Why should we not give it up to her at once?"

"I couldn't recommend that, my lord. Why should we give it up? The
interests at stake are very great. I couldn't for a moment think of
suggesting to you to give it up."

"I want nothing, Mr. Flick, that does not belong to me."

"Just so. But then perhaps it does belong to you. We can never
be sure. No doubt the safest way will be for you to contract an
alliance with this lady. Of course we should give it up then, but the
settlements would make the property all right." The young Earl did
not quite like it. He would rather have commenced his wooing after
the girl had been established in her own right, and when she would
have had no obligation on her to accept him. But he had consented,
and it was too late for him now to recede. It had been already
arranged that he should call in Wyndham Street at noon on the
following day, in order that he might be introduced to his cousin.

On that evening the Countess sat late with her daughter, purposing
that on the morrow nothing should be said before the interview
calculated to disturb the girl's mind. But as they sat together
through the twilight and into the darkness of night, close by the
open window, through which the heavily laden air of the metropolis
came to them, hot with all the heat of a London July day, very many
words were spoken by the Countess. "It will be for you, to-morrow, to
make or to mar all that I have been doing since the day on which you
were born."

"Oh! mamma, that is so terrible a thing to say!"

"But terrible things must be said if they are true. It is so. It is
for you to decide whether we shall triumph, or be utterly and for
ever crushed."

"I cannot understand it. Why should we be crushed? He would not wish
to marry me if this fortune were not mine. He is not coming, mamma,
because he loves me."

"You say that because you do not understand. Do you suppose that my
name will be allowed to me if you should refuse your cousin's suit?
If so, you are very much mistaken. The fight will go on, and as we
have not money, we shall certainly go to the wall at last. Why should
you not love him? There is no one else that you care for."

"No, mamma," she said slowly.

"Then, what more can you want?"

"I do not know him, mamma."

"But you will know him. According to that, no girl would ever get
married. Is it not a great thing that you should be asked to assume
and to enjoy the rank which has belonged to your mother, but which
she has never been able to enjoy?"

"I do not think, mamma, that I care much about rank."

"Anna!" The mother's mind as she heard this flew off to the young
tailor. Had misery so great as this overtaken her after all?

"I mean that I don't care so much about it. It has never done us any
good."

"But if it is a thing that is your own, that you are born to, you
must bear it, whether it be in sorrow or in joy; whether it be a
blessing or a curse. If it be yours, you cannot fling it away from
you. You may disgrace it, but you must still have it. Though you were
to throw yourself away upon a chimney-sweeper, you must still be Lady
Anna, the daughter of Earl Lovel."

"I needn't call myself so."

"Others must call you so. It is your name, and you cannot be rid of
it. It is yours of right, as my name has been mine of right; and not
to assert it, not to live up to it, not to be proud of it, would
argue incredible baseness. 'Noblesse oblige.' You have heard that
motto, and know what it means. And then would you throw away from you
in some childish phantasy all that I have been struggling to win for
you during my whole life? Have you ever thought of what my life has
been, Anna?"

"Yes, mamma."

"Would you have the heart to disappoint me, now that the victory is
won;--now that it may be made our own by your help? And what is it
that I am asking you to do? If this man were bad,--if he were such a
one as your father, if he were drunken, cruel, ill-conditioned, or
even heavy, foolish, or deformed; had you been told stories to set
you against him, as that he had been false with other women, I could
understand it. In that case we would at any rate find out the truth
before we went on. But of this man we hear that he is good, and
pleasant; an excellent young man, who has endeared himself to all who
know him. Such a one that all the girls of his own standing in the
world would give their eyes to win him."

"Let some girl win him then who cares for him."

"But he wishes to win you, dearest."

"Not because he loves me. How can he love me when he never saw me?
How can I love him when I never saw him?"

"He wishes to win you because he has heard what you are, and because
he knows that by doing so he can set things right which for many
years have been wrong."

"It is because he would get all this money."

"You would both get it. He desires nothing unfair. Whatever he
takes from you, so much he will give. And it is not only for this
generation. Is it nothing to you that the chiefs of your own family
who shall come after you shall be able to hold their heads up among
other British peers? Would you not wish that your own son should come
to be Earl Lovel, with wealth sufficient to support the dignity?"

"I don't think it would make him happy, mamma."

"There is something more in this, Anna, than I can understand. You
used not to be so. When we talked of these things in past years you
used not to be indifferent."

"I was not asked then to--to--marry a man I did not care for."

"There is something else, Anna."

"No, mamma."

"If there be nothing else you will learn to care for him. You will
see him to-morrow, and will be left alone with him. I will sit with
you for a time, and then I will leave you. All that I ask of you is
to receive him to-morrow without any prejudice against him. You must
remember how much depends on you, and that you are not as other girls
are." After that Lady Anna was allowed to go to her bed, and to weep
in solitude over the wretchedness of her condition. It was not only
that she loved Daniel Thwaite with all her heart,--loved him with
a love that had grown with every year of her growth;--but that she
feared him also. The man had become her master; and even could she
have brought herself to be false, she would have lacked the courage
to declare her falsehood to the man to whom she had vowed her love.

On the following morning Lady Anna did not come down to breakfast,
and the Countess began to fear that she would be unable to induce her
girl to rise in time to receive their visitor. But the poor child had
resolved to receive the man's visit, and contemplated no such escape
as that. At eleven o'clock she slowly dressed herself, and before
twelve crept down into the one sitting-room which they occupied. The
Countess glanced round at her, anxious to see that she was looking
her best. Certain instructions had been given as to her dress, and
the garniture of her hair, and the disposal of her ribbons. All
these had been fairly well obeyed; but there was a fixed, determined
hardness in her face which made her mother fear that the Earl might
be dismayed. The mother knew that her child had never looked like
that before.

Punctually at twelve the Earl was announced. The Countess received
him very pleasantly, and with great composure. She shook hands with
him as though they had known each other all their lives, and then
introduced him to her daughter with a sweet smile. "I hope you will
acknowledge her as your far-away cousin, my lord. Blood, they say, is
thicker than water; and, if so, you two ought to be friends."

"I am sure I hope we may be," said the Earl.

"I hope so too,--my lord," said the girl, as she left her hand quite
motionless in his.

"We heard of you down in Cumberland," said the Countess. "It is
long since I have seen the old place, but I shall never forget it.
There is not a bush among the mountains there that I shall not
remember,--ay, into the next world, if aught of our memories are left
to us."

"I love the mountains; but the house is very gloomy."

"Gloomy indeed. If you found it sad, what must it have been to me? I
hope that I may tell you some day of all that I suffered there. There
are things to tell of which I have never yet spoken to human being.
She, poor child, has been too young and too tender to be troubled
by such a tale. I sometimes think that no tragedy ever written, no
story of horrors ever told, can have exceeded in description the
things which I endured in that one year of my married life." Then
she went on at length, not telling the details of that terrible year,
but speaking generally of the hardships of her life. "I have never
wondered, Lord Lovel, that you and your nearest relations should have
questioned my position. A bad man had surrounded me with such art in
his wickedness, that it has been almost beyond my strength to rid
myself of his toils." All this she had planned beforehand, having
resolved that she would rush into the midst of things at once, and if
possible enlist his sympathies on her side.

"I hope it may be over now," he said.

"Yes," she replied, rising slowly from her seat, "I hope it may be
over now." The moment had come in which she had to play the most
difficult stroke of her whole game, and much might depend on the way
in which she played it. She could not leave them together, walking
abruptly out of the room, without giving some excuse for so unusual
a proceeding. "Indeed, I hope it may be over now, both for us and
for you, Lord Lovel. That wicked man, in leaving behind such cause
of quarrel, has injured you almost as deeply as us. I pray God that
you and that dear girl there may so look into each other's hearts
and trust each other's purposes, that you may be able to set right
the ill which your predecessor did. If so, the family of Lovel for
centuries to come may be able to bless your names." Then with slow
steps she left the room.

Lady Anna had spoken one word, and that was all. It certainly was not
for her now to speak. She sat leaning on the table, with her eyes
fixed upon the ground, not daring to look at the man who had been
brought to her as her future husband. A single glance she had taken
as he entered the room, and she had seen at once that he was fair
and handsome, that he still had that sweet winsome boyishness of
face which makes a girl feel that she need not fear a man,--that the
man has something of her own weakness, and need not be treated as
one who is wise, grand, or heroic. And she saw too in one glance
how different he was from Daniel Thwaite, the man to whom she had
absolutely given herself;--and she understood at the moment something
of the charm of luxurious softness and aristocratic luxury. Daniel
Thwaite was swarthy, hard-handed, blackbearded,--with a noble fire
in his eyes, but with an innate coarseness about his mouth which
betokened roughness as well as strength. Had it been otherwise with
her than it was, she might, she thought, have found it easy enough to
love this young earl. As it was, there was nothing for her to do but
to wait and answer him as best she might.

"Lady Anna," he said.

"My lord!"

"Will it not be well that we should be friends?"

"Oh,--friends;--yes, my lord."

"I will tell you all and everything;--that is, about myself. I was
brought up to believe that you and your mother were just--impostors."

"My lord, we are not impostors."

"No;--I believe it. I am sure you are not. Mistakes have been made,
but it has not been of my doing. As a boy, what could I believe but
what I was told? I know now that you are and always have been as you
have called yourself. If nothing else comes of it, I will at any rate
say so much. The estate which your father left is no doubt yours. If
I could hinder it, there should be no more law."

"Thank you, my lord."

"Your mother says that she has suffered much. I am sure she has
suffered. I trust that all that is over now. I have come here to-day
more to say that on my own behalf than anything else." A shadow of a
shade of disappointment, the slightest semblance of a cloud, passed
across her heart as she heard this. But it was well. She could not
have married him, even if he had wished it, and now, as it seemed,
that difficulty was over. Her mother and those lawyers had been
mistaken, and it was well that he should tell her so at once.

"It is very good of you, my lord."

"I would not have you think of me that I could come to you hoping
that you would promise me your love before I had shown you whether I
had loved you or not."

"No, my lord." She hardly understood him now,--whether he intended to
propose himself as a suitor for her hand or not.

"You, Lady Anna, are your father's heir. I am your cousin, Earl
Lovel, as poor a peer as there is in England. They tell me that we
should marry because you are rich and I am an earl."

"So they tell me;--but that will not make it right."

"I would not have it so, even if I dared to think that you would
agree to it."

"Oh, no, my lord; nor would I."

"But if you could learn to love me--"

"No, my lord;--no."

"Do not answer me yet, my cousin. If I swore that I loved you,--loved
you so soon after seeing you,--and loved you, too, knowing you to be
so wealthy an heiress--"

"Ah, do not talk of that."

"Well;--not of that. But if I said that I loved you, you would not
believe me."

"It would not be true, my lord."

"But I know that I shall love you. You will let me try? You are very
lovely, and they tell me you are sweet-humoured. I can believe well
that you are sweet and pleasant. You will let me try to love you,
Anna?"

"No, my lord."

"Must it be so, so soon?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Why that? Is it because we are strangers to each other? That may
be cured;--if not quickly, as I would have it cured, slowly and by
degrees; slowly as you can wish, if only I may come where you shall
be. You have said that we may be friends."

"Oh yes,--friends, I hope."

"Friends at least. We are born cousins."

"Yes, my lord."

"Cannot you call me by my name? Cousins, you know, do so. And
remember this, you will have and can have no nearer cousin than I am.
I am bound at least to be a brother to you."

"Oh, be my brother!"

"That,--or more than that. I would fain be more than that. But I will
be that, at least. As I came to you, before I saw you, I felt that
whenever we knew each other I could not be less to you than that. If
I am your friend, I must be your best friend,--as being, though poor,
the head of your family. The Lovels should at least love each other;
and cousins may love, even though they should not love enough to be
man and wife."

"I will love you so always."

"Enough to be my wife?"

"Enough to be your dear cousin,--your loving sister."

"So it shall be,--unless it can be more. I would not ask you for more
now. I would not wish you to give more now. But think of me, and ask
yourself whether you can dare to give yourself to me altogether."

"I cannot dare, my lord."

"You would not call your brother, lord. My name is Frederic. But
Anna, dear Anna,"--and then he took her unresisting hand,--"you shall
not be asked for more now. But cousins, new-found cousins, who love
each other, and will stand by each other for help and aid against
the world, may surely kiss,--as would a brother and a sister. You
will not grudge me a kiss." Then she put up her cheek innocently,
and he kissed it gently,--hardly with a lover's kiss. "I will leave
you now," he said, still holding her hand. "But tell your mother
thus:--that she shall no longer be troubled by lawyers at the suit of
her cousin Frederic. She is to me the Countess Lovel, and she shall
be treated by me with the honour suited to her rank." And so he left
the house without seeing the Countess again.



CHAPTER XI.

IT IS TOO LATE.


The Countess had resolved that she would let their visitor depart
without saying a word to him. Whatever might be the result of the
interview, she was aware that she could not improve it by asking any
question from the young lord, or by hearing any account of it from
him. The ice had been broken, and it would now be her object to have
her daughter invited down to Yoxham as soon as possible. If once the
Earl's friends could be brought to be eager for the match on his
account, as was she on her daughter's behalf, then probably the thing
might be done. For herself, she expected no invitation, no immediate
comfort, no tender treatment, no intimate familiar cousinship. She
had endured hitherto, and would be contented to endure, so that
triumph might come at last. Nor did she question her daughter very
closely, anxious as she was to learn the truth.

Could she have heard every word that had been spoken she would have
been sure of success. Could Daniel Thwaite have heard every word he
would have been sure that the girl was about to be false to him. But
the girl herself believed herself to have been true. The man had been
so soft with her, so tender, so pleasant,--so loving with his sweet
cousinly offers of affection, that she could not turn herself against
him. He had been to her eyes beautiful, noble,--almost divine. She
knew of herself that she could not be his wife,--that she was not fit
to be his wife,--because she had given her troth to the tailor's son.
When her cousin touched her check with his lips she remembered that
she had submitted to be kissed by one with whom her noble relative
could hold no fellowship whatever. A feeling of degradation came
upon her, as though by contact with this young man she was suddenly
awakened to a sense of what her own rank demanded from her. When
her mother had spoken to her of what she owed to her family, she
had thought only of all the friendship that she and her mother had
received from her lover and his father. But when Lord Lovel told
her what she was,--how she should ever be regarded by him as a dear
cousin,--how her mother should be accounted a countess, and receive
from him the respect due to her rank,--then she could understand
how unfitting were a union between the Lady Anna Lovel and Daniel
Thwaite, the journeyman tailor. Hitherto Daniel's face had been noble
in her eyes,--the face of a man who was manly, generous, and strong.
But after looking into the eyes of the young Earl, seeing how soft
was the down upon his lips, how ruddy the colour of his cheek, how
beautiful was his mouth with its pearl-white teeth, how noble the
curve of his nostrils, after feeling the softness of his hand, and
catching the sweetness of his breath, she came to know what it might
have been to be wooed by such a one as he.

But not on that account did she meditate falseness. It was settled
firm as fate. The dominion of the tailor over her spirit had lasted
in truth for years. The sweet, perfumed graces of the young nobleman
had touched her senses but for a moment. Had she been false-minded
she had not courage to be false. But in truth she was not
false-minded. It was to her, as that sunny moment passed across her,
as to some hard-toiling youth who, while roaming listlessly among
the houses of the wealthy, hears, as he lingers on the pavement of
a summer night, the melodies which float upon the air from the open
balconies above him. A vague sense of unknown sweetness comes upon
him, mingled with an irritating feeling of envy that some favoured
son of Fortune should be able to stand over the shoulders of that
singing syren, while he can only listen with intrusive ears from the
street below. And so he lingers and is envious, and for a moment
curses his fate,--not knowing how weary may be the youth who stands,
how false the girl who sings. But he does not dream that his life is
to be altered for him, because he has chanced to hear the daughter of
a duchess warble through a window. And so it was with this girl. The
youth was very sweet to her, intensely sweet when he told her that he
would be a brother, perilously sweet when he bade her not to grudge
him one kiss. But she knew that she was not as he was. That she had
lost the right, could she ever have had the right, to live his life,
to drink of his cup, and to lie on his breast. So she passed on,
as the young man does in the street, and consoled herself with the
consciousness that strength after all may be preferable to sweetness.

And she was an honest girl from her heart, and prone to truth, with a
strong glimmer of common sense in her character, of which her mother
hitherto had been altogether unaware. What right had her mother to
think that she could be fit to be this young lord's wife, having
brought her up in the companionship of small traders in Cumberland?
She never blamed her mother. She knew well that her mother had done
all that was possible on her behalf. But for that small trader they
would not even have had a roof to shelter them. But still there was
the fact, and she understood it. She was as her bringing up had made
her, and it was too late now to effect a change. Ah yes;--it was
indeed too late. It was all very well that lawyers should look upon
her as an instrument, as a piece of goods that might now, from the
accident of her ascertained birth, be made of great service to the
Lovel family. Let her be the lord's wife, and everything would be
right for everybody. It had been very easy to say that! But she
had a heart of her own,--a heart to be touched, and won, and given
away,--and lost. The man who had been so good to them had sought
for his reward, and had got it, and could not now be defrauded. Had
she been dishonest she would not have dared to defraud him; had she
dared, she would not have been so dishonest.

"Did you like him?" asked the mother, not immediately after the
interview, but when the evening came.

"Oh yes,--how should one not like him?"

"How indeed! He is the finest, noblest youth that ever my eyes rested
on, and so like the Lovels."

"Was my father like that?"

"Yes indeed, in the shape of his face, and the tone of his voice, and
the movement of his eyes; though the sweetness of the countenance was
all gone in the Devil's training to which he had submitted himself.
And you too are like him, though darker, and with something of the
Murrays' greater breadth of face. But I can remember portraits at
Lovel Grange,--every one of them,--and all of them were alike. There
never was a Lovel but had that natural grace of appearance. You will
gaze at those portraits, dear, oftener even than I have done; and you
will be happy where I was,--oh--so miserable!"

"I shall never see them, mamma."

"Why not?"

"I do not want to see them."

"You say you like him?"

"Yes; I like him."

"And why should you not love him well enough to make him your
husband?"

"I am not fit to be his wife."

"You are fit;--none could be fitter; none others so fit. You are as
well born as he, and you have the wealth which he wants. You must
have it, if, as you tell me, he says that he will cease to claim it
as his own. There can be no question of fitness."

"Money will not make a girl fit, mamma."

"You have been brought up as a lady,--and are a lady. I swear I
do not know what you mean. If he thinks you fit, and you can like
him,--as you say you do,--what more can be wanted? Does he not wish
it?"

"I do not know. He said he did not, and then,--I think he said he
did."

"Is that it?"

"No, mamma. It is not that; not that only. It is too late!"

"Too late! How too late? Anna, you must tell me what you mean. I
insist upon it that you tell me what you mean. Why is it too late?"
But Lady Anna was not prepared to tell her meaning. She had certainly
not intended to say anything to her mother of her solemn promise to
Daniel Thwaite. It had been arranged between him and her that nothing
was to be said of it till this law business should be all over. He
had sworn to her that to him it made no difference, whether she
should be proclaimed to be the Lady Anna, the undoubted owner of
thousands a year, or Anna Murray, the illegitimate daughter of the
late Earl's mistress, a girl without a penny, and a nobody in the
world's esteem. No doubt they must shape their life very differently
in this event or in that. How he might demean himself should this
fortune be adjudged to the Earl, as he thought would be the case when
he first made the girl promise to be his wife, he knew well enough.
He would do as his father had done before him, and, he did not
doubt,--with better result. What might be his fate should the wealth
of the Lovels become the wealth of his intended wife, he did not yet
quite foreshadow to himself. How he should face and fight the world
when he came to be accused of having plotted to get all this wealth
for himself he did not know. He had dreams of distributing the
greater part among the Lovels and the Countess, and taking himself
and his wife with one-third of it to some new country in which they
would not in derision call his wife the Lady Anna, and in which he
would be as good a man as any earl. But let all that be as it might,
the girl was to keep her secret till the thing should be settled.
Now, in these latter days, it had come to be believed by him, as by
nearly everybody else, that the thing was well-nigh settled. The
Solicitor-General had thrown up the sponge. So said the bystanders.
And now there was beginning to be a rumour that everything was to
be set right by a family marriage. The Solicitor-General would not
have thrown up the sponge,--so said they who knew him best,--without
seeing a reason for doing so. Serjeant Bluestone was still indignant,
and Mr. Hardy was silent and moody. But the world at large were
beginning to observe that in this, as in all difficult cases, the
Solicitor-General tempered the innocence of the dove with the wisdom
of the serpent. In the meantime Lady Anna by no means intended to
allow the secret to pass her lips. Whether she ever could tell her
mother, she doubted; but she certainly would not do so an hour too
soon. "Why is it too late?" demanded the Countess, repeating her
question with stern severity of voice.

"I mean that I have not lived all my life as his wife should live."

"Trash! It is trash. What has there been in your life to disgrace
you. We have been poor and we have lived as poor people do live. We
have not been disgraced."

"No, mamma."

"I will not hear such nonsense. It is a reproach to me."

"Oh, mamma, do not say that. I know how good you have been,--how you
have thought of me in every thing. Pray do not say that I reproach
you!" And she came and knelt at her mother's lap.

"I will not, darling; but do not vex me by saying that you are unfit.
There is nothing else, dearest?"

"No, mamma," she said in a low tone, pausing before she told the
falsehood.

"I think it will be arranged that you shall go down to Yoxham. The
people there even are beginning to know that we are right, and are
willing to acknowledge us. The Earl, whom I cannot but love already
for his gracious goodness, has himself declared that he will not
carry on the suit. Mr. Goffe has told me that they are anxious to see
you there. Of course you must go,--and will go as Lady Anna Lovel.
Mr. Goffe says that some money can now be allowed from the estate,
and you shall go as becomes the daughter of Earl Lovel when visiting
among her cousins. You will see this young man there. If he means
to love you and to be true to you, he will be much there. I do not
doubt but that you will continue to like him. And remember this,
Anna;--that even though your name be acknowledged,--even though all
the wealth be adjudged to be your own,--even though some judge on the
bench shall say that I am the widowed Countess Lovel, it may be all
undone some day,--unless you become this young man's wife. That woman
in Italy may be bolstered up at last, if you refuse him. But when you
are once the wife of young Lord Lovel, no one then can harm us. There
can be no going back after that." This the Countess said rather to
promote the marriage, than from any fear of the consequences which
she described. Daniel Thwaite was the enemy that now she dreaded, and
not the Italian woman, or the Lovel family.

Lady Anna could only say that she would go to Yoxham, if she were
invited there by Mrs. Lovel.



CHAPTER XII.

HAVE THEY SURRENDERED?


As all the world heard of what was going on, so did Daniel Thwaite
hear it among others. He was a hard-working, conscientious, moody
man, given much to silence among his fellow workmen;--one to whom
life was serious enough; not a happy man, though he had before him
a prospect of prosperity which would make most men happy. But he was
essentially a tender-hearted, affectionate man, who could make a
sacrifice of himself if he thought it needed for the happiness of one
he loved. When he heard of this proposed marriage, he asked himself
many questions as to his duty and as to the welfare of the girl. He
did love her with all his heart, and he believed thoroughly in her
affection for himself. He had, as yet, no sufficient reason to doubt
that she would be true to him;--but he knew well that an earl's
coronet must be tempting to a girl so circumstanced as was Lady Anna.
There were moments in which he thought that it was almost his duty
to give her up, and bid her go and live among those of her own rank.
But then he did not believe in rank. He utterly disbelieved in it;
and in his heart of hearts he felt that he would make a better and a
fitter husband to this girl than would an earl, with all an earl's
temptation to vice. He was ever thinking of some better world to
which he might take her, which had not been contaminated by empty
names and an impudent assumption of hereditary, and therefore false,
dignity. As regarded the money, it would be hers whether she married
him or the Earl. And if she loved him, as she had sworn that she did,
why should he be false to her? Or why, as yet, should he think that
she would prefer an empty, gilded lordling to the friend who had been
her friend as far back as her memory could carry her? If she asked
to be released, then indeed he would release her,--but not without
explaining to her, with such eloquence as he might be able to
use,--what it was she proposed to abandon, and what to take in place
of that which she lost. He was a man, silent and under self-control,
but self-confident also; and he did believe himself to be a better
man than young Earl Lovel.

In making this resolution,--that he would give her back her troth if
she asked for it, but not without expressing to her his thoughts as
he did so,--he ignored the masterfulness of his own character. There
are men who exercise dominion, from the nature of their disposition,
and who do so from their youth upwards, without knowing, till
advanced life comes upon them, that any power of dominion belongs to
them. Men are persuasive, and imperious withal, who are unconscious
that they use burning words to others, whose words to them are never
even warm. So it was with this man when he spoke to himself in his
solitude of his purpose of resigning the titled heiress. To the
arguments, the entreaties, or the threats of others he would pay no
heed. The Countess might bluster about her rank, and he would heed
her not at all. He cared nothing for the whole tribe of Lovels. If
Lady Anna asked for release, she should be released. But not till she
had heard his words. How scalding these words might be, how powerful
to prevent the girl from really choosing her own fate, he did not
know himself.

Though he lived in the same house with her he seldom saw her,--unless
when he would knock at the door of an evening, and say a few words to
her mother rather than to her. Since Thomas Thwaite had left London
for the last time the Countess had become almost cold to the young
man. She would not have been so if she could have helped it; but she
had begun to fear him, and she could not bring herself to be cordial
to him either in word or manner. He perceived it at once, and became,
himself, cold and constrained.

Once, and once only, he met Lady Anna alone, after his father's
departure, and before her interview with Lord Lovel. Then he met
her on the stairs of the house while her mother was absent at the
lawyer's chambers.

"Are you here, Daniel, at this hour?" she asked, going back to the
sitting-room, whither he followed her.

"I wanted to see you, and I knew that your mother would be out. It is
not often that I do a thing in secret, even though it be to see the
girl that I love."

"No, indeed. I do not see you often now."

"Does that matter much to you, Lady Anna?"

"Lady Anna!"

"I have been instructed, you know, that I am to call you so."

"Not by me, Daniel."

"No;--not by you; not as yet. Your mother's manners are much altered
to me. Is it not so?"

"How can I tell? Mine are not."

"It is no question of manners, sweetheart, between you and me. It has
not come to that, I hope. Do you wish for any change,--as regards
me?"

"Oh, no."

"As to my love, there can be no change in that. If it suits your
mother to be disdainful to me, I can bear it. I always thought that
it would come to be so some day."

There was but little more said then. He asked her no further
question;--none at least that it was difficult for her to
answer,--and he soon took his leave. He was a passionate rather than
a tender lover, and having once held her in his arms, and kissed her
lips, and demanded from her a return of his caress, he was patient
now to wait till he could claim them as his own. But, two days after
the interview between Lord Lovel and his love, he a second time
contrived to find her alone.

"I have come again," he said, "because I knew your mother is out. I
would not trouble you with secret meetings but that just now I have
much to say to you. And then, you may be gone from hence before I had
even heard that you were going."

"I am always glad to see you, Daniel."

"Are you, my sweetheart? Is that true?"

"Indeed, indeed it is."

"I should be a traitor to doubt you,--and I do not doubt. I will
never doubt you if you tell me that you love me."

"You know I love you."

"Tell me, Anna--; or shall I say Lady Anna?"

"Lady Anna,--if you wish to scorn me."

"Then never will I call you so, till it shall come to pass that I do
wish to scorn you. But tell me. Is it true that Earl Lovel was with
you the other day?"

"He was here the day before yesterday."

"And why did he come."

"Why?"

"Why did he come? you know that as far as I have yet heard he is
still your mother's enemy and yours, and is persecuting you to rob
you of your name and of your property. Did he come as a friend?"

"Oh, yes! certainly as a friend."

"But he still makes his claim."

"No;--he says that he will make it no longer, that he acknowledges
mamma as my father's widow, and me as my father's heir."

"That is generous,--if that is all."

"Very generous."

"And he does this without condition? There is nothing to be given to
him to pay him for this surrender."

"There is nothing to give," she said, in that low, sweet, melancholy
voice which was common to her always when she spoke of herself.

"You do not mean to deceive me, dear, I know; but there is a
something to be given; and I am told that he has asked for it, or
certainly will ask. And, indeed, I do not think that an earl, noble,
but poverty-stricken, would surrender everything without making some
counter claim which would lead him by another path to all that he has
been seeking. Anna, you know what I mean."

"Yes; I know."

"Has he made no such claim."

"I cannot tell."

"You cannot tell whether or no he has asked you to be his wife?"

"No; I cannot tell. Do not look at me like that, Daniel. He came
here, and mamma left us together, and he was kind to me. Oh! so kind.
He said that he would be a cousin to me, and a brother."

"A brother!"

"That was what he said."

"And he meant nothing more than that,--simply to be your brother?"

"I think he did mean more. I think he meant that he would try to love
me so that he might be my husband."

"And what said you to that?"

"I told him that it could not be so."

"And then?"

"Why then again he said that we were cousins; that I had no nearer
cousin anywhere, and that he would be good to me and help me, and
that the lawsuit should not go on. Oh, Daniel, he was so good!"

"Was that all?"

"He kissed me, saying that cousins might kiss?"

"No, Anna;--cousins such as you and he may not kiss. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, I hear you."

"If you mean to be true to me, there must be no more of that. Do you
not know that all this means that he is to win you to be his wife?
Did he not come to you with that object?"

"I think he did, Daniel."

"I think so too, my dear. Surrender! I'll tell you what that
surrender means. They perceive at last that they have not a shadow
of justice, or even a shadow of a chance of unjust success in their
claim. That with all their command of money, which is to be spent,
however, out of your property, they can do nothing; that their false
witnesses will not come to aid them; that they have not another
inch of ground on which to stand. Their great lawyer, Sir William
Patterson, dares not show himself in court with a case so false and
fraudulent. At last your mother's rights and yours are to be owned.
Then they turn themselves about, and think in what other way the
prize may be won. It is not likely that such a prize should be
surrendered by a noble lord. The young man is made to understand that
he cannot have it all without a burden, and that he must combine his
wealth with you. That is it, and at once he comes to you, asking
you to be his wife, so that in that way he may lay his hands on the
wealth of which he has striven to rob you."

"Daniel, I do not think that he is like that!"

"I tell you he is not only like it,--but that itself. Is it not clear
as noon-day? He comes here to talk of love who had never seen you
before. Is it thus that men love?"

"But, Daniel, he did not talk so."

"I wonder that he was so crafty, believing him as I do to be a fool.
He talked of cousinship and brotherhood, and yet gave you to know
that he meant you to be his wife. Was it not so?"

"I think it was so, in very truth."

"Of course it was so. Do brothers marry their sisters? Were it not
for the money, which must be yours, and which he is kind enough to
surrender, would he come to you then with his brotherhood, and his
cousinship, and his mock love? Tell me that, my lady! Can it be real
love,--to which there has been no forerunning acquaintance?"

"I think not, indeed."

"And must it not be lust of wealth? That may come by hearsay well
enough. It is a love which requires no great foreknowledge to burn
with real strength. He is a gay looking lad, no doubt."

"I do not know as to gay, but he is beautiful."

"Like enough, my girl; with soft hands, and curled hair, and a sweet
smell, and a bright colour, and a false heart. I have never seen the
lad; but for the false heart I can answer."

"I do not think that he is false."

"Not false! and yet he comes to you asking you to be his wife,
just at that nick of time in which he finds that you,--the right
owner,--are to have the fortune of which he has vainly endeavoured to
defraud you! Is it not so?"

"He cannot be wrong to wish to keep up the glory of the family."

"The glory of the family;--yes, the fame of the late lord, who lived
as though he were a fiend let loose from hell to devastate mankind.
The glory of the family! And how will he maintain it? At racecourses,
in betting-clubs, among loose women, with luscious wines, never doing
one stroke of work for man or God, consuming and never producing,
either idle altogether or working the work of the devil. That will be
the glory of the family. Anna Lovel, you shall give him his choice."
Then he took her hand in his. "Ask him whether he will have that
empty, or take all the wealth of the Lovels. You have my leave."

"And if he took the empty hand what should I do?" she asked.

"My brave girl, no; though the chance be but one in a thousand
against me, I would not run the risk. But I am putting it to
yourself, to your reason, to judge of his motives. Can it be that
his mind in this matter is not sordid and dishonest? As to you, the
choice is open to you."

"No, Daniel; it is open no longer."

"The choice is open to you. If you will tell me that your heart is so
set upon being the bride of a lord, that truth and honesty and love,
and all decent feeling from woman to man can be thrown to the wind,
to make way for such an ambition,--I will say not a word against it.
You are free."

"Have I asked for freedom?"

"No, indeed! Had you done so, I should have made all this much
shorter."

"Then why do you harass me by saying it?"

"Because it is my duty. Can I know that he comes here seeking you for
his wife; can I hear it said on all sides that this family feud is to
be settled by a happy family marriage; can I find that you yourself
are willing to love him as a cousin or a brother,--without finding
myself compelled to speak? There are two men seeking you as their
wife. One can make you a countess; the other simply an honest man's
wife, and, so far as that can be low, lower than that title of your
own which they will not allow you to put before your name. If I am
still your choice, give me your hand." Of course she gave it him.
"So be it; and now I shall fear nothing." Then she told him that it
was intended that she should go to Yoxham as a visitor; but still he
declared that he would fear nothing.

Early on the next morning he called on Mr. Goffe, the attorney, with
the object of making some inquiry as to the condition of the lawsuit.
Mr. Goffe did not much love the elder tailor, but he specially
disliked the younger. He was not able to be altogether uncivil to
them, because he knew all that they had done to succour his client;
but he avoided them when it was possible, and was chary of giving
them information. On this occasion Daniel asked whether it was true
that the other side had abandoned their claim.

"Really Mr. Thwaite, I cannot say that they have," said Mr. Goffe.

"Can you say that they have not?"

"No; nor that either."

"Had anything of that kind been decided, I suppose you would have
known it, Mr. Goffe?"

"Really, sir, I cannot say. There are questions, Mr. Thwaite, which a
professional gentleman cannot answer, even to such friends as you and
your father have been. When any real settlement is to be made, the
Countess Lovel will, as a matter of course, be informed."

"She should be informed at once," said Daniel Thwaite sternly: "and
so should they who have been concerned with her in this matter."

"You, I know, have heavy claims on the Countess."

"My father has claims, which will never vex her, whether paid or not
paid; but it is right that he should know the truth. I do not believe
that the Countess herself knows, though she has been led to think
that the claim has been surrendered."

Mr. Goffe was very sorry, but really he had nothing further to tell.



CHAPTER XIII.

NEW FRIENDS.


The introduction to Yoxham followed quickly upon the Earl's visit to
Wyndham Street. There was a great consultation at the rectory before
a decision could be made as to the manner in which the invitation
should be given. The Earl thought that it should be sent to the
mother. The rector combated this view very strongly, still hoping
that though he might be driven to call the girl Lady Anna, he might
postpone the necessity of acknowledging the countess-ship of the
mother till the marriage should have been definitely acknowledged.
Mrs. Lovel thought that if the girl were Lady Anna, then the mother
must be the Countess Lovel, and that it would be as well to be hung
for a sheep as a lamb. But the wisdom of Aunt Julia sided with her
brother, though she did not share her brother's feelings of animosity
to the two women. "It is understood that the girl is to be invited,
and not the mother," said Miss Lovel; "and as it is quite possible
that the thing should fail,--in which case the lawsuit might possibly
go on,--the less we acknowledge the better." The Earl declared that
the lawsuit couldn't go on,--that he would not carry it on. "My dear
Frederic, you are not the only person concerned. The lady in Italy,
who still calls herself Countess Lovel, may renew the suit on her
own behalf as soon as you have abandoned it. Should she succeed, you
would have to make what best compromise you could with her respecting
the property. That is the way I understand it." This exposition of
the case by Miss Lovel was so clear that it carried the day, and
accordingly a letter was written by Mrs. Lovel, addressed to Lady
Anna Lovel, asking her to come and spend a few days at Yoxham. She
could bring her maid with her or not as she liked; but she could
have the service of Mrs. Lovel's lady's maid if she chose to come
unattended. The letter sounded cold when it was read, but the writer
signed herself, "Yours affectionately, Jane Lovel." It was addressed
to "The Lady Anna Lovel, to the care of Messrs. Goffe and Goffe,
solicitors, Raymond's Buildings, Gray's Inn."

Lady Anna was allowed to read it first; but she read it in the
presence of her mother, to whom she handed it at once, as a matter
of course. A black frown came across the Countess's brow, and a look
of displeasure, almost of anger, rested on her countenance. "Is it
wrong, mamma?" asked the girl.

"It is a part of the whole;--but, my dear, it shall not signify.
Conquerors cannot be conquerors all at once, nor can the vanquished
be expected to submit themselves with a grace. But it will come. And
though they should ignore me utterly, that will be as nothing. I have
not clung to this for years past to win their loves."

"I will not go, mamma, if they are unkind to you."

"You must go, my dear. It is only that they are weak enough to think
that they can acknowledge you, and yet continue to deny to me my
rights. But it matters nothing. Of course you shall go,--and you
shall go as the daughter of the Countess Lovel."

That mention of the lady's-maid had been unfortunate. Mrs. Lovel had
simply desired to make it easy for the young lady to come without
a servant to wait upon her, and had treated her husband's far-away
cousin as elder ladies often do treat those who are younger when the
question of the maid may become a difficulty. But the Countess, who
would hardly herself have thought of it, now declared that her girl
should go attended as her rank demanded. Lady Anna, therefore, under
her mother's dictation, wrote the following reply:--


   Wyndham Street, 3rd August, 183--.

   DEAR MRS. LOVEL,

   I shall be happy to accept your kind invitation to Yoxham,
   but can hardly do so before the 10th. On that day I will
   leave London for York inside the mail-coach. Perhaps you
   can be kind enough to have me met where the coach stops.
   As you are so good as to say you can take her in, I will
   bring my own maid.

   Yours affectionately,

   ANNA LOVEL.


"But, mamma, I don't want a maid," said the girl, who had never been
waited on in her life, and who had more often than not made her
mother's bed and her own till they had come up to London.

"Nevertheless you shall take one. You will have to make other changes
besides that; and the sooner that you begin to make them the easier
they will be to you."

Then at once the Countess made a pilgrimage to Mr. Goffe in search of
funds wherewith to equip her girl properly for her new associations.
She was to go, as Lady Anna Lovel, to stay with Mrs. Lovel and
Miss Lovel and the little Lovels. And she was to go as one who was
to be the chosen bride of Earl Lovel. Of course she must be duly
caparisoned. Mr. Goffe made difficulties,--as lawyers always do,--but
the needful money was at last forthcoming. Representations had been
made in high legal quarters,--to the custodians for the moment of the
property which was to go to the established heir of the late Earl.
They had been made conjointly by Goffe and Goffe, and Norton and
Flick, and the money was forthcoming. Mr. Goffe suggested that a
great deal could not be wanted all at once for the young lady's
dress. The Countess smiled as she answered, "You hardly know, Mr.
Goffe, the straits to which we have been reduced. If I tell you that
this dress which I have on is the only one in which I can fitly
appear even in your chambers, perhaps you will think that I demean
myself." Mr. Goffe was touched, and signed a sufficient cheque. They
were going to succeed, and then everything would be easy. Even if
they did not succeed, he could get it passed in the accounts. And if
not that--well, he had run greater risks than this for clients whose
causes were of much less interest than this of the Countess and her
daughter.

The Countess had mentioned her own gown, and had spoken strict truth
in what she had said of it;--but not a shilling of Mr. Goffe's
money went to the establishment of a wardrobe for herself. That her
daughter should go down to Yoxham Rectory in a manner befitting the
daughter of Earl Lovel was at this moment her chief object. Things
were purchased by which the poor girl, unaccustomed to such finery,
was astounded and almost stupefied. Two needlewomen were taken
in at the lodgings in Wyndham Street; parcels from Swan and
Edgar's,--Marshall and Snellgrove were not then, or at least had not
loomed to the grandeur of an entire block of houses,--addressed to
Lady Anna Lovel, were frequent at the door, somewhat to the disgust
of the shopmen, who did not like to send goods to Lady Anna Lovel in
Wyndham Street. But ready money was paid, and the parcels came home.
Lady Anna, poor girl, was dismayed much by the parcels, but she was
at her wits' end when the lady's-maid came,--a young lady, herself
so sweetly attired that Lady Anna would have envied her in the old
Cumberland days. "I shall not know what to say to her, mamma," said
Lady Anna.

"It will all come in two days, if you will only be equal to the
occasion," said the Countess, who in providing her child with this
expensive adjunct, had made some calculation that the more her
daughter was made to feel the luxuries of aristocratic life, the less
prone would she be to adapt herself to the roughnesses of Daniel
Thwaite the tailor.

The Countess put her daughter into the mail-coach, and gave her much
parting advice. "Hold up your head when you are with them. That is
all that you have to do. Among them all your blood will be the best."
This theory of blood was one of which Lady Anna had never been able
even to realise the meaning. "And remember this too;--that you are in
truth the most wealthy. It is they that should honour you. Of course
you will be courteous and gentle with them,--it is your nature; but
do not for a moment allow yourself to be conscious that you are their
inferior." Lady Anna,--who could think but little of her birth,--to
whom it had been throughout her life a thing plaguesome rather than
profitable,--could remember only what she had been in Cumberland,
and her binding obligation to the tailor's son. She could remember
but that and the unutterable sweetness of the young man who had once
appeared before her,--to whom she knew that she must be inferior.
"Hold up your head among them, and claim your own always," said the
Countess.

The rectory carriage was waiting for her at the inn yard in York, and
in it was Miss Lovel. When the hour had come it was thought better
that the wise woman of the family should go than any other. For the
ladies of Yoxham were quite as anxious as to the Lady Anna as was she
in respect of them. What sort of a girl was this that they were to
welcome among them as the Lady Anna,--who had lived all her life with
tailors, and with a mother of whom up to quite a late date they had
thought all manner of evil? The young lord had reported well of her,
saying that she was not only beautiful, but feminine, of soft modest
manners, and in all respects like a lady. The Earl, however, was but
a young man, likely to be taken by mere beauty; and it might be that
the girl had been clever enough to hoodwink him. So much evil had
been believed that a report stating that all was good could not be
accepted at once as true. Miss Lovel would be sure to find out, even
in the space of an hour's drive, and Miss Lovel went to meet her. She
did not leave the carriage, but sent the footman to help Lady Anna
Lovel from the coach. "My dear," said Miss Lovel, "I am very glad
to see you. Oh, you have brought a maid! We didn't think you would.
There is a seat behind which she can occupy."

"Mamma thought it best. I hope it is not wrong, Mrs. Lovel."

"I ought to have introduced myself. I am Miss Lovel, and the rector
of Yoxham is my brother. It does not signify about the maid in the
least. We can do very well with her. I suppose she has been with you
a long time."

"No, indeed;--she only came the day before yesterday." And so Miss
Lovel learned the whole story of the lady's-maid.

Lady Anna said very little, but Miss Lovel explained a good many
things during the journey. The young lord was not at Yoxham. He was
with a friend in Scotland, but would be home about the 20th. The two
boys were at home for the holidays, but would go back to school in a
fortnight. Minnie Lovel, the daughter, had a governess. The rectory,
for a parsonage, was a tolerably large house, and convenient. It had
been Lord Lovel's early home, but at present he was not much there.
"He thinks it right to go to Lovel Grange during a part of the
autumn. I suppose you have seen Lovel Grange."

"Never."

"Oh, indeed. But you lived near it;--did you not?"

"No, not near;--about fifteen miles, I think. I was born there, but
have never been there since I was a baby."

"Oh!--you were born there. Of course you know that it is Lord Lovel's
seat now. I do not know that he likes it, though the scenery is
magnificent. But a landlord has to live, at least for some period of
the year, upon his property. You saw my nephew."

"Yes; he came to us once."

"I hope you liked him. We think him very nice. But then he is almost
the same as a son here. Do you care about visiting the poor?"

"I have never tried," said Lady Anna.

"Oh dear!"

"We have been so poor ourselves;--we were just one of them." Then
Miss Lovel perceived that she had made a mistake. But she was
generous enough to recognize the unaffected simplicity of the girl,
and almost began to think well of her.

"I hope you will come round the parish with us. We shall be very
glad. Yoxham is a large parish, with scattered hamlets, and there is
plenty to do. The manufactories are creeping up to us, and we have
already a large mill at Yoxham Lock. My brother has to keep two
curates now. Here we are, my dear, and I hope we shall be able to
make you happy."

Mrs. Lovel did not like the maid, and Mr. Lovel did not like it at
all. "And yet we heard when we were up in town that they literally
had not anything to live on," said the parson. "I hope that, after
all, we may not be making fools of ourselves." But there was no help
for it, and the maid was of course taken in.

The children had been instructed to call their cousin Lady
Anna,--unless they heard their mother drop the title, and then they
were to drop it also. They were not so young but what they had all
heard the indiscreet vigour with which their father had ridiculed the
claim to the title, and had been something at a loss to know whence
the change had come. "Perhaps they are as they call themselves," the
rector had said, "and, if so, heaven forbid that we should not give
them their due." After this the three young ones, discussing the
matter among themselves, had made up their minds that Lady Anna was
no cousin of theirs,--but "a humbug." When, however, they saw her
their hearts relented, and the girl became soft, and the boys became
civil. "Papa," said Minnie Lovel, on the second day, "I hope she is
our cousin."

"I hope so too, my dear."

"I think she is. She looks as if she ought to be because she is so
pretty."

"Being pretty, my dear, is not enough. You should love people because
they are good."

"But I would not like all the good people to be my cousins;--would
you, papa? Old widow Grimes is a very good old woman; but I don't
want to have her for a cousin."

"My dear, you are talking about what you don't understand."

But Minnie did in truth understand the matter better than her father.
Before three or four days had passed she knew that their guest was
lovable,--whether cousin or no cousin; and she knew also that the
newcomer was of such nature and breeding as made her fit to be a
cousin. All the family had as yet called her Lady Anna, but Minnie
thought that the time had come in which she might break through the
law. "I think I should like to call you just Anna, if you will let
me," she said. They two were in the guest's bedroom, and Minnie was
leaning against her new friend's shoulder.

"Oh, I do so wish you would. I do so hate to be called Lady."

"But you are Lady Anna,--arn't you?"

"And you are Miss Mary Lovel, but you wouldn't like everybody in the
house to call you so. And then there has been so much said about it
all my life, that it makes me quite unhappy. I do so wish your mamma
wouldn't call me Lady Anna." Whereupon Minnie very demurely explained
that she could not answer for her mamma, but that she would always
call her friend Anna,--when papa wasn't by.

But Minnie was better than her promise. "Mamma," she said the next
day, "do you know that she hates to be called Lady Anna."

"What makes you think so?"

"I am sure of it. She told me so. Everybody has always been talking
about it ever since she was born, and she says she is so sick of it."

"But, my dear, people must be called by their names. If it is her
proper name she ought not to hate it. I can understand that people
should hate an assumed name."

"I am Miss Mary Lovel, but I should not at all like it if everybody
called me Miss Mary. The servants call me Miss Mary, but if papa and
aunt Julia did so, I should think they were scolding me."

"But Lady Anna is not papa's daughter."

"She is his cousin. Isn't she his cousin, mamma? I don't think people
ought to call their cousins Lady Anna. I have promised that I won't.
Cousin Frederic said that she was his cousin. What will he call her?"

"I cannot tell, my dear. We shall all know her better by that time."
Mrs. Lovel, however, followed her daughter's lead, and from that time
the poor girl was Anna to all of them,--except to the rector. He
listened, and thought that he would try it; but his heart failed him.
He would have preferred that she should be an impostor, were that
still possible. He would so much have preferred that she should not
exist at all! He did not care for her beauty. He did not feel the
charm of her simplicity. It was one of the hardships of the world
that he should be forced to have her there in his rectory. The Lovel
wealth was indispensable to the true heir of the Lovels, and on
behalf of his nephew and his family he had been induced to consent;
but he could not love the interloper. He still dreamed of coming
surprises that would set the matter right in a manner that would be
much preferable to a marriage. The girl might be innocent,--as his
wife and sister told him; but he was sure that the mother was an
intriguing woman. It would be such a pity that they should have
entertained the girl, if,--after all,--the woman should at last be
but a pseudo-countess! As others had ceased to call her Lady Anna,
he could not continue to do so; but he managed to live on with her
without calling her by any name.

In the meantime Cousin Anna went about among the poor with Minnie
and Aunt Julia, and won golden opinions. She was soft, feminine,
almost humble,--but still with a dash of humour in her, when she was
sufficiently at her ease with them to be happy. There was very much
in the life which she thoroughly enjoyed. The green fields, and the
air which was so pleasant to her after the close heat of the narrow
London streets, and the bright parsonage garden, and the pleasant
services of the country church,--and doubtless also the luxuries of
a rich, well-ordered household. Those calculations of her mother had
not been made without a true basis. The softness, the niceness, the
ease, the grace of the people around her, won upon her day by day,
and hour by hour. The pleasant idleness of the drawing-room, with its
books and music, and unstrained chatter of family voices, grew upon
her as so many new charms. To come down with bright ribbons and clean
unruffled muslin to breakfast, with nothing to do which need ruffle
them unbecomingly, and then to dress for dinner with silk and gauds,
before ten days were over, had made life beautiful to her. She seemed
to live among roses and perfumes. There was no stern hardness in the
life, as there had of necessity been in that which she had ever lived
with her mother. The caresses of Minnie Lovel soothed and warmed her
heart;--and every now and again, when the eyes of Aunt Julia were not
upon her, she was tempted to romp with the boys. Oh! that they had
really been her brothers!

But in the midst of all there was ever present to her the prospect of
some coming wretchedness. The life which she was leading could not
be her life. That Earl was coming,--that young Apollo,--and he would
again ask her to be his wife. She knew that she could not be his
wife. She was there, as she understood well, that she might give all
this wealth that was to be hers to the Lovel family; and when she
refused to give herself,--as the only way in which that wealth could
be conveyed,--they would turn her out from their pleasant home.
Then she must go back to the other life, and be the wife of Daniel
Thwaite; and soft things must be at an end with her.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE EARL ARRIVES.


At the end of a fortnight the boys had gone back to school, and Lord
Lovel was to reach the rectory in time for dinner that evening. There
was a little stir throughout the rectory, as an earl is an earl
though he be in his uncle's house, and rank will sway even aunts
and cousins. The parson at present was a much richer man than the
peer;--but the peer was at the head of all the Lovels, and then it
was expected that his poverty would quickly be made to disappear.
All that Lovel money which had been invested in bank shares, Indian
railways, Russian funds, Devon consols, and coal mines, was to become
his,--if not in one way, then in another. The Earl was to be a
topping man, and the rectory cook was ordered to do her best. The big
bedroom had been made ready, and the parson looked at his '99 port
and his '16 Margaux. In those days men drank port, and champagne at
country houses was not yet a necessity. To give the rector of Yoxham
his due it must be said of him that he would have done his very best
for the head of his family had there been no large fortune within the
young lord's grasp. The Lovels had ever been true to the Lovels, with
the exception of that late wretched Earl,--the Lady Anna's father.

But if the rector and his wife were alive to the importance of the
expected arrival, what must have been the state of Lady Anna! They
had met but once before, and during that meeting they had been alone
together. There had grown up, she knew not how, during those few
minutes, a heavenly sweetness between them. He had talked to her with
a voice that had been to her ears as the voice of a god,--it had been
so sweet and full of music! He had caressed her,--but with a caress
so gentle and pure that it had been to her void of all taint of evil.
It had perplexed her for a moment,--but had left no sense of wrong
behind it. He had told her that he loved her,--that he would love
her dearly; but had not scared her in so telling her, though she
knew she could never give him back such love as that of which he
spoke to her. There had been a charm in it, of which she delighted
to dream,--fancying that she could remember it for ever, as a green
island in her life; but could so best remember it if she were assured
that she should never see him more. But now she was to see him again,
and the charm must be renewed,--or else the dream dispelled for
ever. Alas! it must be the latter. She knew that the charm must be
dispelled.

But there was a doubt on her own mind whether it would not be
dispelled without any effort on her part. It would vanish at once
if he were to greet her as the Lovels had greeted her on her first
coming. She could partly understand that the manner of their meeting
in London had thrust upon him a necessity for flattering tenderness
with which he might well dispense when he met her among his family.
Had he really loved her,--had he meant to love her,--he would hardly
have been absent so long after her coming. She had been glad that
he had been absent,--so she assured herself,--because there could
never be any love between them. Daniel Thwaite had told her that
the brotherly love which had been offered was false love,--must be
false,--was no love at all. Do brothers marry sisters; and had not
this man already told her that he wished to make her his wife? And
then there must never be another kiss. Daniel Thwaite had told her
that; and he was, not only her lover, but her master also. This was
the rule by which she would certainly hold. She would be true to
Daniel Thwaite. And yet she looked for the lord's coming, as one
looks for the rising of the sun of an early morning,--watching for
that which shall make all the day beautiful.

And he came. The rector and his wife, and Aunt Julia and Minnie, all
went out into the hall to meet him, and Anna was left alone in the
library, where they were wont to congregate before dinner. It was
already past seven, and every one was dressed. A quarter of an hour
was to be allowed to the lord, and he was to be hurried up at once to
his bedroom. She would not see him till he came down ready, and all
hurried, to lead his aunt to the dining-room. She heard the scuffle
in the hall. There were kisses;--and a big kiss from Minnie to her
much-prized Cousin Fred; and a loud welcome from the full-mouthed
rector. "And where is Anna?"--the lord asked. They were the first
words he spoke, and she heard them, ah! so plainly. It was the same
voice,--sweet, genial, and manly; sweet to her beyond all sweetness
that she could conceive.

"You shall see her when you come down from dressing," said Mrs.
Lovel,--in a low voice, but still audible to the solitary girl.

"I will see her before I go up to dress," said the lord, walking
through them, and in through the open door to the library. "So, here
you are. I am so glad to see you! I had sworn to go into Scotland
before the time was fixed for your coming,--before I had met
you,--and I could not escape. Have you thought ill of me because I
have not been here to welcome you sooner?"

"No,--my lord."

"There are horrible penalties for anybody who calls me lord in this
house;--are there not, Aunt Jane? But I see my uncle wants his
dinner."

"I'll take you up-stairs, Fred," said Minnie, who was still holding
her cousin's hand.

"I am coming. I will only say that I would sooner see you here than
in any house in England."

Then he went, and during the few minutes that he spent in dressing
little or nothing was spoke in the library. The parson in his heart
was not pleased by the enthusiasm with which the young man greeted
this new cousin; and yet, why should he not be enthusiastic if it was
intended that they should be man and wife?

"Now, Lady Anna," said the rector, as he offered her his arm to lead
her out to dinner. It was but a mild corrective to the warmth of his
nephew. The lord lingered a moment with his aunt in the library.

"Have you not got beyond that with her yet?" he asked.

"Your uncle is more old fashioned than you are, Fred. Things did not
go so quick when he was young."

In the evening he came and lounged on a double-seated ottoman behind
her, and she soon found herself answering a string of questions. Had
she been happy at Yoxham? Did she like the place? What had she been
doing? "Then you know Mrs. Grimes already?" She laughed as she said
that she did know Mrs. Grimes. "The lion of Yoxham is Mrs. Grimes.
She is supposed to have all the misfortunes and all the virtues to
which humanity is subject. And how do you and Minnie get on? Minnie
is my prime minister. The boys, I suppose, teased you out of your
life?"

"I did like them so much! I never knew a boy till I saw them, Lord
Lovel."

"They take care to make themselves known, at any rate. But they are
nice, good-humoured lads,--taking after their mother. Don't tell
their father I said so. Do you think it pretty about here?"

"Beautifully pretty."

"Just about Yoxham,--because there is so much wood. But this is not
the beautiful part of Yorkshire, you know. I wonder whether we could
make an expedition to Wharfedale and Bolton Abbey. You would say that
the Wharfe was pretty. We'll try and plan it. We should have to sleep
out one night; but that would make it all the jollier. There isn't a
better inn in England than the Devonshire arms;--and I don't think a
pleasanter spot. Aunt Jane,--couldn't we go for one night to Bolton
Abbey?"

"It is very far, Frederic."

"Thirty miles or so;--that ought to be nothing in Yorkshire. We'll
manage it. We could get post-horses from York, and the carriage
would take us all. My uncle, you must know, is very chary about
the carriage horses, thinking that the corn of idleness,--which is
destructive to young men and women,--is very good for cattle. But
we'll manage it, and you shall jump over the Stryd." Then he told
her the story how the youth was drowned--and how the monks moaned;
and he got away to other legends, to the white doe of Rylston, and
Landseer's picture of the abbey in olden times. She had heard nothing
before of these things,--or indeed of such things, and the hearing
them was very sweet to her. The parson, who was still displeased,
went to sleep. Minnie had been sent to bed, and Aunt Julia and Aunt
Jane every now and again put in a word. It was resolved before the
evening was over that the visit should be made to Bolton Abbey. Of
course, their nephew ought to have opportunities of making love to
the girl he was doomed to marry. "Good night, dearest," he said when
she went to bed. She was sure that the last word had been so spoken,
and that no ear but her own had heard it. She could not tell him
that such word should not be spoken; and yet she felt that the word
would be almost as offensive as the kiss to Daniel Thwaite. She must
contrive some means of telling him that she could not, would not,
must not be his dearest.

She had now received two letters from her mother since she had been
at Yoxham, and in each of them there were laid down for her plain
instructions as to her conduct. It was now the middle of August, and
it was incumbent upon her to allow matters so to arrange themselves,
that the marriage might be declared to be a settled thing when the
case should come on in November. Mr. Goffe and Mr. Flick had met
each other, and everything was now understood by the two parties of
lawyers. If the Earl and Lady Anna were then engaged with the mutual
consent of all interested,--and so engaged that a day could be fixed
for the wedding,--then, when the case was opened in court, would the
Solicitor-General declare that it was the intention of Lord Lovel
to make no further opposition to the claims of the Countess and her
daughter, and it would only remain for Serjeant Bluestone to put in
the necessary proofs of the Cumberland marriage and of the baptism
of Lady Anna. The Solicitor-General would at the same time state
to the court that an alliance had been arranged between these
distant cousins, and that in that way everything would be settled.
But,--and in this clause of her instructions the Countess was most
urgent,--this could not be done unless the marriage were positively
settled. Mr. Flick had been very urgent in pointing out to Mr. Goffe
that in truth their evidence was very strong to prove that when
the Earl married the now so-called Countess, his first wife was
still living, though they gave no credit to the woman who now
called herself the Countess. But, in either case,--whether the
Italian countess were now alive or now dead,--the daughter would be
illegitimate, and the second marriage void, if their surmise on this
head should prove to be well founded. But the Italian party could of
itself do nothing, and the proposed marriage would set everything
right. But the evidence must be brought into court and further
sifted, unless the marriage were a settled thing by November. All
this the Countess explained at great length in her letters, calling
upon her daughter to save herself, her mother, and the family.

Lady Anna answered the first epistle,--or rather, wrote another in
return to it;--but she said nothing of her noble lover, except that
Lord Lovel had not as yet come to Yoxham. She confined herself to
simple details of her daily life, and a prayer that her dear mother
might be happy. The second letter from the Countess was severe in its
tone,--asking why no promise had been made, no assurance given,--no
allusion made to the only subject that could now be of interest. She
implored her child to tell her that she was disposed to listen to the
Earl's suit. This letter was in her pocket when the Earl arrived, and
she took it out and read it again after the Earl had whispered in her
ear that word so painfully sweet.

She proposed to answer it before breakfast on the following morning.
At Yoxham rectory they breakfasted at ten, and she was always up at
least before eight. She determined as she laid herself down that she
would think of it all night. It might be best, she believed, to tell
her mother the whole truth,--that she had already promised everything
to Daniel Thwaite, and that she could not go back from her word. Then
she began to build castles in the air,--castles which she declared to
herself must ever be in the air,--of which Lord Lovel, and not Daniel
Thwaite, was the hero, owner, and master. She assured herself that
she was not picturing to herself any prospect of a really possible
life, but was simply dreaming of an impossible Elysium. How many
people would she make happy, were she able to let that young
Phoebus know in one half-uttered word,--or with a single silent
glance,--that she would in truth be his dearest. It could not be so.
She was well aware of that. But surely she might dream of it. All the
cares of that careful, careworn mother would then be at an end. How
delightful would it be to her to welcome that sorrowful one to her
own bright home, and to give joy where joy had never yet been known!
How all the lawyers would praise her, and tell her that she had saved
a noble family from ruin. She already began to have feelings about
the family to which she had been a stranger before she had come among
the Lovels. And if it really would make him happy, this Phoebus,
how glorious would that be! How fit he was to be made happy! Daniel
had said that he was sordid, false, fraudulent, and a fool;--but
Daniel did not, could not, understand the nature of the Lovels. And
then she herself;--how would it be with her? She had given her heart
to Daniel Thwaite, and she had but one heart to give. Had it not been
for that, it would have been very sweet to love that young curled
darling. There were two sorts of life, and now she had had an insight
into each. Daniel had told her that this soft, luxurious life was
thoroughly bad. He could not have known when saying so, how much
was done for their poor neighbours by such as even these Lovels. It
could not be wrong to be soft, and peaceful, and pretty, to enjoy
sweet smells, to sit softly, and eat off delicately painted china
plates,--as long as no one was defrauded, and many were comforted.
Daniel Thwaite, she believed, never went to church. Here at Yoxham
there were always morning prayers, and they went to church twice
every Sunday. She had found it very pleasant to go to church, and to
be led along in the easy path of self-indulgent piety on which they
all walked at Yoxham. The church seats at Yoxham were broad, with
soft cushions, and the hassocks were well stuffed. Surely, Daniel
Thwaite did not know everything. As she thus built her castles in the
air,--castles so impossible to be inhabited,--she fell asleep before
she had resolved what letter she should write.

But in the morning she did write her letter. It must be written,--and
when the family were about the house, she would be too disturbed for
so great an effort. It ran as follows:--


   Yoxham, Friday.

   DEAREST MAMMA,

   I am much obliged for your letter, which I got the
   day before yesterday. Lord Lovel came here yesterday,
   or perhaps I might have answered it then. Everybody
   here seems to worship him almost, and he is so good to
   everybody! We are all to go on a visit to Bolton Abbey,
   and sleep at an inn somewhere, and I am sure I shall like
   it very much, for they say it is most beautiful. If you
   look at the map, it is nearly in a straight line between
   here and Kendal, but only much nearer to York. The day is
   not fixed yet, but I believe it will be very soon.

   I shall be so glad if the lawsuit can be got over, for
   your sake, dearest mamma. I wish they could let you have
   your title and your share of the money, and let Lord Lovel
   have the rest, because he is head of the family. That
   would be fairest, and I can't see why it should not be so.
   Your share would be quite enough for you and me. I can't
   say anything about what you speak of. He has said nothing,
   and I'm sure I hope he won't. I don't think I could do it;
   and I don't think the lawyers ought to want me to. I think
   it is very wrong of them to say so. We are strangers, and
   I feel almost sure that I could never be what he would
   want. I don't think people ought to marry for money.

   Dearest mamma, pray do not be angry with me. If you are,
   you will kill me. I am very happy here, and nobody has
   said anything about my going away. Couldn't you ask
   Serjeant Bluestone whether something couldn't be done to
   divide the money, so that there might be no more law? I am
   sure he could if he liked, with Mr. Goffe and the other
   men.

   Dearest mamma, I am,
   Your most affectionate Daughter,

   ANNA LOVEL.


When the moment came, and the pen was in her hand, she had not
the courage to mention the name of Daniel Thwaite. She knew that
the fearful story must be told, but at this moment she comforted
herself,--or tried to comfort herself,--by remembering that Daniel
himself had enjoined that their engagement must yet for a while be
kept secret.



CHAPTER XV.

WHARFEDALE.


The visit to Wharfedale was fixed for Monday and Tuesday, and on the
Monday morning they started, after an early breakfast. The party
consisted of Aunt Jane, Aunt Julia, Lady Anna, Minnie, and Mr. Cross,
one of the rector's curates. The rector would not accompany them,
excusing himself to the others generally on the ground that he could
not be absent from his parish on those two days. To his wife and
sister he explained that he was not able, as yet, to take pleasure in
such a party as this with Lady Anna. There was no knowing, he said,
what might happen. It was evident that he did not mean to open his
heart to Lady Anna, at any rate till the marriage should be settled.

An open carriage, which would take them all, was ordered,--with four
post horses, and two antiquated postboys, with white hats and blue
jackets, and yellow breeches. Minnie and the curate sat on the box,
and there was a servant in the rumble. Rooms at the inn had been
ordered, and everything was done in proper lordly manner. The sun
shone brightly above their heads, and Anna, having as yet received
no further letter from her mother, was determined to be happy. Four
horses took them to Bolton Bridge, and then, having eaten lunch and
ordered dinner, they started for their ramble in the woods.

The first thing to be seen at Bolton Abbey is, of course, the Abbey.
The Abbey itself, as a ruin,--a ruin not so ruinous but that a part
of it is used for a modern church,--is very well; but the glory of
Bolton Abbey is in the river which runs round it and in the wooded
banks which overhang it. No more luxuriant pasture, no richer
foliage, no brighter water, no more picturesque arrangement of the
freaks of nature, aided by the art and taste of man, is to be found,
perhaps, in England. Lady Anna, who had been used to wilder scenery
in her native county, was delighted. Nothing had ever been so
beautiful as the Abbey;--nothing so lovely as the running Wharfe!
Might they not climb up among those woods on the opposite bank?
Lord Lovel declared that, of course they would climb up among the
woods,--it was for that purpose they had come. That was the way to
the Stryd,--over which he was determined that Lady Anna should be
made to jump.

But the river below the Abbey is to be traversed by stepping-stones,
which, to the female uninitiated foot, appear to be full of danger.
The Wharfe here is no insignificant brook, to be overcome by a long
stride and a jump. There is a causeway, of perhaps forty stones,
across it, each some eighteen inches distant from the other, which,
flat and excellent though they be, are perilous from their number.
Mrs. Lovel, who knew the place of old, had begun by declaring that
no consideration should induce her to cross the water. Aunt Julia
had proposed that they should go along the other bank, on the Abbey
side of the river, and thence cross by the bridge half a mile up.
But the Earl was resolved that he would take his cousin over the
stepping-stones; and Minnie and the curate were equally determined.
Minnie, indeed, had crossed the river, and was back again, while the
matter was still being discussed. Aunt Julia, who was strong-limbed,
as well as strong-minded, at last assented, the curate having
promised all necessary aid. Mrs. Lovel seated herself at a distance
to see the exploit; and then Lord Lovel started, with Lady Anna,
turning at every stone to give a hand to his cousin.

"Oh, they are very dreadful!" said Lady Anna, when about a dozen had
been passed.

The black water was flowing fast, fast beneath her feet; the stones
became smaller and smaller to her imagination, and the apertures
between them broader and broader.

"Don't look at the water, dear," said the lord, "but come on quick."

"I can't come on quick. I shall never get over. Oh, Frederic!" That
morning she had promised that she would call him Frederic. Even
Daniel could not think it wrong that she should call her cousin
by his Christian name. "It's no good, I can't do that one,--it's
crooked. Mayn't I go back again?"

"You can't go back, dear. It is only up to your knees, if you do
go in. But take my hand. There,--all the others are straight,--you
must come on, or Aunt Julia will catch us. After two or three times,
you'll hop over like a milkmaid. There are only half-a-dozen more.
Here we are. Isn't that pretty?"

"I thought I never should have got over. I wouldn't go back for
anything. But it is lovely; and I am so much obliged to you for
bringing me here. We can go back another way?"

"Oh, yes;--but now we'll get up the bank. Give me your hand." Then
he took her along the narrow, twisting, steep paths, to the top of
the wooded bank, and they were soon beyond the reach of Aunt Julia,
Minnie, and the curate.

It was very pleasant, very lovely, and very joyous; but there was
still present to her mind some great fear. The man was there with her
as an acknowledged lover,--a lover, acknowledged to be so by all but
herself; but she could not lawfully have any lover but him who was
now slaving at his trade in London. She must tell this gallant lord
that he must not be her lover; and, as they went along, she was
always meditating how she might best tell him, when the moment for
telling him should come. But on that morning, during the entire walk,
he said no word to her which seemed quite to justify the telling. He
called her by sweet, petting names,--Anna, my girl, pretty coz, and
such like. He would hold her hand twice longer than he would have
held that of either aunt in helping her over this or that little
difficulty,--and would help her when no help was needed. He talked to
her, of small things, as though he and she must needs have kindred
interests. He spoke to her of his uncle as though, near as his uncle
was, the connection were not nigh so close as that between him and
her. She understood it with a half understanding,--feeling that in
all this he was in truth making love to her, and yet telling herself
that he said no more than cousinship might warrant. But the autumn
colours were bright, and the river rippled, and the light breeze
came down from the mountains, and the last of the wild flowers were
still sweet in the woods. After a while she was able to forget her
difficulties, to cease to think of Daniel, and to find in her cousin,
not a lover, but simply the pleasantest friend that fortune had ever
sent her.

And so they came, all alone,--for Aunt Julia, though both limbs and
mind were strong, had not been able to keep up with them,--all alone
to the Stryd. The Stryd is a narrow gully or passage, which the
waters have cut for themselves in the rocks, perhaps five or six
feet broad, where the river passes, but narrowed at the top by an
overhanging mass which in old days withstood the wearing of the
stream, till the softer stone below was cut away, and then was left
bridging over a part of the chasm below. There goes a story that a
mountain chieftain's son, hunting the stag across the valley when the
floods were out, in leaping the stream, from rock to rock, failed to
make good his footing, was carried down by the rushing waters, and
dashed to pieces among the rocks. Lord Lovel told her the tale, as
they sat looking at the now innocent brook, and then bade her follow
him as he leaped from edge to edge.

"I couldn't do it;--indeed, I couldn't," said the shivering girl.

"It is barely a step," said the Earl, jumping over, and back again.
"Going from this side, you couldn't miss to do it, if you tried."

"I'm sure I should tumble in. It makes me sick to look at you while
you are leaping."

"You'd jump over twice the distance on dry ground."

"Then let me jump on dry ground."

"I've set my heart upon it. Do you think I'd ask you if I wasn't
sure?"

"You want to make another legend of me."

"I want to leave Aunt Julia behind, which we shall certainly do."

"Oh, but I can't afford to drown myself just that you may run away
from Aunt Julia. You can run by yourself, and I will wait for Aunt
Julia."

"That is not exactly my plan. Be a brave girl, now, and stand up, and
do as I bid you."

Then she stood up on the edge of the rock, holding tight by his arm.
How pleasant it was to be thus frightened, with such a protector near
her to insure her safety! And yet the chasm yawned, and the water ran
rapid and was very black. But if he asked her to make the spring, of
course she must make it. What would she not have done at his bidding?

"I can almost touch you, you see," he said, as he stood opposite,
with his arm out ready to catch her hand.

"Oh, Frederic, I don't think I can."

"You can very well, if you will only jump."

"It is ever so many yards."

"It is three feet. I'll back Aunt Julia to do it for a promise of ten
shillings to the infirmary."

"I'll give the ten shillings, if you'll only let me off."

"I won't let you off,--so you might as well come at once."

Then she stood and shuddered for a moment, looking with beseeching
eyes up into his face. Of course she meant to jump. Of course she
would have been disappointed had Aunt Julia come and interrupted her
jumping. Yes,--she would jump into his arms. She knew that he would
catch her. At that moment her memory of Daniel Thwaite had become
faint as the last shaded glimmer of twilight. She shut her eyes for
half a moment, then opened them, looked into his face, and made her
spring. As she did so, she struck her foot against a rising ledge of
the rock, and, though she covered more than the distance in her leap,
she stumbled as she came to the ground, and fell into his arms. She
had sprained her ankle, in her effort to recover herself.

"Are you hurt?" he asked, holding her close to his side.

"No;--I think not;--only a little, that is. I was so awkward."

"I shall never forgive myself if you are hurt."

"There is nothing to forgive. I'll sit down for a moment. It was my
own fault because I was so stupid,--and it does not in the least
signify. I know what it is now; I've sprained my ankle."

"There is nothing so painful as that."

"It hurts a little, but it will go off. It wasn't the jump, but I
twisted my foot somehow. If you look so unhappy, I'll get up and jump
back again."

"I am unhappy, dearest."

"Oh, but you mustn't." The prohibition might be taken as applying to
the epithet of endearment, and thereby her conscience be satisfied.
Then he bent over her, looking anxiously into her face as she winced
with the pain, and he took her hand and kissed it. "Oh, no," she
said, gently struggling to withdraw the hand which he held. "Here is
Aunt Julia. You had better just move." Not that she would have cared
a straw for the eyes of Aunt Julia, had it not been that the image
of Daniel Thwaite again rose strong before her mind. Then Aunt Julia,
and the curate, and Minnie were standing on the rock within a few
paces of them, but on the other side of the stream.

"Is there anything the matter?" asked Miss Lovel.

"She has sprained her ankle in jumping over the Stryd, and she cannot
walk. Perhaps Mr. Cross would not mind going back to the inn and
getting a carriage. The road is only a quarter of a mile above us,
and we could carry her up."

"How could you be so foolish, Frederic, as to let her jump it?" said
the aunt.

"Don't mind about my folly now. The thing is to get a carriage for
Anna." The curate immediately hurried back, jumping over the Stryd as
the nearest way to the inn; and Minnie also sprung across the stream
so that she might sit down beside her cousin and offer consolation.
Aunt Julia was left alone, and after a while was forced to walk back
by herself to the bridge.

"Is she much hurt?" asked Minnie.

"I am afraid she is hurt," said the lord.

"Dear, dear Minnie, it does not signify a bit," said Anna, lavishing
on her younger cousin the caresses which fate forbade her to give to
the elder. "I know I could walk home in a few minutes. I am better
now. It is one of those things which go away almost immediately. I'll
try and stand, Frederic, if you'll let me." Then she raised herself,
leaning upon him, and declared that she was nearly well,--and then
was reseated, still leaning on him.

"Shall we attempt to get her up to the road, Minnie, or wait till Mr.
Cross comes to help us?" Lady Anna declared that she did not want any
help,--certainly not Mr. Cross's help, and that she could do very
well, just with Minnie's arm. They waited there sitting on the rocks
for half an hour, saying but little to each other, throwing into the
stream the dry bits of stick which the last flood had left upon the
stones, and each thinking how pleasant it was to sit there and dream,
listening to the running waters. Then Lady Anna hobbled up to the
carriage road, helped by a stronger arm than that of her cousin
Minnie.

Of course there was some concern and dismay at the inn. Embrocations
were used, and doctors were talked of, and heads were shaken, and a
couch in the sitting-room was prepared, so that the poor injured one
might eat her dinner without being driven to the solitude of her own
bedroom.



CHAPTER XVI.

FOR EVER.


On the next morning the poor injured one was quite well,--but she
was still held to be subject to piteous concern. The two aunts
shook their heads when she said that she would walk down to the
stepping-stones that morning, before starting for Yoxham; but she was
quite sure that the sprain was gone, and the distance was not above
half a mile. They were not to start till two o'clock. Would Minnie
come down with her, and ramble about among the ruins?

"Minnie, come out on the lawn," said the lord. "Don't you come with
me and Anna;--you can go where you like about the place by yourself."

"Why mayn't I come?"

"Never mind, but do as you're bid."

"I know. You are going to make love to cousin Anna."

"You are an impertinent little imp."

"I am so glad, Frederic, because I do like her. I was sure she was a
real cousin. Don't you think she is very,--very nice?"

"Pretty well."

"Is that all?"

"You go away and don't tease,--or else I'll never bring you to the
Stryd again." So it happened that Lord Lovel and Lady Anna went
across the meadow together, down to the river, and sauntered along
the margin till they came to the stepping-stones. He passed over, and
she followed him, almost without a word. Her heart was so full, that
she did not think now of the water running at her feet. It had hardly
seemed to her to make any difficulty as to the passage. She must
follow him whither he would lead her, but her mind misgave her,--that
they would not return sweet loving friends as they went out. "We
won't climb," said he, "because it might try your ankle too much. But
we will go in here by the meadow. I always think this is one of the
prettiest views there is," he said, throwing himself upon the grass.

"It is all prettiest. It is like fairy land. Does the Duke let people
come here always?"

"Yes, I fancy so."

"He must be very good-natured. Do you know the Duke?"

"I never saw him in my life."

"A duke sounds so awful to me."

"You'll get used to them some day. Won't you sit down?" Then she
glided down to the ground at a little distance from him, and he at
once shifted his place so as to be almost close to her. "Your foot is
quite well?"

"Quite well."

"I thought for a few minutes that there was going to be some dreadful
accident, and I was so mad with myself for having made you jump it.
If you had broken your leg, how would you have borne it?"

"Like other people, I suppose."

"Would you have been angry with me?"

"I hope not. I am sure not. You were doing the best you could to give
me pleasure. I don't think I should have been angry at all. I don't
think we are ever angry with the people we really like."

"Do you really like me?"

"Yes;--I like you."

"Is that all?"

"Is not that enough?"

She answered the question as she might have answered it had it been
allowed to her, as to any girl that was free, to toy with his love,
knowing that she meant to accept it. It was easier so, than in any
other way. But her heart within her was sad, and could she have
stopped his further speech by any word rough and somewhat rude, she
would have done so. In truth, she did not know how to answer him
roughly. He deserved from her that all her words should be soft, and
sweet and pleasant. She believed him to be good and generous and kind
and loving. The hard things which Daniel Thwaite had said of him had
all vanished from her mind. To her thinking, it was no sin in him
that he should want her wealth,--he, the Earl, to whom by right the
wealth of the Lovels should belong. The sin was rather hers,--in that
she kept it from him. And then, if she could receive all that he
was willing to give, his heart, his name, his house and home, and
sweet belongings of natural gifts and personal advantages, how much
more would she take than what she gave! She could not speak to him
roughly, though,--alas!--the time had come in which she must speak to
him truly. It was not fitting that a girl should have two lovers.

"No, dear,--not enough," he said.

It can hardly be accounted a fault in him that at this time he felt
sure of her love. She had been so soft in her ways with him, so
gracious, yielding, and pretty in her manners, so manifestly pleased
by his company, so prone to lean upon him, that it could hardly be
that he should think otherwise. She had told him, when he spoke to
her more plainly up in London than he had yet done since they had
been together in the country, that she could never, never be his
wife. But what else could a girl say at a first meeting with a
proposed lover? Would he have wished that she should at once have
given herself up without one maidenly scruple, one word of feminine
recusancy? If love's course be made to run too smooth it loses all
its poetry, and half its sweetness. But now they knew each other;--at
least, he thought they did. The scruple might now be put away. The
feminine recusancy had done its work. For himself,--he felt that he
loved her in very truth. She was not harsh or loud,--vulgar, or given
to coarse manners, as might have been expected, and as he had been
warned by his friends that he would find her. That she was very
beautiful, all her enemies had acknowledged,--and he was quite
assured that her enemies had been right. She was the Lady Anna Lovel,
and he felt that he could make her his own without one shade of
regret to mar his triumph. Of the tailor's son,--though he had been
warned of him too,--he made no account whatever. That had been a
slander, which only endeared the girl to him the more;--a slander
against Lady Anna Lovel which had been an insult to his family. Among
all the ladies he knew, daughters of peers and high-bred commoners,
there were none,--there was not one less likely so to disgrace
herself than Lady Anna Lovel, his sweet cousin.

"Do not think me too hurried, dear, if I speak to you again so soon,
of that of which I spoke once before." He had turned himself round
upon his arm, so as to be very close to her,--so that he would look
full into her face, and, if chance favoured him, could take her hand.
He paused, as though for an answer; but she did not speak to him a
word. "It is not long yet since we first met."

"Oh, no;--not long."

"And I know not what your feelings are. But, in very truth, I can say
that I love you dearly. Had nothing else come in the way to bring us
together, I am sure that I should have loved you." She, poor child,
believed him as though he were speaking to her the sweetest gospel.
And he, too, believed himself. He was easy of heart perhaps, but not
deceitful; anxious enough for his position in the world, but not
meanly covetous. Had she been distasteful to him as a woman, he
would have refused to make himself rich by the means that had been
suggested to him. As it was, he desired her as much as her money, and
had she given herself to him then would never have remembered,--would
never have known that the match had been sordid. "Do you believe me?"
he asked.

"Oh, yes."

"And shall it be so?"

Her face had been turned away, but now she slowly moved her neck so
that she could look at him. Should she be false to all her vows, and
try whether happiness might not be gained in that way? The manner
of doing it passed through her mind in that moment. She would write
to Daniel, and remind him of his promise to set her free if she so
willed it. She would never see him again. She would tell him that
she had striven to see things as he would have taught her, and had
failed. She would abuse herself, and ask for his pardon;--but having
thus judged for herself, she would never go back from such judgment.
It might be done,--if only she could persuade herself that it were
good to do it! But, as she thought of it, there came upon her a prick
of conscience so sharp, that she could not welcome the devil by
leaving it unheeded. How could she be foresworn to one who had been
so absolutely good,--whose all had been spent for her and for her
mother,--whose whole life had been one long struggle of friendship on
her behalf,--who had been the only playfellow of her youth, the only
man she had ever ventured to kiss,--the man whom she truly loved? He
had warned her against these gauds which were captivating her spirit,
and now, in the moment of her peril, she would remember his warnings.

"Shall it be so?" Lord Lovel asked again, just stretching out his
hand, so that he could touch the fold of her garment.

"It cannot be so," she said.

"Cannot be!"

"It cannot be so, Lord Lovel."

"It cannot now;--or do you mean the word to be for ever?"

"For ever!" she replied.

"I know that I have been hurried and sudden," he said,--purposely
passing by her last assurance; "and I do feel that you have a right
to resent the seeming assurance of such haste. But in our case,
dearest, the interests of so many are concerned, the doubts and
fears, the well-being, and even the future conduct of all our friends
are so bound up by the result, that I had hoped you would have
pardoned that which would otherwise have been unpardonable." Oh
heavens;--had it not been for Daniel Thwaite, how full of grace, how
becoming, how laden with flattering courtesy would have been every
word that he had uttered to her! "But," he continued, "if it really
be that you cannot love me--"

"Oh, Lord Lovel, pray ask of me no further question."

"I am bound to ask and to know,--for all our sakes."

Then she rose quickly to her feet, and with altered gait and changed
countenance stood over him. "I am engaged," she said, "to be
married--to Mr. Daniel Thwaite." She had told it all, and felt that
she had told her own disgrace. He rose also, but stood mute before
her. This was the very thing of which they had all warned him, but as
to which he had been so sure that it was not so! She saw it all in
his eyes, reading much more there than he could read in hers. She was
degraded in his estimation, and felt that evil worse almost than the
loss of his love. For the last three weeks she had been a real Lovel
among the Lovels. That was all over now. Let this lawsuit go as it
might, let them give to her all the money, and make the title which
she hated ever so sure, she never again could be the equal friend
of her gentle relative, Earl Lovel. Minnie would never again spring
into her arms, swearing that she would do as she pleased with her
own cousin. She might be Lady Anna, but never Anna again to the two
ladies at the rectory. The perfume of his rank had been just scented,
to be dashed away from her for ever. "It is a secret at present,"
she said, "or I should have told you sooner. If it is right that you
should repeat it, of course you must."

"Oh, Anna!"

"It is true."

"Oh, Anna, for your sake as well as mine this makes me wretched
indeed!"

"As for the money, Lord Lovel, if it be mine to give, you shall have
it."

"You think then it is that which I have wanted?"

"It is that which the family wants, and I can understand that it
should be wanted. As for myself,--for mamma and me,--you can hardly
understand how it has been with us when we were young. You despise
Mr. Thwaite,--because he is a tailor."

"I am sure he is not fit to be the husband of Lady Anna Lovel."

"When Lady Anna Lovel had no other friend in the world, he sheltered
her and gave her a house to live in, and spent his earnings in her
defence, and would not yield when all those who might have been
her friends strove to wrong her. Where would mamma have been,--and
I,--had there been no Mr. Thwaite to comfort us? He was our only
friend,--he and his father. They were all we had. In my childhood I
had never a kind word from another child,--but only from him. Would
it have been right that he should have asked for anything, and that
I should have refused it?"

"He should not have asked for this," said Lord Lovel hoarsely.

"Why not he, as well as you? He is as much a man. If I could believe
in your love after two days, Lord Lovel, could I not trust his after
twenty years of friendship?"

"You knew that he was beneath you."

"He was not beneath me. He was above me. We were poor,--while he
and his father had money, which we took. He could give, while we
received. He was strong while we were weak,--and was strong to
comfort us. And then, Lord Lovel, what knew I of rank, living under
his father's wing? They told me I was the Lady Anna, and the children
scouted me. My mother was a countess. So she swore, and I at least
believed her. But if ever rank and title were a profitless burden,
they were to her. Do you think that I had learned then to love my
rank?"

"You have learned better now."

"I have learned,--but whether better I may doubt. There are lessons
which are quickly learned; and there are they who say that such are
the devil's lessons. I have not been strong enough not to learn. But
I must forget again, Lord Lovel. And you must forget also." He hardly
knew how to speak to her now;--whether it would be fit for him even
to wish to persuade her to be his, after she had told him that she
had given her troth to a tailor. His uneasy thoughts prompted him
with ideas which dismayed him. Could he take to his heart one who had
been pressed close in so vile a grasp? Could he accept a heart that
had once been promised to a tailor's workman? Would not all the world
know and say that he had done it solely for the money,--even should
he succeed in doing it? And yet to fail in this enterprise,--to
abandon all,--to give up so enticing a road to wealth! Then he
remembered what he had said,--how he had pledged himself to abandon
the lawsuit,--how convinced he had been that this girl was heiress to
the Lovel wealth, who now told him that she had engaged herself to
marry a tailor.

There was nothing more that either of them could say to the other at
the moment, and they went back in silence to the inn.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE JOURNEY HOME.


In absolute silence Lord Lovel and Lady Anna walked back to the inn.
He had been dumbfoundered,--nearly so by her first abrupt statement,
and then altogether by the arguments with which she had defended
herself. She had nothing further to say. She had, indeed, said all,
and had marvelled at her own eloquence while she was speaking. Nor
was there absent from her a certain pride in that she had done the
thing that was right, and had dared to defend herself. She was full
of regrets,--almost of remorse; but, nevertheless, she was proud. He
knew it all now, and one of her great difficulties had been overcome.

And she was fully resolved that as she had dared to tell him, and
to face his anger, his reproaches, his scorn, she would not falter
before the scorn and the reproaches, or the anger, of the other
Lovels,--of any of the Lovels of Yoxham. Her mother's reproaches
would be dreadful to her; her mother's anger would well-nigh kill
her; her mother's scorn would scorch her very soul. But sufficient
for the day was the evil thereof. At the present moment she could be
strong with the strength she had assumed. So she walked in at the
sitting-room window with a bold front, and the Earl followed her. The
two aunts were there, and it was plain to them both that something
was astray between the lovers. They had said among themselves that
Lady Anna would accept the offer the moment that it was in form
made to her. To their eyes the manner of their guest had been the
manner of a girl eager to be wooed; but they had both imagined that
their delicately nurtured and fastidious nephew might too probably
be offended by some solecism in conduct, some falling away from
feminine grace, such as might too readily be shown by one whose early
life had been subjected to rough associates. Even now it occurred to
each of them that it had been so. The Earl seated himself in a chair,
and took up a book, which they had brought with them. Lady Anna stood
at the open window, looking across at the broad field and the river
bank beyond; but neither of them spoke a word. There had certainly
been some quarrel. Then aunt Julia, in the cause of wisdom, asked a
question;--

"Where is Minnie? Did not Minnie go with you?"

"No," said the Earl. "She went in some other direction at my bidding.
Mr. Cross is with her, I suppose." It was evident from the tone of
his voice that the displeasure of the head of all the Lovels was very
great.

"We start soon, I suppose?" said Lady Anna.

"After lunch, my dear; it is hardly one yet."

"I will go up all the same, and see about my things."

"Shall I help you, my dear?" asked Mrs. Lovel.

"Oh, no! I would sooner do it alone." Then she hurried into her room
and burst into a flood of tears, as soon as the door was closed
behind her.

"Frederic, what ails her?" asked aunt Julia.

"If anything ails her she must tell you herself," said the lord.

"Something is amiss. You cannot wonder that we should be anxious,
knowing that we know how great is the importance of all this."

"I cannot help your anxiety just at present, aunt Julia; but you
should always remember that there will be slips between the cup and
the lip."

"Then there has been a slip? I knew it would be so. I always said so,
and so did my brother."

"I wish you would all remember that about such an affair as this, the
less said the better." So saying, the lord walked out through the
window and sauntered down to the river side.

"It's all over," said aunt Julia.

"I don't see why we should suppose that at present," said aunt Jane.

"It's all over. I knew it as soon as I saw her face when she came in.
She has said something, or done something, and it's all off. It will
be a matter of over twenty thousand pounds a year!"

"He'll be sure to marry somebody with money," said aunt Jane. "What
with his title and his being so handsome, he is certain to do well,
you know."

"Nothing like that will come in his way. I heard Mr. Flick say that
it was equal to half a million of money. And then it would have been
at once. If he goes up to London, and about, just as he is, he'll
be head over ears in debt before anybody knows what he is doing. I
wonder what it is. He likes pretty girls, and there's no denying that
she's handsome."

"Perhaps she wouldn't have him."

"That's impossible, Jane. She came down here on purpose to have him.
She went out with him this morning to be made love to. They were
together three times longer yesterday, and he came home as sweet
as sugar to her. I wonder whether she can have wanted to make some
condition about the money."

"What condition?"

"That she and her mother should have it in their own keeping."

"She doesn't seem to be that sort of a young woman," said aunt Jane.

"There's no knowing what that Mr. Goffe, Serjeant Bluestone, and her
mother may have put her up to. Frederic wouldn't stand that kind of
thing for a minute, and he would be quite right. Better anything than
that a man shouldn't be his own master. I think you'd better go up to
her, Jane. She'll be more comfortable with you than with me." Then
aunt Jane, obedient as usual, went up to her young cousin's bedroom.

In the meantime the young lord was standing on the river's brink,
thinking what he would do. He had, in truth, very much of which
to think, and points of most vital importance as to which he must
resolve what should be his action. Must this announcement which he
had heard from his cousin dissolve for ever the prospect of his
marriage with her; or was it open to him still, as a nobleman, a
gentleman, and a man of honour, to make use of all those influences
which he might command with the view of getting rid of that
impediment of a previous engagement? Being very ignorant of the world
at large, and altogether ignorant of this man in particular, he did
not doubt that the tailor might be bought off. Then he was sure that
all who would have access to Lady Anna would help him in such a
cause, and that her own mother would be the most forward to do so.
The girl would hardly hold to such a purpose if all the world,--all
her own world, were against her. She certainly would be beaten from
it if a bribe sufficient were offered to the tailor. That this must
be done for the sake of the Lovel family, so that Lady Anna Lovel
might not be known to have married a tailor, was beyond a doubt;
but it was not so clear to him that he could take to himself as his
Countess her who with her own lips had told him that she intended
to be the bride of a working artisan. As he thought of this, as his
imagination went to work on all the abominable circumstances of such
a betrothal, he threw from his hand into the stream with all the
vehemence of passion a little twig which he held. It was too, too
frightful, too disgusting; and then so absolutely unexpected, so
unlike her personal demeanour, so contrary to the look of her eyes,
to the tone of her voice, to every motion of her body! She had been
sweet, and gentle, and gracious, till he had almost come to think
that her natural feminine gifts of ladyship were more even than
her wealth, of better savour than her rank, were equal even to her
beauty, which he had sworn to himself during the past night to be
unsurpassed. And this sweet one had told him,--this one so soft and
gracious,--not that she was doomed by some hard fate to undergo the
degrading thraldom, but that she herself had willingly given herself
to a working tailor from love, and gratitude, and free selection! It
was a marvel to him that a thing so delicate should have so little
sense of her own delicacy! He did not think that he could condescend
to take the tailor's place.

But if not,--if he would not take it, or if, as might still be
possible, the tailor's place could not be made vacant for him,--what
then? He had pledged his belief in the justice of his cousin's
claim; and had told her that, believing his own claim to be
unjust, in no case would he prosecute it. Was he now bound by that
assurance,--bound to it even to the making of the tailor's fortune;
or might he absent himself from any further action in the matter,
leaving it entirely in the hands of the lawyers? Might it not be best
for her happiness that he should do so? He had been told that even
though he should not succeed, there might arise almost interminable
delay. The tailor would want his money before he married, and thus
she might be rescued from her degradation till she should be old
enough to understand it. And yet how could he claim that of which he
had said, now a score of times, that he knew that it was not his own?
Could he cease to call this girl by the name which all his people had
acknowledged as her own, because she had refused to be his wife; and
declare his conviction that she was base-born only because she had
preferred to his own the addresses of a low-born man, reeking with
the sweat of a tailor's board? No, he could not do that. Let her
marry but the sweeper of a crossing, and he must still call her Lady
Anna,--if he called her anything.

Something must be done, however. He had been told by the lawyers how
the matter might be made to right itself, if he and the young lady
could at once agree to be man and wife; but he had not been told what
would follow, should she decline to accept his offer. Mr. Flick and
the Solicitor-General must know how to shape their course before
November came round,--and would no doubt want all the time to shape
it that he could give them. What was he to say to Mr. Flick and to
the Solicitor-General? Was he at liberty to tell to them the secret
which the girl had told to him? That he was at liberty to say that
she had rejected his offer must be a matter of course; but might
he go beyond that, and tell them the whole story? It would be most
expedient for many reasons that they should know it. On her behalf
even it might be most salutary,--with that view of liberating her
from the grasp of her humiliating lover. But she had told it him,
against her own interests, at her own peril, to her own infinite
sorrow,--in order that she might thus allay hopes in which he would
otherwise have persevered. He knew enough of the little schemes and
by-ways of love, of the generosity and self-sacrifice of lovers, to
feel that he was bound to confidence. She had told him that if needs
were he might repeat her tale;--but she had told him at the same time
that her tale was a secret. He could not go with her secret to a
lawyer's chambers, and there divulge in the course of business that
which had been extracted from her by the necessity to which she had
submitted of setting him free. He could write to Mr. Flick,--if that
at last was his resolve,--that a marriage was altogether out of the
question, but he could not tell him why it was so.

He wandered slowly on along the river, having decided only on
this,--only on this as a certainty,--that he must tell her secret
neither to the lawyers, nor to his own people. Then, as he walked, a
little hand touched his behind, and when he turned Minnie Lovel took
him by the arm. "Why are you all alone, Fred?"

"I am meditating how wicked the world is,--and girls in particular."

"Where is cousin Anna?"

"Up at the house, I suppose."

"Is she wicked?"

"Don't you know that everybody is wicked, because Eve ate the apple?"

"Adam ate it too."

"Who bade him?"

"The devil," said the child whispering.

"But he spoke by a woman's mouth. Why don't you go in and get ready
to go?"

"So I will. Tell me one thing, Fred. May I be a bridesmaid when you
are married?"

"I don't think you can."

"I have set my heart upon it. Why not?"

"Because you'll be married first."

"That's nonsense, Fred; and you know it's nonsense. Isn't cousin Anna
to be your wife?"

"Look here, my darling. I'm awfully fond of you, and think you the
prettiest little girl in the world. But if you ask impertinent
questions I'll never speak to you again. Do you understand?" She
looked up into his face, and did understand that he was in earnest,
and, leaving him, walked slowly across the meadow back to the house
alone. "Tell them not to wait lunch for me," he hollowed after
her;--and she told her aunt Julia that cousin Frederic was very sulky
down by the river, and that they were not to wait for him.

When Mrs. Lovel went up-stairs into Lady Anna's room not a word was
said about the occurrence of the morning. The elder lady was afraid
to ask a question, and the younger was fully determined to tell
nothing even had a question been asked her. Lord Lovel might say
what he pleased. Her secret was with him, and he could tell it if he
chose. She had given him permission to do so, of which no doubt he
would avail himself. But, on her own account, she would say nothing;
and when questioned she would merely admit the fact. She would
neither defend her engagement, nor would she submit to have it
censured. If they pleased she would return to her mother in London at
any shortest possible notice.

The party lunched almost in silence, and when the horses were ready
Lord Lovel came in to help them into the carriage. When he had placed
the three ladies he desired Minnie to take the fourth seat, saying
that he would sit with Mr. Cross on the box. Minnie looked at his
face, but there was still the frown there, and she obeyed him without
any remonstrance. During the whole of the long journey home there was
hardly a word spoken. Lady Anna knew that she was in disgrace, and
was ignorant how much of her story had been told to the two elder
ladies. She sat almost motionless looking out upon the fields, and
accepting her position as one that was no longer thought worthy of
notice. Of course she must go back to London. She could not continue
to live at Yoxham, neither spoken to nor speaking. Minnie went to
sleep, and Minnie's mother and aunt now and then addressed a few
words to each other. Anna felt sure that to the latest day of her
existence she would remember that journey. On their arrival at the
Rectory door Mr. Cross helped the ladies out of the carriage, while
the lord affected to make himself busy with the shawls and luggage.
Then he vanished, and was seen no more till he appeared at dinner.

"What sort of a trip have you had?" asked the rector, addressing
himself to the three ladies indifferently.

For a moment nobody answered him, and then aunt Julia spoke. "It
was very pretty, as it always is at Bolton in summer. We were told
that the duke has not been there this year at all. The inn was
comfortable, and I think that the young people enjoyed themselves
yesterday very much." The subject was too important, too solemn, too
great, to allow of even a word to be said about it without proper
consideration.

"Did Frederic like it?"

"I think he did yesterday," said Mrs. Lovel. "I think we were all a
little tired coming home to-day."

"Anna sprained her ankle, jumping over the Stryd," said Minnie.

"Not seriously, I hope."

"Oh dear no;--nothing at all to signify." It was the only word which
Anna spoke till it was suggested that she should go up to her room.
The girl obeyed, as a child might have done, and went up-stairs,
followed by Mrs. Lovel. "My dear," she said, "we cannot go on like
this. What is the matter?"

"You must ask Lord Lovel."

"Have you quarrelled with him?"

"I have not quarrelled, Mrs. Lovel. If he has quarrelled with me, I
cannot help it."

"You know what we have all wished."

"It can never be so."

"Have you said so to Frederic?"

"I have."

"Have you given him any reason, Anna?"

"I have," she said after a pause.

"What reason, dear?"

She thought for a moment before she replied. "I was obliged to tell
him the reason, Mrs. Lovel; but I don't think that I need tell
anybody else. Of course I must tell mamma."

"Does your mamma know it?"

"Not yet."

"And is it a reason that must last for ever?"

"Yes;--for ever. But I do not know why everybody is to be angry with
me. Other girls may do as they please. If you are angry with me I had
better go back to London at once."

"I do not know that anybody has been angry with you. We may be
disappointed without being angry." That was all that was said, and
then Lady Anna was left to dress for dinner. At dinner Lord Lovel had
so far composed himself as to be able to speak to his cousin, and an
effort at courtesy was made by them all,--except by the rector. But
the evening passed away in a manner very different from any that had
gone before it.



CHAPTER XVIII.

TOO HEAVY FOR SECRETS.


During that night the young lord was still thinking of his future
conduct,--of what duty and honour demanded of him, and of the
manner in which he might best make duty and honour consort with his
interests. In all the emergencies of his short life he had hitherto
had some one to advise him,--some elder friend whose counsel he might
take even though he would seem to make little use of it when it
was offered to him. He had always somewhat disdained aunt Julia,
but nevertheless aunt Julia had been very useful to him. In latter
days, since the late Earl's death, when there came upon him, as the
first of his troubles, the necessity of setting aside that madman's
will, Mr. Flick had been his chief counsellor; and yet in all his
communications with Mr. Flick he had assumed to be his own guide and
master. Now it seemed that he must in truth guide himself, but he
knew not how to do it. Of one thing he felt certain. He must get away
from Yoxham and hurry up to London.

It behoved him to keep his cousin's secret; but would he not be
keeping it with a sanctity sufficiently strict if he imparted it to
one sworn friend,--a friend who should be bound not to divulge it
further without his consent? If so, the Solicitor-General should be
his friend. An intimacy had grown up between the great lawyer and his
noble client, not social in its nature, but still sufficiently close,
as Lord Lovel thought, to admit of such confidence. He had begun to
be aware that without assistance of this nature he would not know
how to guide himself. Undoubtedly the wealth of the presumed heiress
had become dearer to him,--had become at least more important to
him,--since he had learned that it must probably be lost. Sir
William Patterson was a gentleman as well as a lawyer;--one who had
not simply risen to legal rank by diligence and intellect, but a
gentleman born and bred, who had been at a public school, and had
lived all his days with people of the right sort. Sir William was his
legal adviser, and he would commit Lady Anna's secret to the keeping
of Sir William.

There was a coach which started in those days from York at noon,
reaching London early on the following day. He would go up by this
coach, and would thus avoid the necessity of much further association
with his family before he had decided what should be his conduct. But
he must see his cousin before he went. He therefore sent a note to
her before she had left her room on the following morning;--


   DEAR ANNA,

   I purpose starting for London in an hour or so, and wish
   to say one word to you before I go. Will you meet me at
   nine in the drawing-room? Do not mention my going to my
   uncle or aunts, as it will be better that I should tell
   them myself.

   Yours, L.


At ten minutes before nine Lady Anna was in the drawing-room waiting
for him, and at ten minutes past nine he joined her.

"I beg your pardon for keeping you waiting." She gave him her hand,
and said that it did not signify in the least. She was always early.
"I find that I must go up to London at once," he said. To this she
made no answer, though he seemed to expect some reply. "In the first
place, I could not remain here in comfort after what you told me
yesterday."

"I shall be sorry to drive you away. It is your home; and as I must
go soon, had I not better go at once?"

"No;--that is, I think not. I shall go at any rate. I have told none
of them what you told me yesterday."

"I am glad of that, Lord Lovel."

"It is for you to tell it,--if it must be told."

"I did tell your aunt Jane,--that you and I never can be as--you said
you wished."

"I did wish it most heartily. You did not tell it--all."

"No;--not all."

"You astounded me so, that I could hardly speak to you as I should
have spoken. I did not mean to be uncourteous."

"I did not think you uncourteous, Lord Lovel. I am sure you would not
be uncourteous to me."

"But you astounded me. It is not that I think much of myself, or of
my rank as belonging to me. I know that I have but little to be proud
of. I am very poor,--and not clever like some young men who have not
large fortunes, but who can become statesmen and all that. But I do
think much of my order; I think much of being a gentleman,--and much
of ladies being ladies. Do you understand me?"

"Oh, yes;--I understand you."

"If you are Lady Anna Lovel--"

"I am Lady Anna Lovel."

"I believe you are with all my heart. You speak like it, and look
like it. You are fit for any position. Everything is in your favour.
I do believe it. But if so--"

"Well, Lord Lovel;--if so?"

"Surely you would not choose to--to--to degrade your rank. That is
the truth. If I be your cousin, and the head of your family, I have a
right to speak as such. What you told me would be degradation."

She thought a moment, and then she replied to him,--"It would be no
disgrace."

He too found himself compelled to think before he could speak again.
"Do you think that you could like your associates if you were to be
married to Mr. Thwaite?"

"I do not know who they would be. He would be my companion, and I
like him. I love him dearly. There! you need not tell me, Lord Lovel.
I know it all. He is not like you;--and I, when I had become his
wife, should not be like your aunt Jane. I should never see people
of that sort any more, I suppose. We should not live here in England
at all,--so that I should escape the scorn of all my cousins. I know
what I am doing, and why I am doing it;--and I do not think you ought
to tempt me."

She knew at least that she was open to temptation. He could perceive
that, and was thankful for it. "I do not wish to tempt you, but I
would save you from unhappiness if I could. Such a marriage would be
unnatural. I have not seen Mr. Thwaite."

"Then, my lord, you have not seen a most excellent man, who, next to
my mother, is my best friend."

"But he cannot be a gentleman."

"I do not know;--but I do know that I can be his wife. Is that all,
Lord Lovel?"

"Not quite all. I fear that this weary lawsuit will come back upon us
in some shape. I cannot say whether I have the power to stop it if I
would. I must in part be guided by others."

"I cannot do anything. If I could, I would not even ask for the money
for myself."

"No, Lady Anna. You and I cannot decide it. I must again see my
lawyer. I do not mean the attorney,--but Sir William Patterson, the
Solicitor-General. May I tell him what you told me yesterday?"

"I cannot hinder you."

"But you can give me your permission. If he will promise me that it
shall go no farther,--then may I tell him? I shall hardly know what
to do unless he knows all that I know."

"Everybody will know soon."

"Nobody shall know from me,--but only he. Will you say that I may
tell him?"

"Oh, yes."

"I am much indebted to you even for that. I cannot tell you now how
much I hoped when I got up yesterday morning at Bolton Bridge that I
should have to be indebted to you for making me the happiest man in
England. You must forgive me if I say that I still hope at heart that
this infatuation may be made to cease. And now, good-bye, Lady Anna."

"Good-bye, Lord Lovel."

She at once went to her room, and sent down her maid to say that she
would not appear at prayers or at breakfast. She would not see him
again before he went. How probable it was that her eyes had rested on
his form for the last time! How beautiful he was, how full of grace,
how like a god! How pleasant she had found it to be near him; how
full of ineffable sweetness had been everything that he had touched,
all things of which he had spoken to her! He had almost overcome her,
as though she had eaten of the lotus. And she knew not whether the
charm was of God or devil. But she did know that she had struggled
against it,--because of her word, and because she owed a debt which
falsehood and ingratitude would ill repay. Lord Lovel had called her
Lady Anna now. Ah, yes; how good he was! When it became significant
to her that he should recognise her rank, he did so at once. He had
only dropped the title when, having been recognised, it had become
a stumbling-block to her. Now he was gone from her, and, if it was
possible, she would cease even to dream of him.

"I suppose, Frederic, that the marriage is not to be?" the rector
said to him as he got into the dog-cart at the rectory door.

"I cannot tell. I do not know. I think not. But, uncle, would you
oblige me by not speaking of it just at present? You will know all
very soon."

The rector stood on the gravel, watching the dog-cart as it
disappeared, with his hands in the pockets of his clerical trousers,
and with heavy signs of displeasure on his face. It was very well to
be uncle to an earl, and out of his wealth to do what he could to
assist, and, if possible, to dispel his noble nephew's poverty. But
surely something was due to him! It was not for his pleasure that
this girl,--whom he was forced to call Lady Anna, though he could
never believe her to be so, whom his wife and sister called cousin
Anna, though he still thought that she was not, and could not be,
cousin to anybody,--it was not for anything that he could get, that
he was entertaining her as an honoured guest at his rectory. And now
his nephew was gone, and the girl was left behind. And he was not to
be told whether there was to be a marriage or not! "I cannot tell. I
do not know. I think not." And then he was curtly requested to ask no
more questions. What was he to do with the girl? While the young Earl
and the lawyers were still pondering the question of her legitimacy,
the girl, whether a Lady Anna and a cousin,--or a mere nobody, who
was trying to rob the family,--was to be left on his hands! Why,--oh,
why had he allowed himself to be talked out of his own opinion? Why
had he ever permitted her to be invited to his rectory? Ah, how the
title stuck in his throat as he asked her to take the customary glass
of wine with him at dinner-time that evening!

On reaching London, towards the end of August, Lord Lovel found that
the Solicitor-General was out of town. Sir William had gone down to
Somersetshire with the intention of saying some comforting words to
his constituents. Mr. Flick knew nothing of his movements; but his
clerk was found, and his clerk did not expect him back in London till
October. But, in answer to Lord Lovel's letter, Sir William undertook
to come up for one day. Sir William was a man who quite recognised
the importance of the case he had in hand.

"Engaged to the tailor,--is she?" he said; not, however, with any
look of surprise.

"But, Sir William,--you will not repeat this, even to Mr. Flick, or
to Mr. Hardy. I have promised Lady Anna that it shall not go beyond
you."

"If she sticks to her bargain, it cannot be kept secret very
long;--nor would she wish it. It's just what we might have expected,
you know."

"You wouldn't say so if you knew her."

"H--m. I'm older than you, Lord Lovel. You see, she had nobody else
near her. A girl must cotton to somebody, and who was there? We ought
not to be angry with her."

"But it shocks me so."

"Well, yes. As far as I can learn his father and he have stood by
them very closely;--and did so, too, when there seemed to be but
little hope. But they might be paid for all they did at a less rate
than that. If she sticks to him nobody can beat him out of it. What
I mean is, that it was all fair game. He ran his chance, and did it
in a manly fashion." The Earl did not quite understand Sir William,
who seemed to take almost a favourable view of these monstrous
betrothals. "What I mean is, that nobody can touch him, or find fault
with him. He has not carried her away, and got up a marriage before
she was of age. He hasn't kept her from going out among her friends.
He hasn't--wronged her, I suppose?"

"I think he has wronged her frightfully."

"Ah,--well. We mean different things. I am obliged to look at it as
the world will look at it."

"Think of the disgrace of such a marriage;--to a tailor."

"Whose father had advanced her mother some five or six thousand
pounds to help her to win back her position. That's about the truth
of it. We must look at it all round, you know."

"You think, then, that nothing should be done?"

"I think that everything should be done that can be done. We have
the mother on our side. Very probably we may have old Thwaite on
our side. From what you say, it is quite possible that at this very
moment the girl herself may be on our side. Let her remain at Yoxham
as long as you can get her to stay, and let everything be done to
flatter and amuse her. Go down again yourself, and play the lover as
well as I do not doubt you know how to do it." It was clear then that
the great legal pundit did not think that an Earl should be ashamed
to carry on his suit to a lady who had confessed her attachment to
a journeyman tailor. "It will be a trouble to us all, of course,
because we must change our plan when the case comes on in November."

"But you still think that she is the heiress?"

"So strongly, that I feel all but sure of it. We shouldn't, in truth,
have had a leg to stand on, and we couldn't fight it. I may as well
tell you at once, my lord, that we couldn't do it with any chance
of success. And what should we have gained had we done so? Nothing!
Unless we could prove that the real wife were dead, we should have
been fighting for that Italian woman, whom I most thoroughly believe
to be an impostor."

"Then there is nothing to be done?"

"Very little in that way. But if the young lady be determined to
marry the tailor, I think we should simply give notice that we
withdraw our opposition to the English ladies, and state that we had
so informed the woman who asserts her own claim and calls herself a
Countess in Sicily; and we should let the Italian woman know that we
had done so. In such case, for aught anybody can say here, she might
come forward with her own case. She would find men here who would
take it up on speculation readily enough. There would be a variety
of complications, and no doubt very great delay. In such an event
we should question very closely the nature of the property; as, for
aught I have seen as yet, a portion of it might revert to you as real
estate. It is very various,--and it is not always easy to declare
at once what is real and what personal. Hitherto you have appeared
as contesting the right of the English widow to her rank, and not
necessarily as a claimant of the estate. The Italian widow, if a
widow, would be the heir, and not your lordship. For that, among
other reasons, the marriage would be most expedient. If the Italian
Countess were to succeed in proving that the Earl had a wife living
when he married Miss Murray,--which I feel sure he had not,--then we
should come forward again with our endeavours to show that that first
wife had died since,--as the Earl himself undoubtedly declared more
than once. It would be a long time before the tailor got his money
with his wife. The feeling of the court would be against him."

"Could we buy the tailor, Sir William?"

The Solicitor-General nursed his leg before he answered.

"Mr. Flick could answer that question better than I can do. In fact,
Mr. Flick should know it all. The matter is too heavy for secrets,
Lord Lovel."



CHAPTER XIX.

LADY ANNA RETURNS TO LONDON.


After the Earl was gone Lady Anna had but a bad time of it at Yoxham.
She herself could not so far regain her composure as to live on
as though no disruption had taken place. She knew that she was in
disgrace, and the feeling was dreadful to her. The two ladies were
civil, and tried to make the house pleasant, but they were not
cordial as they had been hitherto. For one happy halcyon week,--for a
day or two before the Earl had come, and for those bright days during
which he had been with them,--she had found herself to be really
admitted into the inner circle as one of the family. Mrs. Lovel
had been altogether gracious with her. Minnie had been her darling
little friend. Aunt Julia had been so far won as to be quite alive to
the necessity of winning. The rector himself had never quite given
way,--had never been so sure of his footing as to feel himself safe
in abandoning all power of receding; but the effect of this had been
to put the rector himself, rather than his guest, into the back
ground. The servants had believed in her, and even Mrs. Grimes had
spoken in her praise,--expressing an opinion that she was almost good
enough for the young Earl. All Yoxham had known that the two young
people were to be married, and all Yoxham had been satisfied. But now
everything was wrong. The Earl had fled, and all Yoxham knew that
everything was wrong. It was impossible that her position should be
as it had been.

There were consultations behind her back as to what should be done,
of which,--though she heard no word of them,--she was aware. She went
out daily in the carriage with Mrs. Lovel, but aunt Julia did not go
with them. Aunt Julia on these occasions remained at home discussing
the momentous affair with her brother. What should be done? There
was a great dinner-party, specially convened to do honour to the
Earl's return, and not among them a single guest who had not heard
that there was to be a marriage. The guests came to see, not only
the Earl, but the Earl's bride. When they arrived the Earl had
flown. Mrs. Lovel expressed her deep sorrow that business of great
importance had made it necessary that the Earl should go to London.
Lady Anna was, of course, introduced to the strangers; but it
was evident to the merest tyro in such matters, that she was not
introduced as would have been a bride expectant. They had heard how
charming she was, how all the Lovels had accepted her, how deeply was
the Earl in love; and, lo, she sat in the house silent and almost
unregarded. Of course, the story of the lawsuit, with such variations
as rumour might give it, was known to them all. A twelvemonth
ago,--nay, at a period less remote than that,--the two female
claimants in Cumberland had always been spoken of in those parts as
wretched, wicked, vulgar impostors. Then came the reaction. Lady Anna
was the heiress, and Lady Anna was to be the Countess. It had flown
about the country during the last ten days that there was no one like
the Lady Anna. Now they came to see her, and another reaction had set
in. She was the Lady Anna they must suppose. All the Lovels, even the
rector, so called her. Mrs. Lovel introduced her as Lady Anna Lovel,
and the rector,--hating himself as he did so,--led her out to dinner
though there was a baronet's wife in the room,--the wife of a baronet
who dated back from James I. She was the Lady Anna, and therefore
the heiress;--but it was clear to them all that there was to be no
marriage.

"Then poor Lord Lovel will absolutely not have enough to starve
upon," said the baronet's wife to the baronet, as soon as the
carriage door had been shut upon them.

What were they to do with her? The dinner party had taken place on a
Wednesday,--the day after the Earl's departure; and on the Thursday
aunt Julia wrote to her nephew thus:--


   Yoxham Rectory, 3rd September.

   MY DEAR FREDERIC,

   My brother wishes me to write to you and say that we are
   all here very uneasy about Lady Anna. We have only heard
   from her that the match which was contemplated is not
   to take place. Whether that be so from unwillingness on
   her part or yours we have never yet been told;--but both
   to your aunt Jane and myself she speaks of it as though
   the decision were irrevocable. What had we better do?
   Of course, it is our most anxious desire,--as it is our
   pleasure and our duty,--to arrange everything according
   to your wishes and welfare. Nothing can be of so much
   importance to any of us in this world as your position in
   it. If it is your wish that Lady Anna should remain here,
   of course she shall remain. But if, in truth, there is no
   longer any prospect of a marriage, will not her longer
   sojourn beneath your uncle's roof be a trouble to all of
   us,--and especially to her?

   Your aunt Jane thinks that it may be only a lover's
   quarrel. For myself, I feel sure that you would not have
   left us as you did, had it not been more than that. I
   think that you owe it to your uncle to write to me,--or to
   him, if you like it better,--and to give us some clue to
   the state of things.

   I must not conceal from you the fact that my brother has
   never felt convinced, as you do, that Lady Anna's mother
   was, in truth, the Countess Lovel. At your request, and in
   compliance with the advice of the Solicitor-General, he
   has been willing to receive her here; and, as she has been
   here, he has given her the rank which she claims. He took
   her out to dinner yesterday before Lady Fitzwarren,--which
   will never be forgiven should it turn out ultimately that
   the first wife was alive when the Earl married Anna's
   mother. Of course, while here she must be treated as Lady
   Anna Lovel; but my brother does not wish to be forced so
   to do, if it be intended that any further doubt should be
   raised. In such case he desires to be free to hold his
   former opinion. Therefore pray write to us, and tell us
   what you wish to have done. I can assure you that we are
   at present very uncomfortable.

   Believe me to be,
   My dear Frederic,
   Your most affectionate aunt,

   JULIA LOVEL.


The Earl received this before his interview with Sir William, but
left it unanswered till after he had seen that gentleman. Then he
wrote as follows:--


   Carlton Club, 5th September, 183--.

   MY DEAR AUNT JULIA,

   Will you tell my uncle that I think you had better get
   Lady Anna to stay at the rectory as long as possible. I'll
   let you know all about it very soon. Best love to aunt
   Jane.

   I am,
   Your affectionate nephew,

   LOVEL.


This very short epistle was most unsatisfactory to the rector, but
it was felt by them all that nothing could be done. With such an
injunction before them, they could not give the girl a hint that they
wished her to go. What uncle or what aunt, with such a nephew as Lord
Lovel, so noble and so poor, could turn out an heiress with twenty
thousand a year, as long as there was the slightest chance of a
marriage? Not a doubt would have rankled in their minds had they been
quite sure that she was the heiress. But, as it was, the Earl ought
to have said more than he did say.

"I cannot keep myself from feeling sometimes that Frederic does take
liberties with me," the rector said to his sister. But he submitted.
It was a part of the religion of the family,--and no little
part,--that they should cling to their head and chief. What would the
world have been to them if they could not talk with comfortable ease
and grace of their nephew Frederic?

During this time Anna spoke more than once to Mrs. Lovel as to her
going. "I have been a long time here," she said, "and I'm sure that
I am in Mr. Lovel's way."

"Not in the least, my dear. If you are happy, pray stay with us."

This was before the arrival of the brief epistle,--when they were
waiting to know whether they were to dismiss their guest from Yoxham,
or to retain her.

"As for being happy, nobody can be happy, I think, till all this is
settled. I will write to mamma, and tell her that I had better return
to her. Mamma is all alone."

"I don't know that I can advise, my dear; but as far as we are
concerned, we shall be very glad if you can stay."

The brief epistle had not then arrived, and they were, in truth,
anxious that she should go;--but one cannot tell one's visitor to
depart from one's house without a downright rupture. Not even the
rector himself dared to make such rupture, without express sanction
from the Earl.

Then Lady Anna, feeling that she must ask advice, wrote to her
mother. The Countess had answered her last letter with great
severity,--that letter in which the daughter had declared that people
ought not to be asked to marry for money. The Countess, whose whole
life had made her stern and unbending, said very hard things to
her child; had told her that she was ungrateful and disobedient,
unmindful of her family, neglectful of her duty, and willing to
sacrifice the prosperity and happiness of all belonging to her, for
some girlish feeling of mere romance. The Countess was sure that her
daughter would never forgive herself in after years, if she now
allowed to pass by this golden opportunity of remedying all the evil
that her father had done. "You are simply asked to do that which
every well-bred girl in England would be delighted to do," wrote the
Countess.

"Ah! she does not know," said Lady Anna.

But there had come upon her now a fear heavier and more awful than
that which she entertained for her mother. Earl Lovel knew her
secret, and Earl Lovel was to tell it to the Solicitor-General. She
hardly doubted that it might as well be told to all the judges on the
bench at once. Would it not be better that she should be married to
Daniel Thwaite out of hand, and so be freed from the burden of any
secret? The young lord had been thoroughly ashamed of her when she
told it. Those aunts at Yoxham would hardly speak to her if they knew
it. That lady before whom she had been made to walk out to dinner,
would disdain to sit in the same room with her if she knew it. It
must be known,--must be known to them all. But she need not remain
there, beneath their eyes, while they learned it. Her mother must
know it, and it would be better that she should tell her mother. She
would tell her mother,--and request that she might have permission to
return at once to the lodgings in Wyndham Street. So she wrote the
following letter,--in which, as the reader will perceive, she could
not even yet bring herself to tell her secret:--


   Yoxham Rectory, Monday.

   MY DEAR MAMMA,

   I want you to let me come home, because I think I have
   been here long enough. Lord Lovel has gone away, and
   though you are so very angry, it is better I should
   tell you that we are not any longer friends. Dear, dear,
   dearest mamma; I am so very unhappy that you should not be
   pleased with me. I would die to-morrow if I could make you
   happy. But it is all over now, and he would not do it even
   if I could say that it should be so. He has gone away, and
   is in London, and would tell you so himself if you would
   ask him. He despises me, as I always knew he would,--and
   so he has gone away. I don't think anything of myself,
   because I knew it must be so; but I am so very unhappy
   because you will be unhappy.

   I don't think they want to have me here any longer, and of
   course there is no reason why they should. They were very
   nice to me before all this happened, and they never say
   anything illnatured to me now. But it is very different,
   and there cannot be any good in remaining. You are all
   alone, and I think you would be glad to see your poor
   Anna, even though you are so angry with her. Pray let me
   come home. I could start very well on Friday, and I think
   I will do so, unless I hear from you to the contrary. I
   can take my place by the coach, and go away at twelve
   o'clock from York, and be at that place in London on
   Saturday at eleven. I must take my place on Thursday. I
   have plenty of money, as I have not spent any since I have
   been here. Of course Sarah will come with me. She is not
   nearly so nice since she knew that Lord Lovel was to go
   away.

   Dear mamma, I do love you so much.

   Your most affectionate daughter,

   ANNA.


It was not wilfully that the poor girl gave her mother no opportunity
of answering her before she had taken her place by the coach. On
Thursday morning the place had to be taken, and on Thursday evening
she got her mother's letter. By the same post came the Earl's letter
to his aunt, desiring that Lady Anna might, if possible, be kept at
Yoxham. The places were taken, and it was impossible. "I don't see
why you should go," said aunt Julia, who clearly perceived that her
nephew had been instigated to pursue the marriage scheme since he had
been in town. Lady Anna urged that the money had been paid for two
places by the coach. "My brother could arrange that, I do not doubt,"
said aunt Julia. But the Countess now expected her daughter, and
Lady Anna stuck to her resolve. Her mother's letter had not been
propitious to the movement. If the places were taken, of course she
must come. So said the Countess. It was not simply that the money
should not be lost, but that the people at Yoxham must not be allowed
to think that her daughter was over anxious to stay. "Does your mamma
want to have you back?" asked aunt Julia. Lady Anna would not say
that her mother wanted her back, but simply pleaded again that the
places had been taken.

When the morning came for her departure, the carriage was ordered to
take her into York, and the question arose as to who should go with
her. It was incumbent on the rector, who held an honorary stall in
the cathedral, to be with the dean and his brother prebendaries on
that day, and the use of his own carriage would be convenient to him.

"I think I'll have the gig," said the rector.

"My dear Charles," pleaded his sister, "surely that will be foolish.
She can't hurt you."

"I don't know that," said the rector. "I think she has hurt me very
much already. I shouldn't know how to talk to her."

"You may be sure that Frederic means to go on with it," said Mrs.
Lovel.

"It would have been better for Frederic if he had never seen her,"
said the rector; "and I'm sure it would have been better for me."

But he consented at last, and he himself handed Lady Anna into the
carriage. Mrs. Lovel accompanied them, but Aunt Julia made her
farewells in the rectory drawing-room. She managed to get the girl to
herself for a moment or two, and thus she spoke to her. "I need not
tell you that, for yourself, my dear, I like you very much."

"Oh, thank you, Miss Lovel."

"I have heartily wished that you might be our Frederic's wife."

"It can never be," said Lady Anna.

"I won't give up all hope. I don't pretend to understand what there
is amiss between you and Frederic, but I won't give it up. If it is
to be so, I hope that you and I may be loving friends till I die.
Give me a kiss, my dear." Lady Anna, whose eyes were suffused with
tears, threw herself into the arms of the elder lady and embraced
her.

Mrs. Lovel also kissed her, and bade God bless her as she parted from
her at the coach door; but the rector was less demonstrative. "I hope
you will have a pleasant journey," he said, taking off his clerical
hat.

"Let it go as it may," said Mrs. Lovel, as she walked into the close
with her husband, "you may take my word, she's a good girl."

"I'm afraid she's sly," said the rector.

"She's no more sly than I am," said Mrs. Lovel, who herself was by no
means sly.



CHAPTER XX.

LADY ANNA'S RECEPTION.


The Countess went into the City to meet her daughter at the Saracen's
Head, whither the York coach used to run, and received her almost in
silence. "Oh, mamma, dear mamma," said Lady Anna, "I am so glad to
be back with you again." Sarah, the lady's-maid, was there, useless,
officious, and long-eared. The Countess said almost nothing; she
submitted to be kissed, and she asked after the luggage. At that time
she had heard the whole story about Daniel Thwaite.

The Solicitor-General had disregarded altogether his client's
injunctions as to secrecy. He had felt that in a matter of so great
importance it behoved him to look to his client's interests, rather
than his client's instructions. This promise of a marriage with the
tailor's son must be annihilated. On behalf of the whole Lovel family
it was his duty, as he thought, to see that this should be effected,
if possible,--and as quickly as possible. This was his duty, not only
as a lawyer employed in a particular case, but as a man who would be
bound to prevent any great evil which he saw looming in the future.
In his view of the case the marriage of Lady Anna Lovel, with a
colossal fortune, to Daniel Thwaite the tailor, would be a grievous
injury to the social world of his country,--and it was one of
those evils which may probably be intercepted by due and discreet
precautions. No doubt the tailor wanted money. The man was entitled
to some considerable reward for all that he had done and all that he
had suffered in the cause. But Sir William could not himself propose
the reward. He could not chaffer for terms with the tailor. He could
not be seen in that matter. But having heard the secret from the
Earl, he thought that he could get the work done. So he sent for Mr.
Flick, the attorney, and told Mr. Flick all that he knew. "Gone and
engaged herself to the tailor!" said Mr. Flick, holding up both his
hands. Then Sir William took Lady Anna's part. After all, such an
engagement was not,--as he thought,--unnatural. It had been made
while she was very young, when she knew no other man of her own age
in life, when she was greatly indebted to this man, when she had
had no opportunity of measuring a young tailor against a young lord.
She had done it probably in gratitude;--so said Sir William;--and
now clung to it from good faith rather than affection. Neither was
he severe upon the tailor. He was a man especially given to make
excuses for poor weak, erring, unlearned mortals, ignorant of the
law,--unless when a witness attempted to be impervious;--and now he
made excuses for Daniel Thwaite. The man might have done so much
worse than he was doing. There seemed already to be a noble reliance
on himself in his conduct. Lord Lovel thought that there had been no
correspondence while the young lady had been at Yoxham. There might
have been, but had not been, a clandestine marriage. Other reasons
he gave why Daniel Thwaite should not be regarded as altogether
villanous. But, nevertheless, the tailor must not be allowed to carry
off the prize. The prize was too great for him. What must be done?
Sir William condescended to ask Mr. Flick what he thought ought to be
done. "No doubt we should be very much guided by you, Mr. Solicitor,"
said Mr. Flick.

"One thing is, I think, plain, Mr. Flick. You must see the Countess
and tell her, or get Mr. Goffe to do so. It is clear that she has
been kept in the dark between them. At present they are all living
together in the same house. She had better leave the place and go
elsewhere. They should be kept apart, and the girl, if necessary,
should be carried abroad."

"I take it there is a difficulty about money, Mr. Solicitor."

"There ought to be none,--and I will take it upon myself to say that
there need be none. It is a case in which the court will willingly
allow money out of the income of the property. The thing is so large
that there should be no grudging of money for needful purposes.
Seeing what primâ facie claims these ladies have, they are bound to
allow them to live decently, in accordance with their alleged rank,
till the case is settled. No doubt she is the heiress."

"You feel quite sure, Sir William?"

"I do;--though, as I have said before, it is a case of feeling sure,
and not being sure. Had that Italian woman been really the widow,
somebody would have brought her case forward more loudly."

"But if the other Italian woman who died was the wife?"

"You would have found it out when you were there. Somebody from the
country would have come to us with evidence, knowing how much we
could afford to pay for it. Mind you, the matter has been tried
before, in another shape. The old Earl was indicted for bigamy and
acquitted. We are bound to regard that young woman as Lady Anna
Lovel, and we are bound to regard her and her mother conjointly as
co-heiresses, in different degrees, to all the personal property
which the old Earl left behind him. We can't with safety take any
other view. There will still be difficulties in their way;--and very
serious difficulties, were she to marry this tailor; but, between you
and me, he would eventually get the money. Perhaps, Mr. Flick, you
had better see him. You would know how to get at his views without
compromising anybody. But, in the first place, let the Countess know
everything. After what has been done, you won't have any difficulty
in meeting Mr. Goffe."

Mr. Flick had no difficulty in seeing Mr. Goffe,--though he felt that
there would be very much difficulty in seeing Mr. Daniel Thwaite.
He did tell Mr. Goffe the story of the wicked tailor,--by no means
making those excuses which the Solicitor-General had made for the
man's presumptuous covetousness. "I knew the trouble we should have
with that man," said Mr. Goffe, who had always disliked the Thwaites.
Then Mr. Flick went on to say that Mr. Goffe had better tell the
Countess,--and Mr. Goffe on this point agreed with his adversary. Two
or three days after that, but subsequently to the date of the last
letter which the mother had written to her daughter, Lady Lovel was
told that Lady Anna was engaged to marry Mr. Daniel Thwaite.

She had suspected how it might be; her heart had for the last month
been heavy with the dread of this great calamity; she had made her
plans with the view of keeping the two apart; she had asked her
daughter questions founded on this very fear;--and yet she could not
for a while be brought to believe it. How did Mr. Goffe know? Mr.
Goffe had heard it from Mr. Flick, who had heard it from Sir William
Patterson; to whom the tale had been told by Lord Lovel. "And who
told Lord Lovel?" said the Countess flashing up in anger.

"No doubt Lady Anna did so," said the attorney. But in spite of her
indignation she could retain her doubts. The attorney, however, was
certain. "There could be no hope but that it was so." She still
pretended not to believe it, though fully intending to take all due
precautions in the matter. Since Mr. Goffe thought that it would be
prudent, she would remove to other lodgings. She would think of that
plan of going abroad. She would be on her guard, she said. But she
would not admit it to be possible that Lady Anna Lovel, the daughter
of Earl Lovel, her daughter, should have so far disgraced herself.

But she did believe it. Her heart had in truth told her that it was
true at the first word the lawyer had spoken to her. How blind she
must have been not to have known it! How grossly stupid not to have
understood those asseverations from the girl, that the marriage with
her cousin was impossible! Her child had not only deceived her, but
had possessed cunning enough to maintain her deception. It must have
been going on for at least the last twelvemonth, and she, the while,
had been kept in the dark by the manoeuvres of a simple girl! And
then she thought of the depth of the degradation which was prepared
for her. Had she passed twenty years of unintermittent combat for
this,--that when all had been done, when at last success was won,
when the rank and wealth of her child had been made positively
secure before the world, when she was about to see the unquestioned
coronet of a Countess placed upon her child's brow,--all should be
destroyed through a passion so mean as this! Would it not have been
better to have died in poverty and obscurity,--while there were yet
doubts,--before any assured disgrace had rested on her? But, oh! to
have proved that she was a Countess, and her child the heiress of
an Earl, in order that the Lady Anna Lovel might become the wife of
Daniel Thwaite, the tailor!

She made many resolutions; but the first was this, that she would
never smile upon the girl again till this baseness should have been
abandoned. She loved her girl as only mothers do love. More devoted
than the pelican, she would have given her heart's blood,--had given
all her life,--not only to nurture, but to aggrandize her child. The
establishment of her own position, her own honour, her own name, was
to her but the incidental result of her daughter's emblazonment in
the world. The child which she had borne to Earl Lovel, and which the
father had stigmatised as a bastard, should by her means be known as
the Lady Anna, the heiress of that father's wealth,--the wealthiest,
the fairest, the most noble of England's daughters. Then there had
come the sweet idea that this high-born heiress of the Lovels, should
herself become Countess Lovel, and the mother had risen higher in her
delighted pride. It had all been for her child! Had she not loved as
a mother, and with all a mother's tenderness? And for what?

She would love still, but she would never again be tender till her
daughter should have repudiated her base,--her monstrous engagement.
She bound up all her faculties to harshness, and a stern resolution.
Her daughter had been deceitful, and she would now be ruthless. There
might be suffering, but had not she suffered? There might be sorrow,
but had not she sorrowed? There might be a contest, but had not she
ever been contesting? Sooner than that the tailor should reap the
fruit of her labours,--labours which had been commenced when she
first gave herself in marriage to that dark, dreadful man,--sooner
than that her child should make ignoble the blood which it had cost
her so much to ennoble, she would do deeds which should make even
the wickedness of her husband child's play in the world's esteem. It
was in this mood of mind that she went to meet her daughter at the
Saracen's Head.

She had taken fresh lodgings very suddenly,--in Keppel Street, near
Russell Square, a long way from Wyndham Street. She had asked Mr.
Goffe to recommend her a place, and he had sent her to an old lady
with whom he himself had lodged in his bachelor's days. Keppel
Street cannot be called fashionable, and Russell Square is not much
affected by the nobility. Nevertheless the house was superior in
all qualifications to that which she was now leaving, and the rent
was considerably higher. But the affairs of the Countess in regard
to money were in the ascendant; and Mr. Goffe did not scruple to
take for her a "genteel" suite of drawing-rooms,--two rooms with
folding-doors, that is,--with the bedrooms above, first-class
lodging-house attendance, and a garret for the lady's-maid. "And then
it will be quite close to Mrs. Bluestone," said Mr. Goffe, who knew
of that intimacy.

The drive in a glass coach home from the coach-yard to Keppel Street
was horrible to Lady Anna. Not a word was spoken, as Sarah, the
lady's-maid, sat with them in the carriage. Once or twice the poor
girl tried to get hold of her mother's hand, in order that she might
entice something of a caress. But the Countess would admit of no such
softness, and at last withdrew her hand roughly. "Oh mamma!" said
Lady Anna, unable to suppress her dismay. But the Countess said never
a word. Sarah, the lady's-maid, began to think that there must be a
second lover. "Is this Wyndham Street?" said Lady Anna when the coach
stopped.

"No, my dear;--this is not Wyndham Street. I have taken another
abode. This is where we are to live. If you will get out I will
follow you, and Sarah will look to the luggage." Then the daughter
entered the house, and met the old woman curtseying to her. She at
once felt that she had been removed from contact with Daniel Thwaite,
and was sure that her mother knew her story. "That is your room,"
said her mother. "You had better get your things off. Are you tired?"

"Oh! so tired!" and Lady Anna burst into tears.

"What will you have?"

"Oh, nothing! I think I will go to bed, mamma. Why are you unkind to
me? Do tell me. Anything is better than that you should be unkind."

"Anna,--have not you been unkind to me?"

"Never, mamma;--never. I have never meant to be unkind. I love you
better than all the world. I have never been unkind. But, you;--Oh,
mamma, if you look at me like that, I shall die."

"Is it true that you have promised that you would be the wife of Mr.
Daniel Thwaite?"

"Mamma!"

"Is it true? I will be open with you. Mr. Goffe tells me that you
have refused Lord Lovel, telling him that you must do so because you
were engaged to Mr. Daniel Thwaite. Is that true?"

"Yes, mamma;--it is true."

"And you have given your word to that man?"

"I have, mamma."

"And yet you told me that there was no one else when I spoke to you
of Lord Lovel? You lied to me?" The girl sat confounded, astounded,
without power of utterance. She had travelled from York to London,
inside one of those awful vehicles of which we used to be so proud
when we talked of our stage coaches. She was thoroughly weary and
worn out. She had not breakfasted that morning, and was sick and
ill at ease, not only in heart, but in body also. Of course it was
so. Her mother knew that it was so. But this was no time for fond
compassion. It would be better, far better that she should die
than that she should not be compelled to abandon this grovelling
abasement. "Then you lied to me?" repeated the Countess still
standing over her.

"Oh, mamma, you mean to kill me."

"I would sooner die here, at your feet, this moment, and know that
you must follow me within an hour, than see you married to such a one
as that. You shall never marry him. Though I went into court myself
and swore that I was that lord's mistress,--that I knew it when I
went to him,--that you were born a brat beyond the law, that I had
lived a life of perjury, I would prevent such greater disgrace as
this. It shall never be. I will take you away where he shall never
hear of you. As to the money, it shall go to the winds, so that he
shall never touch it. Do you think that it is you that he cares for?
He has heard of all this wealth,--and you are but the bait upon his
hook to catch it."

"You do not know him, mamma."

"Will you tell me of him, that I do not know him; impudent slut!
Did I not know him before you were born? Have I not known him all
through? Will you give me your word of honour that you will never see
him again?" Lady Anna tried to think, but her mind would not act for
her. Everything was turning round, and she became giddy and threw
herself on the bed. "Answer me, Anna. Will you give me your word of
honour that you will never see him again?"

She might still have said yes. She felt that enough of speech was
left to her for so small an effort,--and she knew that if she did so
the agony of the moment would pass away from her. With that one word
spoken her mother would be kind to her, and would wait upon her;
would bring her tea, and would sit by her bedside, and caress her.
But she too was a Lovel, and she was, moreover, the daughter of her
who once had been Josephine Murray.

"I cannot say that, mamma," she said, "because I have promised."

Her mother dashed from the room, and she was left alone upon the bed.



CHAPTER XXI.

DANIEL AND THE LAWYER.


It has been said that the Countess, when she sent her daughter down
to Yoxham, laid her plans with the conviction that the associations
to which the girl would be subjected among the Lovels would fill her
heart and mind with a new-born craving for the kind of life which she
would find in the rector's family;--and she had been right. Daniel
Thwaite also had known that it would be so. He had been quite alive
to the fact that he and his conversation would be abased, and that
his power, both of pleasing and of governing, would be lessened,
by this new contact. But, had he been able to hinder her going, he
would not have done so. None of those who were now interested in
his conduct knew aught of the character of this man. Sir William
Patterson had given him credit for some honesty, but even he had
not perceived,--had had no opportunity of perceiving,--the staunch
uprightness which was as it were a backbone to the man in all his
doings. He was ambitious, discontented, sullen, and tyrannical. He
hated the domination of others, but was prone to domineer himself. He
suspected evil of all above him in rank, and the millennium to which
he looked forward was to be produced by the gradual extirpation
of all social distinctions. Gentlemen, so called, were to him as
savages, which had to be cleared away in order that that perfection
might come at last which the course of nature was to produce in
obedience to the ordinances of the Creator. But he was a man who
reverenced all laws,--and a law, if recognised as a law, was a law
to him whether enforced by a penalty, or simply exigent of obedience
from his conscience. This girl had been thrown in his way, and he
had first pitied and then loved her from his childhood. She had been
injured by the fiendish malice of her own father,--and that father
had been an Earl. He had been strong in fighting for the rights
of the mother,--not because it had been the mother's right to be
a Countess,--but in opposition to the Earl. At first,--indeed
throughout all these years of conflict, except the last year,--there
had been a question, not of money, but of right. The wife was
entitled to due support,--to what measure of support Daniel had never
known or inquired; but the daughter had been entitled to nothing. The
Earl, had he made his will before he was mad,--or, more probably, had
he not destroyed, when mad, the will which he had before made,--might
and would have left the girl without a shilling. In those days, when
Daniel's love was slowly growing, when he wandered about with the
child among the rocks, when the growing girl had first learned to
swear to him that he should always be her friend of friends, when the
love of the boy had first become the passion of the man, there had
been no thought of money in it. Money! Had he not been well aware
from his earliest understanding of the need of money for all noble
purposes, that the earnings of his father, which should have made the
world to him a world of promise, were being lavished in the service
of these forlorn women? He had never complained. They were welcome to
it all. That young girl was all the world to him; and it was right
that all should be spent; as though she had been a sister, as though
she had already been his wife. There had been no plot then by which
he was to become rich on the Earl's wealth. Then had come the will,
and the young Earl's claims, and the general belief of men in all
quarters that the young Earl was to win everything. What was left of
the tailor's savings was still being spent on behalf of the Countess.
The first fee that ever found its way into the pocket of Serjeant
Bluestone had come from the diminished hoard of old Thomas Thwaite.
Then the will had been set aside; and gradually the cause of the
Countess had grown to be in the ascendant. Was he to drop his love,
to confess himself unworthy, and to slink away out of her sight,
because the girl would become an heiress? Was he even to conceive so
badly of her as to think that she would drop her love because she
was an heiress? There was no such humility about him,--nor such
absence of self-esteem. But, as regarded her, he told himself at once
that she should have the chance of being base and noble,--all base,
and all noble as far as title and social standing could make her
so,--if such were her desire. He had come to her and offered her her
freedom;--had done so, indeed, with such hot language of indignant
protest against the gilded gingerbread of her interested suitor, as
would have frightened her from the acceptance of his offer had she
been minded to accept it;--but his words had been hot, not from
a premeditated purpose to thwart his own seeming liberality, but
because his nature was hot and his temper imperious. This lordling
was ready to wed his bride,--the girl he had known and succoured
throughout their joint lives,--simply because she was rich and the
lordling was a pauper. From the bottom of his heart he despised the
lordling. He had said to himself a score of times that he could be
well content to see the lord take the money, waste it among thieves
and prostitutes, and again become a pauper, while he had the girl to
sit with him at his board, and share with him the earnings of his
honest labour. Of course he had spoken out. But the girl should be at
liberty to do as she pleased.

He wrote no line to her before she went, or while she was at Yoxham,
nor did he speak a word concerning her during her absence. But as he
sat at his work, or walked to and fro between his home and the shop,
or lay sleepless in bed, all his thoughts were of her. Twice or
thrice a week he would knock at the door of the Countess's room, and
say a word or two, as was rendered natural by their long previous
intercourse. But there had been no real intercourse between them. The
Countess told him nothing of her plans; nor did he ever speak to her
of his. Each suspected the other; and each was grimly civil. Once or
twice the Countess expressed a hope that the money advanced by Thomas
Thwaite might soon be repaid to him with much interest. Daniel would
always treat the subject with a noble indifference. His father, he
said, had never felt an hour's regret at having parted with his
money. Should it, perchance, come back to him, he would take it, no
doubt, with thanks.

Then he heard one evening, as he returned from his work, that the
Countess was about to remove herself on the morrow to another home.
The woman of the house, who told him, did not know where the Countess
had fixed her future abode. He passed on up to his bedroom, washed
his hands, and immediately went down to his fellow-lodger. After the
first ordinary greeting, which was cold and almost unkind, he at once
asked his question. "They tell me that you go from this to-morrow
Lady Lovel." She paused a moment, and then bowed her head. "Where is
it that you are going to live?" She paused again, and paused long,
for she had to think what answer she would make him. "Do you object
to let me know?" he asked.

"Mr. Thwaite, I must object."

Then at that moment there came upon him the memory of all that he and
his father had done, and not the thought of that which he intended to
do. This was the gratitude of a Countess! "In that case of course I
shall not ask again. I had hoped that we were friends."

"Of course we are friends. Your father has been the best friend I
ever had. I shall write to your father and let him know. I am bound
to let your father know all that I do. But at present my case is in
the hands of my lawyers, and they have advised that I should tell no
one in London where I live."

"Then good evening, Lady Lovel. I beg your pardon for having
intruded." He left the room without another word, throwing off the
dust from his feet as he went with violent indignation. He and she
must now be enemies. She had told him that she would separate herself
from him,--and they must be separated. Could he have expected better
things from a declared Countess? But how would it be with Lady Anna?
She also had a title. She also would have wealth She might become a
Countess if she wished it. Let him only know by one sign from her
that she did wish it, and he would take himself off at once to the
farther side of the globe, and live in a world contaminated by no
noble lords and titled ladies. As it happened the Countess might
as well have given him the address, as the woman at the lodgings
informed him on the next morning that the Countess had removed
herself to No. ---- Keppel Street.

He did not doubt that Lady Anna was about to return to London. That
quick removal would not otherwise have been made. But what mattered
it to him whether she were at Yoxham or in Keppel Street? He could do
nothing. There would come a time,--but it had not come as yet,--when
he must go to the girl boldly, let her be guarded as she might, and
demand her hand. But the demand must be made to herself and herself
only. When that time came there should be no question of money.
Whether she were the undisturbed owner of hundreds of thousands, or
a rejected claimant to her father's name, the demand should be made
in the same tone and with the same assurance. He knew well the whole
history of her life. She had been twenty years old last May, and it
was now September. When the next spring should come round she would
be her own mistress, free to take herself from her mother's hands,
and free to give herself to whom she would. He did not say that
nothing should be done during those eight months; but, according to
his lights, he could not make his demand with full force till she was
a woman, as free from all legal control, as was he as a man.

The chances were much against him. He knew what were the allurements
of luxury. There were moments in which he told himself that of course
she would fall into the nets that were spread for her. But then again
there would grow within his bosom a belief in truth and honesty which
would buoy him up. How grand would be his victory, how great the
triumph of a human soul's nobility, if, after all these dangers, if
after all the enticements of wealth and rank, the girl should come
to him, and lying on his bosom, should tell him that she had never
wavered from him through it all! Of this, at any rate, he assured
himself,--that he would not go prying, with clandestine manoeuvres,
about that house in Keppel Street. The Countess might have told him
where she intended to live without increasing her danger.

While things were in this state with him he received a letter from
Messrs. Norton and Flick, the attorneys, asking him to call on Mr.
Flick at their chambers in Lincoln's Inn. The Solicitor-General had
suggested to the attorney that he should see the man, and Mr. Flick
had found himself bound to obey; but in truth he hardly knew what to
say to Daniel Thwaite. It must be his object of course to buy off
the tailor; but such arrangements are difficult, and require great
caution. And then Mr. Flick was employed by Earl Lovel, and this man
was the friend of the Earl's opponents in the case. Mr. Flick did
feel that the Solicitor-General was moving into great irregularities
in this cause. The cause itself was no doubt peculiar,--unlike
any other cause with which Mr. Flick had become acquainted in his
experience; there was no saying at the present moment who had
opposed interests, and who combined interests in the case; but
still etiquette is etiquette, and Mr. Flick was aware that such a
house as that of Messrs. Norton and Flick should not be irregular.
Nevertheless he sent for Daniel Thwaite.

After having explained who he was, which Daniel knew very well,
without being told, Mr. Flick began his work. "You are aware, Mr.
Thwaite, that the friends on both sides are endeavouring to arrange
this question amicably without any further litigation."

"I am aware that the friends of Lord Lovel, finding that they have no
ground to stand on at law, are endeavouring to gain their object by
other means."

"No, Mr. Thwaite. I cannot admit that for a moment. That would be
altogether an erroneous view of the proceeding."

"Is Lady Anna Lovel the legitimate daughter of the late Earl?"

"That is what we do not know. That is what nobody knows. You are not
a lawyer, Mr. Thwaite, or you would be aware that there is nothing
more difficult to decide than questions of legitimacy. It has
sometimes taken all the Courts a century to decide whether a marriage
is a marriage or not. You have heard of the great MacFarlane case.
To find out who was the MacFarlane they had to go back a hundred
and twenty years, and at last decide on the memory of a man whose
grandmother had told him that she had seen a woman wearing a
wedding-ring. The case cost over forty thousand pounds, and took
nineteen years. As far as I can see this is more complicated even
than that. We should in all probability have to depend on the
proceedings of the courts in Sicily, and you and I would never live
to see the end of it."

"You would live on it, Mr. Flick, which is more than I could do."

"Mr. Thwaite, that I think is a very improper observation; but,
however--. My object is to explain to you that all these difficulties
may be got over by a very proper and natural alliance between Earl
Lovel and the lady who is at present called by courtesy Lady Anna
Lovel."

"By the Crown's courtesy, Mr. Flick," said the tailor, who understood
the nature of the titles which he hated.

"We allow the name, I grant you, at present; and are anxious to
promote the marriage. We are all most anxious to bring to a close
this ruinous litigation. Now, I am told that the young lady feels
herself hampered by some childish promise that has been made--to
you."

Daniel Thwaite had expected no such announcement as this. He did not
conceive that the girl would tell the story of her engagement, and
was unprepared at the moment for any reply. But he was not a man to
remain unready long. "Do you call it childish?" he said.

"I do certainly."

"Then what would her engagement be if now made with the Earl? The
engagement with me, as an engagement, is not yet twelve months old,
and has been repeated within the last month. She is an infant, Mr.
Flick, according to your language, and therefore, perhaps, a child in
the eye of the law. If Lord Lovel wishes to marry her, why doesn't he
do so? He is not hindered, I suppose, by her being a child."

"Any marriage with you, you know, would in fact be impossible."

"A marriage with me, Mr. Flick, would be quite as possible as one
with the Lord Lovel. When the lady is of age, no clergyman in England
dare refuse to marry us, if the rules prescribed by law have been
obeyed."

"Well, well, Mr. Thwaite; I do not want to argue with you about the
law and about possibilities. The marriage would not be fitting, and
you know that it would not be fitting."

"It would be most unfitting,--unless the lady wished it as well as I.
Just as much may be said of her marriage with Earl Lovel. To which of
us has she given her promise? which of us has she known and loved?
which of us has won her by long friendship and steady regard? and
which of us, Mr. Flick, is attracted to the marriage by the lately
assured wealth of the young woman? I never understood that Lord Lovel
was my rival when Lady Anna was regarded as the base-born child of
the deceased madman."

"I suppose, Mr. Thwaite, you are not indifferent to her money?"

"Then you suppose wrongly,--as lawyers mostly do when they take upon
themselves to attribute motives."

"You are not civil, Mr. Thwaite."

"You did not send for me here, sir, in order that there should be
civilities between us. But I will at least be true. In regard to Lady
Anna's money, should it become mine by reason of her marriage with
me, I will guard it for her sake, and for that of the children she
may bear, with all my power. I will assert her right to it as a
man should do. But my purpose in seeking her hand will neither be
strengthened nor weakened by her money. I believe that it is hers.
Nay,--I know that the law will give it to her. On her behalf, as
being betrothed to her, I defy Lord Lovel and all other claimants.
But her money and her hand are two things apart, and I will never be
governed as to the one by any regard as to the other. Perhaps, Mr.
Flick, I have said enough,--and so, good morning." Then he went away.

The lawyer had never dared to suggest the compromise which had been
his object in sending for the man. He had not dared to ask the tailor
how much ready money he would take down to abandon the lady, and thus
to relieve them all from that difficulty. No doubt he exercised a
wise discretion, as had he done so, Daniel Thwaite might have become
even more uncivil than before.



CHAPTER XXII.

THERE IS A GULF FIXED.


"Do you think that you could be happier as the wife of such a one as
Daniel Thwaite, a creature infinitely beneath you, separated as you
would be from all your kith and kin, from all whose blood you share,
from me and from your family, than you would be as the bearer of a
proud name, the daughter and the wife of an Earl Lovel,--the mother
of the earl to come? I will not speak now of duty, or of fitness, or
of the happiness of others which must depend upon you. It is natural
that a girl should look to her own joys in marriage. Do you think
that your joy can consist in calling that man your husband?"

It was thus that the Countess spoke to her daughter, who was then
lying worn out and ill on her bed in Keppel Street. For three days
she had been subject to such addresses as this, and during those
three days no word of tenderness had been spoken to her. The Countess
had been obdurate in her hardness,--still believing that she might
thus break her daughter's spirit, and force her to abandon her
engagement. But as yet she had not succeeded. The girl had been
meek and, in all other things, submissive. She had not defended her
conduct. She had not attempted to say that she had done well in
promising to be the tailor's bride. She had shown herself willing by
her silence to have her engagement regarded as a great calamity, as a
dreadful evil that had come upon the whole Lovel family. She had not
boldness to speak to her mother as she had spoken on the subject to
the Earl. She threw herself entirely upon her promise, and spoke of
her coming destiny as though it had been made irrevocable by her own
word. "I have promised him, mamma, and have sworn that it should be
so." That was the answer which she now made from her bed;--the answer
which she had made a dozen times during the last three days.

"Is everybody belonging to you to be ruined because you once spoke a
foolish word?"

"Mamma, it was often spoken,--very often, and he does not wish that
anybody should be ruined. He told me that Lord Lovel might have the
money."

"Foolish, ungrateful girl! It is not for Lord Lovel that I am
pleading to you. It is for the name, and for your own honour. Do you
not constantly pray to God to keep you in that state of life to which
it has pleased Him to call you;--and are you not departing from it
wilfully and sinfully by such an act as this?" But still Lady Anna
continued to say that she was bound by the obligation which was upon
her.

On the following day the Countess was frightened, believing that the
girl was really ill. In truth she was ill,--so that the doctor who
visited her declared that she must be treated with great care. She
was harassed in spirit,--so the doctor said,--and must be taken away,
so that she might be amused. The Countess was frightened, but still
was resolute. She not only loved her daughter,--but loved no other
human being on the face of the earth. Her daughter was all that she
had to bind her to the world around her. But she declared to herself
again and again that it would be better that her daughter should
die than live and be married to the tailor. It was a case in which
persecution even to the very gate of the grave would be wise and
warrantable,--if by such persecution this odious, monstrous marriage
might be avoided. And she did believe that persecution would avail at
last. If she were only steady in her resolve, the girl would never
dare to demand the right to leave her mother's house and walk off to
the church to be married to Daniel Thwaite, without the countenance
of a single friend. The girl's strength was not of that nature. But
were she, the Countess, to yield an inch, then this evil might come
upon them. She had heard that young people can always beat their
parents if they be sufficiently obdurate. Parents are soft-hearted to
their children, and are prone to yield. And so would she have been
soft-hearted, if the interests concerned had been less important,
if the deviation from duty had been less startling, or the union
proposed less monstrous and disgraceful. But in this case it behoved
her to be obdurate,--even though it should be to the very gates of
the grave. "I swear to you," she said, "that the day of your marriage
to Daniel Thwaite shall be the day of my death."

In her straits she went to Serjeant Bluestone for advice. Now, the
Serjeant had hitherto been opposed to all compromise, feeling certain
that everything might be gained without the sacrifice of a single
right. He had not a word to say against a marriage between the two
cousins, but let the cousin who was the heiress be first placed in
possession of her rights. Let her be empowered, when she consented
to become Lady Lovel, to demand such a settlement of the property as
would be made on her behalf if she were the undisputed owner of the
property. Let her marry the lord if she would, but not do so in order
that she might obtain the partial enjoyment of that which was all her
own. And then, so the Serjeant had argued, the widowed Countess would
never be held to have established absolutely her own right to her
name, should any compromise be known to have been effected. People
might call her Countess Lovel; but, behind her back, they would say
that she was no countess. The Serjeant had been very hot about it,
especially disliking the interference of Sir William. But now, when
he heard this new story, his heat gave way. Anything must be done
that could be done;--everything must be done to prevent such a
termination to the career of the two ladies as would come from a
marriage with the tailor.

But he was somewhat dismayed when he came to understand the condition
of affairs in Keppel Street. "How can I not be severe?" said the
Countess, when he remonstrated with her. "If I were tender with
her she would think that I was yielding. Is not everything at
stake,--everything for which my life has been devoted?" The Serjeant
called his wife into council, and then suggested that Lady Anna
should spend a week or two in Bedford Square. He assured the Countess
that she might be quite sure that Daniel Thwaite should find no
entrance within his doors.

"But if Lord Lovel would do us the honour to visit us, we should be
most happy to see him," said the Serjeant.

Lady Anna was removed to Bedford Square, and there became subject to
treatment that was milder, but not less persistent. Mrs. Bluestone
lectured her daily, treating her with the utmost respect, paying to
her rank a deference, which was not indeed natural to the good lady,
but which was assumed, so that Lady Anna might the better comprehend
the difference between her own position and that of the tailor. The
girls were told nothing of the tailor,--lest the disgrace of so
unnatural a partiality might shock their young minds; but they
were instructed that there was danger, and that they were always,
in speaking to their guest, to take it for granted that she was
to become Countess Lovel. Her maid, Sarah, went with her to the
Serjeant's, and was taken into a half-confidence. Lady Anna was never
to be left a moment alone. She was to be a prisoner with gilded
chains,--for whom a splendid, a glorious future was in prospect, if
only she would accept it.

"I really think that she likes the lord the best," said Mrs.
Bluestone to her husband.

"Then why the mischief won't she have him?" This was in October, and
that November term was fast approaching in which the cause was set
down for trial.

"I almost think she would if he'd come and ask her again. Of course,
I have never mentioned the other man; but when I speak to her of Earl
Lovel, she always answers me as though she were almost in love with
him. I was inquiring yesterday what sort of a man he was, and she
said he was quite perfect. 'It is a thousand pities,' she said, 'that
he should not have this money. He ought to have it, as he is the
Earl.'"

"Why doesn't she give it to him?"

"I asked her that; but she shook, her head and said, that it could
never be. I think that man has made her swear some sort of awful
oath, and has frightened her."

"No doubt he has made her swear an oath, but we all know how the gods
regard the perjuries of lovers," said the Serjeant. "We must get the
young lord here when he comes back to town."

"Is he handsome?" asked Alice Bluestone, the younger daughter, who
had become Lady Anna's special friend in the family. Of course they
were talking of Lord Lovel.

"Everybody says he is."

"But what do you say?"

"I don't think it matters much about a man being handsome,--but he is
beautiful. Not dark, like all the other Lovels; nor yet what you call
fair. I don't think that fair men ever look manly."

"Oh no," said Alice, who was contemplating an engagement with a
black-haired young barrister.

"Lord Lovel is brown,--with blue eyes; but it is the shape of his
face that is so perfect,--an oval, you know, that is not too long.
But it isn't that makes him look as he does. He looks as though
everybody in the world ought to do exactly what he tells them."

"And why don't you, dear, do exactly what he tells you?"

"Ah,--that is another question. I should do many things if he told
me. He is the head of our family. I think he ought to have all this
money, and be a rich great man, as the Earl Lovel should be."

"And yet you won't be his wife?"

"Would you,--if you had promised another man?"

"Have you promised another man?"

"Yes;--I have."

"Who is he, Lady Anna?"

"They have not told you, then?"

"No;--nobody has told me. I know they all want you to marry Lord
Lovel,--and I know he wants it. I know he is quite in love with you."

"Ah;--I do not think that. But if he were, it could make no
difference. If you had once given your word to another man, would you
go back because a lord asked you?"

"I don't think I would ever give my word without asking mamma."

"If he had been good to you, and you had loved him always, and he had
been your best friend,--what would you do then?"

"Who is he, Lady Anna?"

"Do not call me Lady Anna, or I shall not like you. I will tell you,
but you must not say that I told you. Only I thought everybody knew.
I told Lord Lovel, and he, I think, has told all the world. It is Mr.
Daniel Thwaite."

"Mr. Daniel Thwaite!" said Alice, who had heard enough of the case to
know who the Thwaites were. "He is a tailor!"

"Yes," said Lady Anna proudly; "he is a tailor."

"Surely that cannot be good," said Alice, who, having long since felt
what it was to be the daughter of a serjeant, had made up her mind
that she would marry nothing lower than a barrister.

"It is what you call bad, I dare say."

"I don't think a tailor can be a gentleman."

"I don't know. Perhaps I wasn't a lady when I promised him. But I
did promise. You can never know what he and his father did for us.
I think we should have died only for them. You don't know how we
lived;--in a little cottage, with hardly any money, with nobody to
come near us but they. Everybody else thought that we were vile and
wicked. It is true. But they always were good to us. Would not you
have loved him?"

"I should have loved him in a kind of way."

"When one takes so much, one must give in return what one has to
give," said Lady Anna.

"Do you love him still?"

"Of course I love him."

"And you wish to be his wife?"

"Sometimes I think I don't. It is not that I am ashamed for myself.
What would it have signified if I had gone away with him straight
from Cumberland, before I had ever seen my cousins? Supposing that
mamma hadn't been the Countess--"

"But she is."

"So they say now;--but if they had said that she was not, nobody
would have thought it wrong then for me to marry Mr. Thwaite."

"Don't you think it wrong yourself?"

"It would be best for me to say that I would never marry any one at
all. He would be very angry with me."

"Lord Lovel?"

"Oh no;--not Lord Lovel. Daniel would be very angry, because he
really loves me. But it would not be so bad to him as though I became
Lord Lovel's wife. I will tell you the truth, dear. I am ashamed to
marry Mr. Thwaite,--not for myself, but because I am Lord Lovel's
cousin and mamma's daughter. And I should be ashamed to marry Lord
Lovel."

"Why, dear?"

"Because I should be false and ungrateful! I should be afraid to
stand before him if he looked at me. You do not know how he can look.
He, too, can command. He, too, is noble. They believe it is the money
he wants, and when they call him a tailor, they think that he must be
mean. He is not mean. He is clever, and can talk about things better
than my cousin. He can work hard and give away all that he earns. And
so could his father. They gave all they had to us, and have never
asked it again. I kissed him once,--and then he said I had paid all
my mother's debt." Alice Bluestone shrank within herself when she was
told by this daughter of a countess of such a deed. It was horrid
to her mind that a tailor should be kissed by a Lady Anna Lovel.
But she herself had perhaps been as generous to the black-browed
young barrister, and had thought no harm. "They think I do not
understand,--but I do. They all want this money, and then they accuse
him, and say he does it that he may become rich. He would give up all
the money,--just for me. How would you feel if it were like that with
you?"

"I think that a girl who is a lady, should never marry a man who is
not a gentleman. You know the story of the rich man who could not
get to Abraham's bosom because there was a gulf fixed. That is how
it should be;--just as there is with royal people as to marrying
royalty. Otherwise everything would get mingled, and there would soon
be no difference. If there are to be differences, there should be
differences. That is the meaning of being a gentleman,--or a lady."
So spoke the young female Conservative with wisdom beyond her
years;--nor did she speak quite in vain.

"I believe what I had better do would be to die," said Lady Anna.
"Everything would come right then."

Some day or two after this Serjeant Bluestone sent a message up to
Lady Anna, on his return home from the courts, with a request that
she would have the great kindness to come down to him in his study.
The Serjeant had treated her with more than all the deference due to
her rank since she had been in his house, striving to teach her what
it was to be the daughter of an Earl and probable owner of twenty
thousand a year. The Serjeant, to give him his due, cared as little
as most men for the peerage. He vailed his bonnet to no one but a
judge,--and not always that with much ceremonious observance. But now
his conduct was a part of his duty to a client whom he was determined
to see established in her rights. He would have handed her her cup
of tea on his knees every morning, if by doing so he could have made
clear to her eyes how deep would be her degradation were she to marry
the tailor. The message was now brought to her by Mrs. Bluestone,
who almost apologized for asking her to trouble herself to walk
down-stairs to the back parlour. "My dear Lady Anna," said the
Serjeant, "may I ask you to sit down for a moment or two while I
speak to you? I have just left your mother."

"How is dear mamma?" The Serjeant assured her that the Countess was
well in health. At this time Lady Anna had not visited her mother
since she had left Keppel Street, and had been told that Lady Lovel
had refused to see her till she had pledged herself never to marry
Daniel Thwaite. "I do so wish I might go to mamma!"

"With all my heart I wish you could, Lady Anna. Nothing makes such
heart-burning sorrow as a family quarrel. But what can I say? You
know what your mother thinks?"

"Couldn't you manage that she should let me go there just once?"

"I hope that we can manage it;--but I want you to listen to me first.
Lord Lovel is back in London." She pressed her lips together and
fastened one hand firmly on the other. If the assurance that was
required from her was ever to be exacted, it should not be exacted by
Serjeant Bluestone. "I have seen his lordship to-day," continued the
Serjeant, "and he has done me the honour to promise that he will dine
here to-morrow."

"Lord Lovel?"

"Yes;--your cousin, Earl Lovel. There is no reason, I suppose, why
you should not meet him? He has not offended you?"

"Oh no.--But I have offended him."

"I think not, Lady Anna. He does not speak of you as though there
were offence."

"When we parted he would hardly look at me, because I told him--. You
know what I told him."

"A gentleman is not necessarily offended because a lady does not
accept his first offer. Many gentlemen would be offended if that were
so;--and very many happy marriages would never have a chance of being
made. At any rate he is coming, and I thought that perhaps you would
excuse me if I endeavoured to explain how very much may depend on the
manner in which you may receive him. You must feel that things are
not going on quite happily now."

"I am so unhappy, Serjeant Bluestone!"

"Yes, indeed. It must be so. You are likely to be placed,--I think I
may say you certainly will be placed,--in such a position that the
whole prosperity of a noble and ancient family must depend on what
you may do. With one word you can make once more bright a fair name
that has long been beneath a cloud. Here in England the welfare of
the State depends on the conduct of our aristocracy!" Oh, Serjeant
Bluestone, Serjeant Bluestone! how could you so far belie your
opinion as to give expression to a sentiment utterly opposed to your
own convictions! But what is there that a counsel will not do for a
client? "If they whom Fate and Fortune have exalted, forget what the
country has a right to demand from them, farewell, alas, to the glory
of old England!" He had found this kind of thing very effective with
twelve men, and surely it might prevail with one poor girl. "It is
not for me, Lady Anna, to dictate to you the choice of a husband. But
it has become my duty to point out to you the importance of your own
choice, and to explain to you, if it may be possible, that you are
not like other young ladies. You have in your hands the marring or
the making of the whole family of Lovel. As for that suggestion of
a marriage to which you were induced to give ear by feelings of
gratitude, it would, if carried out, spread desolation in the bosom
of every relative to whom you are bound by the close ties of noble
blood." He finished his speech, and Lady Anna retired without a word.



CHAPTER XXIII.

BEDFORD SQUARE.


The Earl, without asking any question on the subject, had found that
the Solicitor-General thought nothing of that objection which had
weighed so heavily on his own mind, as to carrying on his suit with
a girl who had been wooed successfully by a tailor. His own spirit
rebelled for a while against such condescension. When Lady Anna had
first told him that she had pledged her word to a lover low in the
scale of men, the thing had seemed to him to be over. What struggle
might be made to prevent the accomplishment of so base a marriage
must be effected for the sake of the family, and not on his own
special behoof. Not even for twenty thousand a year, not even for
Lady Anna Lovel, not for all the Lovels, would he take to his bosom
as his bride, the girl who had leaned with loving fondness on the
shoulders of Daniel Thwaite. But when he found that others did
not feel it as he felt it, he turned the matter over again in his
mind,--and by degrees relented. There had doubtless been much in the
whole affair which had placed it outside the pale of things which are
subject to the ordinary judgment of men. Lady Anna's position in the
world had been very singular. A debt of gratitude was due by her to
the tailor, which had seemed to exact from her some great payment. As
she had said herself, she had given the only thing which she had to
give. Now there would be much to give. The man doubtless deserved his
reward and should have it, but that reward must not be the hand of
the heiress of the Lovels. He, the Earl, would once again claim that
as his own.

He had hurried out of town after seeing Sir William, but had not
returned to Yoxham. He went again to Scotland, and wrote no further
letter to the rectory after those three lines which the reader has
seen. Then he heard from Mr. Flick that Lady Anna was staying with
the Serjeant in Bedford Square, and he returned to London at the
lawyer's instance. It was so expedient that if possible something
should be settled before November!

The only guests asked to meet the Earl at Serjeant Bluestone's, were
Sir William and Lady Patterson, and the black-browed young barrister.
The whole proceeding was very irregular,--as Mr. Flick, who knew what
was going on, said more than once to his old partner, Mr. Norton.
That the Solicitor-General should dine with the Serjeant might be all
very well,--though, as school boys say, they had never known each
other at home before. But that they should meet in this way the then
two opposing clients,--the two claimants to the vast property as to
which a cause was to come on for trial in a few weeks,--did bewilder
Mr. Flick. "I suppose the Solicitor-General sees his way, but he may
be in a mess yet," said Mr. Flick. Mr. Norton only scratched his
head. It was no work of his.

Sir William, who arrived before the Earl, was introduced for the
first time to the young lady. "Lady Anna," he said, "for some months
past I have heard much of you. And now I have great pleasure in
meeting you." She smiled, and strove to look pleased, but she had
not a word to say to him. "You know I ought to be your enemy," he
continued laughing, "but I hope that is well nigh over. I should not
like to have to fight so fair a foe." Then the young lord arrived,
and the lawyers of course gave way to the lover.

Lady Anna, from the moment in which she was told that he was to come,
had thought of nothing but the manner of their greeting. It was not
that she was uneasy as to her own fashion of receiving him. She could
smile and be silent, and give him her hand or leave it ungiven, as he
might demand. But in what manner would he accost her? She had felt
sure that he had despised her from the moment in which she had told
him of her engagement. Of course he had despised her. Those fine
sentiments about ladies and gentlemen, and the gulf which had been
fixed, had occurred to her before she heard them from the mouth
of Miss Alice Bluestone. She understood, as well as did her young
friend, what was the difference between her cousin the Earl, and her
lover the tailor. Of course it would be sweet to be able to love such
a one as her cousin. They all talked to her as though she was simply
obstinate and a fool, not perceiving, as she did herself, that the
untowardness of her fortune had prescribed this destiny for her.
Good as Daniel Thwaite might be,--as she knew that he was,--she felt
herself to be degraded in having promised to be his wife. The lessons
they had taught her had not been in vain. And she had been specially
degraded in the eyes of him, who was to her imagination the brightest
of human beings. They told her that she might still be his wife
if only she would consent to hold out her hand when he should ask
for it. She did not believe it. Were it true, it could make no
difference,--but she did not believe it. He had scorned her when she
told him the tale at Bolton Abbey. He had scorned her when he hurried
away from Yoxham. Now he was coming to the Serjeant's house, with
the express intention of meeting her again. Why should he come? Alas,
alas! She was sure that he would never speak to her again in that
bright sunny manner, with those dulcet honey words, which he had used
when first they saw each other in Wyndham Street.

Nor was he less uneasy as to this meeting. He had not intended to
scorn her when he parted from her, but he had intended that she
should understand that there was an end of his suit. He had loved her
dearly, but there are obstacles to which love must yield. Had she
already married this tailor, how would it have been with him then?
That which had appeared to him to be most fit for him to do, had
suddenly become altogether unfit,--and he had told himself at the
moment that he must take back his love to himself as best he might.
He could not sue for that which had once been given to a tailor. But
now all that was changed, and he did intend to sue again. She was
very beautiful,--to his thinking the very pink of feminine grace, and
replete with charms;--soft in voice, soft in manner, with just enough
of spirit to give her character. What a happy chance it had been,
what marvellous fortune, that he should have been able to love this
girl whom it was so necessary that he should marry;--what a happy
chance, had it not been for this wretched tailor! But now, in spite
of the tailor, he would try his fate with her once again. He had not
intended to scorn her when he left her, but he knew that his manner
to her must have told her that his suit was over. How should he renew
it again in the presence of Serjeant and Mrs. Bluestone and of Sir
William and Lady Patterson?

He was first introduced to the wives of the two lawyers while Lady
Anna was sitting silent on the corner of a sofa. Mrs. Bluestone,
foreseeing how it would be, had endeavoured with much prudence to
establish her young friend at some distance from the other guests,
in order that the Earl might have the power of saying some word; but
the young barrister had taken this opportunity of making himself
agreeable, and stood opposite to her talking nothings about the
emptiness of London, and the glories of the season when it should
come. Lady Anna did not hear a word that the young barrister said.
Lady Anna's ear was straining itself to hear what Lord Lovel might
say, and her eye, though not quite turned towards him, was watching
his every motion. Of course he must speak to her. "Lady Anna is on
the sofa," said Mrs. Bluestone. Of course he knew that she was there.
He had seen her dear face the moment that he entered the room. He
walked up to her and gave her his hand, and smiled upon her.

She had made up her little speech. "I hope they are quite well at
Yoxham," she said, in that low, soft, silver voice which he had told
himself would so well befit the future Countess Lovel.

"Oh yes;--I believe so. I am a truant there, for I do not answer aunt
Julia's letters as punctually as I ought to do. I shall be down there
for the hunting I suppose next month." Then dinner was announced; and
as it was necessary that the Earl should take down Mrs. Bluestone
and the Serjeant Lady Anna,--so that the young barrister absolutely
went down to dinner with the wife of the Solicitor-General,--the
conversation was brought to an end. Nor was it possible that they
should be made to sit next each other at dinner. And then, when
at last the late evening came and they were all together in the
drawing-room, other things intervened and the half hour so passed
that hardly a word was spoken between them. But there was just one
word as he went away. "I shall call and see you," he said.

"I don't think he means it," the Serjeant said to his wife that
evening, almost in anger.

"Why not, my dear?"

"He did not speak to her."

"People can't speak at dinner-parties when there is anything
particular to say. If he didn't mean it, he wouldn't have come. And
if you'll all have a little patience she'll mean it too. I can't
forgive her mother for being so hard to her. She's one of the
sweetest creatures I ever came across."

A little patience, and here was November coming! The Earl who had
now been dining in his house, meeting his own client there, must
again become the Serjeant's enemy in November, unless this matter
were settled. The Serjeant at present could see no other way of
proceeding. The Earl might no doubt retire from the suit, but a jury
must then decide whether the Italian woman had any just claim. And
against the claim of the Italian woman the Earl would again come
forward. The Serjeant as he thought of it, was almost sorry that he
had asked the Earl and the Solicitor-General to his house.

On the very next morning,--early in the day,--the Earl was announced
in Bedford Square. The Serjeant was of course away at his chambers.
Lady Anna was in her room and Mrs. Bluestone was sitting with her
daughter. "I have come to see my cousin," said the Earl boldly.

"I am so glad that you have come, Lord Lovel."

"Thank you,--well; yes. I know you will not mind my saying so
outright. Though the papers say that we are enemies, we have many
things in common between us."

"I will send her to you. My dear, we will go into the dining-room.
You will find lunch ready when you come down, Lord Lovel." Then she
left him, and he stood looking for a while at the books that were
laid about the table.

It seemed to him to be an age, but at last the door was opened and
his cousin crept into the room. When he had parted from her at Yoxham
he had called her Lady Anna; but he was determined that she should
at any rate be again his cousin. "I could hardly speak to you
yesterday," he said, while he held her hand.

"No;--Lord Lovel."

"People never can, I think, at small parties like that. Dear Anna,
you surprised me so much by what you told me on the banks of the
Wharfe!" She did not know how to answer him even a word. "I know that
I was unkind to you."

"I did not think so, my lord."

"I will tell you just the plain truth. Even though it may be bitter,
the truth will be best between us, dearest. When first I heard what
you said, I believed that all must be over between you and me."

"Oh, yes," she said.

"But I have thought about it since, and I will not have it so. I have
not come to reproach you."

"You may if you will."

"I have no right to do so, and would not if I had. I can understand
your feelings of deep gratitude and can respect them."

"But I love him, my lord," said Lady Anna, holding her head on high
and speaking with much dignity. She could hardly herself understand
the feeling which induced her so to address him. When she was alone
thinking of him and of her other lover, her heart was inclined to
regret in that she had not known her cousin in her early days,--as
she had known Daniel Thwaite. She could tell herself, though she
could not tell any other human being, that when she had thought that
she was giving her heart to the young tailor, she had not quite known
what it was to have a heart to give. The young lord was as a god to
her; whereas Daniel was but a man,--to whom she owed so deep a debt
of gratitude that she must sacrifice herself, if needs, be, on his
behalf. And yet when the Earl spoke to her of her gratitude to this
man,--praising it, and professing that he also understood those very
feelings which had governed her conduct,--she blazed up almost in
wrath, and swore that she loved the tailor.

The Earl's task was certainly difficult. It was his first impulse to
rush away again, as he had rushed away before. To rush away and leave
the country, and let the lawyers settle it all as they would. Could
it be possible that such a girl as this should love a journeyman
tailor, and should be proud of her love! He turned from her and
walked to the door and back again, during which time she had almost
repented of her audacity.

"It is right that you should love him--as a friend," he said.

"But I have sworn to be his wife."

"And must you keep your oath?" As she did not answer him he pressed
on with his suit. "If he loves you I am sure he cannot wish to hurt
you, and you know that such a marriage as that would be very hurtful.
Can it be right that you should descend from your position to pay a
debt of gratitude, and that you should do it at the expense of all
those who belong to you? Would you break your mother's heart, and
mine, and bring disgrace upon your family merely because he was good
to you?"

"He was good to my mother as well as me."

"Will it not break her heart? Has she not told you so? But perhaps
you do not believe it, my love."

"I do not know," she said.

"Ah, dearest, you may believe. To my eyes you are the sweetest of
all God's creatures. Perhaps you think I say so only for the money's
sake."

"No, my lord, I do not think that."

"Of course much is due to him."

"He wants nothing but that I should be his wife. He has said so, and
he is never false. I can trust him at any rate, even though I should
betray him. But I will not betray him. I will go away with him and
they shall not hear of me, and nobody will remember that I was my
father's daughter."

"You are doubting even now, dear."

"But I ought not to doubt. If I doubt it is because I am weak."

"Then still be weak. Surely such weakness will be good when it will
please all those who must be dearest to you."

"It will not please him, Lord Lovel."

"Will you do this, dearest;--will you take one week to consider
and then write to me? You cannot refuse me that, knowing that the
happiness and the honour and the welfare of every Lovel depends upon
your answer."

She felt that she could not refuse, and she gave him the promise.
On that day week she would write to him, and tell him then to what
resolve she should have brought herself. He came up close to her,
meaning to kiss her if she would let him; but she stood aloof, and
merely touched his hand. She would obey her betrothed,--at any rate
till she should have made up her mind that she would be untrue
to him. Lord Lovel could not press his wish, and left the house
unmindful of Mrs. Bluestone's luncheon.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE DOG IN THE MANGER.


During all this time Daniel Thwaite had been living alone, working
day after day and hour after hour among the men in Wigmore Street,
trusted by his employer, disliked by those over whom he was set in
some sort of authority, and befriended by none. He had too heavy a
weight on his spirits to be light of heart, even had his nature been
given to lightness. How could he even hope that the girl would resist
all the temptation that would be thrown in her way, all the arguments
that would be used to her, the natural entreaties that would be
showered upon her from all her friends? Nor did he so think of
himself, as to believe that his own personal gifts would bind her to
him when opposed by those other personal gifts which he knew belonged
to the lord. Measuring himself by his own standard, regarding that
man to be most manly who could be most useful in the world, he did
think himself to be infinitely superior to the Earl. He was the
working bee, whereas the Earl was the drone. And he was one who used
to the best of his abilities the mental faculties which had been
given to him; whereas the Earl,--so he believed,--was himself hardly
conscious of having had mental faculties bestowed upon him. The Earl
was, to his thinking, as were all earls, an excrescence upon society,
which had been produced by the evil habits and tendencies of mankind;
a thing to be got rid of before any near approach could be made
to that social perfection in the future coming of which he fully
believed. But, though useless, the Earl was beautiful to the eye.
Though purposeless, as regarded any true purpose of speech, his voice
was of silver and sweet to the ears. His hands, which could never
help him to a morsel of bread, were soft to the touch. He was sweet
with perfumes and idleness, and never reeked of the sweat of labour.
Was it possible that such a girl as Anna Lovel should resist the
popinjay, backed as he would be by her own instincts and by the
prayers of every one of her race? And then from time to time another
thought would strike him. Using his judgment as best he might on her
behalf, ought he to wish that she should do so? The idleness of an
earl might be bad, and equally bad the idleness of a countess. To be
the busy wife of a busy man, to be the mother of many children who
should be all taught to be busy on behalf of mankind, was, to his
thinking, the highest lot of woman. But there was a question with him
whether the accidents of her birth and fortune had not removed her
from the possibility of such joy as that. How would it be with her,
and him too, if, in after life, she should rebuke him because he
had not allowed her to be the wife of a nobleman? And how would it
be with him if hereafter men said of him that he held her to an
oath extracted from her in her childhood because of her wealth? He
had been able to answer Mr. Flick on that head, but he had more
difficulty in answering himself.

He had written to his father after the Countess had left the house
in which he lodged, and his father had answered him. The old man was
not much given to the writing of letters. "About Lady Lovel and her
daughter," said he, "I won't take no more trouble, nor shouldn't you.
She and you is different, and must be." And that was all he said.
Yes;--he and Lady Anna were different, and must remain so. Of a
morning, when he went fresh to his work, he would resolve that he
would send her word that she was entirely free from him, and would
bid her do according to the nature of the Lovels. But in the evening,
as he would wander back, slowly, all alone, tired of his work, tired
of the black solitude of the life he was leading, longing for some
softness to break the harsh monotony of his labour, he would remember
all her prettinesses, and would, above all, remember the pretty oaths
with which she had sworn that she, Anna Lovel, loved him, Daniel
Thwaite, with all the woman's love which a woman could give. He
would remember the warm kiss which had seemed to make fresh for hours
his dry lips, and would try to believe that the bliss of which he
had thought so much might still be his own. Had she abandoned him,
had she assented to a marriage with the Earl, he would assuredly
have heard of it. He also knew well the day fixed for the trial,
and understood the importance which would be attached to an early
marriage, should that be possible,--or at least to a public
declaration of an engagement. At any rate she had not as yet been
false to him.

One day he received at his place of work the following note;--


   DEAR MR. THWAITE,

   I wish to speak to you on most important business.
   Could you call on me to-morrow at eight o'clock in the
   evening,--here?

   Yours very faithfully and always grateful,

   J. LOVEL.


And then the Countess had added her address in Keppel Street;--the
very address which, about a month back, she had refused to give him.
Of course he went to the Countess,--fully believing that Lady Anna
would also be at the house, though believing also that he would not
be allowed to see her. But at this time Lady Anna was still staying
with Mrs. Bluestone in Bedford Square.

It was no doubt natural that every advantage should be taken of
the strong position which Lord Lovel held. When he had extracted a
promise from Lady Anna that she would write to him at the end of a
week, he told Sir William, Sir William told his wife, Lady Patterson
told Mrs. Bluestone, and Mrs. Bluestone told the Countess. They
were all now in league against the tailor. If they could only get a
promise from the girl before the cause came on,--anything that they
could even call a promise,--then the thing might be easy. United
together they would not be afraid of what the Italian woman might do.
And this undertaking to write to Lord Lovel was almost as good as a
promise. When a girl once hesitates with a lover, she has as good
as surrendered. To say even that she will think of it, is to accept
the man. Then Mrs. Bluestone and the Countess, putting their heads
together, determined that an appeal should be made to the tailor. Had
Sir William or the Serjeant been consulted, either would have been
probably strong against the measure. But the ladies acted on their
own judgment, and Daniel Thwaite presented himself in Keppel Street.
"It is very kind of you to come," said the Countess.

"There is no great kindness in that," said Daniel, thinking perhaps
of those twenty years of service which had been given by him and by
his father.

"I know you think that I have been ungrateful for all that you have
done for me." He did think so, and was silent. "But you would hardly
wish me to repay you for helping me in my struggle by giving up all
for which I have struggled."

"I have asked for nothing, Lady Lovel."

"Have you not?"

"I have asked you for nothing."

"But my daughter is all that I have in the world. Have you asked
nothing of her?"

"Yes, Lady Lovel. I have asked much from her, and she has given
me all that I have asked. But I have asked nothing, and now claim
nothing, as payment for service done. If Lady Anna thinks she is in
my debt after such fashion as that, I will soon make her free."

"She does think so, Mr. Thwaite."

"Let her tell me so with her own lips."

"You will not think that I am lying to you."

"And yet men do lie, and women too, without remorse, when the stakes
are high. I will believe no one but herself in this. Let her come
down and stand before me and look me in the face and tell me that it
is so,--and I promise you that there shall be no further difficulty.
I will not even ask to be alone with her. I will speak but a dozen
words to her, and you shall hear them."

"She is not here, Mr. Thwaite. She is not living in this house."

"Where is she then?"

"She is staying with friends."

"With the Lovels,--in Yorkshire?"

"I do not think that good can be done by my telling you where she
is."

"Do you mean me to understand that she is engaged to the Earl?"

"I tell you this,--that she acknowledges herself to be bound to you,
but bound to you simply by gratitude. It seems that there was a
promise."

"Oh yes,--there was a promise, Lady Lovel; a promise as firmly spoken
as when you told the late lord that you would be his wife."

"I know that there was a promise,--though I, her mother, living
with her at the time, had no dream of such wickedness. There was a
promise, and by that she feels herself to be in some measure bound."

"She should do so,--if words can ever mean anything."

"I say she does,--but it is only by a feeling of gratitude. What;--is
it probable that she should wish to mate so much below her degree,
if she were now left to her own choice? Does it seem natural to you?
She loves the young Earl,--as why should she not? She has been thrown
into his company on purpose that she might learn to love him,--when
no one knew of this horrid promise which had been exacted from her
before she had seen any in the world from whom to choose."

"She has seen two now, him and me, and she can choose as she pleases.
Let us both agree to take her at her word, and let us both be present
when that word is spoken. If she goes to him and offers him her hand
in my presence, I would not take it then though she were a princess,
in lieu of being Lady Anna Lovel. Will he treat me as fairly? Will he
be as bold to abide by her choice?"

"You can never marry her, Mr. Thwaite."

"Why can I never marry her? Would not my ring be as binding on her
finger as his? Would not the parson's word make me and her one flesh
and one bone as irretrievably as though I were ten times an earl? I
am a man and she a woman. What law of God, or of man,--what law of
nature can prevent us from being man and wife? I say that I can marry
her,--and with her consent, I will."

"Never! You shall never live to call yourself the husband of my
daughter. I have striven and suffered,--as never woman strove and
suffered before, to give to my child the name and the rank which
belong to her. I did not do so that she might throw them away on such
a one as you. If you will deal honestly by us--"

"I have dealt by you more than honestly."

"If you will at once free her from this thraldom in which you hold
her, and allow her to act in accordance with the dictates of her own
heart--"

"That she shall do."

"If you will not hinder us in building up again the honour of the
family, which was nigh ruined by the iniquities of my husband, we
will bless you."

"I want but one blessing, Lady Lovel."

"And in regard to her money--"

"I do not expect you to believe me, Countess; but her money counts
as nothing with me. If it becomes hers and she becomes my wife, as
her husband I will protect it for her. But there shall be no dealing
between you and me in regard to money."

"There is money due to your father, Mr. Thwaite."

"If so, that can be paid when you come by your own. It was not lent
for the sake of a reward."

"And you will not liberate that poor girl from her thraldom."

"She can liberate herself if she will. I have told you what I will
do. Let her tell me to my face what she wishes."

"That she shall never do, Mr. Thwaite;--no, by heavens. It is not
necessary that she should have your consent to make such an alliance
as her friends think proper for her. You have entangled her by a
promise, foolish on her part, and very wicked on yours, and you
may work us much trouble. You may delay the settlement of all this
question,--perhaps for years; and half ruin the estate by prolonged
lawsuits; you may make it impossible for me to pay your father what
I owe him till he, and I also, shall be no more; but you cannot, and
shall not, have access to my daughter."

Daniel Thwaite, as he returned home, tried to think it all over
dispassionately. Was it as the Countess had represented? Was he
acting the part of the dog in the manger, robbing others of happiness
without the power of achieving his own? He loved the girl, and was
he making her miserable by his love? He was almost inclined to think
that the Countess had spoken truth in this respect.


END OF VOL. I.


Printed by Virtue and Co., City Road, London.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



LADY ANNA.

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE.

In Two Volumes.

VOL. II.



London:
Chapman and Hall, 193, Piccadilly.
1874.

[All rights reserved.]

London:
Printed by Virtue and Co.,
City Road.



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

       XXV. DANIEL THWAITE'S LETTER.
      XXVI. THE KESWICK POET.
     XXVII. LADY ANNA'S LETTER.
   XXVIIII. LOVEL V. MURRAY AND ANOTHER.
      XXIX. DANIEL THWAITE ALONE.
       XXX. JUSTICE IS TO BE DONE.
      XXXI. THE VERDICT.
     XXXII. WILL YOU PROMISE?
    XXXIII. DANIEL THWAITE RECEIVES HIS MONEY.
     XXXIV. I WILL TAKE YOUR WORD FOR NOTHING.
      XXXV. THE SERJEANT AND MRS. BLUESTONE AT HOME.
     XXXVI. IT IS STILL TRUE.
    XXXVII. LET HER DIE.
   XXXVIII. LADY ANNA'S BEDSIDE.
     XXXIX. LADY ANNA'S OFFER.
        XL. NO DISGRACE AT ALL.
       XLI. NEARER AND NEARER.
      XLII. DANIEL THWAITE COMES TO KEPPEL STREET.
     XLIII. DANIEL THWAITE COMES AGAIN.
      XLIV. THE ATTEMPT AND NOT THE DEED CONFOUNDS US.
       XLV. THE LAWYERS AGREE.
      XLVI. HARD LINES.
     XLVII. THINGS ARRANGE THEMSELVES.
    XLVIII. THE MARRIAGE.



LADY ANNA.

CHAPTER XXV.

DANIEL THWAITE'S LETTER.


On the day following that on which Daniel Thwaite had visited Lady
Lovel in Keppel Street, the Countess received from him a packet
containing a short note to herself, and the following letter
addressed to Lady Anna. The enclosure was open, and in the letter
addressed to the Countess the tailor simply asked her to read and to
send on to her daughter that which he had written, adding that if she
would do so he would promise to abide by any answer which might come
to him in Lady Anna's own handwriting. Daniel Thwaite when he made
this offer felt that he was giving up everything. Even though the
words might be written by the girl, they would be dictated by the
girl's mother, or by those lawyers who were now leagued together
to force her into a marriage with the Earl. But it was right, he
thought,--and upon the whole best for all parties,--that he should
give up everything. He could not bring himself to say so to the
Countess or to any of those lawyers, when he was sent for and told
that because of the lowliness of his position a marriage between him
and the highly born heiress was impossible. On such occasions he
revolted from the authority of those who endeavoured to extinguish
him. But, when alone, he could see at any rate as clearly as they
did, the difficulties which lay in his way. He also knew that there
was a great gulf fixed, as Miss Alice Bluestone had said,--though he
differed from the young lady as to the side of the gulf on which lay
heaven, and on which heaven's opposite. The letter to Lady Anna was
as follows;--


   MY DEAREST,

   This letter if it reaches you at all will be given to you
   by your mother, who will have read it. It is sent to her
   open that she may see what I say to you. She sent for me
   and I went to her this evening, and she told me that it
   was impossible that I should ever be your husband. I was
   so bold as to tell her ladyship that there could be no
   impossibility. When you are of age you can walk out from
   your mother's house and marry me, as can I you; and no one
   can hinder us. There is nothing in the law, either of God
   or man, that can prevent you from becoming my wife,--if it
   be your wish to be so. But your mother also said that it
   was not your wish, and she went on to say that were you
   not bound to me by ties of gratitude you would willingly
   marry your cousin, Lord Lovel. Then I offered to meet you
   in the presence of your mother,--and in the presence too
   of Lord Lovel,--and to ask you then before all of us to
   which of us two your heart was given. And I promised that
   if in my presence you would stretch out your right hand to
   the Earl neither you nor your mother should be troubled
   further by Daniel Thwaite. But her ladyship swore to me,
   with an oath, that I should never be allowed to see you
   again.

   I therefore write to you, and bid you think much of what
   I say to you before you answer me. You know well that I
   love you. You do not suspect that I am trying to win you
   because you are rich. You will remember that I loved you
   when no one thought that you would be rich. I do love you
   in my heart of hearts. I think of you in my dreams and
   fancy then that all the world has become bright to me,
   because we are walking together, hand-in-hand, where none
   can come between to separate us. But I would not wish you
   to be my wife, just because you have promised. If you do
   not love me,--above all, if you love this other man,--say
   so, and I will have done with it. Your mother says that
   you are bound to me by gratitude. I do not wish you to be
   my wife unless you are bound to me by love. Tell me then
   how it is;--but, as you value my happiness and your own,
   tell me the truth.

   I will not say that I shall think well of you, if you have
   been carried away by this young man's nobility. I would
   have you give me a fair chance. Ask yourself what has
   brought him as a lover to your feet. How it came to pass
   that I was your lover you cannot but remember. But, for
   you, it is your first duty not to marry a man unless you
   love him. If you go to him because he can make you a
   countess you will be vile indeed. If you go to him because
   you find that he is in truth dearer to you than I am,
   because you prefer his arm to mine, because he has wound
   himself into your heart of hearts,--I shall think your
   heart indeed hardly worth the having; but according to
   your lights you will be doing right. In that case you
   shall have no further word from me to trouble you.

   But I desire that I may have an answer to this in your own
   handwriting.

   Your own sincere lover,

   DANIEL THWAITE.


In composing and copying and recopying this letter the tailor sat up
half the night, and then very early in the morning he himself carried
it to Keppel Street, thus adding nearly three miles to his usual walk
to Wigmore Street. The servant at the lodging-house was not up, and
could hardly be made to rise by the modest appeals which Daniel made
to the bell; but at last the delivery was effected, and the forlorn
lover hurried back to his work.

The Countess as she sat at breakfast read the letter over and over
again, and could not bring herself to decide whether it was right
that it should be given to her daughter. She had not yet seen Lady
Anna since she had sent the poor offender away from the house in
anger, and had more than once repeated her assurance through Mrs.
Bluestone that she would not do so till a promise had been given
that the tailor should be repudiated. Should she make this letter
an excuse for going to the house in Bedford Square, and of seeing
her child, towards whom her very bowels were yearning? At this time,
though she was a countess, with the prospect of great wealth, her
condition was not enviable. From morning to night she was alone,
unless when she would sit for an hour in Mr. Goffe's office, or on
the rarer occasions of a visit to the chambers of Serjeant Bluestone.
She had no acquaintances in London whatever. She knew that she
was unfitted for London society even if it should be open to her.
She had spent her life in struggling with poverty and powerful
enemies,--almost alone,--taking comfort in her happiest moments in
the strength and goodness of her old friend Thomas Thwaite. She now
found that those old days had been happier than these later days.
Her girl had been with her and had been,--or had at any rate seemed
to be,--true to her. She had something then to hope, something to
expect, some happiness of glory to which she could look forward.
But now she was beginning to learn,--nay had already learned, that
there was nothing for her to expect. Her rank was allowed to her.
She no longer suffered from want of money. Her cause was about to
triumph,--as the lawyers on both sides had seemed to say. But in
what respect would the triumph be sweet to her? Even should her girl
become the Countess Lovel, she would not be the less isolated. None
of the Lovels wanted her society. She had banished her daughter to
Bedford Square, and the only effect of the banishment was that her
daughter was less miserable in Bedford Square than she would have
been with her mother in Keppel Street.

She did not dare to act without advice, and therefore she took the
letter to Mr. Goffe. Had it not been for a few words towards the end
of the letter she would have sent it to her daughter at once. But the
man had said that her girl would be vile indeed if she married the
Earl for the sake of becoming a countess, and the widow of the late
Earl did not like to put such doctrine into the hands of Lady Anna.
If she delivered the letter of course she would endeavour to dictate
the answer;--but her girl could be stubborn as her mother; and how
would it be with them if quite another letter should be written than
that which the Countess would have dictated?

Mr. Goffe read the letter and said that he would like to consider
it for a day. The letter was left with Mr. Goffe, and Mr. Goffe
consulted the Serjeant. The Serjeant took the letter home to Mrs.
Bluestone, and then another consultation was held. It found its
way to the very house in which the girl was living for whom it was
intended, but was not at last allowed to reach her hand. "It's a fine
manly letter," said the Serjeant.

"Then the less proper to give it to her," said Mrs. Bluestone, whose
heart was all softness towards Lady Anna, but as hard as a millstone
towards the tailor.

"If she does like this young lord the best, why shouldn't she tell
the man the truth?" said the Serjeant.

"Of course she likes the young lord the best,--as is natural."

"Then in God's name let her say so, and put an end to all this
trouble."

"You see, my dear, it isn't always easy to understand a girl's mind
in such matters. I haven't a doubt which she likes best. She is not
at all the girl to have a vitiated taste about young men. But you see
this other man came first, and had the advantage of being her only
friend at the time. She has felt very grateful to him, and as yet she
is only beginning to learn the difference between gratitude and love.
I don't at all agree with her mother as to being severe with her.
I can't bear severity to young people, who ought to be made happy.
But I am quite sure that this tailor should be kept away from her
altogether. She must not see him or his handwriting. What would she
say to herself if she got that letter? 'If he is generous, I can be
generous too;' and if she ever wrote him a letter, pledging herself
to him, all would be over. As it is, she has promised to write to
Lord Lovel. We will hold her to that; and then, when she has given
a sort of a promise to the Earl, we will take care that the tailor
shall know it. It will be best for all parties. What we have got to
do is to save her from this man, who has been both her best friend
and her worst enemy." Mrs. Bluestone was an excellent woman, and
in this emergency was endeavouring to do her duty at considerable
trouble to herself and with no hope of any reward. The future
Countess when she should become a Countess would be nothing to her.
She was a good woman;--but she did not care what evil she inflicted
on the tailor, in her endeavours to befriend the daughter of the
Countess.

The tailor's letter, unseen and undreamt of by Lady Anna, was sent
back through the Serjeant and Mr. Goffe to Lady Lovel, with strong
advice from Mr. Goffe that Lady Anna should not be allowed to see
it. "I don't hesitate to tell you, Lady Lovel, that I have consulted
the Serjeant, and that we are both of opinion that no intercourse
whatever should be permitted between Lady Anna Lovel and Mr. Daniel
Thwaite." The unfortunate letter was therefore sent back to the
writer with the following note;--"The Countess Lovel presents her
compliments to Mr. Daniel Thwaite, and thinks it best to return the
enclosed. The Countess is of opinion that no intercourse whatever
should take place between her daughter and Mr. Daniel Thwaite."

Then Daniel swore an oath to himself that the intercourse between
them should not thus be made to cease. He had acted as he thought
not only fairly but very honourably. Nay;--he was by no means sure
that that which had been intended for fairness and honour might not
have been sheer simplicity. He had purposely abstained from any
clandestine communication with the girl he loved,--even though she
was one to whom he had had access all his life, with whom he had
been allowed to grow up together;--who had eaten of his bread and
drank of his cup. Now her new friends,--and his own old friend the
Countess,--would keep no measures with him. There was to be no
intercourse whatever! But, by the God of heaven, there should be
intercourse!



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE KESWICK POET.


Infinite difficulties were now complicating themselves on the head of
poor Daniel Thwaite. The packet which the Countess addressed to him
did not reach him in London, but was forwarded after him down to
Cumberland, whither he had hurried on receipt of news from Keswick
that his father was like to die. The old man had fallen in a fit, and
when the message was sent it was not thought likely that he would
ever see his son again. Daniel went down to the north as quickly as
his means would allow him, going by steamer to Whitehaven, and thence
by coach to Keswick. His entire wages were but thirty-five shillings
a week, and on that he could not afford to travel by the mail to
Keswick. But he did reach home in time to see his father alive, and
to stand by the bedside when the old man died.

Though there was not time for many words between them, and though
the apathy of coming death had already clouded the mind of Thomas
Thwaite, so that he, for the most part, disregarded,--as dying men do
disregard,--those things which had been fullest of interest to him;
still something was said about the Countess and Lady Anna. "Just
don't mind them any further, Dan," said the father.

"Indeed that will be best," said Daniel.

"Yes, in truth. What can they be to the likes o' you? Give me a drop
of brandy, Dan." The drop of brandy was more to him now than the
Countess; but though he thought but little of this last word, his son
thought much of it. What could such as the Countess and her titled
daughter be to him, Daniel Thwaite, the broken tailor? For, in truth,
his father was dying, a broken man. There was as much owed by him
in Keswick as all the remaining property would pay; and as for the
business, it had come to that, that the business was not worth
preserving.

The old tailor died and was buried, and all Keswick knew that he had
left nothing behind him, except the debt that was due to him by the
Countess, as to which, opinion in the world of Keswick varied very
much. There were those who said that the two Thwaites, father and
son, had known very well on which side their bread was buttered,
and that Daniel Thwaite would now, at his father's death, become
the owner of bonds to a vast amount on the Lovel property. It was
generally understood in Keswick that the Earl's claim was to be
abandoned, that the rights of the Countess and her daughter were to
be acknowledged, and that the Earl and his cousin were to become man
and wife. If so the bonds would be paid, and Daniel Thwaite would
become a rich man. Such was the creed of those who believed in the
debt. But there were others who did not believe in the existence
of any such bonds, and who ridiculed the idea of advances of money
having been made. The old tailor had, no doubt, relieved the
immediate wants of the Countess by giving her shelter and food, and
had wasted his substance in making journeys, and neglecting his
business; but that was supposed to be all. For such services on
behalf of the father, it was not probable that much money would be
paid to the son; and the less so, as it was known in Keswick that
Daniel Thwaite had quarrelled with the Countess. As this latter
opinion preponderated Daniel did not find that he was treated with
any marked respect in his native town.

The old man did leave a will;--a very simple document, by which
everything that he had was left to his son. And there was this
paragraph in it; "I expect that the Countess Lovel will repay to my
son Daniel all moneys that I have advanced on her behalf." As for
bonds,--or any single bond,--Daniel could find none. There was an
account of certain small items due by the Countess, of long date,
and there was her ladyship's receipt for a sum of £500, which had
apparently been lent at the time of the trial for bigamy. Beyond this
he could find no record of any details whatever, and it seemed to him
that his claim was reduced to something less than £600. Nevertheless,
he had understood from his father that the whole of the old man's
savings had been spent on behalf of the two ladies, and he believed
that some time since he had heard a sum named exceeding £6,000. In
his difficulty he asked a local attorney, and the attorney advised
him to throw himself on the generosity of the Countess. He paid the
attorney some small fee, and made up his mind at once that he would
not take the lawyer's advice. He would not throw himself on the
generosity of the Countess.

There was then still living in that neighbourhood a great man, a
poet, who had nearly carried to its close a life of great honour
and of many afflictions. He was one who, in these, his latter days,
eschewed all society, and cared to see no faces but those of the
surviving few whom he had loved in early life. And as those few
survivors lived far away, and as he was but little given to move from
home, his life was that of a recluse. Of the inhabitants of the place
around him, who for the most part had congregated there since he had
come among them, he saw but little, and his neighbours said that he
was sullen and melancholic. But, according to their degrees, he had
been a friend to Thomas Thwaite, and now, in his emergency, the son
called upon the poet. Indifferent visitors, who might be and often
were intruders, were but seldom admitted at that modest gate; but
Daniel Thwaite was at once shown into the presence of the man of
letters. They had not seen each other since Daniel was a youth, and
neither would have known the other. The poet was hardly yet an old
man, but he had all the characteristics of age. His shoulders were
bent, and his eyes were deep set in his head, and his lips were thin
and fast closed. But the beautiful oval of his face was still there,
in spite of the ravages of years, of labours, and of sorrow; and the
special brightness of his eye had not yet been dimmed. "I have been
sorry, Mr. Thwaite, to hear of your father's death," said the poet.
"I knew him well, but it was some years since, and I valued him as a
man of singular probity and spirit." Then Daniel craved permission
to tell his story;--and he told it all from the beginning to the
end,--how his father and he had worked for the Countess and her girl,
how their time and then their money had been spent for her; how he
had learned to love the girl, and how, as he believed, the girl had
loved him. And he told with absolute truth the whole story, as far
as he knew it, of what had been done in London during the last nine
months. He exaggerated nothing, and did not scruple to speak openly
of his own hopes. He showed his letter to the Countess, and her note
to him, and while doing so hid none of his own feelings. Did the poet
think that there was any reason why, in such circumstances, a tailor
should not marry the daughter of a Countess? And then he gave, as far
as he knew it, the history of the money that had been advanced, and
produced a copy of his father's will. "And now, sir, what would you
have me do?"

"When you first spoke to the girl of love, should you not have spoken
to the mother also, Mr. Thwaite?"

"Would you, sir, have done so?"

"I will not say that;--but I think that I ought. Her girl was all
that she had."

"It may be that I was wrong. But if the girl loves me now--"

"I would not hurt your feelings for the world, Mr. Thwaite."

"Do not spare them, sir. I did not come to you that soft things might
be said to me."

"I do not think it of your father's son. Seeing what is your own
degree in life and what is theirs, that they are noble and of an old
nobility, among the few hot-house plants of the nation, and that you
are one of the people,--a blade of corn out of the open field, if I
may say so,--born to eat your bread in the sweat of your brow, can
you think that such a marriage would be other than distressing to
them?"

"Is the hot-house plant stronger or better, or of higher use, than
the ear of corn?"

"Have I said that it was, my friend? I will not say that either is
higher in God's sight than the other, or better, or of a nobler use.
But they are different; and though the differences may verge together
without evil when the limits are near, I do not believe in graftings
so violent as this."

"You mean, sir, that one so low as a tailor should not seek to marry
so infinitely above himself as with the daughter of an Earl."

"Yes, Mr. Thwaite, that is what I mean; though I hope that in coming
to me you knew me well enough to be sure that I would not willingly
offend you."

"There is no offence;--there can be no offence. I am a tailor, and am
in no sort ashamed of my trade. But I did not think, sir, that you
believed in lords so absolutely as that."

"I believe but in one Lord," said the poet. "In Him who, in His
wisdom and for His own purposes, made men of different degrees."

"Has it been His doing, sir,--or the devil's?"

"Nay, I will not discuss with you a question such as that. I will not
at any rate discuss it now."

"I have read, sir, in your earlier books--"

"Do not quote my books to me, either early or late. You ask me for
advice, and I give it according to my ability. The time may come too,
Mr. Thwaite,"--and this he said laughing,--"when you also will be
less hot in your abhorrence of a nobility than you are now."

"Never!"

"Ah;--'tis so that young men always make assurances to themselves of
their own present wisdom."

"You think then that I should give her up entirely?"

"I would leave her to herself, and to her mother,--and to this young
lord, if he be her lover."

"But if she loves me! Oh, sir, she did love me once. If she loves me,
should I leave her to think, as time goes on, that I have forgotten
her? What chance can she have if I do not interfere to let her know
that I am true to her?"

"She will have the chance of becoming Lady Lovel, and of loving her
husband."

"Then, sir, you do not believe in vows of love?"

"How am I to answer that?" said the poet. "Surely I do believe in
vows of love. I have written much of love, and have ever meant to
write the truth, as I knew it, or thought that I knew it. But the
love of which we poets sing is not the love of the outer world. It
is more ecstatic, but far less serviceable. It is the picture of
that which exists, but grand with imaginary attributes, as are the
portraits of ladies painted by artists who have thought rather of
their art than of their models. We tell of a constancy in love which
is hardly compatible with the usages of this as yet imperfect world.
Look abroad, and see whether girls do not love twice, and young men
thrice. They come together, and rub their feathers like birds, and
fancy that each has found in the other an eternity of weal or woe.
Then come the causes of their parting. Their fathers perhaps are
Capulets and Montagues, but their children, God be thanked, are
not Romeos and Juliets. Or money does not serve, or distance
intervenes, or simply a new face has the poor merit of novelty.
The constancy of which the poets sing is the unreal,--I may almost
say the unnecessary,--constancy of a Juliet. The constancy on
which our nature should pride itself is that of an Imogen. You read
Shakespeare, I hope, Mr. Thwaite."

"I know the plays you quote, sir. Imogen was a king's daughter, and
married a simple gentleman."

"I would not say that early vows should mean nothing," continued the
poet, unwilling to take notice of the point made against him. "I like
to hear that a girl has been true to her first kiss. But this girl
will have the warrant of all the world to justify a second choice.
And can you think that because your company was pleasant to her here
among your native mountains, when she knew none but you, that she
will be indifferent to the charms of such a one as you tell me this
Lord Lovel is? She will have regrets,--remorse even; she will sorrow,
because she knows that you have been good to her. But she will yield,
and her life will be happier with him,--unless he be a bad man, which
I do not know,--than it would be with you. Would there be no regrets,
think you, no remorse, when she found that as your wife she had
separated herself from all that she had been taught to regard as
delightful in this world? Would she be happy in quarrelling with her
mother and her new-found relatives? You think little of noble blood,
and perhaps I think as little of it in matters relating to myself.
But she is noble, and she will think of it. As for your money,
Mr. Thwaite, I should make it a matter of mere business with the
Countess, as though there was no question relating to her daughter.
She probably has an account of the money, and doubtless will pay you
when she has means at her disposal."

Daniel left his Mentor without another word on his own behalf,
expressing thanks for the counsel that had been given to him, and
assuring the poet that he would endeavour to profit by it. Then he
walked away, over the very paths on which he had been accustomed to
stray with Anna Lovel, and endeavoured to digest the words that he
had heard. He could not bring himself to see their truth. That he
should not force the girl to marry him, if she loved another better
than she loved him, simply by the strength of her own obligation to
him, he could understand. But that it was natural that she should
transfer to another the affection that she had once bestowed upon
him, because that other was a lord, he would not allow. Not only
his heart but all his intellect rebelled against such a decision. A
transfer so violent would, he thought, show that she was incapable
of loving. And yet this doctrine had come to him from one who, as he
himself had said, had written much of love.

But, though he argued after this fashion with himself, the words of
the old poet had had their efficacy. Whether the fault might be with
the girl, or with himself, or with the untoward circumstances of the
case, he determined to teach himself that he had lost her. He would
never love another woman. Though the Earl's daughter could not be
true to him, he, the suitor, would be true to the Earl's daughter.
There might no longer be Romeos among the noble Capulets and the
noble Montagues,--whom indeed he believed to be dead to faith; but
the salt of truth had not therefore perished from the world. He
would get what he could from this wretched wreck of his father's
property,--obtain payment if it might be possible of that poor £500
for which he held the receipt,--and then go to some distant land in
which the wisest of counsellors would not counsel him that he was
unfit because of his trade to mate himself with noble blood.

When he had proved his father's will he sent a copy of it up to the
Countess with the following letter;--


   Keswick, November 4, 183--.

   MY LADY,

   I do not know whether your ladyship will yet have heard
   of my father's death. He died here on the 24th of last
   month. He was taken with apoplexy on the 15th, and never
   recovered from the fit. I think you will be sorry for him.

   I find myself bound to send your ladyship a copy of his
   will. Your ladyship perhaps may have some account of what
   money has passed between you and him. I have none except a
   receipt for £500 given to you by him many years ago. There
   is also a bill against your ladyship for £71 18_s._ 9_d._
   It may be that no more is due than this, but you will
   know. I shall be happy to hear from your ladyship on the
   subject, and am,

   Yours respectfully,

   DANIEL THWAITE.


But he still was resolved that before he departed for the far western
land he would obtain from Anna Lovel herself an expression of her
determination to renounce him.



CHAPTER XXVII.

LADY ANNA'S LETTER.


In the mean time the week had gone round, and Lady Anna's letter to
the Earl had not yet been written. An army was arrayed against the
girl to induce her to write such a letter as might make it almost
impossible for her afterwards to deny that she was engaged to the
lord, but the army had not as yet succeeded. The Countess had not
seen her daughter,--had been persistent in her refusal to let her
daughter come to her till she had at any rate repudiated her other
suitor; but she had written a strongly worded but short letter,
urging it as a great duty that Lady Anna Lovel was bound to support
her family and to defend her rank. Mrs. Bluestone, from day to day,
with soft loving words taught the same lesson. Alice Bluestone in
their daily conversations spoke of the tailor, or rather of this
promise to the tailor, with a horror which at any rate was not
affected. The Serjeant, almost with tears in his eyes, implored her
to put an end to the lawsuit. Even the Solicitor-General sent her
tender messages,--expressing his great hope that she might enable
them to have this matter adjusted early in November. All the details
of the case as it now stood had been explained to her over and over
again. If, when the day fixed for the trial should come round, it
could be said that she and the young Earl were engaged to each
other, the Earl would altogether abandon his claim,--and no further
statement would be made. The fact of the marriage in Cumberland would
then be proved,--the circumstances of the trial for bigamy would be
given in evidence,--and all the persons concerned would be together
anxious that the demands of the two ladies should be admitted in
full. It was the opinion of the united lawyers that were this done,
the rank of the Countess would be allowed, and that the property left
behind him by the old lord would be at once given up to those who
would inherit it under the order of things as thus established. The
Countess would receive that to which she would be entitled as widow,
the daughter would be the heir-at-law to the bulk of the personal
property, and the Earl would merely claim any real estate, if,--as
was very doubtful,--any real estate had been left in question. In
this case the disposition of the property would be just what they
would all desire, and the question of rank would be settled for
ever. But if the young lady should not have then agreed to this very
pleasant compromise, the Earl indeed would make no further endeavours
to invalidate the Cumberland marriage, and would retire from the
suit. But it would then be stated that there was a claimant in
Sicily,--or at least evidence in Italy, which if sifted might
possibly bar the claim of the Countess. The Solicitor-General did
not hesitate to say that he believed the living woman to be a weak
impostor, who had been first used by the Earl and had then put
forward a falsehood to get an income out of the property; but he was
by no means convinced that the other foreign woman, whom the Earl had
undoubtedly made his first wife, might not have been alive when the
second marriage was contracted. If it were so, the Countess would
be no Countess, Anna Lovel would simply be Anna Murray, penniless,
baseborn, and a fit wife for the tailor, should the tailor think fit
to take her. "If it be so," said Lady Anna through her tears, "let it
be so; and he will take me."

It may have been that the army was too strong for its own
purpose,--too much of an army to gain a victory on that field,--that
a weaker combination of forces would have prevailed when all this
array failed. No one had a word to say for the tailor; no one
admitted that he had been a generous friend; no feeling was expressed
for him. It seemed to be taken for granted that he, from the
beginning, had laid his plans for obtaining possession of an enormous
income in the event of the Countess being proved to be a Countess.
There was no admission that he had done aught for love. Now, in all
these matters, Lady Anna was sure of but one thing alone, and that
was of the tailor's truth. Had they acknowledged that he was good and
noble, they might perhaps have persuaded her,--as the poet had almost
persuaded her lover,--that the fitness of things demanded that they
should be separated.

But she had promised that she would write the letter by the end of
the week, and when the end of a fortnight had come she knew that
it must be written. She had declared over and over again to Mrs.
Bluestone that she must go away from Bedford Square. She could not
live there always, she said. She knew that she was in the way of
everybody. Why should she not go back to her own mother? "Does
mamma mean to say that I am never to live with her any more?" Mrs.
Bluestone promised that if she would write her letter and tell her
cousin that she would try to love him, she should go back to her
mother at once. "But I cannot live here always," persisted Lady Anna.
Mrs. Bluestone would not admit that there was any reason why her
visitor should not continue to live in Bedford Square as long as the
arrangement suited Lady Lovel.

Various letters were written for her. The Countess wrote one which
was an unqualified acceptance of the Earl's offer, and which was
very short. Alice Bluestone wrote one which was full of poetry. Mrs.
Bluestone wrote a third, in which a great many ambiguous words were
used,--in which there was no definite promise, and no poetry. But
had this letter been sent it would have been almost impossible for
the girl afterwards to extricate herself from its obligations.
The Serjeant, perhaps, had lent a word or two, for the letter was
undoubtedly very clever. In this letter Lady Anna was made to say
that she would always have the greatest pleasure in receiving her
cousin's visits, and that she trusted that she might be able to
co-operate with her cousins in bringing the lawsuit to a close;--that
she certainly would not marry any one without her mother's consent,
but that she did not find herself able at the present to say more
than that. "It won't stop the Solicitor-General, you know," the
Serjeant had remarked, as he read it. "Bother the Solicitor-General!"
Mrs. Bluestone had answered, and had then gone on to show that it
would lead to that which would stop the learned gentleman. The
Serjeant had added a word or two, and great persuasion was used to
induce Lady Anna to use this epistle.

But she would have none of it. "Oh, I couldn't, Mrs. Bluestone;--he
would know that I hadn't written all that."

"You have promised to write, and you are bound to keep your promise,"
said Mrs. Bluestone.

"I believe I am bound to keep all my promises," said Lady Anna,
thinking of those which she had made to Daniel Thwaite.

But at last she sat down and did write a letter for herself,
specially premising that no one should see it. When she had made her
promise, she certainly had not intended to write that which should be
shown to all the world. Mrs. Bluestone had begged that at any rate
the Countess might see it. "If mamma will let me go to her, of course
I will show it her," said Lady Anna. At last it was thought best to
allow her to write her own letter and to send it unseen. After many
struggles and with many tears she wrote her letter as follows;--


   Bedford Square, Tuesday.

   MY DEAR COUSIN,

   I am sorry that I have been so long in doing what I said
   I would do. I don't think I ought to have promised, for I
   find it very difficult to say anything, and I think that
   it is wrong that I should write at all. It is not my fault
   that there should be a lawsuit. I do not want to take
   anything away from anybody, or to get anything for myself.
   I think papa was very wicked when he said that mamma was
   not his wife, and of course I wish it may all go as she
   wishes. But I don't think anybody ought to ask me to do
   what I feel to be wrong.

   Mr. Daniel Thwaite is not at all such a person as they
   say. He and his father have been mamma's best friends, and
   I shall never forget that. Old Mr. Thwaite is dead, and I
   am very sorry to hear it. If you had known them as we did
   you would understand what I feel. Of course he is not your
   friend; but he is my friend, and I dare say that makes me
   unfit to be friends with you. You are a nobleman and he
   is a tradesman; but when we knew him first he was quite
   as good as we, and I believe we owe him a great deal of
   money, which mamma can't pay him. I have heard mamma say
   before she was angry with him, that she would have been in
   the workhouse, but for them, and that Mr. Daniel Thwaite
   might now be very well off, and not a working tailor at
   all as Mrs. Bluestone calls him, if they hadn't given all
   they had to help us. I cannot bear after that to hear them
   speak of him as they do.

   Of course I should like to do what mamma wants; but how
   would you feel if you had promised somebody else? I do so
   wish that all this might be stopped altogether. My dear
   mamma will not allow me to see her; and though everybody
   is very kind, I feel that I ought not to be here with Mrs.
   Bluestone. Mamma talked of going abroad somewhere. I wish
   she would, and take me away. I should see nobody then, and
   there would be no trouble. But I suppose she hasn't got
   enough money. This is a very poor letter, but I do not
   know what else I can say.

   Believe me to be,
   My dear cousin,
   Yours affectionately,

   ANNA LOVEL.


Then came, in a postscript, the one thing that she had to say,--"I
think that I ought to be allowed to see Mr. Daniel Thwaite."

Lord Lovel after receiving this letter called in Bedford Square and
saw Mrs. Bluestone,--but he did not show the letter. His cousin was
out with the girls and he did not wait to see her. He merely said
that he had received a letter which had not given him much comfort.
"But I shall answer it," he said,--and the reader who has seen the
one letter shall see also the other.


   Brown's Hotel, Albemarle Street,
   4th November, 183--.

   DEAREST ANNA,

   I have received your letter and am obliged to you for it,
   though there is so little in it to flatter or to satisfy
   me. I will begin by assuring you that, as far as I am
   concerned, I do not wish to keep you from seeing Mr.
   Daniel Thwaite. I believe in my heart of hearts that if
   you were now to see him often you would feel aware that
   a union between you and him could not make either of you
   happy. You do not even say that you think it would do so.

   You defend him, as though I had accused him. I grant all
   that you say in his favour. I do not doubt that his father
   behaved to you and to your mother with true friendship.
   But that will not make him fit to be the husband of Anna
   Lovel. You do not even say that you think that he would be
   fit. I fancy I understand it all, and I love you better
   for the pride with which you cling to so firm a friend.

   But, dearest, it is different when we talk of marriage. I
   imagine that you hardly dare now to think of becoming his
   wife. I doubt whether you say even to yourself that you
   love him with that kind of love. Do not suppose me vain
   enough to believe that therefore you must love me. It is
   not that. But if you would once tell yourself that he is
   unfit to be your husband, then you might come to love me,
   and would not be the less willing to do so, because all
   your friends wish it. It must be something to you that you
   should be able to put an end to all this trouble.

   Yours, dearest Anna,
   Most affectionately,

   L.

   I called in Bedford Square this morning, but you were not
   at home!


"But I do dare," she said to herself, when she had read the letter.
"Why should I not dare? And I do say to myself that I love him.
Why should I not love him now, when I was not ashamed to love him
before?" She was being persecuted; and as the step of the wayfarer
brings out the sweet scent of the herb which he crushes with his
heel, so did persecution with her extract from her heart that
strength of character which had hitherto been latent. Had they left
her at Yoxham, and said never a word to her about the tailor; had the
rector and the two aunts showered soft courtesies on her head,--they
might have vanquished her. But now the spirit of opposition was
stronger within her than ever.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

LOVEL V. MURRAY AND ANOTHER.


Monday, the 9th of November, was the day set down for the trial of
the case which had assumed the name of "Lovel versus Murray and
Another." This denomination had been adopted many months ago, when it
had been held to be practicable by the Lovel party to prove that the
lady who was now always called the Countess, was not entitled to bear
the name of Lovel, but was simply Josephine Murray, and her daughter
simply Anna Murray. Had there been another wife alive when the
mother was married that name and that name only could have been hers,
whether she had been the victim of the old Earl's fraud,--or had
herself been a party to it. The reader will have understood that
as the case went on the opinions of those who acted for the young
Earl, and more especially the opinion of the young Earl himself, had
been changed. Prompted to do so by various motives, they, who had
undertaken to prove that the Countess was no Countess, had freely
accorded to her her title, and had themselves entertained her
daughter with all due acknowledgment of rank and birth. Nevertheless
the name of the case remained and had become common in people's
mouths. The very persons who would always speak of the Countess Lovel
spoke also very familiarly of the coming trial in "Lovel v. Murray,"
and now the 9th of November had come round and the case of "Lovel v.
Murray and Another" was to be tried. The nature of the case was
this. The two ladies, mother and daughter, had claimed the personal
property of the late lord as his widow and daughter. Against that
claim Earl Lovel made his claim, as heir-at-law, alleging that there
was no widow, and no legitimate child. The case had become infinitely
complicated by the alleged existence of the first wife,--in which
case she as widow would have inherited. But still the case went on
as Lovel v. Murray,--the Lovel so named being the Earl, and not the
alleged Italian widow.

Such being the question presumably at issue, it became the duty of
the Solicitor-General to open the pleadings. In the ordinary course
of proceeding it would have been his task to begin by explaining
the state of the family, and by assuming that he could prove the
former marriage and the existence of the former wife at the time
of the latter marriage. His evidence would have been subject to
cross-examination, and then another counter-statement would have been
made on behalf of the Countess, and her witnesses would have been
brought forward. When all this had been done the judge would have
charged the jury, and with the jury would have rested the decision.
This would have taken many days, and all the joys and sorrows, all
the mingled hopes and anxieties of a long trial had been expected.
Bets had been freely made, odds being given at first on behalf of
Lord Lovel, and afterwards odds on behalf of the Countess. Interest
had been made to get places in the court, and the clubs had resounded
now with this fact and now with that which had just been brought home
from Sicily as certain. Then had come suddenly upon the world the
tidings that there would absolutely be no trial, that the great case
of "Lovel v. Murray and Another" was to be set at rest for ever by
the marriage of "Lovel" with "Another," and by the acceptance by
"Lovel" of "Murray" as his mother-in-law. But the quidnuncs would
not accept this solution. No doubt Lord Lovel might marry the second
party in the defence, and it was admitted on all hands that he
probably would do so;--but that would not stop the case. If there
were an Italian widow living, that widow was the heir to the
property. Another Lovel would take the place of Lord Lovel,--and the
cause of Lovel v. Murray must still be continued. The first marriage
could not be annulled, simply by the fact that it would suit the
young Earl that it should be annulled. Then, while this dispute was
in progress, it was told at all the clubs that there was to be no
marriage,--that the girl had got herself engaged to a tailor, and
that the tailor's mastery over her was so strong that she did not
dare to shake him off. Dreadful things were told about the tailor and
poor Lady Anna. There had been a secret marriage; there was going to
be a child;--the latter fact was known as a certain fact to a great
many men at the clubs;--the tailor had made everything safe in twenty
different ways. He was powerful over the girl equally by love, by
fear, and by written bond. The Countess had repelled her daughter
from her house by turning her out into the street by night, and had
threatened both murder and suicide. Half the fortune had been offered
to the tailor, in vain. The romance of the story had increased
greatly during the last few days preceding the trial,--but it was
admitted by all that the trial as a trial would be nothing. There
would probably be simply an adjournment.

It would be hard to say how the story of the tailor leaked out, and
became at last public and notorious. It had been agreed among all the
lawyers that it should be kept secret,--but it may perhaps have been
from some one attached to them that it was first told abroad. No
doubt all Norton and Flick knew it, and all Goffe and Goffe. Mr.
Mainsail and his clerk, Mr. Hardy and his clerk, Serjeant Bluestone
and his clerk, all knew it; but they had all promised secrecy. The
clerk of the Solicitor-General was of course beyond suspicion. The
two Miss Bluestones had known the story, but they had solemnly
undertaken to be silent as the grave. Mrs. Bluestone was a lady with
most intimately confidential friends,--but she was sworn to secrecy.
It might have come from Sarah, the lady's-maid, whom the Countess
had unfortunately attached to her daughter when the first gleam of
prosperity had come upon them.

Among the last who heard the story of the tailor,--the last of any
who professed the slightest interest in the events of the Lovel
family,--were the Lovels of Yoxham. The Earl had told them nothing.
In answer to his aunt's letters, and then in answer to a very urgent
appeal from his uncle, the young nobleman had sent only the most curt
and most ambiguous replies. When there was really something to tell
he would tell everything, but at present he could only say that he
hoped that everything would be well. That had been the extent of the
information given by the Earl to his relations, and the rector had
waxed wrathful. Nor was his wrath lessened, or the sorrow of the
two aunts mitigated, when the truth reached them by the mouth of
that very Lady Fitzwarren who had been made to walk out of the room
after--Anna Murray, as Lady Fitzwarren persisted in calling the
"young person" after she had heard the story of the tailor. She told
the story at Yoxham parsonage to the two aunts, and brought with her
a printed paragraph from a newspaper to prove the truth of it. As it
is necessary that we should now hurry into the court to hear what
the Solicitor-General had to say about the case, we cannot stop to
sympathize with the grief of the Lovels at Yoxham. We may, however,
pause for a moment to tell the burden of the poor rector's song for
that evening. "I knew how it would be from the beginning. I told you
so. I was sure of it. But nobody would believe me."

The Court of Queen's Bench at Westminster was crowded on the 9th of
November. The case was to be heard before the Lord Chief Justice,
and it was known that at any rate Sir William Patterson would have
something to tell. If nothing else came of it, the telling of that
story would be worth the hearing. All the preliminaries of the trial
went on, as though every one believed that it was to be carried
through to the bitter end,--as though evidence were to be adduced and
rebutted, and further contradicted by other evidence, which would
again be rebutted with that pleasing animosity between rival lawyers,
which is so gratifying to the outside world, and apparently to
themselves also. The jurors were sworn in,--a special jury,--and long
was the time taken, and many the threats made by the Chief Justice,
before twelve gentlemen would consent to go into the box. Crowds were
round the doors of the court, of which every individual man would
have paid largely for standing-room to hear the trial; but when they
were wanted for use, men would not come forward to accept a seat,
with all that honour which belongs to a special juryman. And yet it
was supposed that at last there would be no question to submit to a
jury.

About noon the Solicitor began his statement. He was full of smiles
and nods and pleasant talk, gestures indicative of a man who had
a piece of work before him in which he could take delight. It is
always satisfactory to see the assurance of a cock crowing in his own
farm-yard, and to admire his easy familiarity with things that are
awful to a stranger bird. If you, O reader, or I were bound to stand
up in that court, dressed in wig and gown, and to tell a story that
would take six hours in the telling, the one or the other of us
knowing it to be his special duty so to tell it that judge, and
counsellors, and jury, should all catch clearly every point that was
to be made,--how ill would that story be told, how would those points
escape the memory of the teller, and never come near the intellect of
the hearers! And how would the knowledge that it would be so, confuse
your tongue or mine,--and make exquisitely miserable that moment of
rising before the audience! But our Solicitor-General rose to his
legs a happy man, with all that grace of motion, that easy slowness,
that unassumed confidence which belongs to the ordinary doings of
our familiar life. Surely he must have known that he looked well
in his wig and gown, as with low voice and bent neck, with only
half-suppressed laughter, he whispered into the ears of the gentleman
who sat next to him some pleasant joke that had just occurred to him.
He could do that, though the eyes of all the court were upon him; so
great was the man! And then he began with a sweet low voice, almost
modest in its tones. For a few moments it might have been thought
that some young woman was addressing the court, so gentle, so dulcet
were the tones.

"My lord, it is my intention on this occasion to do that which an
advocate can seldom do,--to make a clean breast of it, to tell the
court and the jury all that I know of this case, all that I think of
it, and all that I believe,--and in short to state a case as much in
the interest of my opponents as of my clients. The story with which I
must occupy the time of the court, I fear, for the whole remainder of
the day, with reference to the Lovel family, is replete with marvels
and romance. I shall tell you of great crimes and of singular
virtues, of sorrows that have been endured and conquered, and of
hopes that have been nearly realised; but the noble client on whose
behalf I am here called upon to address you, is not in any manner
the hero of this story. His heroism will be shown to consist in
this,--unless I mar the story in telling it,--that he is only anxious
to establish the truth, whether that truth be for him or against him.
We have now to deal with an ancient and noble family, of which my
client, the present Earl Lovel, is at this time the head and chief.
On the question now before us depends the possession of immense
wealth. Should this trial be carried to its natural conclusion it
will be for you to decide whether this wealth belongs to him as the
heir-at-law of the late Earl, or whether there was left some nearer
heir when that Earl died, whose rightful claim would bar that of my
client. But there is more to be tried than this,--and on that more
depends the right of two ladies to bear the name of Lovel. Such
right, or the absence of such right, would in this country of itself
be sufficient to justify, nay, to render absolutely necessary, some
trial before a jury in any case of well-founded doubt. Our titles
of honour bear so high a value among us, are so justly regarded as
the outward emblem of splendour and noble conduct, are recognised so
universally as passports to all society, that we are naturally prone
to watch their assumption with a caution most exact and scrupulous.
When the demand for such honour is made on behalf of a man it
generally includes the claim to some parliamentary privilege, the
right to which has to be decided not by a jury, but by the body to
which that privilege belongs. The claim to a peerage must be tried
before the House of Lords,--if made by a woman as by a man, because
the son of the heiress would be a peer of Parliament. In the case
with which we are now concerned no such right is in question. The
lady who claims to be the Countess Lovel, and her daughter who claims
to be Lady Anna Lovel, make no demand which renders necessary other
decision than that of a jury. It is as though any female commoner in
the land claimed to have been the wife of an alleged husband. But
not the less is the claim made to a great and a noble name; and as
a grave doubt has been thrown upon the justice of the demand made
by these ladies, it has become the duty of my client as the head of
the Lovels, as being himself, without any doubt, the Earl Lovel of
the day, to investigate the claim made, and to see that no false
pretenders are allowed to wear the highly prized honours of his
family. Independently of the great property which is at stake, the
nature of which it will be my duty to explain to you, the question at
issue whether the elder lady be or be not Countess Lovel, and whether
the younger lady be or be not Lady Anna Lovel, has demanded the
investigation which could not adequately have been made without this
judicial array. I will now state frankly to you our belief that these
two ladies are fully entitled to the names which they claim to bear;
and I will add to that statement a stronger assurance of my own
personal conviction and that of my client that they themselves are
fully assured of the truth and justice of their demand. I think it
right also to let you know that since these inquiries were first
commenced, since the day for this trial was fixed, the younger of
these ladies has been residing with the uncle of my client, under
the same roof with my client, as an honoured and most welcome guest,
and there, in the face of the whole country, has received that
appellation of nobility from all the assembled members of my client's
family, to dispute which I apparently now stand before you on that
client's behalf." The rector of Yoxham, who was in court, shook
his head vehemently when the statement was made that Lady Anna had
been his welcome guest; but nobody was then regarding the rector of
Yoxham, and he shook his head in vain.

"You will at once ask why, if this be so, should the trial be
continued. 'As all is thus conceded,' you will say, 'that these two
ladies claim, whom in your indictment you have misnamed Murray, why
not, in God's name, give them their privileges, and the wealth which
should appertain to them, and release them from the persecution of
judicial proceedings?' In the first place I must answer that neither
my belief, nor that of my friends who are acting with me, nor even
that of my noble client himself, is sufficient to justify us in
abstaining from seeking a decision which shall be final as against
further claimants. If the young Earl should die, then would there be
another Earl, and that other Earl might also say, with grounds as
just as those on which we have acted, that the lady, whom I shall
henceforward call the Countess Lovel, is no Countess. We think that
she is,--but it will be for you to decide whether she is or is not,
after hearing the evidence which will, no doubt, be adduced of her
marriage,--and any evidence to the contrary which other parties may
bring before you. We shall adduce no evidence to the contrary, nor
do I think it probable that we shall ask a single question to shake
that with which my learned friend opposite is no doubt prepared. In
fact, there is no reason why my learned friend and I should not sit
together, having our briefs and our evidence in common. And then, as
the singular facts of this story become clear to you,--as I trust
that I may be able to make them clear,--you will learn that there are
other interests at stake beyond those of my client and of the two
ladies who appear here as his opponents. Two statements have been
made tending to invalidate the rights of Countess Lovel,--both having
originated with one who appears to have been the basest and blackest
human being with whose iniquities my experience as a lawyer has made
me conversant. I speak of the late Earl. It was asserted by him,
almost from the date of his marriage with the lady who is now his
widow,--falsely stated, as I myself do not doubt,--that when he
married her he had a former wife living. But it is, I understand,
capable of absolute proof that he also stated that this former wife
died soon after that second marriage,--which in such event would have
been but a mock marriage. Were such the truth,--should you come to
the belief that the late Earl spoke truth in so saying,--the whole
property at issue would become the undisputed possession of my
client. The late Earl died intestate, the will which he did leave
having been already set aside by my client as having been made when
the Earl was mad. The real wife, according to this story, would
be dead. The second wife, according to this story, would be no
wife,--and no widow. The daughter, according to this story, would
be no daughter in the eye of the law,--would, at any rate, be no
heiress. The Earl would be the undisputed heir to the personal
property, as he is to the real property and to the title. But we
disbelieve this story utterly,--we intend to offer no evidence to
show that the first wife,--for there was such a wife,--was living
when the second marriage was contracted. We have no such evidence,
and believe that none such can be found. Then that recreant nobleman,
in whose breast there was no touch of nobility, in whose heart was no
spark of mercy, made a second statement,--to this effect--that his
first wife had not died at all. His reason for this it is hardly for
us to seek. He may have done so, as affording a reason why he should
not go through a second marriage ceremony with the lady whom he had
so ill used. But that he did make this statement is certain,--and
it is also certain that he allowed an income to a certain woman as
though to a wife, that he allowed her to be called the Countess,
though he was then living with another Italian woman; and it is also
certain that this woman is still living,--or at least that she was
living some week or two ago. We believe her to have been an elder
sister of her who was the first wife, and whose death occurred before
the second marriage. Should it be proved that this living woman was
the legitimate wife of the late Earl, not only would the right be
barred of those two English ladies to whom all our sympathies are now
given, but no portion of the property in dispute would go either to
them or to my client. I am told that before his lordship, the Chief
Justice, shall have left the case in your hands, an application will
be made to the court on behalf of that living lady. I do not know how
that may be, but I am so informed. If such application be made,--if
there be any attempt to prove that she should inherit as widow,--then
will my client again contest the case. We believe that the Countess
Lovel, the English Countess, is the widow, and that Lady Anna Lovel
is Lady Anna Lovel, and is the heiress. Against them we will not
struggle. As was our bounden duty, we have sent not once only, but
twice and thrice, to Italy and to Sicily in search of evidence which,
if true, would prove that the English Countess was no Countess. We
have failed, and have no evidence which we think it right to ask a
jury to believe. We think that a mass of falsehood has been heaped
together among various persons in a remote part of a foreign country,
with the view of obtaining money, all of which was grounded on
the previous falsehoods of the late Earl. We will not use these
falsehoods with the object of disputing a right in the justice of
which we have ourselves the strongest confidence. We withdraw from
any such attempt.

"But as yet I have only given you the preliminaries of my story." He
had, in truth, told his story. He had, at least, told all of it that
it will import that the reader should hear. He, indeed,--unfortunate
one,--will have heard the most of that story twice or thrice before.
But the audience in the Court of Queen's Bench still listened with
breathless attention, while, under this new head of his story he
told every detail again with much greater length than he had done in
the prelude which has been here given. He stated the facts of the
Cumberland marriage, apologizing to his learned friend the Serjeant
for taking, as he said, the very words out of his learned friend's
mouth. He expatiated with an eloquence that was as vehement as it
was touching on the demoniacal schemes of that wicked Earl, to whom,
during the whole of his fiendish life, women had been a prey. He
repudiated, with a scorn that was almost terrible in its wrath, the
idea that Josephine Murray had gone to the Earl's house with the name
of wife, knowing that she was, in fact, but a mistress. She herself
was in court, thickly veiled, under the care of one of the Goffes,
having been summoned there as a necessary witness, and could not
control her emotion as she listened to the words of warm eulogy with
which the adverse counsel told the history of her life. It seemed
to her then that justice was at last being done to her. Then the
Solicitor-General reverted again to the two Italian women,--the
Sicilian sisters, as he called them,--and at much length gave his
reasons for discrediting the evidence which he himself had sought,
that he might use it with the object of establishing the claim of his
client. And lastly, he described the nature of the possessions which
had been amassed by the late Earl, who, black with covetousness as he
was with every other sin, had so manipulated his property that almost
the whole of it had become personal, and was thus inheritable by a
female heiress. He knew, he said, that he was somewhat irregular
in alluding to facts,--or to fiction, if any one should call it
fiction,--which he did not intend to prove, or to attempt to prove;
but there was something, he said, beyond the common in the aspect
which this case had taken, something in itself so irregular, that he
thought he might perhaps be held to be excused in what he had done.
"For the sake of the whole Lovel family, for the sake of these two
most interesting ladies, who have been subjected, during a long
period of years, to most undeserved calamities, we are anxious to
establish the truth. I have told you what we believe to be the truth,
and as that in no single detail militates against the case as it will
be put forward by my learned friends opposite, we have no evidence to
offer. We are content to accept the marriage of the widowed Countess
as a marriage in every respect legal and binding." So saying the
Solicitor-General sat down.

It was then past five o'clock, and the court, as a matter of course,
was adjourned, but it was adjourned by consent to the Wednesday,
instead of to the following day, in order that there might be due
consideration given to the nature of the proceedings that must
follow. As the thing stood at present it seemed that there need be no
further plea of "Lovel v. Murray and Another." It had been granted
that Murray was not Murray, but Lovel; yet it was thought that
something further would be done.

It had all been very pretty; but yet there had been a feeling of
disappointment throughout the audience. Not a word had been said as
to that part of the whole case which was supposed to be the most
romantic. Not a word had been said about the tailor.



CHAPTER XXIX.

DANIEL THWAITE ALONE.


There were two persons in the court who heard the statement of the
Solicitor-General with equal interest,--and perhaps with equal
disapprobation,--whose motives and ideas on the subject were exactly
opposite. These two were the Rev. Mr. Lovel, the uncle of the
plaintiff, and Daniel Thwaite, the tailor, whose whole life had been
passed in furthering the cause of the defendants. The parson, from
the moment in which he had heard that the young lady whom he had
entertained in his house had engaged herself to marry the tailor,
had reverted to his old suspicions,--suspicions which, indeed, he
had never altogether laid aside. It had been very grievous to him to
prefer a doubtful Lady Anna to a most indubitable Lady Fitzwarren.
He liked the old-established things,--things which had always been
unsuspected, which were not only respectable but firm-rooted. For
twenty years he had been certain that the Countess was a false
countess; and he, too, had lamented with deep inward lamentation over
the loss of the wealth which ought to have gone to support the family
earldom. It was monstrous to him that the property of one Earl Lovel
should not appertain to the next Earl. He would on the moment have
had the laws with reference to the succession of personal property
altered, with retrospective action, so that so great an iniquity
should be impossible. When the case against the so-called Countess
was, as it were, abandoned by the Solicitor-General, and the
great interests at stake thrown up, he would have put the conduct
of the matter into other hands. Then had come upon him the
bitterness of having to entertain in his own house the now almost
undisputed,--though by him still suspected,--heiress, on behalf of
his nephew, of a nephew who did not treat him well. And now the
heiress had shown what she really was by declaring her intention
of marrying a tailor! When that became known, he did hope that the
Solicitor-General would change his purpose and fight the cause.

The ladies of the family, the two aunts, had affected to disbelieve
the paragraph which Lady Fitzwarren had shown them with so much
triumph. The rector had declared that it was just the kind of thing
that he had expected. Aunt Julia, speaking freely, had said that it
was just the kind of thing which she, knowing the girl, could not
believe. Then the rector had come up to town to hear the trial, and
on the day preceding it had asked his nephew as to the truth of the
rumour which had reached him. "It is true," said the young lord,
knitting his brow, "but it had better not be talked about."

"Why not talked about? All the world knows it. It has been in the
newspapers."

"Any one wishing to oblige me will not mention it," said the Earl.
This was too bad. It could not be possible,--for the honour of all
the Lovels it could not surely be possible,--that Lord Lovel was
still seeking the hand of a young woman who had confessed that
she was engaged to marry a journeyman tailor! And yet to him, the
uncle,--to him who had not long since been in loco parentis to the
lord,--the lord would vouchsafe no further reply than that above
given! The rector almost made himself believe that, great as might
be the sorrow caused by such disruption, it would become his duty to
quarrel with the Head of his family!

He listened with most attentive ears to every word spoken by the
Solicitor-General, and quarrelled with almost every word. Would not
any one have imagined that this advocate had been paid to plead
the cause, not of the Earl, but of the Countess? As regarded the
interests of the Earl, everything was surrendered. Appeal was made
for the sympathies of all the court,--and, through the newspapers,
for the sympathies of all England,--not on behalf of the Earl who was
being defrauded of his rights, but on behalf of the young woman who
had disgraced the name which she pretended to call her own,--and
whose only refuge from that disgrace must be in the fact that to that
name she had no righteous claim! Even when this apostate barrister
came to a recapitulation of the property at stake, and explained the
cause of its being vested, not in land as is now the case with the
bulk of the possessions of noble lords,--but in shares and funds and
ventures of commercial speculation here and there, after the fashion
of tradesmen,--he said not a word to stir up in the minds of the
jury a feeling of the injury which had been done to the present Earl.
"Only that I am told that he has a wife of his own I should think
that he meant to marry one of the women himself," said the indignant
rector in the letter which he wrote to his sister Julia.

And the tailor was as indignant as the rector. He was summoned as a
witness and was therefore bound to attend,--at the loss of his day's
work. When he reached the court, which he did long before the judge
had taken his seat, he found it to be almost impossible to effect
an entrance. He gave his name to some officer about the place,
but learned that his name was altogether unknown. He showed his
subpoena and was told that he must wait till he was called. "Where
must I wait?" asked the angry radical. "Anywhere," said the man in
authority; "but you can't force your way in here." Then he remembered
that no one had as yet paid so dearly for this struggle, no one had
suffered so much, no one had been so instrumental in bringing the
truth to light, as he, and this was the way in which he was treated!
Had there been any justice in those concerned a seat would have been
provided for him in the court, even though his attendance had not
been required. There were hundreds there, brought thither by simple
curiosity, to whom priority of entrance into the court had been
accorded by favour, because they were wealthy, or because they were
men of rank, or because they had friends high in office. All his
wealth had been expended in this case; it was he who had been the
most constant friend of this Countess; but for him and his father
there might probably have been no question of a trial at this day.
And yet he was allowed to beg for admittance, and to be shoved out of
court because he had no friends. "The court is a public court, and is
open to the public," he said, as he thrust his shoulders forward with
a resolution that he would effect an entrance. Then he was taken in
hand by two constables and pushed back through the doorway,--to the
great detriment of the apple-woman who sat there in those days.

But by pluck and resolution he succeeded in making good some inch of
standing room within the court before the Solicitor-General began his
statement, and he was able to hear every word that was said. That
statement was not more pleasing to him than to the rector of Yoxham.
His first quarrel was with the assertion that titles of nobility are
in England the outward emblem of noble conduct. No words that might
have been uttered could have been more directly antagonistic to his
feelings and political creed. It had been the accident of his life
that he should have been concerned with ladies who were noble by
marriage and birth, and that it had become a duty to him to help to
claim on their behalf empty names which were in themselves odious to
him. It had been the woman's right to be acknowledged as the wife of
the man who had disowned her, and the girl's right to be known as
his legitimate daughter. Therefore had he been concerned. But he had
declared to himself, from his first crude conception of an opinion
on the subject, that it would be hard to touch pitch and not be
defiled. The lords of whom he heard were, or were believed by
him to be, bloated with luxury, were both rich and idle, were
gamblers, debauchers of other men's wives, deniers of all rights
of citizenship, drones who were positively authorised to eat the
honey collected by the working bees. With his half-knowledge, his
ill-gotten and ill-digested information, with his reading which had
all been on one side, he had been unable as yet to catch a glimpse of
the fact that from the ranks of the nobility are taken the greater
proportion of the hardworking servants of the State. His eyes saw
merely the power, the privileges, the titles, the ribbons, and the
money;--and he hated a lord. When therefore the Solicitor-General
spoke of the recognised virtue of titles in England, the tailor
uttered words of scorn to his stranger neighbour. "And yet this man
calls himself a Liberal, and voted for the Reform Bill," he said.
"In course he did," replied the stranger; "that was the way of his
party." "There isn't an honest man among them all," said the tailor
to himself. This was at the beginning of the speech, and he listened
on through five long hours, not losing a word of the argument,
not missing a single point made in favour of the Countess and her
daughter. It became clear to him at any rate that the daughter would
inherit the money. When the Solicitor-General came to speak of
the nature of the evidence collected in Italy, Daniel Thwaite was
unconsciously carried away into a firm conviction that all those
concerned in the matter in Italy were swindlers. The girl was no
doubt the heiress. The feeling of all the court was with her,--as he
could well perceive. But in all that speech not one single word was
said of the friend who had been true to the girl and to her mother
through all their struggles and adversity. The name of Thomas Thwaite
was not once mentioned. It might have been expedient for them to
ignore him, Daniel, the son; but surely had there been any honour
among them, any feeling of common honesty towards folk so low in
the scale of humanity as tailors, some word would have been spoken
to tell of the friendship of the old man who had gone to his grave
almost a pauper because of his truth and constancy. But no;--there
was not a word!

And he listened, with anxious ears, to learn whether anything would
be said as to that proposed "alliance,"--he had always heard it
called an alliance with a grim smile,--between the two noble cousins.
Heaven and earth had been moved to promote "the alliance." But the
Solicitor-General said not a word on the subject,--any more than he
did of that other disreputable social arrangement, which would have
been no more than a marriage. All the audience might suppose from
anything that was said there that the young lady was fancy free and
had never yet dreamed of a husband. Nevertheless there was hardly
one there who had not heard something of the story of the Earl's
suit,--and something also of the tailor's success.

When the court broke up Daniel Thwaite had reached standing-room,
which brought him near to the seat that was occupied by Serjeant
Bluestone. He lingered as long as he could, and saw all the
barristers concerned standing with their heads together laughing,
chatting, and well pleased, as though the day had been for them a day
of pleasure. "I fancy the speculation is too bad for any one to take
it up," he heard the Serjeant say, among whose various gifts was not
that of being able to moderate his voice. "I dare say not," said
Daniel to himself as he left the court; "and yet we took it up when
the risk was greater, and when there was nothing to be gained." He
had as yet received no explicit answer to the note which he had
written to the Countess when he sent her the copy of his father's
will. He had, indeed, received a notice from Mr. Goffe that the
matter would receive immediate attention, and that the Countess hoped
to be able to settle the claim in a very short time. But that he
thought was not such a letter as should have been sent to him on
an occasion so full of interest to him! But they were all hard and
unjust and bad. The Countess was bad because she was a Countess,--the
lawyers because they were lawyers,--the whole Lovel family because
they were Lovels. At this moment poor Daniel Thwaite was very bitter
against all mankind. He would, he thought, go at once to the Western
world of which he was always dreaming, if he could only get that sum
of £500 which was manifestly due to him.

But as he wandered away after the court was up, getting some wretched
solitary meal at a cheap eating-house on his road, he endeavoured to
fix his thoughts on the question of the girl's affection to himself.
Taking all that had been said in that courtly lawyer's speech this
morning as the groundwork of his present judgment, what should he
judge to be her condition at the moment? He had heard on all sides
that it was intended that she should marry the young Earl, and it
had been said in his hearing that such would be declared before the
judge. No such declaration had been made. Not a word had been uttered
to signify that such an "alliance" was contemplated. Efforts had
been made with him to induce him to withdraw his claim to the girl's
hand. The Countess had urged him, and the lawyers had urged him.
Most assuredly they would not have done so,--would have in no wise
troubled themselves with him at all,--had they been able to prevail
with Lady Anna. And why had they not so prevailed? The girl,
doubtless, had been subjected to every temptation. She was kept
secure from his interference. Hitherto he had not even made an effort
to see her since she had left the house in which he himself lived.
She had nothing to fear from him. She had been sojourning among those
Lovels, who would doubtless have made the way to deceit and luxury
easy for her. He could not doubt but that she had been solicited to
enter into this alliance. Could he be justified in flattering himself
that she had hitherto resisted temptation because in her heart of
hearts she was true to her first love? He was true. He was conscious
of his own constancy. He was sure of himself that he was bound to her
by his love, and not by the hope of any worldly advantage. And why
should he think that she was weaker, vainer, less noble than himself?
Had he not evidence to show him that she was strong enough to resist
a temptation to which he had never been subjected? He had read of
women who were above the gilt and glitter of the world. When he was
disposed to think that she would be false, no terms of reproach
seemed to him too severe to heap upon her name; and yet, when he
found that he had no ground on which to accuse her, even in his own
thoughts, of treachery to himself, he could hardly bring himself to
think it possible that she should not be treacherous. She had sworn
to him, as he had sworn to her, and was he not bound to believe her
oath?

Then he remembered what the poet had said to him. The poet had
advised him to desist altogether, and had told him that it would
certainly be best for the girl that he should do so. The poet had not
based his advice on the ground that the girl would prove false, but
that it would be good for the girl to be allowed to be false,--good
for the girl that she should be encouraged to be false, in order that
she might become an earl's wife! But he thought that it would be bad
for any woman to be an earl's wife; and so thinking, how could he
abandon his love in order that he might hand her over to a fashion
of life which he himself despised? The poet must be wrong. He would
cling to his love till he should know that his love was false to him.
Should he ever learn that, then his love should be troubled with him
no further.

But something must be done. Even, on her behalf, if she were true to
him, something must be done. Was it not pusillanimous in him to make
no attempt to see his love and to tell her that he at any rate was
true to her? These people, who were now his enemies, the lawyers and
the Lovels, with the Countess at the head of them, had used him like
a dog, had repudiated him without remorse, had not a word even to say
of the services which his father had rendered. Was he bound by honour
or duty to stand on any terms with them? Could there be anything due
to them from him? Did it not behove him as a man to find his way
into the girl's presence and to assist her with his courage? He did
not fear them. What cause had he to fear them? In all that had been
between them his actions to them had been kind and good, whereas they
were treating him with the basest ingratitude.

But how should he see Lady Anna? As he thought of all this he
wandered up from Westminster, where he had eaten his dinner, to
Russell Square and into Keppel Street, hesitating whether he would
at once knock at the door and ask to see Lady Anna Lovel. Lady Anna
was still staying with Mrs. Bluestone; but Daniel Thwaite had not
believed the Countess when she told him that her daughter was not
living with her. He doubted, however, and did not knock at the door.



CHAPTER XXX.

JUSTICE IS TO BE DONE.


It must not be thought that the Countess was unmoved when she
received Daniel Thwaite's letter from Keswick enclosing the copy
of his father's will. She was all alone, and she sat long in her
solitude, thinking of the friend who was gone and who had been always
true to her. She herself would have done for old Thomas Thwaite any
service which a woman could render to a man, so strongly did she feel
all that the man had done for her. As she had once said, no menial
office performed by her on behalf of the old tailor would have been
degrading to her. She had eaten his bread, and she never for a moment
forgot the obligation. The slow tears stood in her eyes as she
thought of the long long hours which she had passed in his company,
while, almost desponding herself, she had received courage from his
persistency. And her feeling for the son would have been the same,
had not the future position of her daughter and the standing of
the house of Lovel been at stake. It was not in her nature to be
ungrateful; but neither was it in her nature to postpone the whole
object of her existence to her gratitude. Even though she should
appear to the world as a monster of ingratitude, she must treat the
surviving Thwaite as her bitterest enemy as long as he maintained
his pretensions to her daughter's hand. She could have no friendly
communication with him. She herself would hold no communication
with him at all, if she might possibly avoid it, lest she should
be drawn into some renewed relation of friendship with him. He was
her enemy,--her enemy in such fierce degree that she was always
plotting the means of ridding herself altogether of his presence
and influence. To her thinking the man had turned upon her most
treacherously, and was using, for his own purposes and his own
aggrandizement, that familiarity with her affairs which he had
acquired by reason of his father's generosity. She believed but
little in his love; but whether he loved the girl or merely sought
her money, was all one to her. Her whole life had been passed in an
effort to prove her daughter to be a lady of rank, and she would
rather sacrifice her life in the basest manner than live to see all
her efforts annulled by a low marriage. Love, indeed, and romance!
What was the love of one individual, what was the romance of a
childish girl, to the honour and well-being of an ancient and noble
family? It was her ambition to see her girl become the Countess
Lovel, and no feeling of gratitude should stand in her way. She would
rather slay that lowborn artisan with her own hand than know that he
had the right to claim her as his mother-in-law. Nevertheless, the
slow tears crept down her cheeks as she thought of former days, and
of the little parlour behind the tailor's shop at Keswick, in which
the two children had been wont to play.

But the money must be paid; or, at least, the debt must be
acknowledged. As soon as she had somewhat recovered herself she
opened the old desk which had for years been the receptacle of all
her papers, and taking out sundry scribbled documents, went to work
at a sum in addition. It cannot be said of her that she was a good
accountant, but she had been so far careful as to have kept entries
of all the monies she had received from Thomas Thwaite. She had once
carried in her head a correct idea of the entire sum she owed him;
but now she set down the items with dates, and made the account fair
on a sheet of note paper. So much money she certainly did owe to
Daniel Thwaite, and so much she would certainly pay if ever the means
of paying it should be hers. Then she went off with her account to
Mr. Goffe.

Mr. Goffe did not think that the matter pressed. The payment of
large sums which have been long due never is pressing in the eyes of
lawyers. Men are always supposed to have a hundred pounds in their
waistcoat pockets; but arrangements have to be made for the settling
of thousands. "You had better let me write him a line and tell him
that it shall be looked to as soon as the question as to the property
is decided," said Mr. Goffe. But this did not suit the views of the
Countess. She spoke out very openly as to all she owed to the father,
and as to her eternal enmity to the son. It behoved her to pay the
debt, if only that she might be able to treat the man altogether as
an enemy. She had understood that, even pending the trial, a portion
of the income would be allowed by the courts for her use and for the
expenses of the trial. It was assented that this money should be
paid. Could steps be taken by which it might be settled at once? Mr.
Goffe, taking the memorandum, said that he would see what could be
done, and then wrote his short note to Daniel Thwaite. When he had
computed the interest which must undoubtedly be paid on the borrowed
money he found that a sum of about £9,000 was due to the tailor.
"Nine thousand pounds!" said one Mr. Goffe to another. "That will be
better to him than marrying the daughter of an earl." Could Daniel
have heard the words he would have taken the lawyer by the throat and
have endeavoured to teach him what love is.

Then the trial came on. Before the day fixed had come round, but only
just before it, Mr. Goffe showed the account to Serjeant Bluestone.
"God bless my soul!" said the Serjeant. "There should be some
vouchers for such an amount as that." Mr. Goffe declared that there
were no vouchers, except for a very trifling part of it; but still
thought that the amount should be allowed. The Countess was quite
willing to make oath, if need be, that the money had been supplied
to her. Then the further consideration of the question was for the
moment postponed, and the trial came on.

On the Tuesday, which had been left a vacant day as regarded the
trial, there was a meeting,--like all other proceedings in this
cause, very irregular in its nature,--at the chambers of the
Solicitor-General, at which Serjeant Bluestone attended with Messrs.
Hardy, Mainsail, Flick, and Goffe; and at this meeting, among other
matters of business, mention was made of the debt due by the Countess
to Daniel Thwaite. Of this debt the Solicitor-General had not as yet
heard,--though he had heard of the devoted friendship of the old
tailor. That support had been afforded to some extent,--that for
a period the shelter of old Thwaite's roof had been lent to the
Countess,--that the man had been generous and trusting, he did
know. He had learned, of course, that thence had sprung that early
familiarity which had enabled the younger Thwaite to make his
engagement with Lady Anna. That something should be paid when the
ladies came by their own he was aware. But the ladies were not his
clients, and into the circumstances he had not inquired. Now he was
astounded and almost scandalized by the amount of the debt.

"Do you mean to say that he advanced £9,000 in hard cash?" said the
Solicitor-General.

"That includes interest at five per cent., Sir William, and also a
small sum for bills paid by Thomas Thwaite on her behalf. She has had
in actual cash about £7,000."

"And where has it gone?"

"A good deal of it through my hands," said Mr. Goffe boldly. "During
two or three years she had no income at all, and during the last
twenty years she has been at law for her rights. He advanced all the
money when that trial for bigamy took place."

"God bless my soul!" said Mr. Serjeant Bluestone.

"Did he leave a will?" asked the Solicitor-General.

"Oh, yes; a will which has been proved, and of which I have a copy.
There was nothing else to leave but this debt, and that is left to
the son."

"It should certainly be paid without delay," said Mr. Hardy. Mr.
Mainsail questioned whether they could get the money. Mr. Goffe
doubted whether it could be had before the whole affair was settled.
Mr. Flick was sure that on due representation the amount would be
advanced at once. The income of the property was already accumulating
in the hands of the court, and there was an anxiety that all just
demands,--demands which might be considered to be justly made on the
family property,--should be paid without delay. "I think there would
hardly be a question," said Mr. Hardy.

"Seven thousand pounds advanced by these two small tradesmen to the
Countess Lovel," said the Solicitor-General, "and that done at a time
when no relation of her own or of her husband would lend her a penny!
I wish I had known that when I went into court yesterday."

"It would hardly have done any good," said the Serjeant.

"It would have enabled one at any rate to give credit where credit is
due. And this son is the man who claims to be affianced to the Lady
Anna?"

"The same man, Sir William," said Mr. Goffe.

"One is almost inclined to think that he deserves her."

"I can't agree with you there at all," said the Serjeant angrily.

"One at any rate is not astonished that the young lady should think
so," continued the Solicitor-General. "Upon my word, I don't know how
we are to expect that she should throw her early lover overboard
after such evidence of devotion."

"The marriage would be too incongruous," said Mr. Hardy.

"Quite horrible," said the Serjeant.

"It distresses one to think of it," said Mr. Goffe.

"It would be much better that she should not be Lady Anna at all, if
she is to do that," said Mr. Mainsail.

"Very much better," said Mr. Flick, shaking his head, and remembering
that he was employed by Lord Lovel and not by the Countess,--a fact
of which it seemed to him that the Solicitor-General altogether
forgot the importance.

"Gentlemen, you have no romance among you," said Sir William. "Have
not generosity and valour always prevailed over wealth and rank with
ladies in story?"

"I do not remember any valorous tailors who have succeeded with
ladies of high degree," said Mr. Hardy.

"Did not the lady of the Strachy marry the yeoman of the wardrobe?"
asked the Solicitor-General.

"I don't know that we care much about romance here," said the
Serjeant. "The marriage would be so abominable, that it is not to be
thought of."

"The tailor should at any rate get his money," said the
Solicitor-General, "and I will undertake to say that if the case be
as represented by Mr. Goffe--"

"It certainly is," said the attorney.

"Then there will be no difficulty in raising the funds for paying it.
If he is not to have his wife, at any rate let him have his money.
I think, Mr. Flick, that intimation should be made to him that Earl
Lovel will join the Countess in immediate application to the court
for means to settle his claim. Circumstanced as we are at present,
there can be no doubt that such application will have the desired
result. It should, of course, be intimated that Serjeant Bluestone
and myself are both of opinion that the money should be allowed for
the purpose."

As the immediate result of this conversation, Daniel Thwaite received
on the following morning letters both from Mr. Goffe and Mr. Flick.
The former intimated to him that a sum of nine thousand odd pounds
was held to be due to him by the Countess, and that immediate steps
would be taken for its payment. That from Mr. Flick, which was much
shorter than the letter from his brother attorney, merely stated that
as a very large sum of money appeared to be due by the Countess Lovel
to the estate of the late Thomas Thwaite, for sums advanced to the
Countess during the last twenty years, the present Earl Lovel had
been advised to join the Countess in application to the courts,
that the amount due might be paid out of the income of the property
left by the late Earl; and that that application would be made
"_immediately_." Mr. Goffe in his letter, went on to make certain
suggestions, and to give much advice. As this very large debt, of
which no proof was extant, was freely admitted by the Countess, and
as steps were being at once taken to ensure payment of the whole
sum named to Daniel Thwaite, as his father's heir, it was hoped
that Daniel Thwaite would at once abandon his preposterous claim to
the hand of Lady Anna Lovel. Then Mr. Goffe put forward in glowing
colours the iniquity of which Daniel Thwaite would be guilty should
he continue his fruitless endeavours to postpone the re-establishment
of a noble family which was thus showing its united benevolence by
paying to him the money which it owed him.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE VERDICT.


On the Wednesday the court reassembled in all its judicial glory.
There was the same crowd, the same Lord Chief Justice, the same jury,
and the same array of friendly lawyers. There had been a rumour that
a third retinue of lawyers would appear on behalf of what was now
generally called the Italian interest, and certain words which had
fallen from the Solicitor-General on Monday had assured the world at
large that the Italian interest would be represented. It was known
that the Italian case had been confided to a firm of enterprising
solicitors, named Mowbray and Mopus, perhaps more feared than
respected, which was supposed to do a great amount of speculative
business. But no one from the house of Messrs. Mowbray and Mopus was
in court on the Wednesday morning; and no energetic barrister was
ever enriched by a fee from them on behalf of the Italian widow.
The speculation had been found to be too deep, the expenditure
which would be required in advance too great, and the prospect of
remuneration too remote even for Mowbray and Mopus. It appeared
afterwards that application had been made by those gentlemen for an
assurance that expenses incurred on behalf of the Italian Countess
should be paid out of the estate; but this had been refused. No
guarantee to this effect could be given, at any rate till it should
be seen whether the Italian lady had any show of justice on her side.
It was now the general belief that if there was any truth at all in
the Italian claim, it rested on the survivorship, at the time of the
Cumberland marriage, of a wife who had long since died. As the proof
of this would have given no penny to any one in Italy,--would simply
have shown that the Earl was the heir,--Messrs. Mowbray and Mopus
retired, and there was an end, for ever and a day, of the Italian
interest.

Though there was the same throng in the court as on the Monday,
there did not seem to be the same hubbub on the opening of the day's
proceedings. The barristers were less busy with their papers, the
attorneys sat quite at their ease, and the Chief Justice, with an
assistant judge, who was his bench-fellow, appeared for some minutes
to be quite passive. Then the Solicitor-General arose and said that,
with permission, he would occupy the court for only a few minutes.
He had stated on Monday his belief that an application would be made
to the court on behalf of other interests than those which had been
represented when the court first met. It appeared that he had been
wrong in that surmise. Of course he had no knowledge on the subject,
but it did not appear that any learned gentleman was prepared to
address the court for any third party. As he, on behalf of his
client, had receded from the case, his Lordship would probably say
what, in his Lordship's opinion, should now be the proceeding of
the court. The Earl Lovel abandoned his plea, and perhaps the court
would, in those circumstances, decide that its jurisdiction in the
matter was over. Then the Lord Chief Justice, with his assistant
judge, retired for a while, and all the assembled crowd appeared to
be at liberty to discuss the matter just as everybody pleased.

It was undoubtedly the opinion of the bar at large, and at that
moment of the world in general, that the Solicitor-General had done
badly for his client. The sum of money which was at stake was, they
said, too large to be played with. As the advocate of the Earl, Sir
William ought to have kept himself aloof from the Countess and her
daughter. In lieu of regarding his client, he had taken upon himself
to set things right in general, according to his idea of right. No
doubt he was a clever man, and knew how to address a jury, but he was
always thinking of himself, and bolstering up something of his own,
instead of thinking of his case and bolstering up his client. And
this conception of his character in general, and of his practice in
this particular, became the stronger, as it was gradually believed
that the living Italian Countess was certainly an impostor. There
would have been little good in fighting against the English Countess
on her behalf;--but if they could only have proved that the other
Italian woman, who was now dead, had been the real Countess when the
Cumberland marriage was made, then what a grand thing it would have
been for the Lovel family! Of those who held this opinion, the rector
of Yoxham was the strongest, and the most envenomed against the
Solicitor-General. During the whole of that Tuesday he went about
declaring that the interests of the Lovel family had been sacrificed
by their own counsel, and late in the afternoon he managed to get
hold of Mr. Hardy. Could nothing be done? Mr. Hardy was of opinion
that nothing could be done now; but in the course of the evening he
did, at the rector's instance, manage to see Sir William, and to ask
the question, "Could nothing be done?"

"Nothing more than we propose to do."

"Then the case is over," said Mr. Hardy. "I am assured that no one
will stir on behalf of that Italian lady."

"If any one did stir it would only be loss of time and money. My dear
Hardy, I understand as well as any one what people are saying, and
I know what must be the feeling of many of the Lovels. But I can
only do my duty by my client to the best of my judgment. In the
first place, you must remember that he has himself acknowledged the
Countess."

"By our advice," said Mr. Hardy.

"You mean by mine. Exactly so;--but with such conviction on his own
part that he positively refuses to be a party to any suit which
shall be based on the assumption that she is not Countess Lovel.
Let an advocate be ever so obdurate, he can hardly carry on a case
in opposition to his client's instructions. We are acting for Lord
Lovel, and not for the Lovel family. And I feel assured of this, that
were we to attempt to set up the plea that that other woman was alive
when the marriage took place in Cumberland, you, yourself, would be
ashamed of the evidence which it would become your duty to endeavour
to foist upon the jury. We should certainly be beaten, and, in
the ultimate settlement of the property, we should have to do
with enemies instead of friends. The man was tried for bigamy and
acquitted. Would any jury get over that unless you had evidence
to offer to them that was plain as a pikestaff, and absolutely
incontrovertible?"

"Do you still think the girl will marry the Earl?"

"No; I do not. She seems to have a will of her own, and that will is
bent the other way. But I do think that a settlement may be made of
the property which shall be very much in the Earl's favour." When on
the following morning the Solicitor-General made his second speech,
which did not occupy above a quarter of an hour, it became manifest
that he did not intend to alter his course of proceeding, and while
the judges were absent it was said by everybody in the court that the
Countess and Lady Anna had gained their suit.

"I consider it to be a most disgraceful course of proceeding on the
part of Sir William Patterson," said the rector to a middle-aged
legal functionary, who was managing clerk to Norton and Flick.

"We all think, sir, that there was more fight in it," said the legal
functionary.

"There was plenty of fight in it. I don't believe that any jury in
England would willingly have taken such an amount of property from
the head of the Lovel family. For the last twenty years,--ever since
I first heard of the pretended English marriage,--everybody has known
that she was no more a Countess than I am. I can't understand it;
upon my word I can't. I have not had much to do with law, but I've
always been brought up to think that an English barrister would be
true to his client. I believe a case can be tried again if it can be
shown that the lawyers have mismanaged it." The unfortunate rector,
when he made this suggestion, no doubt forgot that the client in this
case was in full agreement with the wicked advocate.

The judges were absent for about half an hour, and on their return
the Chief Justice declared that his learned brother,--the Serjeant
namely,--had better proceed with the case on behalf of his clients.
He went on to explain that as the right to the property in dispute,
and indeed the immediate possession of that property, would be ruled
by the decision of the jury, it was imperative that they should hear
what the learned counsel for the so-called Countess and her daughter
had to say, and what evidence they had to offer, as to the validity
of her marriage. It was not to be supposed that he intended to throw
any doubt on that marriage, but such would be the safer course. No
doubt, in the ordinary course of succession, a widow and a daughter
would inherit and divide among them in certain fixed proportions the
personal property of a deceased but intestate husband and father,
without the intervention of any jury to declare their rights. But in
this case suspicion had been thrown and adverse statements had been
made; and as his learned brother was, as a matter of course, provided
with evidence to prove that which the plaintiff had come into the
court with the professed intention of disproving, the case had better
go on. Then he wrapped his robes around him and threw himself back
in the attitude of a listener. Serjeant Bluestone, already on his
legs, declared himself prepared and willing to proceed. No doubt
the course as now directed was the proper course to be pursued. The
Solicitor-General, rising gracefully and bowing to the court, gave
his consent with complaisant patronage. "Your Lordship, no doubt,
is right." His words were whispered, and very probably not heard;
but the smile, as coming from a Solicitor-General,--from such a
Solicitor-General as Sir William Patterson,--was sufficient to put
any judge at his ease.

Then Serjeant Bluestone made his statement, and the case was
proceeded with after the fashion of such trials. It will not concern
us to follow the further proceedings of the court with any close
attention. The Solicitor-General went away, to some other business,
and much of the interest seemed to drop. The marriage in Cumberland
was proved; the trial for bigamy, with the acquittal of the Earl, was
proved; the two opposed statements of the Earl, as to the death of
the first wife, and afterwards as to the fact that she was living,
were proved. Serjeant Bluestone and Mr. Mainsail were very busy for
two days, having everything before them. Mr. Hardy, on behalf of the
young lord, kept his seat, but he said not a word--not even asking a
question of one of Serjeant Bluestone's witnesses. Twice the foreman
of the jury interposed, expressing an opinion, on behalf of himself
and his brethren, that the case need not be proceeded with further;
but the judge ruled that it was for the interest of the Countess,--he
ceased to style her the so-called Countess,--that her advocates
should be allowed to complete their case. In the afternoon of the
second day they did complete it, with great triumph and a fine
flourish of forensic oratory as to the cruel persecution which their
client had endured. The Solicitor-General came back into court in
time to hear the judge's charge, which was very short. The jury were
told that they had no alternative but to find a verdict for the
defendants. It was explained to them that this was a plea to show
that a certain marriage which had taken place in Cumberland in 181--,
was no real or valid marriage. Not only was that plea withdrawn, but
evidence had been adduced proving that that marriage was valid. Such
a marriage was, as a matter of course, primâ facie valid, let what
statements might be made to the contrary by those concerned or not
concerned. In such case the burden of proof would rest entirely with
the makers of such statement. No such proof had been here attempted,
and the marriage must be declared a valid marriage. The jury had
nothing to do with the disposition of the property, and it would be
sufficient for them simply to find a verdict for the defendants. The
jury did as they were bid; but, going somewhat beyond this, declared
that they found the two defendants to be properly named the Countess
Lovel, and Lady Anna Lovel. So ended the case of "Lovel v. Murray and
Another."

The Countess, who had been in the court all day, was taken home to
Keppel Street by the Serjeant in a glass coach that had been hired
to be in waiting for her. "And now, Lady Lovel," said Serjeant
Bluestone, as he took his seat opposite to her, "I can congratulate
your ladyship on the full restitution of your rights." She only shook
her head. "The battle has been fought and won at last, and I will
make free to say that I have never seen more admirable persistency
than you have shown since first that bad man astounded your ears by
his iniquity."

"It has been all to no purpose," she said.

"To no purpose, Lady Lovel! I may as well tell you now that it is
expected that his Majesty will send to congratulate you on the
restitution of your rights."

Again she shook her head. "Ah, Serjeant Bluestone;--that will be but
of little service."

"No further objection can now be made to the surrender of the whole
property. There are some mining shares as to which there may be a
question whether they are real or personal, but they amount to but
little. A third of the remainder, which will, I imagine, exceed--"

"If it were ten times as much, Serjeant Bluestone, there would be no
comfort in it. If it were ten times that, it would not at all help to
heal my sorrow. I have sometimes thought that when one is marked for
trouble, no ease can come."

"I don't think more of money than another man," began the Serjeant.

"You do not understand."

"Nor yet of titles,--though I feel for them, when they are worthily
worn, the highest respect," as he so spoke the Serjeant lifted his
hat from his brow. "But, upon my word, to have won such a case as
this justifies triumph."

"I have won nothing,--nothing,--nothing!"

"You mean about Lady Anna?"

"Serjeant Bluestone, when first I was told that I was not that man's
wife, I swore to myself that I would die sooner than accept any lower
name; but when I found that I was a mother, then I swore that I would
live till my child should bear the name that of right belonged to
her."

"She does bear it now."

"What name does she propose to bear? I would sooner be poor, in
beggary,--still fighting, even without means to fight, for an empty
title,--still suffering, still conscious that all around me regarded
me as an impostor, than conquer only to know that she, for whom all
this has been done, has degraded her name and my own. If she does
this thing, or, if she has a mind so low, a spirit so mean, as to
think of doing it, would it not be better for all the world that she
should be the bastard child of a rich man's kept mistress, than the
acknowledged daughter of an earl, with a countess for her mother, and
a princely fortune to support her rank? If she marries this man, I
shall heartily wish that Lord Lovel had won the case. I care nothing
for myself now. I have lost all that. The king's message will comfort
me not at all. If she do this thing I shall only feel the evil we
have done in taking the money from the Earl. I would sooner see her
dead at my feet than know that she was that man's wife;--ay, though
I had stabbed her with my own hand!"

The Serjeant for the nonce could say nothing more to her. She had
worked herself into such a passion that she would listen to no words
but her own, and think of nothing but the wrong that was still being
done to her. He put her down at the hall door in Keppel Street,
saying, as he lifted his hat again, that Mrs. Bluestone should come
and call upon her.



CHAPTER XXXII.

WILL YOU PROMISE?


The news of the verdict was communicated the same evening to Lady
Anna,--as to whose name there could now no longer be any dispute. "I
congratulate you, Lady Anna," said the Serjeant, holding her hand,
"that everything as far as this trial is concerned has gone just as
we could wish."

"We owe it all to you," said the girl.

"Not at all. My work has been very easy. In fact I have some feeling
of regret that I have not been placed in a position that would enable
me to earn my wages. The case was too good,--so that a poor aspiring
lawyer has not been able to add to his reputation. But as far as you
are concerned, my dear, everything has gone as you should wish. You
are now a very wealthy heiress, and the great duty devolves upon
you of disposing of your wealth in a fitting manner." Lady Anna
understood well what was meant, and was silent. Even when she was
alone, her success did not make her triumphant. She could anticipate
that the efforts of all her friends to make her false to her word
would be redoubled. Unless she could see Daniel Thwaite, it would be
impossible that she should not be conquered.

The Serjeant told his wife the promise which he had made on her
behalf, and she, of course, undertook to go to Keppel Street on
the following morning. "You had better bring her here," said the
Serjeant. Mrs. Bluestone remarked that that might be sooner said than
done. "She'll be glad of an excuse to come," answered the Serjeant.
"On such an occasion as this, of course they must see each other.
Something must be arranged about the property. In a month or two,
when she is of age, she will have the undisputed right to do what
she pleases with about three hundred thousand pounds. It is a most
remarkable position for a young girl who has never yet had the
command of a penny, and who professes that she is engaged to marry a
working tailor. Of course her mother must see her."

Mrs. Bluestone did call in Keppel Street, and sat with the Countess a
long time, undergoing a perfect hailstorm of passion. For a long time
Lady Lovel declared that she would never see her daughter again till
the girl had given a solemn promise that she would not marry Daniel
Thwaite. "Love her! Of course I love her. She is all that I have
in the world. But of what good is my love to me, if she disgraces
me? She has disgraced me already. When she could bring herself to
tell her cousin that she was engaged to this man, we were already
disgraced. When she once allowed the man to speak to her in that
strain, without withering him with her scorn, she disgraced us both.
For what have I done it all, if this is to be the end of it?" But at
last she assented and promised that she would come. No;--it would not
be necessary to send a carriage for her. The habits of her own life
need not be at all altered because she was now a Countess beyond
dispute, and also wealthy. She would be content to live as she had
ever lived. It had gone on too long for her to desire personal
comfort,--luxury for herself, or even social rank. The only pleasure
that she had anticipated, the only triumph that she desired, was to
be found in the splendour of her child. She would walk to Bedford
Square, and then walk back to her lodgings in Keppel Street. She
wanted no carriage.

Early on the following day there was heard the knock at the door
which Lady Anna had been taught to expect. The coming visit had been
discussed in all its bearings, and it had been settled that Mrs.
Bluestone should be with the daughter when the mother arrived. It was
thought that in this way the first severity of the Countess would be
mitigated, and that the chance of some agreement between them might
be increased. Both the Serjeant and Mrs. Bluestone now conceived that
the young lady had a stronger will of her own than might have been
expected from her looks, her language, and her manners. She had not
as yet yielded an inch, though she would not argue the matter at
all when she was told that it was her positive duty to abandon the
tailor. She would sit quite silent; and if silence does give consent,
she consented to this doctrine. Mrs. Bluestone, with a diligence
which was equalled only by her good humour, insisted on the misery
which must come upon her young friend should she quarrel with the
Countess, and with all the Lovels,--on the unfitness of the tailor,
and the impossibility that such a marriage should make a lady
happy,--on the sacred duty which Lady Anna's rank imposed upon her to
support her order, and on the general blessedness of a well-preserved
and exclusive aristocracy. "I don't mean to say that nobly born
people are a bit better than commoners," said Mrs. Bluestone.
"Neither I nor my children have a drop of noble blood in our veins.
It is not that. But God Almighty has chosen that there should be
different ranks to carry out His purposes, and we have His word to
tell us that we should all do our duties in that state of life to
which it has pleased Him to call us." The excellent lady was somewhat
among the clouds in her theology, and apt to mingle the different
sources of religious instruction from which she was wont to draw
lessons for her own and her children's guidance; but she meant to
say that the proper state of life for an earl's daughter could not
include an attachment to a tailor; and Lady Anna took it as it was
meant. The nobly born young lady did not in heart deny the truth of
the lesson;--but she had learned another lesson, and she did not
know how to make the two compatible. That other lesson taught her to
believe that she ought to be true to her word;--that she specially
ought to be true to one who had ever been specially true to her. And
latterly there had grown upon her a feeling less favourable to the
Earl than that which he had inspired when she first saw him, and
which he had increased when they were together at Yoxham. It is hard
to say why the Earl had ceased to charm her, or by what acts or words
he had lowered himself in her eyes. He was as handsome as ever, as
much like a young Apollo, as gracious in his manner, and as gentle in
his gait. And he had been constant to her. Perhaps it was that she
had expected that one so godlike should have ceased to adore a woman
who had degraded herself to the level of a tailor, and that, so
conceiving, she had begun to think that his motives might be merely
human, and perhaps sordid. He ought to have abstained and seen her no
more after she had owned her own degradation. But she said nothing
of all this to Mrs. Bluestone. She made no answer to the sermons
preached to her. She certainly said no word tending to make that lady
think that the sermons had been of any avail. "She looks as soft as
butter," Mrs. Bluestone said that morning to her husband; "but she is
obstinate as a pig all the time."

"I suppose her father was the same way before her," said the
Serjeant, "and God knows her mother is obstinate enough."

When the Countess was shown into the room Lady Anna was trembling
with fear and emotion. Lady Lovel, during the last few weeks, since
her daughter had seen her, had changed the nature of her dress.
Hitherto, for years past, she had worn a brown stuff gown, hardly
ever varying even the shade of the sombre colour,--so that her
daughter had perhaps never seen her otherwise clad. No woman that
ever breathed was less subject to personal vanity than had been the
so-called Countess who lived in the little cottage outside Keswick.
Her own dress had been as nothing to her, and in the days of her
close familiarity with old Thomas Thwaite she had rebuked her friend
when he had besought her to attire herself in silk. "We'll go into
Keswick and get Anna a new ribbon," she would say, "and that will be
grandeur enough for her and me too." In this brown dress she had come
up to London, and so she had been clothed when her daughter last saw
her. But now she wore a new, full, black silk dress, which, plain
as it was, befitted her rank and gave an increased authority to her
commanding figure. Lady Anna trembled all the more, and her heart
sank still lower within her, because her mother no longer wore the
old brown gown. When the Countess entered the room she took no
immediate notice of Mrs. Bluestone, but went up to her child and
kissed her. "I am comforted, Anna, in seeing you once again," she
said.

"Dear, dearest mamma!"

"You have heard, I suppose, that the trial has been decided in your
favour?"

"In yours, mamma."

"We have explained it all to her, Lady Lovel, as well as we could.
The Serjeant yesterday evening gave us a little history of what
occurred. It seems to have been quite a triumph."

"It may become a triumph," said the Countess;--"a triumph so complete
and glorious that I shall desire nothing further in this world. It
has been my work to win the prize; it is for her to wear it,--if she
will do so."

"I hope you will both live to enjoy it many years," said Mrs.
Bluestone. "You will have much to say to each other, and I will leave
you now. We shall have lunch, Lady Lovel, at half-past one, and I
hope that you will join us."

Then they were alone together. Lady Anna had not moved from her chair
since she had embraced her mother, but the Countess had stood during
the whole time that Mrs. Bluestone had been in the room. When the
room door was closed they both remained silent for a few moments, and
then the girl rushed across the room and threw herself on her knees
at her mother's feet. "Oh, mamma, mamma, tell me that you love me.
Oh, mamma, why have you not let me come to you? Oh, mamma, we never
were parted before."

"My child never before was wilfully disobedient to me."

"Oh, mamma;--tell me that you love me."

"Love you! Yes, I love you. You do not doubt that, Anna. How could it
be possible that you should doubt it after twenty years of a mother's
care? You know I love you."

"I know that I love you, mamma, and that it kills me to be sent away
from you. You will take me home with you now;--will you not?"

"Home! You shall make your own home, and I will take you whither you
will. I will be a servant to minister to every whim; all the world
shall be a Paradise to you; you shall have every joy that wealth, and
love, and sweet friends can procure for you,--if you will obey me in
one thing." Lady Anna, still crouching upon the ground, hid her face
in her mother's dress, but she was silent. "It is not much that I ask
after a life spent in winning for you all that has now been won. I
only demand of you that you shall not disgrace yourself."

"Oh, mamma, I am not disgraced."

"Say that you will marry Lord Lovel, and all that shall be forgotten.
It shall at any rate be forgiven, or remembered only as the folly of
a child. Will you say that you will become Lord Lovel's wife?"

"Oh, mamma!"

"Answer me, Anna;--will you say that you will receive Lord Lovel as
your accepted lover? Get up, girl, and look me in the face. Of what
use is it to grovel there, while your spirit is in rebellion? Will
you do this? Will you save us all from destruction, misery, and
disgrace? Will you remember who you are;--what blood you have in your
veins;--what name it is that you bear? Stand up, and look me in the
face, if you dare."

Lady Anna did stand up, and did look her mother in the face. "Mamma,"
she said, "we should understand each other better if we were living
together as we ought to do."

"I will never live with you till you have promised obedience. Will
you, at any rate, pledge to me your word that you will never become
the wife of Daniel Thwaite?" Then she paused, and stood looking at
the girl, perhaps for a minute. Lady Anna stood before her, with her
eyes turned upon the ground. "Answer me the question that I have
asked you. Will you promise me that you will never become the wife of
Daniel Thwaite?"

"I have promised him that I would."

"What is that to me? Is your duty to him higher than your duty to me?
Can you be bound by any promise to so great a crime as that would be?
I will ask you the question once more, and I will be governed by your
answer. If you will promise to discard this man, you shall return
home with me, and shall then choose everything for yourself. We will
go abroad and travel if you wish it, and all things shall be prepared
to give you pleasure. You shall have at once the full enjoyment of
all that has been won for you; and as for your cousin,--you shall not
for a while be troubled even by his name. It is the dear wish of my
heart that you should be the wife of Earl Lovel;--but I have one
wish dearer even than that,--one to which that shall be altogether
postponed. If you will save yourself, and me, and all your family
from the terrible disgrace with which you have threatened us,--I will
not again mention your cousin's name to you till it shall please you
to hear it. Anna, you knelt to me, just now. Shall I kneel to you?"

"No, mamma, no;--I should die."

"Then, my love, give me the promise that I have asked."

"Mamma, he has been so good to us!"

"And we will be good to him,--good to him in his degree. Of what
avail to me will have been his goodness, if he is to rob me of the
very treasure which his goodness helped to save? Is he to have all,
because he gave some aid? Is he to take from me my heart's blood,
because he bound up my arm when it was bruised? Because he helped me
some steps on earth, is he to imprison me afterwards in hell? Good!
No, he is not good in wishing so to destroy us. He is bad, greedy,
covetous, self-seeking, a very dog, and by the living God he shall
die like a dog unless you will free me from his fangs. You have not
answered me. Will you tell me that you will discard him as a suitor
for your hand? If you will say so, he shall receive tenfold reward
for his--goodness. Answer me, Anna;--I claim an answer from you."

"Mamma!"

"Speak, if you have anything to say. And remember the commandment,
Honour thy--" But she broke down, when she too remembered it, and
bore in mind that the precept would have called upon her daughter to
honour the memory of the deceased Earl. "But if you cannot do it for
love, you will never do it for duty."

"Mamma, I am sure of one thing."

"Of what are you sure?"

"That I ought to be allowed to see him before I give him up."

"You shall never be allowed to see him."

"Listen to me, mamma, for a moment. When he asked me to--love him, we
were equals."

"I deny it. You were never equals."

"We lived as such,--except in this, that they had money for our
wants, and we had none to repay them."

"Money can have nothing to do with it."

"Only that we took it. And then he was everything to us. It seemed as
though it would be impossible to refuse anything that he asked. It
was impossible to me. As to being noble, I am sure that he was noble.
You always used to say that nobody else ever was so good as those
two. Did you not say so, mamma?"

"If I praise my horse or my dog, do I say that they are of the same
nature as myself?"

"But he is a man; quite as much a man as,--as any man could be."

"You mean that you will not do as I bid you."

"Let me see him, mamma. Let me see him but once. If I might see him,
perhaps I might do as you wish--about him. I cannot say anything more
unless I may see him."

The Countess still stormed and still threatened, but she could not
move her daughter. She also found that the child had inherited
particles of the nature of her parents. But it was necessary that
some arrangement should be made as to the future life, both of Lady
Anna and of herself. She might bury herself where she would, in the
most desolate corner of the earth, but she could not leave Lady
Anna in Bedford Square. In a few months Lady Anna might choose any
residence she pleased for herself, and there could be no doubt whose
house she would share, if she were not still kept in subjection. The
two parted then in deep grief,--the mother almost cursing her child
in her anger, and Lady Anna overwhelmed with tears. "Will you not
kiss me, mamma, before you go?"

"No, I will never kiss you again till you have shown me that you are
my child."

But before she left the house, the Countess was closeted for a while
with Mrs. Bluestone, and, in spite of all that she had said, it was
agreed between them that it would be better to permit an interview
between the girl and Daniel Thwaite. "Let him say what he will,"
argued Mrs. Bluestone, "she will not be more headstrong than she is
now. You will still be able to take her away with you to some foreign
country."

"But he will treat her as though he were her lover," said the
Countess, unable to conceal the infinite disgust with which the idea
overwhelmed her.

"What does it matter, Lady Lovel? We have got to get a promise from
her, somehow. Since she was much with him, she has seen people of
another sort, and she will feel the difference. It may be that she
wants to ask him to release her. At any rate she speaks as though she
might be released by what he would say to her. Unless she thought
it might be so herself, she would not make a conditional promise. I
would let them meet."

"But where?"

"In Keppel Street."

"In my presence?"

"No, not that; but you will, of course, be in the house,--so that she
cannot leave it with him. Let her come to you. It will be an excuse
for her doing so, and then she can remain. If she does not give the
promise, take her abroad, and teach her to forget it by degrees." So
it was arranged, and on that evening Mrs. Bluestone told Lady Anna
that she was to be allowed to meet Daniel Thwaite.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

DANIEL THWAITE RECEIVES HIS MONEY.


There was of course much commotion among all circles of society in
London as soon as it was known to have been decided that the Countess
Lovel was the Countess Lovel, and that Lady Anna was the heiress
of the late Earl. Bets were paid,--and bets no doubt were left
unpaid,--to a great amount. Men at the clubs talked more about the
Lovels than they had done even during the month preceding the trial.
The Countess became on a sudden very popular. Exaggerated stories
were told of the romance of her past life,--though it would have been
well nigh impossible to exaggerate her sufferings. Her patience, her
long endurance and persistency were extolled by all. The wealth that
would accrue to her and to her daughter was of course doubled. Had
anybody seen her? Did anybody know her? Even the Murrays began to be
proud of her, and old Lady Jemima Magtaggart, who had been a Murray
before she married General Mag, as he was called, went at once and
called upon the Countess in Keppel Street. Being the first that
did so, before the Countess had suspected any invasion, she was
admitted,--and came away declaring that sorrow must have driven the
Countess mad. The Countess, no doubt, did not receive her distant
relative with any gentle courtesy. She had sworn to herself often,
that come what come might, she would never cross the threshold of a
Murray. Old Lord Swanage, who had married some very distant Lovel,
wrote to her a letter full of very proper feeling. It had been, he
said, quite impossible for him to know the truth before the truth had
come to light, and therefore he made no apology for not having before
this made overtures of friendship to his connection. He now begged to
express his great delight that she who had so well deserved success
had been successful, and to offer her his hand in friendship, should
she be inclined to accept it. The Countess answered him in a strain
which certainly showed that she was not mad. It was not her policy to
quarrel with any Lovel, and her letter was very courteous. She was
greatly obliged to him for his kindness, and had felt as strongly as
he could do that she could have no claim on her husband's relations
till she should succeed in establishing her rights. She accepted his
hand in the spirit in which it had been offered, and hoped that his
Lordship might yet become a friend of her daughter. For herself,--she
feared that all that she had suffered had made her unfit for much
social intercourse. Her strength, she said, had been sufficient to
carry her thus far, but was now failing her.

Then, too, there came to her that great glory of which the lawyer had
given her a hint. She received a letter from the private secretary
of his Majesty the King, telling her that his Majesty had heard her
story with great interest, and now congratulated her heartily on the
re-establishment of her rank and position. She wrote a very curt
note, begging that her thanks might be given to his Majesty,--and
then she burned the private secretary's letter. No congratulations
were anything to her till she should see her daughter freed from the
debasement of her engagement to the tailor.

Speculation was rife as to the kind of life which the Countess would
lead. That she would have wealth sufficient to blaze forth in London
with all the glories of Countess-ship, there was no doubt. Her own
share of the estate was put down as worth at least ten thousand a
year for her life, and this she would enjoy without deductions, and
with no other expenditure than that needed for herself. Her age was
ascertained to a day, and it was known that she was as yet only
forty-five. Was it not probable that some happy man might share
her wealth with her? What an excellent thing it would be for old
Lundy,--the Marquis of Lundy,--who had run through every shilling of
his own property! Before a week was over, the suggestion had been
made to old Lundy. "They say she is mad, but she can't be mad enough
for that," said the Marquis.

The rector hurried home full of indignation, but he had a word or
two with his nephew before he started. "What do you mean to do now,
Frederic?" asked the rector with a very grave demeanour.

"Do? I don't know that I shall do anything."

"You give up the girl, then?"

"My dear uncle; that is a sort of question that I don't think a man
ever likes to be asked."

"But I suppose I may ask how you intend to live?"

"I trust, uncle Charles, that I shall not, at any rate, be a burden
to my relatives."

"Oh; very well; very well. Of course I have nothing more to say. I
think it right, all the same, to express my opinion that you have
been grossly misused by Sir William Patterson. Of course what I say
will have no weight with you; but that is my opinion."

"I do not agree with you, uncle Charles."

"Very well; I have nothing more to say. It is right that I should
let you know that I do not believe that this woman was ever Lord
Lovel's wife. I never did believe it, and I never will believe it.
All that about marrying the girl has been a take in from beginning
to end;--all planned to induce you to do just what you have done. No
word in courtesy should ever have been spoken to either of them."

"I am as sure that she is the Countess as I am that I am the Earl."

"Very well. It costs me nothing, but it costs you thirty thousand a
year. Do you mean to come down to Yoxham this winter?"

"No."

"Are the horses to be kept there?" Now hitherto the rich rector had
kept the poor lord's hunters without charging his nephew ought for
their expense. He was a man so constituted that it would have been
a misery to him that the head of his family should not have horses
to ride. But now he could not but remember all that he had done, all
that he was doing, and the return that was made to him. Nevertheless
he could have bit the tongue out of his mouth for asking the question
as soon as the words were spoken.

"I will have them sold immediately," said the Earl. "They shall come
up to Tattersal's before the week is over."

"I didn't mean that."

"I am glad that you thought of it, uncle Charles. They shall be taken
away at once."

"They are quite welcome to remain at Yoxham."

"They shall be removed,--and sold," said the Earl. "Remember me to my
aunts. Good bye." Then the rector went down to Yoxham an angry and a
miserable man.

There were very many who still agreed with the rector in thinking
that the Earl's case had been mismanaged. There was surely enough of
ground for a prolonged fight to have enabled the Lovel party to have
driven their opponents to a compromise. There was a feeling that the
Solicitor-General had been carried away by some romantic idea of
abstract right, and had acted in direct opposition to all the usages
of forensic advocacy as established in England. What was it to him
whether the Countess were or were not a real Countess? It had been
his duty to get what he could for the Earl, his client. There had
been much to get, and with patience no doubt something might have
been got. But he had gotten nothing. Many thought that he had
altogether cut his own throat, and that he would have to take the
first "puny" judgeship vacant. "He is a great man,--a very great man
indeed," said the Attorney-General, in answer to some one who was
abusing Sir William. "There is not one of us can hold a candle to
him. But, then, as I have always said, he ought to have been a poet!"

In discussing the Solicitor-General's conduct men thought more
of Lady Anna than her mother. The truth about Lady Anna and her
engagement was generally known in a misty, hazy, half-truthful
manner. That she was engaged to marry Daniel Thwaite, who was now
becoming famous and the cause of a greatly increased business in
Wigmore Street, was certain. It was certain also that the Earl had
desired to marry her. But as to the condition in which the matter
stood at present there was a very divided opinion. Not a few were
positive that a written engagement had been given to the Earl that
he should have the heiress before the Solicitor-General had made his
speech,--but, according to these, the tailor's hold over the young
lady was so strong, that she now refused to abide by her own compact.
She was in the tailor's hands and the tailor could do what he liked
with her. It was known that Lady Anna was in Bedford Square, and not
a few walked before the Serjeant's house in the hopes of seeing her.
The romance at any rate was not over, and possibly there might even
yet be a compromise. If the Earl could get even five thousand a year
out of the property, it was thought that the Solicitor-General might
hold his own and in due time become at any rate a Chief Baron.

In the mean time Daniel Thwaite remained in moody silence among the
workmen in Wigmore Street, unseen of any of those who rushed there
for new liveries in order that they might catch a glimpse of the
successful hero,--till one morning, about five days after the trial
was over, when he received a letter from Messrs. Goffe and Goffe.
Messrs. Goffe and Goffe had the pleasure of informing him that an
accurate account of all money transactions between Countess Lovel
and his father had been kept by the Countess;--that the Countess on
behalf of herself and Lady Anna Lovel acknowledged a debt due to the
estate of the late Mr. Thomas Thwaite, amounting to £9,109 3_s._
4_d._, and that a cheque to that amount should be at once handed to
him,--Daniel Thwaite the son,--if he would call at the chambers of
Messrs. Goffe and Goffe, with a certified copy of the probate of the
will of Thomas Thwaite the father.

Nine thousand pounds,--and that to be paid to him immediately,--on
that very day if he chose to call for it! The copy of the probate of
the will he had in his pocket at that moment. But he worked out his
day's work without going near Goffe and Goffe. And yet he thought
much of his money; and once, when one of his employers spoke to
him somewhat roughly, he remembered that he was probably a better
man than his master. What should he now do with himself and his
money,--how bestow himself,--how use it so that he might be of
service to the world? He would go no doubt to some country in which
there were no earls and no countesses;--but he could go nowhere till
he should know what might be his fate with the Earl's daughter, who
at present was his destiny. His mind was absolutely divided. In one
hour he would say to himself that the poet was certainly right;--and
in the next he was sure that the poet must have been wrong. As
regarded money, nine thousand pounds was as good to him as any sum
that could be named. He could do with that all that he required that
money should do for him. Could he at this time have had his own way
absolutely, he would have left all the remainder of the wealth behind
him, to be shared as they pleased to share it between the Earl and
the Countess, and he would have gone at once, taking with him the
girl whom he loved. He would have revelled in the pride of thinking
that all of them should say that he had wanted and had won the girl
only,--and not the wealth of the Lovels; that he had taken only what
was his own, and that his wife would be dependent on him, not he on
her. But this was not possible. It was now months since he had heard
the girl's voice, or had received any assurance from her that she
was still true to him. But, in lieu of this, he had the assurance
that she was in possession of enormous wealth, and that she was the
recognised cousin of lords and ladies by the dozen.

When the evening came he saw one of his employers and told the man
that he wished that his place might be filled. Why was he going? Did
he expect to better himself? When was he going? Was he in earnest?
Daniel told the truth at once as far as the payment of the money was
concerned. He was to receive on the following day a sum of money
which had been due to his father, and, when that should have been
paid him, it would not suit him to work longer for weekly wages. The
tailor grumbled, but there was nothing else to be said. Thwaite might
leave them to-morrow if he wished. Thwaite took him at his word and
never returned to the shop in Wigmore Street after that night.

On reaching his lodgings he found another letter,--from Serjeant
Bluestone. The Countess had so far given way as to accede to the
proposition that there should be a meeting between her daughter and
the tailor, and then there had arisen the question as to the manner
in which this meeting should be arranged. The Countess would not
write herself, nor would she allow her daughter to do so. It was
desirable, she thought, that as few people should know of the meeting
as possible, and at last, most unwillingly, the Serjeant undertook
the task of arranging it. He wrote therefore as follows;--


   Mr. Serjeant Bluestone presents his compliments to Mr.
   Daniel Thwaite. Mr. Thwaite has no doubt heard of the
   result of the trial by which the Countess Lovel and her
   daughter have succeeded in obtaining the recognition of
   their rank. It is in contemplation with the Countess and
   Lady Anna Lovel to go abroad, but Lady Anna is desirous
   before she goes of seeing the son of the man who was her
   mother's staunch friend during many years of suffering.
   Lady Anna will be at home, at No. ---- Keppel Street, at
   eleven o'clock on Monday, 23rd instant, if Mr. Thwaite can
   make it convenient to call then and there.

   Bedford Square,
   17th November, 18--.

   If Mr. Thwaite could call on the Serjeant before that
   date, either early in the morning at his house, or on
   Saturday at his chambers, ---- ----, Inner Temple, it
   might perhaps be serviceable.


The postscript had not been added without much consideration. What
would the tailor think of this invitation? Would he not be disposed
to take it as encouragement in his pernicious suit? Would he not
go to Keppel Street with a determination to insist upon the girl's
promise? The Serjeant had thought that it would be best to let the
thing take its chance. But the Serjeant's wife, and the Serjeant's
daughters, and the Countess, too, had all agreed that something if
possible should be said to disabuse him of this idea. He was to have
nine thousand pounds paid to him. Surely that might be sufficient.
But, if he was greedy and wanted more money, more money should be
given to him. Only he must be made to understand that the marriage
was out of the question. So the Serjeant again gave way, and proposed
the interview. Daniel sent back his compliments to the Serjeant
and begged to say he would do as he was bid. He would call at the
Serjeant's chambers on the Saturday, and in Keppel Street on the
following Monday, at the hours named.

On the next morning,--the first morning of his freedom from the
servitude of Wigmore Street,--he went to Messrs. Goffe and Goffe. He
got up late and breakfasted late, in order that he might feel what it
was to be an idle man. "I might now be as idle as the young Earl,"
he said to himself; "but were I to attempt it, what should I do with
myself? How should I make the hours pass by?" He felt that he was
lauding himself as the idea passed through his mind, and struggled to
quench his own pride. "And yet," said he in his thoughts, "is it not
fit that I should know myself to be better than he is? If I have no
self-confidence, how can I be bold to persevere? The man that works
is to him that is idle, as light is to darkness."

He was admitted at once to Mr. Goffe's private room, and was received
with a smiling welcome, and an outstretched hand. "I am delighted,
Mr. Thwaite, to be able to settle your claim on Lady Lovel with so
little delay. I hope you are satisfied with her ladyship's statement
of the account."

"Much more than satisfied with the amount. It appeared to me that I
had no legal claim for more than a few hundred pounds."

"We knew better than that, Mr. Thwaite. We should have seen that no
great injury was done. But luckily the Countess has been careful, and
has put down each sum advanced, item by item. Full interest has been
allowed at five per cent., as is quite proper. The Countess is an
excellent woman of business."

"No doubt, Mr. Goffe. I could have wished that she would have
condescended to honour me with a line;--but that is a matter of
feeling."

"Oh, Mr. Thwaite; there are reasons;--you must know that there are
reasons."

"There may be good reasons or bad reasons."

"And there may be good judgment in such matters and bad judgment.
But, however,--. You will like to have this money by a cheque, no
doubt. There it is, £9,109 3_s._ 4_d._ It is not often that we write
one cheque for a bigger sum than that, Mr. Thwaite. Shall I cross it
on your bankers? No bankers! With such a sum as that let me recommend
you to open an account at once." And Mr. Goffe absolutely walked down
to Fleet Street with Daniel Thwaite the tailor, and introduced him at
his own bank. The business was soon transacted, and Daniel Thwaite
went away westward, a capitalist, with a cheque book in his pocket.
What was he to do with himself? He walked east again before the day
was over, and made inquiries at various offices as to vessels sailing
for Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Quebec. Or how would it be with
him if he should be minded to go east instead of west? So he supplied
himself also with information as to vessels for Sydney. And what
should he do when he got to the new country? He did not mean to be a
tailor. He was astonished to find how little he had as yet realised
in his mind the details of the exodus which he had proposed to
himself.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

I WILL TAKE YOUR WORD FOR NOTHING.


On the Saturday, Daniel was at the Serjeant's chambers early in the
morning,--long before the hour at which the Serjeant himself was wont
to attend. No time had in fact been named, and the tailor had chosen
to suppose that as he had been desired to be early in Bedford Square,
so had it also been intended that he should be early in the Temple.
For two hours he walked about the passages and the courts, thinking
ill of the lawyer for being so late at his business, and endeavouring
to determine what he would do with himself. He had not a friend in
the world, unless Lady Anna were a friend;--hardly an acquaintance.
And yet, remembering what his father had done, what he himself had
helped to do, he thought that he ought to have had many friends.
Those very persons who were now his bitterest enemies, the Countess
and all they who had supported her, should have been bound to him by
close ties. Yet he knew that it was impossible that they should not
hate him. He could understand their feelings with reference to their
own rank, though to him that rank was contemptible. Of course he was
alone. Of course he would fail. He was almost prepared to acknowledge
as much to the Serjeant. He had heard of a certain vessel that would
start in three days for the rising colony called New South Wales, and
he almost wished that he had taken his passage in her.

At ten o'clock he had been desired to call at eleven, and as the
clock struck eleven he knocked at the Serjeant's door. "Serjeant
Bluestone is not here yet," said the clerk, who was disposed to be
annoyed by the man's pertinacity.

"He told me to come early in the morning, and this is not early."

"He is not here yet, sir."

"You told me to come at eleven, and it is past eleven."

"It is one minute past, and you can sit down and wait for him if you
please." Daniel refused to wait, and was again about to depart in
his wrath, when the Serjeant appeared upon the stairs. He introduced
himself, and expressed regret that he should have found his visitor
there before him. Daniel, muttering something, followed the lawyer
into his room, and then the door was closed. He stood till he was
invited to sit, and was determined to make himself disagreeable. This
man was one of his enemies,--was one who no doubt thought little
of him because he was a tailor, who suspected his motives, and was
anxious to rob him of his bride. The Serjeant retired for a moment
to an inner room, while the tailor girded up his loins and prepared
himself for battle.

"Mr. Thwaite," said the Serjeant, as he re-entered the room, "you
probably know that I have been counsel for Lady Lovel and her
daughter in the late trial." Daniel assented by a nod of his head.
"My connection with the Countess would naturally have been then
closed. We have gained our cause, and there would be an end of it.
But as things have turned out it has been otherwise. Lady Anna Lovel
has been staying with Mrs. Bluestone."

"In Bedford Square?"

"Yes, at my house."

"I did not know. The Countess told me she was not in Keppel Street,
but refused to inform me where she was staying. I should not have
interfered with her ladyship's plans, had she been less secret with
me."

"Surely it was unnecessary that she should tell you."

"Quite unnecessary;--but hardly unnatural after all that has
occurred. As the Countess is with you only a friend of late date, you
are probably unaware of the former friendship which existed between
us. There was a time in which I certainly did not think that Lady
Lovel would ever decline to speak to me about her daughter. But all
this is nothing to you, Serjeant Bluestone."

"It is something to me, Mr. Thwaite, as her friend. Is there no
reason why she should have treated you thus? Ask your own
conscience."

"My conscience is clear in the matter."

"I have sent for you here, Mr. Thwaite, to ask you whether you cannot
yourself understand that this which you have proposed to do must
make you an enemy to the Countess, and annul and set aside all that
kindness which you have shown her? I put it to your own reason. Do
you think it possible that the Countess should be otherwise than
outraged at the proposition you have made to her?"

"I have made no proposition to her ladyship."

"Have you made none to her daughter?"

"Certainly I have. I have asked her to be my wife."

"Come, Mr. Thwaite, do not palter with me."

"Palter with you! Who dares to say that I palter? I have never
paltered. Paltering is--lying, as I take it. Let the Countess be my
enemy. I have not said that she should not be so. She might have
answered my letter, I think, when the old man died. In our rank of
life we should have done so. It may be different with lords and
titled ladies. Let it pass, however. I did not mean to make any
complaint. I came here because you sent for me."

"Yes;--I did send for you," said the Serjeant, wishing with all his
heart that he had never been persuaded to take a step which imposed
upon him so great a difficulty. "I did send for you. Lady Anna Lovel
has expressed a wish to see you, before she leaves London."

"I will wait upon Lady Anna Lovel."

"I need hardly tell you that her wish has been opposed by her
friends."

"No doubt it was."

"But she has said with so much earnestness that she cannot consider
herself to be absolved from the promise which she made to you when
she was a child--"

"She was no child when she made it."

"It does not signify. She cannot be absolved from the promise which I
suppose she did make--"

"She certainly made it, Serjeant Bluestone."

"Will you allow me to continue my statement? It will not occupy you
long. She assures her mother that she cannot consider herself to be
absolved from that promise without your sanction. She has been living
in my house for some weeks, and I do not myself doubt in the least
that were she thus freed an alliance would soon be arranged between
her and her cousin."

"I have heard of that--alliance."

"It would be in every respect a most satisfactory and happy marriage.
The young Earl has behaved with great consideration and forbearance
in abstaining from pushing his claims."

"In abstaining from asking for that which he did not believe to be
his own."

"You had better hear me to the end, Mr. Thwaite. All the friends of
the two young people desire it. The Earl himself is warmly attached
to his cousin."

"So am I,--and have been for many years."

"We all believe that she loves him."

"Let her say so to me, Serjeant Bluestone, and there shall be an end
of it all. It seems to me that Lord Lovel and I have different ideas
about a woman. I would not take the hand of a girl who told me that
she loved another man, even though she was as dear to me, as,--as
Lady Anna is dear to me now. And as for what she might have in
her hand, it would go for naught with me, though I might have to
face beggary without her. It seems to me that Lord Lovel is less
particular in this matter."

"I do not see that you and I have anything to do with that," replied
the Serjeant, hardly knowing what to say.

"I have nothing to do with Lord Lovel, certainly,--nor has he with
me. As to his cousin,--it is for her to choose."

"We think,--I am only telling you what we think;--but we think, Mr.
Thwaite, that the young lady's affections are fixed on her cousin. It
is natural that they should be so; and watching her as closely as we
can, we believe such to be the case. I will be quite on the square
with you, Mr. Thwaite."

"With me and with everybody else, I hope, Serjeant Bluestone."

"I hope so," said the Serjeant, laughing; "but at any rate I will
be so with you now. We have been unable to get from Lady Anna any
certain reply,--any assurance of her own wishes. She has told her
mother that she cannot accept Lord Lovel's addresses till she has
seen you." The Serjeant in this was not quite on the square, as Lady
Anna had never said so. "We believe that she considers it necessary,
to her conscience, to be made free by your permission, before she can
follow her own inclinations and accede to those of all her friends."

"She shall have my permission in a moment,--if she will ask for it."

"Could you not be more generous even than that?"

"How more generous, Serjeant Bluestone?"

"Offer it to her unasked. You have already said that you would
not accept her hand if you did not believe that you had her heart
also,--and the sentiment did you honour. Think of her condition, and
be generous to her."

"Generous to her! You mean generous to Lady Lovel,--generous to Lord
Lovel,--generous to all the Lovels except her. It seems to me that
all the generosity is to be on one side."

"By no means. We can be generous too."

"If that be generosity, I will be generous. I will offer her that
permission. I will not wait till she asks for it. I will beg her to
tell me if it be true that she loves this cousin, and if she can say
that it is true, she shall want no permission from me to be free. She
shall be free."

"It is not a question, you see, between yourself and Lord Lovel. It
is quite out of the question that she should in any event become your
wife. Even had she power to do it--"

"She has the power."

"Practically she has no such power, Mr. Thwaite. A young person such
as Lady Anna Lovel is and must be under the control of her natural
guardian. She is so altogether. Her mother could not,--and would
not,--constrain her to any marriage; but has quite sufficient power
over her to prevent any marriage. Lady Anna has never for a moment
supposed that she could become your wife since she learned what were
the feelings of her mother and her family." The Serjeant certainly
did not keep his promise of being "on the square." "But your
generosity is necessary to enable Lady Lovel to bring to a happy
termination all those sufferings with which her life has been
afflicted."

"I do not owe much to the Countess; but if it be generous to do as I
have said I would do,--I will be generous. I will tell her daughter,
without any question asked from her, that she is free to marry her
cousin if she wishes."

So far the Serjeant, though he had not been altogether as truthful
as he had promised, had been discreet. He had said nothing to set
the tailor vehemently against the Lovel interest, and had succeeded
in obtaining a useful pledge. But, in his next attempt, he was less
wise. "I think, you know, Mr. Thwaite, that the Countess also has
been generous."

"As how?"

"You have received £9,000 already, I believe."

"I have received what I presume to be my own. If I have had more it
shall be refunded."

"No;--no; by no means. Taking a liberal view of the matter, as the
Countess was bound to do in honour, she was, I think, right in paying
you what she has paid."

"I want nothing from her in what you call honour. I want nothing
liberal. If the money be not mine in common honesty she shall have it
back again. I want nothing but my own."

"I think you are a little high flown, Mr. Thwaite."

"I dare say I may be,--to the thinking of a lawyer."

"The Countess, who is in truth your friend,--and will always be your
friend if you will only be amenable to reason,--has been delighted
to think that you are now in possession of a sum of money which will
place you above want."

"The Countess is very kind."

"And I can say more than that. She and all her friends are aware how
much is due to your father's son. If you will only aid us in our
present project, if you will enable Lady Anna to become the wife of
her cousin the Earl, much more shall be done than the mere payment
of the debt which was due to you. It has been proposed to settle on
you for life an annuity of four hundred pounds a year. To this the
Countess, Earl Lovel, and Lady Anna will all agree."

"Has the consent of Lady Anna been asked?" demanded the tailor, in a
voice which was low, but which the Serjeant felt at the moment to be
dangerous.

"You may take my word that it shall be forthcoming," said the
Serjeant.

"I will take your word for nothing, Serjeant Bluestone. I do not
think that among you all, you would dare to make such a proposition
to Lady Anna Lovel, and I wonder that you should dare to make it to
me. What have you seen in me to lead you to suppose that I would sell
myself for a bribe? And how can you have been so unwise as to offer
it after I have told you that she shall be free,--if she chooses to
be free? But it is all one. You deal in subterfuges till you think it
impossible that a man should be honest. You mine underground, till
your eyes see nothing in the open daylight. You walk crookedly, till
a straight path is an abomination to you. Four hundred a year is
nothing to me for such a purpose as this,--would have been nothing
to me even though no penny had been paid to me of the money which
is my own. I can easily understand what it is that makes the Earl
so devoted a lover. His devotion began when he had been told that
the money was hers and not his,--and that in no other way could he
get it. Mine began when no one believed that she would ever have
a shilling for her fortune,--when all who bore her name and her
mother's ridiculed their claim. Mine was growing when my father first
asked me whether I grudged that he should spend all that he had in
their behalf. Mine came from giving. His springs from the desire to
get. Make the four hundred, four thousand;--make it eight thousand,
Serjeant Bluestone, and offer it to him. I also will agree. With him
you may succeed. Good morning, Serjeant Bluestone. On Monday next I
will not be worse than my word,--even though you have offered me a
bribe."

The Serjeant let the tailor go without a word further,--not, indeed,
having a word to say. He had been insulted in his own chambers,--told
that his word was worthless, and his honesty questionable. But he
had been so told, that at the moment he had been unable to stop the
speaker. He had sat, and smiled, and stroked his chin, and looked
at the tailor as though he had been endeavouring to comfort himself
with the idea that the man addressing him was merely an ignorant,
half-mad, enthusiastic tailor, from whom decent conduct could not be
expected. He was still smiling when Daniel Thwaite closed the door,
and he almost laughed as he asked his clerk whether that energetic
gentleman had taken himself down-stairs. "Oh, yes, sir; he glared
at me when I opened the door, and rushed down four steps at a time."
But, on the whole, the Serjeant was contented with the interview. It
would, no doubt, have been better had he said nothing of the four
hundred a year. But in the offering of bribes there is always that
danger. One can never be sure who will swallow his douceur at an easy
gulp, so as hardly to betray an effort, and who will refuse even to
open his lips. And then the latter man has the briber so much at
advantage. When the luscious morsel has been refused, it is so easy
to be indignant, so pleasant to be enthusiastically virtuous! The
bribe had been refused, and so far the Serjeant had failed;--but the
desired promise had been made, and the Serjeant felt certain that it
would be kept. He did not doubt but that Daniel Thwaite would himself
offer the girl her freedom. But there was something in the man,
though he was a tailor. He had an eye and a voice, and it might be
that freedom offered, as he could offer it, would not be accepted.

Daniel, as he went out into the court from the lawyer's presence, was
less satisfied than the lawyer. He had told the lawyer that his word
was worth nothing, and yet he had believed much that the lawyer had
said to him. The lawyer had told him that the girl loved her cousin,
and only wanted his permission to be free that she might give her
hand and her heart together to the young lord. Was it not natural
that she should wish to do so? Within each hour, almost within
each minute, he regarded the matter in lights that were perfectly
antagonistic to each other. It was natural that she should wish to be
a Countess, and that she should love a young lord who was gentle and
beautiful;--and she should have his permission accorded freely. But
then, again, it was most unnatural, bestial, and almost monstrous,
that a girl should change her love for a man, going from one man to
another, simply because the latter man was gilt with gold, and decked
with jewels, and sweet with perfume from a hairdresser's. The poet
must have been wrong there. If love be anything but a dream, surely
it must adhere to the person, and not be liable to change at every
offered vantage of name or birth, of rank or wealth.

But she should have the offer. She should certainly have the offer.



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE SERJEANT AND MRS. BLUESTONE AT HOME.


Lady Anna was not told till the Saturday that she was to meet her
lover, the tailor, on the following Monday. She was living at
this time, as it were, in chains, though the chains were gilded.
It was possible that she might be off at any moment with Daniel
Thwaite,--and now the more possible because he had money at his
command. If this should occur, then would the game which the Countess
and her friends were playing, be altogether lost. Then would the
checkmate have been absolute. The reader will have known that such
a step had never been contemplated by the man, and will also have
perceived that it would have been altogether opposed to the girl's
character; but it is hoped that the reader has looked more closely
into the man's motives and the girl's character than even her mother
was able to do. The Countess had thought that she had known her
daughter. She had been mistaken, and now there was hardly anything
of which she could not suspect her girl to be capable. Lady Anna was
watched, therefore, during every minute of the four and twenty hours.
A policeman was told off to protect the house at night from rope
ladders or any other less cumbrous ingenuity. The servants were set
on guard. Sarah, the lady's-maid, followed her mistress almost like
a ghost when the poor young lady went to her bedroom. Mrs. Bluestone,
or one of the girls, was always with her, either indoors or out of
doors. Out of doors, indeed, she never went without more guards than
one. A carriage had been hired,--a luxury with which Mrs. Bluestone
had hitherto dispensed,--and the carriage was always there when Lady
Anna suggested that she should like to leave the house. She was
warmly invited to go shopping, and made to understand that in the way
of ordinary shopping she could buy what she pleased. But her life was
inexpressibly miserable. "What does mamma mean to do?" she said to
Mrs. Bluestone on the Saturday morning.

"In what way, my dear?"

"Where does she mean to go? She won't live always in Keppel Street?"

"No,--I do not think that she will live always in Keppel Street. It
depends a good deal upon you, I think."

"I will go wherever she pleases to take me. The lawsuit is over now,
and I don't know why we should stay here. I am sure you can't like
it."

To tell the truth, Mrs. Bluestone did not like it at all.
Circumstances had made her a gaoler, but by nature she was very ill
constituted for that office. The harshness of it was detestable to
her, and then there was no reason whatever why she should sacrifice
her domestic comfort for the Lovels. The thing had grown upon them,
till the Lovels had become an incubus to her. Personally, she liked
Lady Anna, but she was unable to treat Lady Anna as she would treat
any other girl that she liked. She had told the Serjeant more than
once that she could not endure it much longer. And the Serjeant did
not like it better than did his wife. It was all a labour of love,
and a most unpleasant labour. "The Countess must take her away," the
Serjeant had said. And now the Serjeant had been told by the tailor,
in his own chambers, that his word was worth nothing!

"To tell you the truth, Lady Anna, we none of us like it,--not
because we do not like you, but because the whole thing is
disagreeable. You are creating very great misery, my dear, because
you are obstinate."

"Because I won't marry my cousin?"

"No, my dear; not because you won't marry your cousin. I have never
advised you to marry your cousin, unless you could love him. I don't
think girls should ever be told to marry this man or that. But it is
very proper that they should be told not to marry this man or that.
You are making everybody about you miserable, because you will not
give up a most improper engagement, made with a man who is in every
respect beneath you."

"I wish I were dead," said Lady Anna.

"It is very easy to say that, my dear; but what you ought to wish is,
to do your duty."

"I do wish to do my duty, Mrs. Bluestone."

"It can't be dutiful to stand out against your mother in this way.
You are breaking your mother's heart. And if you were to do this
thing, you would soon find that you had broken your own. It is
downright obstinacy. I don't like to be harsh, but as you are here,
in my charge, I am bound to tell you the truth."

"I wish mamma would let me go away," said Lady Anna, bursting into
tears.

"She will let you go at once, if you will only make the promise that
she asks of you." In saying this, Mrs. Bluestone was hardly more upon
the square than her husband had been, for she knew very well, at that
moment, that Lady Anna was to go to Keppel Street early on the Monday
morning, and she had quite made up her mind that her guest should not
come back to Bedford Square. She had now been moved to the special
severity which she had shown by certain annoyances of her own to
which she had been subjected by the presence of Lady Anna in her
house. She could neither entertain her friends nor go out to be
entertained by them, and had told the Serjeant more than once that
a great mistake had been made in having the girl there at all. But
judgment had operated with her as well as feeling. It was necessary
that Lady Anna should be made to understand before she saw the tailor
that she could not be happy, could not be comfortable, could not be
other than very wretched,--till she had altogether dismissed her
low-born lover.

"I did not think you would be so unkind to me," sobbed Lady Anna
through her tears.

"I do not mean to be unkind, but you must be told the truth. Every
minute that you spend in thinking of that man is a disgrace to you."

"Then I shall be disgraced all my life," said Lady Anna, bursting out
of the room.

On that day the Serjeant dined at his club, but came home about nine
o'clock. It had all been planned so that the information might be
given in the most solemn manner possible. The two girls were sitting
up in the drawing-room with the guest who, since the conversation in
the morning, had only seen Mrs. Bluestone during dinner. First there
was the knock at the door, and then, after a quarter of an hour,
which was spent up-stairs in perfect silence, there came a message.
Would Lady Anna have the kindness to go to the Serjeant in the
dining-room. In silence she left the room, and in silence descended
the broad staircase. The Serjeant and Mrs. Bluestone were sitting
on one side of the fireplace, the Serjeant in his own peculiar
arm-chair, and the lady close to the fender, while a seat opposite to
them had been placed for Lady Anna. The room was gloomy with dark red
curtains and dark flock paper. On the table there burned two candles,
and no more. The Serjeant got up and motioned Lady Anna to a chair.
As soon as she had seated herself, he began his speech. "My dear
young lady, you must be no doubt aware that you are at present
causing a great deal of trouble to your best friends."

"I don't want to cause anybody trouble," said Lady Anna, thinking
that the Serjeant in speaking of her best friends alluded to himself
and his wife. "I only want to go away."

"I am coming to that directly, my dear. I cannot suppose that you
do not understand the extent of the sorrow that you have inflicted
on your parent by,--by the declaration which you made to Lord Lovel
in regard to Mr. Daniel Thwaite." There is nothing, perhaps, in the
way of exhortation and scolding which the ordinary daughter,--or
son,--dislikes so much as to be told of her, or his, "parent." "My
dear fellow, your father will be annoyed," is taken in good part.
"What will mamma say?" is seldom received amiss. But when young
people have their "parents" thrown at them, they feel themselves
to be aggrieved, and become at once antagonistic. Lady Anna became
strongly antagonistic. If her mother, who had always been to her
her "own, own mamma," was going to be her parent, there must be an
end of all hope of happiness. She said nothing, but compressed her
lips together. She would not allow herself to be led an inch any
way by a man who talked to her of her parent. "The very idea of
such a marriage as this man had suggested to you under the guise
of friendship was dreadful to her. It could be no more than an
idea;--but that you should have entertained it was dreadful. She has
since asked you again and again to repudiate the idea, and hitherto
you have refused to obey."

"I can never know what mamma really wants till I go and live with her
again."

"I am coming to that, Lady Anna. The Countess has informed Mrs.
Bluestone that you had refused to give the desired promise unless you
should be allowed to see Mr. Daniel Thwaite, intimating, I presume,
that his permission would be necessary to free you from your
imaginary bond to him."

"It would be necessary."

"Very well. The Countess naturally felt an abhorrence at allowing
you again to be in the presence of one so much beneath you,--who
had ventured to address you as he has done. It was a most natural
feeling. But it has occurred to Mrs. Bluestone and myself, that as
you entertain this idea of an obligation, you should be allowed to
extricate yourself from it after your own fashion. You are to meet
Mr. Thwaite,--on Monday,--at eleven o'clock,--in Keppel Street."

"And I am not to come back again?"

When one executes the office of gaoler without fee or reward, giving
up to one's prisoner one's best bedroom, and having a company dinner,
more or less, cooked for one's prisoner every day, one does not like
to be told too plainly of the anticipated joys of enfranchisement.
Mrs. Bluestone, who had done her best both for the mother and the
girl, and had done it all from pure motherly sympathy, was a little
hurt. "I am sure, Lady Anna, we shall not wish you to return," she
said.

"Oh, Mrs. Bluestone, you don't understand me. I don't think you know
how unhappy I am because of mamma."

Mrs. Bluestone relented at once. "If you will only do as your mamma
wishes, everything will be made happy for you."

"Mr. Thwaite will be in Keppel Street at eleven o'clock on Monday,"
continued the Serjeant, "and an opportunity will then be given you
of obtaining from him a release from that unfortunate promise which
I believe you once made him. I may tell you that he has expressed
himself willing to give you that release. The debt due to him, or
rather to his late father, has now been paid by the estate, and
I think you will find that he will make no difficulty. After that
anything that he may require shall be done to forward his views."

"Am I to take my things?" she asked.

"Sarah shall pack them up, and they shall be sent after you if it be
decided that you are to stay with Lady Lovel." They then went to bed.

In all this neither the Serjeant nor his wife had been "on the
square." Neither of them had spoken truly to the girl. Mrs. Bluestone
had let the Countess know that with all her desire to assist her
ladyship, and her ladyship's daughter, she could not receive Lady
Anna back in Bedford Square. As for that sending of her things upon
certain conditions,--it was a simple falsehood. The things would
certainly be sent. And the Serjeant, without uttering an actual lie,
had endeavoured to make the girl think that the tailor was in pursuit
of money,--and of money only, though he must have known that it was
not so. The Serjeant no doubt hated a lie,--as most of us do hate
lies; and had a strong conviction that the devil is the father of
them. But then the lies which he hated, and as to the parentage of
which he was quite certain, were lies told to him. Who yet ever met
a man who did not in his heart of hearts despise an attempt made by
others to deceive--himself? They whom we have found to be gentler in
their judgment towards attempts made in another direction have been
more than one or two. The object which the Serjeant had in view was
so good that it seemed to him to warrant some slight deviation from
parallelogrammatic squareness;--though he held it as one of his first
rules of life that the end cannot justify the means.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

IT IS STILL TRUE.


On Sunday they all went to church, and not a word was said about the
tailor. Alice Bluestone was tender and valedictory; Mrs. Bluestone
was courteous and careful; the Serjeant was solemn and civil. Before
the day was over Lady Anna was quite sure that it was not intended
that she should come back to Bedford Square. Words were said by the
two girls, and by Sarah the waiting-maid, which made it certain that
the packing up was to be a real packing up. No hindrance was offered
to her when she busied herself about her own dresses and folded up
her stock of gloves and ribbons. On Monday morning after breakfast,
Mrs. Bluestone nearly broke down. "I am sure, my dear," she said,
"we have liked you very much, and if there has been anything
uncomfortable it has been from unfortunate circumstances." The
Serjeant bade God bless her when he walked off half an hour before
the carriage came to take her, and she knew that she was to sit no
longer as a guest at the Serjeant's table. She kissed the girls, was
kissed by Mrs. Bluestone, got into the carriage with the maid, and in
her heart said good-bye to Bedford Square for ever.

It was but three minutes' drive from the Serjeant's house to that in
which her mother lived, and in that moment of time she was hardly
able to realise the fact that within half an hour she would be once
more in the presence of Daniel Thwaite. She did not at present at all
understand why this thing was to be done. When last she had seen her
mother, the Countess had solemnly declared, had almost sworn, that
they two should never see each other again. And now the meeting was
so close at hand that the man must already be near her. She put up
her face to the carriage window as though she almost expected to
see him on the pavement. And how would the meeting be arranged?
Would her mother be present? She took it for granted that her
mother would be present. She certainly anticipated no pleasure from
the meeting,--though she would be glad, very glad, to see Daniel
Thwaite once again. Before she had time to answer herself a question
the carriage had stopped, and she could see her mother at the
drawing-room window. She trembled as she went up-stairs, and hardly
could speak when she found herself in her mother's presence. If her
mother had worn the old brown gown it would have been better, but
there she was, arrayed in black silk,--in silk that was new and stiff
and broad and solemn,--a parent rather than a mother, and every inch
a Countess. "I am so glad to be with you again, mamma."

"I shall not be less glad to have you with me, Anna,--if you will
behave yourself with propriety."

"Give me a kiss, mamma." Then the Countess bent her head and allowed
her daughter's lips to touch her cheeks. In old days,--days that were
not so very old,--she would kiss her child as though such embraces
were the only food that nourished her.

"Come up-stairs, and I will show you your room." Then the daughter
followed the mother in solemn silence. "You have heard that Mr.
Daniel Thwaite is coming here, to see you, at your own request. It
will not be many minutes before he is here. Take off your bonnet."
Again Lady Anna silently did as she was bid. "It would have been
better,--very much better,--that you should have done as you were
desired without subjecting me to this indignity. But as you have
taken into your head an idea that you cannot be absolved from an
impossible engagement without his permission, I have submitted. Do
not let it be long, and let me hear then that all this nonsense is
over. He has got what he desires, as a very large sum of money has
been paid to him." Then there came a knock at the door from Sarah,
who just showed her face to say that Mr. Thwaite was in the room
below. "Now go down. In ten minutes I shall expect to see you here
again;--or, after that, I shall come down to you." Lady Anna took her
mother by the hand, looking up with beseeching eyes into her mother's
face. "Go, my dear, and let this be done as quickly as possible. I
believe that you have too great a sense of propriety to let him do
more than speak to you. Remember,--you are the daughter of an earl;
and remember also all that I have done to establish your right for
you."

"Mamma, I do not know what to do. I am afraid."

"Shall I go with you, Anna?"

"No, mamma;--it will be better without you. You do not know how good
he is."

"If he will abandon this madness he shall be my friend of friends."

"Oh, mamma, I am afraid. But I had better go." Then, trembling she
left the room and slowly descended the stairs. She had certainly
spoken the truth in saying that she was afraid. Up to this moment
she had not positively made up her mind whether she would or would
not yield to the entreaties of her friends. She had decided upon
nothing,--leaving in fact the arbitrament of her faith in the hands
of the man who had now come to see her. Throughout all that had been
said and done her sympathies had been with him, and had become the
stronger the more her friends had reviled him. She knew that they had
spoken evil of him, not because he was evil,--but with the unholy
view of making her believe what was false. She had seen through all
this, and had been aroused by it to a degree of firmness of which
her mother had not imagined her to be capable. Had they confined
themselves to the argument of present fitness, admitting the truth
and honesty of the man,--and admitting also that his love for her and
hers for him had been the natural growth of the familiar friendship
of their childhood and youth, their chance of moulding her to their
purposes would have been better. As it was they had never argued with
her on the subject without putting forward some statement which she
found herself bound to combat. She was told continually that she had
degraded herself; and she could understand that another Lady Anna
might degrade herself most thoroughly by listening to the suit of
a tailor. But she had not disgraced herself. Of that she was sure,
though she could not well explain to them her reasons when they
accused her. Circumstances, and her mother's mode of living, had
thrown her into intimacy with this man. For all practical purposes
of life he had been her equal,--and being so had become her dearest
friend. To take his hand, to lean on his arm, to ask his assistance,
to go to him in her troubles, to listen to his words and to believe
them, to think of him as one who might always be trusted, had
become a second nature to her. Of course she loved him. And now
the martyrdom through which she had passed in Bedford Square had
changed,--unconsciously as regarded her own thoughts,--but still
had changed her feelings in regard to her cousin. He was not to her
now the bright and shining thing, the godlike Phoebus, which he had
been in Wyndham Street and at Yoxham. In all their lectures to her
about her title and grandeur they had succeeded in inculcating an
idea of the solemnity of rank, but had robbed it in her eyes of all
its grace. She had only been the more tormented because the fact of
her being Lady Anna Lovel had been fully established. The feeling in
her bosom which was most hostile to the tailor's claim upon her was
her pity for her mother.

She entered the room very gently, and found him standing by the
table, with his hands clasped together. "Sweetheart!" he said, as
soon as he saw her, calling her by a name which he used to use when
they were out in the fields together in Cumberland.

"Daniel!" Then he came to her and took her hand. "If you have
anything to say, Daniel, you must be very quick, because mamma will
come in ten minutes."

"Have you anything to say, sweetheart?" She had much to say if she
only knew how to say it; but she was silent. "Do you love me, Anna?"
Still she was silent. "If you have ceased to love me, pray tell me
so,--in all honesty." But yet she was silent. "If you are true to
me,--as I am to you, with all my heart,--will you not tell me so?"

"Yes," she murmured.

He heard her, though no other could have done so.


   "A lover's ears will hear the lowest sound
    When the suspicious head of theft is stopped."


"If so," said he, again taking her hand, "this story they have told
me is untrue."

"What story, Daniel?" But she withdrew her hand quickly as she asked
him.

"Nay;--it is mine; it shall be mine if you love me, dear. I will
tell you what story. They have said that you love your cousin, Earl
Lovel."

"No;" said she scornfully, "I have never said so. It is not true."

"You cannot love us both." His eye was fixed upon hers, that eye to
which in past years she had been accustomed to look for guidance,
sometimes in joy and sometimes in fear, and which she had always
obeyed. "Is not that true?"

"Oh yes;--that is true of course."

"You have never told him that you loved him."

"Oh, never."

"But you have told me so,--more than once; eh, sweetheart?"

"Yes."

"And it was true?"

She paused a moment, and then gave him the same answer, "Yes."

"And it is still true?"

She repeated the word a third time. "Yes." But she again so spoke
that none but a lover's ear could have heard it.

"If it be so, nothing but the hand of God shall separate us. You
know that they sent for me to come here." She nodded her head. "Do
you know why? In order that I might abandon my claim to your hand.
I will never give it up. But I made them a promise, and I will keep
it. I told them that if you preferred Lord Lovel to me, I would at
once make you free of your promise,--that I would offer to you such
freedom, if it would be freedom. I do offer it to you;--or rather,
Anna, I would have offered it, had you not already answered the
question. How can I offer it now?" Then he paused, and stood
regarding her with fixed eyes. "But there,--there; take back your
word if you will. If you think that it is better to be the wife of a
lord, because he is a lord, though you do not love him, than to lie
upon the breast of the man you do love,--you are free from me." Now
was the moment in which she must obey her mother, and satisfy her
friends, and support her rank, and decide that she would be one of
the noble ladies of England, if such decision were to be made at
all. She looked up into his face, and thought that after all it was
handsomer than that of the young Earl. He stood thus with dilated
nostrils, and fire in his eyes, and his lips just parted, and his
head erect,--a very man. Had she been so minded she would not have
dared to take his offer. They surely had not known the man when they
allowed him to have this interview. He repeated his words. "You are
free if you will say so;--but you must answer me."

"I did answer you, Daniel."

"My noble girl! And now, my heart's only treasure, I may speak out
and tell you what I think. It cannot be good that a woman should
purchase rank and wealth by giving herself to a man she does not
love. It must be bad,--monstrously bad. I never believed it when they
told it me of you. And yet when I did not hear of you or see you for
months--"

"It was not my fault."

"No, sweetheart;--and I tried to find comfort by so saying to myself.
'If she really loves me, she will be true,' I said. And yet who was I
that I should think that you would suffer so much for me? But I will
repay you,--if the truth and service of a life may repay such a debt
as that. At any rate hear this from me;--I will never doubt again."
And as he spoke he was moving towards her, thinking to take her in
his arms, when the door was opened and Countess Lovel was within the
room. The tailor was the first to speak. "Lady Lovel, I have asked
your daughter, and I find that it is her wish to adhere to the
engagement which she made with me in Cumberland. I need hardly say
that it is my wish also."

"Anna! Is this true?"

"Mamma; mamma! Oh, mamma!"

"If it be so I will never speak word to you more."

"You will; you will! Do not look at me like that. You will speak to
me!"

"You shall never again be child of mine." But in saying this she had
forgotten herself, and now she remembered her proper cue. "I do not
believe a word of it. The man has come here and has insulted and
frightened you. He knows,--he must know,--that such a marriage is
impossible. It can never take place. It shall never take place. Mr.
Thwaite, as you are a living man, you shall never live to marry my
daughter."

"My lady, in this matter of marriage your daughter must no doubt
decide for herself. Even now, by all the laws of God,--and I believe
of man too,--she is beyond your control either to give her in
marriage or to withhold her. In a few months she will be as much her
own mistress as you now are yours."

"Sir, I am not asking you about my child. You are insolent."

"I came here, Lady Lovel, because I was sent for."

"And now you had better leave us. You made a promise which you have
broken."

"By heavens, no. I made a promise and I have kept it. I said that I
would offer her freedom, and I have done so. I told her, and I tell
her again now, that if she will say that she prefers her cousin to
me, I will retire." The Countess looked at him and also recognised
the strength of his face, almost feeling that the man had grown in
personal dignity since he had received the money that was due to him.
"She does not prefer the Earl. She has given her heart to me; and
I hold it,--and will hold it. Look up, dear, and tell your mother
whether what I say be true."

"It is true," said Lady Anna.

"Then may the blight of hell rest upon you both!" said the Countess,
rushing to the door. But she returned. "Mr. Thwaite," she said, "I
will trouble you at once to leave the house, and never more to return
to it."

"I will leave it certainly. Good bye, my own love." He attempted
again to take the girl by the hand, but the Countess, with violence,
rushed at them and separated them. "If you but touch him, I will
strike you," she said to her daughter. "As for you, it is her money
that you want. If it be necessary, you shall have, not hers, but
mine. Now go."

"That is a slander, Lady Lovel. I want no one's money. I want the
girl I love,--whose heart I have won; and I will have her. Good
morning, Lady Lovel. Dear, dear Anna, for this time good bye. Do not
let any one make you think that I can ever be untrue to you." The
girl only looked at him. Then he left the room; and the mother and
the daughter were alone together. The Countess stood erect, looking
at her child, while Lady Anna, standing also, kept her eyes fixed
upon the ground. "Am I to believe it all,--as that man says?" asked
the Countess.

"Yes, mamma."

"Do you mean to say that you have renewed your engagement to that
low-born wretch?"

"Mamma,--he is not a wretch."

"Do you contradict me? After all, is it come to this?"

"Mamma,--you, you--cursed me."

"And you will be cursed. Do you think that you will do such
wickedness as this, that you can destroy all that I have done for
you, that you make yourself the cause of ruin to a whole family, and
that you will not be punished for it? You say that you love me."

"You know that I love you, mamma."

"And yet you do not scruple to drive me mad."

"Mamma, it was you who brought us together."

"Ungrateful child! Where else could I take you then?"

"But I was there,--and of course I loved him. I could not cease to
love him because,--because they say that I am a grand lady."

"Listen to me, Anna. You shall never marry him; never. With my own
hands I will kill him first;--or you." The girl stood looking into
her mother's face, and trembling. "Do you understand that?"

"You do not mean it, mamma."

"By the God above me, I do! Do you think that I will stop at anything
now;--after having done so much? Do you think that I will live to see
my daughter the wife of a foul, sweltering tailor? No, by heavens! He
tells you that when you are twenty-one, you will not be subject to my
control. I warn you to look to it. I will not lose my control, unless
when I see you married to some husband fitting your condition in
life. For the present you will live in your own room, as I will live
in mine. I will hold no intercourse whatever with you, till I have
constrained you to obey me."



CHAPTER XXXVII.

LET HER DIE.


After the scene which was described in the last chapter there was a
very sad time indeed in Keppel Street. The Countess had been advised
by the Serjeant and Mrs. Bluestone to take her daughter immediately
abroad, in the event of the interview with Daniel Thwaite being
unsatisfactory. It was believed by all concerned, by the Bluestones,
and the Goffes, by Sir William Patterson who had been told of the
coming interview, and by the Countess herself, that this would not
be the case. They had all thought that Lady Anna would come out
from that meeting disengaged and free to marry whom she would,--and
they thought also that within a very few weeks of her emancipation
she would accept her cousin's hand. The Solicitor-General had
communicated with the Earl, who was still in town, and the Earl again
believed that he might win the heiress. But should the girl prove
obstinate;--"take her away at once,--very far away;--to Rome, or some
such place as that." Such had been Mrs. Bluestone's advice, and in
those days Rome was much more distant than it is now. "And don't let
anybody know where you are going," added the Serjeant,--"except Mr.
Goffe." The Countess had assented;--but when the moment came, there
were reasons against her sudden departure. Mr. Goffe told her that
she must wait at any rate for another fortnight. The presence of
herself and her daughter were necessary in London for the signing
of deeds and for the completion of the now merely formal proofs of
identity. And money was again scarce. A great deal of money had been
spent lately, and unless money was borrowed without security, and at
a great cost,--to which Mr. Goffe was averse,--the sum needed could
hardly be provided at once. Mr. Goffe recommended that no day earlier
than the 20th December should be fixed for their departure.

It was now the end of November; and it became a question how the
intermediate time should be passed. The Countess was resolved that
she would hold no pleasant intercourse at all with her daughter. She
would not even tell the girl of her purpose of going abroad. From
hour to hour she assured herself with still increasing obduracy that
nothing but severity could avail anything. The girl must be cowed
and frightened into absolute submission,--even though at the expense
of her health. Even though it was to be effected by the absolute
crushing of her spirits,--this must be done. Though at the cost of
her life, it must be done. This woman had lived for the last twenty
years with but one object before her eyes,--an object sometimes
seeming to be near, more often distant, and not unfrequently
altogether beyond her reach, but which had so grown upon her
imagination as to become the heaven to which her very soul aspired.
To be and to be known to be among the highly born, the so-called
noble, the titled from old dates,--to be of those who were purely
aristocratic, had been all the world to her. As a child,--the
child of well-born but poor parents, she had received the idea. In
following it out she had thrown all thoughts of love to the wind and
had married a reprobate earl. Then had come her punishment,--or, as
she had conceived it, her most unmerited misfortunes. For many years
of her life her high courage and persistent demeanour had almost
atoned for the vice of her youth. The love of rank was strong in her
bosom as ever, but it was fostered for her child rather than for
herself. Through long, tedious, friendless, poverty-stricken years
she had endured all, still assuring herself that the day would come
when the world should call the sweet plant that grew by her side
by its proper name. The little children hooted after her daughter,
calling her girl in derision The Lady Anna,--when Lady Anna had been
more poorly clad and blessed with less of the comforts of home than
any of them. Years would roll by, and they should live to know that
the Lady Anna,--the sport of their infantine cruelty,--was Lady
Anna indeed. And as the girl became a woman the dream was becoming
a reality. The rank, the title, the general acknowledgment and
the wealth would all be there. Then came the first great decisive
triumph. Overtures of love and friendship were made from the other
side. Would Lady Anna consent to become the Countess Lovel, all
animosities might be buried, and everything be made pleasant,
prosperous, noble, and triumphant!

It is easy to fill with air a half-inflated bladder. It is already so
buoyant with its own lightness, that it yields itself with ease to
receive the generous air. The imagination of the woman flew higher
than ever it had flown when the proposition came home to her in all
its bearings. Of course it had been in her mind that her daughter
should marry well;--but there had been natural fears. Her child had
not been educated, had not lived, had not been surrounded in her
young days, as are those girls from whom the curled darlings are wont
to choose their wives. She would too probably be rough in manner,
ungentle in speech, ungifted in accomplishments, as compared with
those who from their very cradles are encompassed by the blessings of
wealth and high social standing. But when she looked at her child's
beauty, she would hope. And then her child was soft, sweet-humoured,
winning in all her little ways, pretty even in the poor duds which
were supplied to her mainly by the generosity of the tailor. And so
she would hope, and sometimes despair;--and then hope again. But she
had never hoped for anything so good as this. Such a marriage would
not only put her daughter as high as a Lovel ought to be, but would
make it known in a remarkable manner to all coming ages that she, she
herself, she the despised and slandered one,--who had been treated
almost as woman had never been treated before,--was in very truth the
Countess Lovel by whose income the family had been restored to its
old splendour.

And so the longing grew upon her. Then, almost for the first time,
did she begin to feel that it was necessary for the purposes of her
life that the girl whom she loved so thoroughly, should be a creature
in her hands, to be dealt with as she pleased. She would have had her
daughter accede to the proposed marriage even before she had seen
Lord Lovel, and was petulant when her daughter would not be as clay
in the sculptor's hand. But still the girl's refusal had been but as
the refusal of a girl. She should not have been as are other girls.
She should have known better. She should have understood what the
peculiarity of her position demanded. But it had not been so with
her. She had not soared as she should have done, above the love-laden
dreams of common maidens. And so the visit to Yoxham was permitted.
Then came the great blow,--struck as it were by a third hand, and
that the hand of an attorney. The Countess Lovel learned through Mr.
Goffe,--who had heard the tale from other lawyers,--that her daughter
Lady Anna Lovel had, with her own mouth, told her noble lover that
she was betrothed to a tailor! She felt at the moment that she could
have died,--cursing her child for this black ingratitude.

But there might still be hope. The trial was going on,--or the work
which was progressing towards the trial, and she was surrounded by
those who could advise her. Doubtless what had happened was a great
misfortune. But there was room for hope;--room for most assured hope.
The Earl was not disposed to abandon the match, though he had, of
course, been greatly annoyed,--nay, disgusted and degraded by the
girl's communication. But he had consented to see the matter in the
proper light. The young tailor had got an influence over the girl
when she was a child, was doubtless in pursuit of money, and must
be paid. The folly of a child might be forgiven, and the Earl would
persevere. No one would know what had occurred, and the thing would
be forgotten as a freak of childhood. The Countess had succumbed to
the policy of all this;--but she was not deceived by the benevolent
falsehood. Lady Anna had been over twenty when she had been receiving
lover's vows from this man, reeking from his tailor's board. And her
girl, her daughter, had deceived her. That the girl had deceived her,
saying there was no other lover, was much; but it was much more and
worse and more damnable that there had been thorough deception as
to the girl's own appreciation of her rank. The sympathy tendered
through so many years must have been always pretended sympathy. With
these feelings hot within her bosom, she could not bring herself to
speak one kindly word to Lady Anna after the return from Yoxham. The
girl was asked to abandon her odious lover with stern severity. It
was demanded of her that she should do so with cruel threats. She
would never quite yield, though she had then no strength of purpose
sufficient to enable her to declare that she would not yield. We know
how she was banished to Bedford Square, and transferred from the
ruthless persistency of her mother, to the less stern but not less
fixed manoeuvres of Mrs. Bluestone. At that moment of her existence
she was herself in doubt. In Wyndham Street and at Yoxham she had
almost more than doubted. The softness of the new Elysium had well
nigh unnerved her. When that young man had caught her from stone to
stone as she passed over the ford at Bolton, she was almost ready
to give herself to him. But then had come upon her the sense of
sickness, that faint, overdone flavour of sugared sweetness, which
arises when sweet things become too luscious to the eater. She had
struggled to be honest and strong, and had just not fallen into the
pot of treacle.

But, notwithstanding all this, they who saw her and knew the story,
were still sure that the lord must at last win the day. There was not
one who believed that such a girl could be true to such a troth as
she had made. Even the Solicitor-General, when he told the tale which
the amorous steward had remembered to his own encouragement, did not
think but what the girl and the girl's fortune would fall into the
hands of his client. Human nature demanded that it should be so.
That it should be as he wished it was so absolutely consonant with
all nature as he had known it, that he had preferred trusting to
this result, in his client's behalf, to leaving the case in a jury's
hands. At this moment he was sure he was right in his judgment. And
indeed he was right;--for no jury could have done anything for his
client.

It went on till at last the wise men decided that the girl only
wanted to be relieved by her old lover, that she might take a new
lover with his permission. The girl was no doubt peculiar; but, as
far as the wise ones could learn from her manner,--for with words
she would say nothing,--that was her state of mind. So the interview
was planned,--to the infinite disgust of the Countess, who, however,
believed that it might avail; and we know what was the result. Lady
Anna, who long had doubted,--who had at last almost begun to doubt
whether Daniel Thwaite was true to her,--had renewed her pledges,
strengthened her former promises, and was now more firmly betrothed
than ever to him whom the Countess hated as a very fiend upon earth.
But there certainly should be no marriage! Though she pistolled the
man at the altar, there should be no marriage.

And then there came upon her the infinite disgust arising from
the necessity of having to tell her sorrows to others,--who could
not sympathize with her, though their wishes were as hers. It was
hard upon her that no step could be taken by her in reference
to her daughter without the knowledge of Mr. Goffe and Serjeant
Bluestone,--and the consequent knowledge of Mr. Flick and the
Solicitor-General. It was necessary, too, that Lord Lovel should know
all. His conduct in many things must depend on the reception which
might probably be accorded to a renewal of his suit. Of course he
must be told. He had already been told that the tailor was to be
admitted to see his love, in order that she might be absolved by the
tailor from her first vow. It had not been pleasant,--but he had
acceded. Mr. Flick had taken upon himself to say that he was sure
that everything would be made pleasant. The Earl had frowned, and had
been very short with Mr. Flick. These confidences with lawyers about
his lovesuit, and his love's tone with her low-born lover, had not
been pleasant to Lord Lovel. But he had endured it,--and now he
must be told of the result. Oh, heavens;--what a hell of misery was
this girl making for her high-born relatives! But the story of the
tailor's visit to Keppel Street did not reach the unhappy ones at
Yoxham till months had passed away.

Mr. Goffe was very injudicious in postponing the departure of the
two ladies--as the Solicitor-General told Mr. Flick afterwards very
plainly, when he heard of what had been done. "Money; she might have
had any money. I would have advanced it. You would have advanced it!"
"Oh certainly," said Mr. Flick, not, however, at all relishing the
idea of advancing money to his client's adversary. "I never heard of
such folly," continued Sir William. "That comes of trusting people
who should not be trusted." But it was too late then. Lady Anna was
lying ill in bed, in fever; and three doctors doubted whether she
would ever get up again. "Would it not be better that she should
die?" said her mother to herself, standing over her and looking at
her. It would,--so thought the mother then,--be better that she
should die than get up to become the wife of Daniel Thwaite. But how
much better that she should live and become the Countess Lovel! She
still loved her child, as only a mother can love her only child,--as
only a mother can love who has no hope of joy in the world, but what
is founded on her child. But the other passion had become so strong
in her bosom that it almost conquered her mother's yearnings. Was she
to fight for long years that she might be beaten at last when the
prize was so near her,--when the cup was almost at her lips? Were
the girl now to be taken to her grave, there would be an end at any
rate of the fear which now most heavily oppressed her. But the three
doctors were called in, one after another; and Lady Anna was tended
as though her life was as precious as that of any other daughter.

These new tidings caused new perturbation among the lawyers. "They
say that Clerke and Holland have given her over," said Mr. Flick to
Sir William.

"I am sorry to hear it," said Mr. Solicitor; "but girls do live
sometimes in spite of the doctors."

"Yes; very true, Sir William; very true. But if it should go in that
way it might not perhaps be amiss for our client."

"God forbid that he should prosper by his cousin's death, Mr. Flick.
But the Countess would be the heir."

"The Countess is devoted to the Earl. We ought to do something,
Sir William. I don't think that we could claim above eight or
ten thousand pounds at most as real property. He put his money
everywhere, did that old man. There are shares in iron mines in the
Alleghanies, worth ever so much."

"They are no good to us," said the Solicitor-General, alluding to his
client's interests.

"Not worth a halfpenny to us, though they are paying twenty per cent.
on the paid-up capital. He seems to have determined that the real
heir should get nothing, even if there were no will. A wicked old
man!"

"Very wicked, Mr. Flick."

"A horrible old man! But we really ought to do something, Mr.
Solicitor. If the girl won't marry him there should be some
compromise, after all that we have done."

"How can the girl marry any one, Mr. Flick,--if she's going to die?"

A few days after this, Sir William called in Keppel Street and saw
the Countess, not with any idea of promoting a compromise,--for the
doing which this would not have been the time, nor would he have been
the fitting medium,--but in order that he might ask after Lady Anna's
health. The whole matter was in truth now going very much against the
Earl. Money had been allowed to the Countess and her daughter; and in
truth all the money was now their own, to do with it as they listed,
though there might be some delay before each was put into absolute
possession of her own proportion; but no money had been allowed, or
could be allowed, to the Earl. And, that the fact was so, was now
becoming known to all men. Hitherto credit had at any rate been
easy with the young lord. When the old Earl died, and when the will
was set aside, it was thought that he would be the heir. When the
lawsuit first came up, it was believed everywhere that some generous
compromise would be the worst that could befall him. After that the
marriage had been almost a certainty, and then it was known that
he had something of his own, so that tradesmen need not fear that
their bills would be paid. It can hardly be said that he had been
extravagant; but a lord must live, and an earl can hardly live and
maintain a house in the country on a thousand a year, even though he
has an uncle to keep his hunters for him. Some prudent men in London
were already beginning to ask for their money, and the young Earl was
in trouble. As Mr. Flick had said, it was quite time that something
should be done. Sir William still depended on the panacea of a
marriage, if only the girl would live. The marriage might be delayed;
but, if the cards were played prudently, might still make everything
comfortable. Such girls do not marry tailors, and will always prefer
lords to tradesmen!

"I hope that you do not think that my calling is intrusive," he said.
The Countess, dressed all in black, with that funereal frown upon her
brow which she always now wore, with deep-sunk eyes, and care legible
in every feature of her handsome face, received him with a courtesy
that was as full of woe as it was graceful. She was very glad to make
his acquaintance. There was no intrusion. He would forgive her, she
thought, if he perceived that circumstances had almost overwhelmed
her with sorrow. "I have come to ask after your daughter," said he.

"She has been very ill, Sir William."

"Is she better now?"

"I hardly know; I cannot say. They seemed to think this morning that
the fever was less violent."

"Then she will recover, Lady Lovel."

"They do not say so. But indeed I did not ask them. It is all in
God's hands. I sometimes think that it would be better that she
should die, and there be an end of it."

This was the first time that these two had been in each other's
company, and the lawyer could not altogether repress the feeling of
horror with which he heard the mother speak in such a way of her only
child. "Oh, Lady Lovel, do not say that!"

"But I do say it. Why should I not say it to you, who know all? Of
what good will her life be to herself, or to any one else, if she
pollute herself and her family by this marriage? It would be better
that she should be dead,--much better that she should be dead. She
is all that I have, Sir William. It is for her sake that I have been
struggling from the first moment in which I knew that I was to be a
mother. The whole care of my life has been to prove her to be her
father's daughter in the eye of the law. I doubt whether you can know
what it is to pursue one object, and only one, through your whole
life, with never-ending solicitude,--and to do it all on behalf of
another. If you did, you would understand my feeling now. It would be
better for her that she should die than become the wife of such a one
as Daniel Thwaite."

"Lady Lovel, not only as a mother, but as a Christian, you should get
the better of that feeling."

"Of course I should. No doubt every clergyman in England would tell
me the same thing. It is easy to say all that, sir. Wait till you
are tried. Wait till all your ambition is to be betrayed, every hope
rolled in the dust, till all the honours you have won are to be
soiled and degraded, till you are made a mark for general scorn and
public pity,--and then tell me how you love the child by whom such
evils are brought upon you!"

"I trust that I may never be so tried, Lady Lovel."

"I hope not; but think of all that before you preach to me. But I
do love her; and it is because I love her that I would fain see her
removed from the reproaches which her own madness will bring upon
her. Let her die;--if it be God's will. I can follow her without
one wish for a prolonged life. Then will a noble family be again
established, and her sorrowful tale will be told among the Lovels
with a tear and without a curse."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

LADY ANNA'S BEDSIDE.


All December went by, and the neighbours in the houses round spent
each his merry Christmas; and the snow and frost of January passed
over them, and February had come and nearly gone, before the
doctors dared to say that Lady Anna Lovel's life was not still in
danger. During this long period the world had known all about her
illness,--as it did know, or pretended to know, the whole history of
her life. The world had been informed that she was dying, and had,
upon the whole, been really very sorry for her. She had interested
the world, and the world had heard much of her youth and beauty,--of
the romance too of her story, of her fidelity to the tailor, and of
her persecutions. During these months of her illness the world was
disposed to think that the tailor was a fine fellow, and that he
ought to be taken by the hand. He had money now, and it was thought
that it would be a good thing to bring him into some club. There
was a very strong feeling at the Beaufort that if he were properly
proposed and seconded he would be elected,--not because he was going
to marry an heiress, but because he was losing the heiress whom he
was to have married. If the girl died, then Lord Lovel himself might
bring him forward at the Beaufort. Of all this Daniel himself knew
nothing; but he heard, as all the world heard, that Lady Anna was on
her deathbed.

When the news first reached him,--after a fashion that seemed to him
to be hardly worthy of credit,--he called at the house in Keppel
Street and asked the question. Yes; Lady Anna was very ill; but,
as it happened, Sarah the lady's-maid opened the door, and Sarah
remembered the tailor. She had seen him when he was admitted to
her young mistress, and knew enough of the story to be aware that
he should be snubbed. Her first answer was given before she had
bethought herself; then she snubbed him, and told no one but the
Countess of his visit. After that Daniel went to one of the doctors,
and waited at his door with patience till he could be seen. The
unhappy man told his story plainly. He was Daniel Thwaite, late a
tailor, the man from Keswick, to whom Lady Anna Lovel was engaged. In
charity and loving kindness, would the doctor tell him of the state
of his beloved one? The doctor took him by the hand and asked him
in, and did tell him. His beloved one was then on the very point
of death. Whereupon Daniel wrote to the Countess in humble strains,
himself taking the letter, and waiting without in the street for any
answer that might be vouchsafed. If it was, as he was told, that his
beloved was dying, might he be allowed to stand once at her bedside
and kiss her hand? In about an hour an answer was brought to him at
the area gate. It consisted of his own letter, opened, and returned
to him without a word. He went away too sad to curse, but he declared
to himself that such cruelty in a woman's bosom could exist only in
the bosom of a countess.

But as others heard early in February that Lady Anna was like to
recover, so did Daniel Thwaite. Indeed, his authority was better than
that which reached the clubs, for the doctor still stood his friend.
Could the doctor take a message from him to Lady Anna;--but one word?
No;--the doctor could take no message. That he would not do. But he
did not object to give to the lover a bulletin of the health of his
sweetheart. In this way Daniel knew sooner than most others when the
change took place in the condition of his beloved one.

Lady Anna would be of age in May, and the plan of her betrothed was
as follows. He would do nothing till that time, and then he would
call upon her to allow their banns to be published in Bloomsbury
Church after the manner of the Church of England. He himself had
taken lodgings in Great Russell Street, thinking that his object
might be aided by living in the same parish. If, as was probable, he
would not be allowed to approach Lady Anna either in person, or by
letter, then he would have recourse to the law, and would allege that
the young lady was unduly kept a prisoner in custody. He was told
that such complaint would be as idle wind, coming from him,--that
no allegation of that kind could obtain any redress unless it came
from the young lady herself; but he flattered himself that he could
so make it that the young lady would at any rate obtain thereby the
privilege of speaking for herself. Let some one ask her what were her
wishes and he would be prepared to abide by her expression of them.

In the meantime Lord Lovel also had been anxious;--but his anxiety
had been met in a very different fashion. For many days the Countess
saw him daily, so that there grew up between them a close intimacy.
When it was believed that the girl would die,--believed with that
sad assurance which made those who were concerned speak of her death
almost as a certainty, the Countess, sitting alone with the young
Earl, had told him that all would be his if the girl left them. He
had muttered something as to there being no reason for that. "Who
else should have it?" said the Countess. "Where should it go? Your
people, Lovel, have not understood me. It is for the family that I
have been fighting, fighting, fighting,--and never ceasing. Though
you have been my adversary,--it has been all for the Lovels. If she
goes,--it shall be yours at once. There is no one knows how little
I care for wealth myself." Then the girl had become better, and the
Countess again began her plots, and her plans, and her strategy. She
would take the girl abroad in May, in April if it might be possible.
They would go,--not to Rome then, but to the south of France, and,
as the weather became too warm for them, on to Switzerland and the
Tyrol. Would he, Lord Lovel, follow them? Would he follow them and
be constant in his suit, even though the frantic girl should still
talk of her tailor lover? If he would do so, as far as money was
concerned, all should be in common with them. For what was the money
wanted but that the Lovels might be great and noble and splendid? He
said that he would do so. He also loved the girl,--thought at least
during the tenderness created by her illness that he loved her with
all his heart. He sat hour after hour with the Countess in Keppel
Street,--sometimes seeing the girl as she lay unconscious, or
feigning that she was so; till at last he was daily at her bedside.
"You had better not talk to him, Anna," her mother would say, "but of
course he is anxious to see you." Then the Earl would kiss her hand,
and in her mother's presence she had not the courage,--perhaps she
had not the strength,--to withdraw it. In these days the Countess was
not cruelly stern as she had been. Bedside nursing hardly admits of
such cruelty of manner. But she never spoke to her child with little
tender endearing words, never embraced her,--but was to her a careful
nurse rather than a loving mother.

Then by degrees the girl got better, and was able to talk. "Mamma,"
she said one day, "won't you sit by me?"

"No, my dear; you should not be encouraged to talk."

"Sit by me, and let me hold your hand." For a moment the Countess
gave way, and sat by her daughter, allowing her hand to remain
pressed beneath the bedclothes;--but she rose abruptly, remembering
her grievance, remembering that it would be better that her child
should die, should die broken-hearted by unrelenting cruelty, than be
encouraged to think it possible that she should do as she desired. So
she rose abruptly and left the bedside without a word.

"Mamma," said Lady Anna; "will Lord Lovel be here to-day?"

"I suppose he will be here."

"Will you let me speak to him for a minute?"

"Surely you may speak to him."

"I am strong now, mamma, and I think that I shall be well again some
day. I have so often wished that I might die."

"You had better not talk about it, my dear."

"But I should like to speak to him, mamma, without you."

"What to say,--Anna?"

"I hardly know;--but I should like to speak to him. I have something
to say about money."

"Cannot I say it?"

"No, mamma. I must say it myself,--if you will let me." The Countess
looked at her girl with suspicion, but she gave the permission
demanded. Of course it would be right that this lover should see his
love. The Countess was almost minded to require from Lady Anna an
assurance that no allusion should be made to Daniel Thwaite; but the
man's name had not been mentioned between them since the beginning
of the illness, and she was loth to mention it now. Nor would it
have been possible to prevent for long such an interview as that now
proposed.

"He shall come in if he pleases," said the Countess; "but I hope you
will remember who you are and to whom you are speaking."

"I will remember both, mamma," said Lady Anna. The Countess looked
down on her daughter's face, and could not help thinking that her
child was different from what she had been. There had been almost
defiance in the words spoken, though they had been spoken with the
voice of an invalid.

At three o'clock that afternoon, according to his custom, Lord Lovel
came, and was at once told that he was to be spoken to by his cousin.
"She says it is about money," said the Countess.

"About money?"

"Yes;--and if she confines herself to that, do as she bids you. If
she is ever to be your wife it will be all right; and if not,--then
it will be better in your hands than in hers. In three months time
she can do as she pleases with it all." He was then taken into Lady
Anna's room. "Here is your cousin," said the Countess. "You must not
talk long or I shall interrupt you. If you wish to speak to him about
the property,--as the head of your family,--that will be very right;
but confine yourself to that for the present." Then the Countess left
them and closed the door.

"It is not only about money, Lord Lovel."

"You might call me Frederic now," said he tenderly.

"No;--not now. If I am ever well again and we are then friends I will
do so. They tell me that there is ever so much money,--hundreds of
thousands of pounds. I forget how much."

"Do not trouble yourself about that."

"But I do trouble myself very much about it,--and I know that it
ought to be yours. There is one thing I want to tell you, which you
must believe. If I am ever any man's wife, I shall be the wife of
Daniel Thwaite." That dark frown came upon his face which she had
seen once before. "Pray believe that it is so," she continued. "Mamma
does not believe it,--will not believe it; but it is so. I love him
with all my heart. I think of him every minute. It is very very cruel
that I may not hear from him or send one word to tell him how I am.
There! My hand is on the Bible, and I swear to you that if I am ever
the wife of any man, I will be his wife."

He looked down at her and saw that she was wan and thin and weak, and
he did not dare to preach to her the old family sermon as to his rank
and station. "But, Anna, why do you tell me this now?" he said.

"That you may believe it and not trouble yourself with me any more.
You must believe it when I tell you so in this manner. I may perhaps
never live to rise from my bed. If I get well, I shall send to him,
or go. I will not be hindered. He is true to me, and I will be true
to him. You may tell mamma if you think proper. She would not believe
me, but perhaps she may believe you. But, Lord Lovel, it is not fit
that he should have all this money. He does not want it, and he would
not take it. Till I am married I may do what I please with it;--and
it shall be yours."

"That cannot be."

"Yes, it can. I know that I can make it yours if I please. They tell
me that--that you are not rich, as Lord Lovel should be, because all
this has been taken from you. That was the reason why you came to
me."

"By heaven, Anna, I love you most truly."

"It could not have been so when you had not seen me. Will you take a
message from me to Daniel Thwaite?"

He thought awhile before he answered it. "No, I cannot do that."

"Then I must find another messenger. Mr. Goffe will do it perhaps. He
shall tell me how much he wants to keep, and the rest shall be yours.
That is all. If you tell mamma, ask her not to be hard to me." He
stood over her and took her hand, but knew not how to speak a word
to her. He attempted to kiss her hand; but she raised herself on her
elbow, and shook her head and drew it from him. "It belongs to Daniel
Thwaite," she said. Then he left her and did not speak another word.

"What has she said?" asked the Countess, with an attempt at smiling.

"I do not know that I should tell you."

"Surely, Lovel, you are bound to tell me."

"She has offered me all her property,--or most of it."

"She is right," said the Countess.

"But she has sworn to me, on the Bible, that she will never be my
wife."

"Tush!--it means nothing."

"Ah yes;--it means much. It means all. She never loved me,--not for
an instant. That other man has been before me, and she is too firm to
be moved."

"Did she say so?"

He was silent for a moment and then replied, "Yes; she did say so."

"Then let her die!" said the Countess.

"Lady Lovel!"

"Let her die. It will be better. Oh, God! that I should be brought to
this. And what will you do, my lord? Do you mean to say that you will
abandon her?"

"I cannot ask her to be my wife again."

"What;--because she has said this in her sickness,--when she is half
delirious,--while she is dreaming of the words that man spoke to her?
Have you no more strength than that? Are you so poor a creature?"

"I think I have been a poor creature to ask her a second time at
all."

"No; not so. Your duty and mine are the same,--as should be hers. We
must forget ourselves while we save the family. Do not I bear all?
Have not I borne everything--contumely, solitude, ill words, poverty,
and now this girl's unkindness? But even yet I will not give it up.
Take the property,--as it is offered."

"I could not touch it."

"If not for you, then for your children. Take it all, so that we may
be the stronger. But do not abandon us now, if you are a man."

He would not stay to hear her further exhortations, but hurried away
from the house full of doubt and unhappiness.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

LADY ANNA'S OFFER.


Early in March Lady Anna was convalescent, but had not yet left the
house in Keppel Street,--and the confusion and dismay of the Countess
were greater than ever. Lady Anna had declared that she would not
leave England for the present. She was reminded that at any rate till
the 10th of May she was subject to her mother's control. But by this
time her mother's harshness to her had produced some corresponding
hardness in her. "Yes, mamma;--but I will not go abroad. Things
must be settled, and I am not well enough to go yet." The Countess
asserted that everything could be arranged abroad, that papers could
be sent after them, that Mr. Goffe could come out to them, and with
much show of authority persisted. She would do anything by which
she might be able to remove Lady Anna from the influence of Daniel
Thwaite at the time at which the girl would cease to be subject to
her. But in truth the girl had ceased to be subject to her. "No,
mamma, I will not go. If you will ask Serjeant Bluestone, or Sir
William Patterson, I am sure they will say that I ought not to be
made to go." There were some terrible scenes in which the mother was
driven almost to desperation. Lady Anna repeated to the Countess all
that she had said to Lord Lovel,--and swore to her mother with the
Bible in hand that if ever she became the wife of any man she would
be the wife of Daniel Thwaite. Then the Countess with great violence
knocked the book out of her daughter's grasp, and it was thrown to
the other side of the room. "If this is to go on," said the Countess,
"one of us must die."

"Mamma, I have done nothing to make you so unkind to me. You have not
spoken one word of kindness to me since I came from Yoxham."

"If this goes on I shall never speak a word of kindness to you
again," said the mother.

But in the midst of all this there was one point on which they were
agreed,--on which they came sufficiently near together for action,
though there was still a wide difference between them. Some large
proportion of the property at stake was to be made over to Lord Lovel
on the day that gave the girl the legal power of transferring her
own possessions. The Countess began by presuming that the whole of
Lady Anna's wealth was to be so transferred,--not from any lack of
reverence for the great amount which was in question, but feeling
that for all good purposes it would be safer in the hands of the
Earl than in those of her own child. If it could be arranged that
the tailor could get nothing with his bride, then it might still
be possible that the tailor might refuse the match. At any rate a
quarrel might be fostered and the evil might be staved off. But to
this Lady Anna would not assent. If she might act in this business in
concert with Mr. Thwaite she would be able, she thought, to do better
by her cousin than she proposed. But as she was not allowed to learn
what were Mr. Thwaite's wishes, she would halve her property with her
cousin. As much as this she was willing to do,--and was determined to
do, acting on her own judgment. More she would not do,--unless she
could see Mr. Thwaite. As it stood, her proposition was one which
would, if carried out, bestow something like £10,000 a year upon
the Earl. Then Mr. Goffe was sent for, and Lady Anna was allowed to
communicate her suggestion to the lawyer. "That should require a
great deal of thought," said Mr. Goffe with solemnity. Lady Anna
declared that she had been thinking of it all the time she had been
ill. "But it should not be done in a hurry," said Mr. Goffe. Then
Lady Anna remarked that in the meantime, her cousin, the Earl, the
head of her family, would have nothing to support his title. Mr.
Goffe took his leave, promising to consult his partner, and to see
Mr. Flick.

Mr. Goffe did consult his partner and did see Mr. Flick, and then
Serjeant Bluestone was asked his advice,--and the Solicitor-General.
The Serjeant had become somewhat tired of the Lovels, and did not
care to give any strong advice either in one direction or in the
other. The young lady, he said, might of course do what she liked
with her own when it was her own; but he thought that she should not
be hurried. He pointed it out as a fact that the Earl had not the
slightest claim upon any portion of the estate,--not more than he
would have had if this money had come to Lady Anna from her mother's
instead of from her father's relatives. He was still of opinion that
the two cousins might ultimately become man and wife if matters were
left tranquil and the girl were taken abroad for a year or two. Lady
Anna, however, would be of age in a few weeks, and must of course do
as she liked with her own.

But they all felt that everything would at last be ruled by what the
Solicitor-General might say. The Solicitor-General was going out of
town for a week or ten days,--having the management of a great case
at the Spring Assizes. He would think over Lady Anna's proposition,
and say what he had to say when he returned. Lord Lovel, however,
had been his client, and he had said from first to last that more
was to be done for his client by amicable arrangement than by
hostile opposition. If the Earl could get £10,000 a year by amicable
arrangement, the Solicitor-General would be shown to have been right
in the eyes of all men, and it was probable,--as both Mr. Goffe and
Mr. Flick felt,--that he would not repudiate a settlement of the
family affairs by which he would be proved to have been a discreet
counsellor.

In the meantime it behoved Lord Lovel himself to have an opinion. Mr.
Flick of course had told him of the offer,--which had in truth been
made directly to himself by his cousin. At this time his affairs were
not in a happy condition. A young earl, handsome and well esteemed,
may generally marry an heiress,--if not one heiress then another.
Though he be himself a poor man, his rank and position will stand in
lieu of wealth. And so would it have been with this young earl,--who
was very handsome and excellently well esteemed,--had it not been
that all the world knew that it was his especial business to marry
one especial heiress. He could hardly go about looking for other
honey, having, as he had, one particular hive devoted by public
opinion to himself. After a year or two he might have looked
elsewhere,--but what was he to do in the meantime? He was well nigh
penniless, and in debt. So he wrote a letter to his uncle, the
parson.

It may be remembered that when the uncle and nephew last parted in
London there was not much love between them. From that day to this
they had not seen each other, nor had there been any communication
between them. The horses had been taken away and sold. The rector
had spoken to the ladies of his household more than once with great
bitterness of the young man's ingratitude; and they more than once
had spoken to the rector, with a woman's piteous tenderness, of the
young lord's poverty. But it was all sorrow and distress. For in
truth the rector could not be happy while he was on bad terms with
the head of his family. Then the young lord wrote as though there had
been nothing amiss between them. It had in truth all passed away from
his mind. This very liberal offer had been made to him. It amounted
to wealth in lieu of poverty,--to what would be comfortable wealth
even for an earl. Ten thousand a year was offered to him by his
cousin. Might he accept it? The rector took the letter in good part,
and begged his nephew to come at once to Yoxham. Whereupon the nephew
went to Yoxham.

"What does Sir William say?" asked the rector, who, in spite of
his disapproval of all that Sir William had done, felt that the
Solicitor-General was the man whose influence in the matter would
really prevail.

"He has said nothing as yet. He is out of town."

"Ten thousand a year! Who was it made the offer?"

"She made it herself."

"Lady Anna?"

"Yes;--Lady Anna. It is a noble offer."

"Yes, indeed. But then if she has no right to any of it, what does it
amount to?"

"But she has a right to all of it;--she and her mother between them."

"I shall never believe it, Frederic--never; and not the less so
because they now want to bind you to them by such a compromise as
this."

"I think you look at it in a wrong light, uncle Charles."

"Well;--well. I will say nothing more about it. I don't see why you
shouldn't take it,--I don't indeed. It ought all to have been yours.
Everybody says that. You'll have to buy land, and it won't give you
nearly so much then. I hope you'll buy land all the same, and I do
hope it will be properly settled when you marry. As to marrying, you
will be able to do much better than what you used to think of."

"We won't talk about that, uncle Charles," said the Earl.

As far as the rector's opinion went, it was clear that the offer
might be accepted; but yet it was felt that very much must depend
on what the Solicitor-General might say. Then Miss Lovel gave her
opinion on the matter, which did not altogether agree with that of
her brother. She believed in Lady Anna, whereas the rector professed
that he did not. The rector and Lady Fitzwarren were perhaps the
only two persons who, after all that had been said and done, still
maintained that the Countess was an impostor, and that Lady Anna
would only be Anna Murray, if everybody had his due. Miss Lovel was
quite as anxious on behalf of the Earl as was her brother, but she
clung to the hope of a marriage. "I still think it might all come
right, if you would only wait," said aunt Julia.

"It's all very well talking of waiting, but how am I to live?"

"You could live here, Frederic. There is nothing my brother would
like so much. I thought he would break his heart when the horses were
taken away. It would only be for a year."

"What would come of it?"

"At the end of the year she would be your wife."

"Never!" said the Earl.

"Young men are so impatient."

"Never, under any circumstances, would I ask her again. You may make
your mind up to that. As sure as you stand there, she will marry
Daniel Thwaite, if she lives another twelvemonth."

"You really think so, Frederic?"

"I am sure of it. After what she said to me, it would be impossible I
should doubt it."

"And she will be Lady Anna Thwaite! Oh dear, how horrible. I wish
she had died when she was ill;--I do indeed. A journeyman tailor!
But something will prevent it. I really think that Providence will
interfere to prevent it!" But in reference to the money she gave in
her adhesion. If the great lawyer said that it might be taken,--then
it should be taken. At the end of a week the Earl hurried back to
London to see the great lawyer.



CHAPTER XL.

NO DISGRACE AT ALL.


Before the Solicitor-General returned to town things had come to
a worse pass than ever. Lady Lovel had ordered her daughter to be
ready to start to Paris by a certain hour, on a certain day,--giving
her three days for preparation,--and Lady Anna had refused to go.
Whereupon the Countess had caused her own things to be packed up, and
those of her daughter. Sarah was now altogether in the confidence of
the Countess, so that Lady Anna had not even dominion over her own
clothes. The things were stowed away, and all the arrangements were
made for the journey; but Lady Anna refused to go, and when the hour
came could not be induced to get into the carriage. The lodgings had
been paid for to the day, and given up; so that the poor old woman
in Keppel Street was beside herself. Then the Countess, of necessity,
postponed her journey for twenty-four hours, telling her daughter
that on the next day she would procure the assistance of magistrates
and force the rebel to obedience.

Hardly a word had been spoken between the mother and daughter
during those three days. There had been messages sent backwards and
forwards, and once or twice the Countess had violently entered Lady
Anna's bedroom, demanding submission. Lady Anna was always on the
bed when her mother entered, and, there lying, would shake her head,
and then with sobs accuse the Countess of unkindness. Lady Lovel had
become furious in her wrath, hardly knowing what she herself did or
said, always asserting her own authority, declaring her own power,
and exclaiming against the wicked ingratitude of her child. This
she did till the young waiting-woman was so frightened that she was
almost determined to leave the house abruptly, though keenly alive to
the profit and glory of serving a violent and rich countess. And the
old lady who let the lodgings was intensely anxious to be rid of her
lodgers, though her money was scrupulously paid, and no questions
asked as to extra charges. Lady Anna was silent and sullen. When
left to herself she spent her time at her writing-desk, of which she
had managed to keep the key. What meals she took were brought up to
her bedroom, so that a household more uncomfortable could hardly be
gathered under a roof.

On the day fixed for that departure which did not take place, the
Countess wrote to Mr. Goffe for assistance,--and Lady Anna, by the
aid of the mistress of the house, wrote to Serjeant Bluestone. The
letter to Mr. Goffe was the first step taken towards obtaining that
assistance from civil authorities to which the Countess thought
herself to be entitled in order that her legal dominion over her
daughter might be enforced. Lady Anna wrote to the Serjeant, simply
begging that he would come to see her, putting her letter open into
the hands of the landlady. She implored him to come at once,--and,
as it happened, he called in Keppel Street that night, whereas Mr.
Goffe's visit was not made till the next morning. He asked for the
Countess, and was shown into the drawing-room. The whole truth
was soon made clear to him, for the Countess attempted to conceal
nothing. Her child was rebelling against authority, and she was sure
that the Serjeant would assist her in putting down and conquering
such pernicious obstinacy. But she found at once that the Serjeant
would not help her. "But Lady Anna will be herself of age in a day or
two," he said.

"Not for nearly two months," said the Countess indignantly.

"My dear Lady Lovel, under such circumstances you can hardly put
constraint upon her."

"Why not? She is of age, or she is not. Till she be of age she is
bound to obey me."

"True;--she is bound to obey you after a fashion, and so indeed she
would be had she been of age a month since. But such obligations here
in England go for very little, unless they are supported by reason."

"The law is the law."

"Yes;--but the law would be all in her favour before you could get it
to assist you,--even if you could get its assistance. In her peculiar
position, it is rational that she should choose to wait till she
be able to act for herself. Very great interests will be at her
disposal, and she will of course wish to be near those who can advise
her."

"I am her only guardian. I can advise her." The Serjeant shook his
head. "You will not help me then?"

"I fear I cannot help you, Lady Lovel."

"Not though you know the reasons which induce me to take her away
from England before she slips entirely out of my hands and ruins all
our hopes?" But still the Serjeant shook his head. "Every one is
leagued against me," said the Countess, throwing up her hands in
despair.

Then the Serjeant asked permission to visit Lady Anna, but was told
that he could not be allowed to do so. She was in bed, and there was
nothing to make it necessary that she should receive a visit from a
gentleman in her bedroom. "I am an old man," said the Serjeant, "and
have endeavoured to be a true and honest friend to the young lady.
I think, Lady Lovel, that you will do wrong to refuse my request.
I tell you fairly that I shall be bound to interfere on her behalf.
She has applied to me as her friend, and I feel myself constrained to
attend to her application."

"She has applied to you?"

"Yes, Lady Lovel. There is her letter."

"She has deceived me again," said the Countess, tearing the letter
into atoms. But the Serjeant so far frightened her that she was
induced to promise that Mrs. Bluestone should see Lady Anna on the
following morning,--stipulating, however, that Mrs. Bluestone should
see herself before she went up-stairs.

On the following morning Mr. Goffe came early. But Mr. Goffe
could give his client very little comfort. He was, however, less
uncomfortable than the Serjeant had been. He was of opinion that
Lady Anna certainly ought to go abroad, in obedience to her mother's
instructions, and was willing to go to her and tell her so, with what
solemnity of legal authority he might be able to assume; but he could
not say that anything could be done absolutely to enforce obedience.
Mr. Goffe suggested that perhaps a few gentle words might be
successful. "Gentle words!" said the Countess, who had become quite
unable to restrain herself. "The harshest words are only too gentle
for her. If I had known what she was, Mr. Goffe, I would never have
stirred in this business. They might have called me what they would,
and it would have been better." When Mr. Goffe came downstairs
he had not a word to say more as to the efficacy of gentleness.
He simply remarked that he did not think the young lady could be
induced to go, and suggested that everybody had better wait till the
Solicitor-General returned to town.

Then Mrs. Bluestone came, almost on the heels of the attorney;--poor
Mrs. Bluestone, who now felt that it was a dreadful grievance both
to her and to her husband that they had had anything to do with the
Lovel family! She was very formal in her manner,--and, to tell the
truth for her, rather frightened. The Serjeant had asked her to call
and see Lady Anna Lovel. Might she be permitted to do so? Then the
Countess burst forth with a long story of all her wrongs,--with the
history of her whole life. Not beginning with her marriage,--but
working back to it from the intense misery, and equally intense
ambition of the present hour. She told it all; how everybody had been
against her,--how she had been all alone at the dreary Grange in
Westmoreland,--how she had been betrayed by her husband, and turned
out to poverty and scorn;--how she had borne it all for the sake of
the one child who was, by God's laws and man's, the heiress to her
father's name; how she had persevered,--intermingling it all with a
certain worship of high honours and hereditary position with which
Mrs. Bluestone was able in some degree to sympathise. She was clever,
and words came to her freely. It was almost impossible that any
hearer should refuse to sympathise with her,--any hearer who knew
that her words were true. And all that she told was true. The things
which she narrated had been done;--the wrongs had been endured;--and
the end of it all which she feared, was imminent. And the hearer
thought as did the speaker as to the baseness of this marriage with
the tailor,--thought as did the speaker of the excellence of the
marriage with the lord. But still there was something in the woman's
eye,--something in the tone of her voice, something in the very
motion of her hands as she told her story, which made Mrs. Bluestone
feel that Lady Anna should not be left under her mother's control.
It would be very well that the Lovel family should be supported, and
that Lady Anna should be kept within the pale of her own rank. But
there might be things worse than Lady Anna's defection,--and worse
even than the very downfall of the Lovels.

After sitting for nearly two hours with the Countess, Mrs. Bluestone
was taken up-stairs. "Mrs. Bluestone has come to see you," said the
Countess, not entering the room, and retreating again immediately as
she closed the door.

"This is very kind of you, Mrs. Bluestone," said Lady Anna, who was
sitting crouching in her dressing-gown over the fire. "But I thought
that perhaps the Serjeant would come." The lady, taken off her guard,
immediately said that the Serjeant had been there on the preceding
evening. "And mamma would not let me see him! But you will help me!"

In this interview, as in that below, a long history was told to the
visitor, and was told with an eloquent energy which she certainly had
not expected. "They talk to me of ladies," said Lady Anna. "I was not
a lady. I knew nothing of ladies and their doings. I was a poor girl,
friendless but for my mother, sometimes almost without shoes to my
feet, often ragged, solitary, knowing nothing of ladies. Then there
came one lad, who played with me;--and it was mamma who brought us
together. He was good to me, when all others were bad. He played with
me, and gave me things, and taught me,--and loved me. Then when he
asked me to love him again, and to love him always, was I to think
that I could not,--because I was a lady! You despise him because he
is a tailor. A tailor was good to me, when no one else was good. How
could I despise him because he was a tailor? I did not despise him,
but I loved him with all my heart."

"But when you came to know who you were, Lady Anna--"

"Yes;--yes. I came to know who I was, and they brought my cousin to
me, and told me to love him, and bade me be a lady indeed. I felt it
too, for a time. I thought it would be pleasant to be a Countess, and
to go among great people; and he was pleasant, and I thought that I
could love him too, and do as they bade me. But when I thought of it
much,--when I thought of it alone,--I hated myself. In my heart of
hearts I loved him who had always been my friend. And when Lord Lovel
came to me at Bolton, and said that I must give my answer then,--I
told him all the truth. I am glad I told him the truth. He should not
have come again after that. If Daniel is so poor a creature because
he is a tailor,--must not I be poor who love him? And what must he be
when he comes to me again after that?"

When Mrs. Bluestone descended from the room she was quite sure that
the girl would become Lady Anna Thwaite, and told the Countess that
such was her opinion. "By the God above me," said the Countess rising
from her chair;--"by the God above me, she never shall." But after
that the Countess gave up her project of forcing her daughter to go
abroad. The old lady of the house was told that the rooms would still
be required for some weeks to come,--perhaps for months; and having
had a conference on the subject with Mrs. Bluestone, did not refuse
her consent.

At last Sir William returned to town, and was besieged on all sides,
as though in his hands lay the power of deciding what should become
of all the Lovel family. Mr. Goffe was as confidential with him as
Mr. Flick, and even Serjeant Bluestone condescended to appeal to him.
The young Earl was closeted with him on the day of his return, and he
had found on his desk the following note from the Countess;--

"The Countess Lovel presents her compliments to the
Solicitor-General. The Countess is very anxious to leave England
with her daughter, but has hitherto been prevented by her child's
obstinacy. Sir William Patterson is so well aware of all the
circumstances that he no doubt can give the Countess advice as to the
manner in which she should proceed to enforce the obedience of her
daughter. The Countess Lovel would feel herself unwarranted in thus
trespassing on the Solicitor-General, were it not that it is her
chief anxiety to do everything for the good of Earl Lovel and the
family."

"Look at that, my lord," said the Solicitor-General, showing the Earl
the letter. "I can do nothing for her."

"What does she want to have done?"

"She wants to carry her daughter away beyond the reach of Mr.
Thwaite. I am not a bit surprised; but she can't do it. The days
are gone by when a mother could lock her daughter up, or carry her
away,--at any rate in this country."

"It is very sad."

"It might have been much worse. Why should she not marry Mr. Thwaite?
Let them make the settlement as they propose, and then let the young
lady have her way. She will have her way,--whether her mother lets
her or no."

"It will be a disgrace to the family, Sir William."

"No disgrace at all! How many peers' daughters marry commoners in
England. It is not with us as it is with some German countries in
which noble blood is separated as by a barrier from blood that is not
noble. The man I am told is clever and honest. He will have great
means at his command, and I do not see why he should not make as
good a gentleman as the best of us. At any rate she must not be
persecuted."

Sir William answered the Countess's letter as a matter of course, but
there was no comfort in his answer. "The Solicitor-General presents
his compliments to the Countess Lovel. With all the will in the world
to be of service, he fears that he can do no good by interfering
between the Countess and Lady Anna Lovel. If, however, he may venture
to give advice, he would suggest to the Countess that as Lady Anna
will be of age in a short time, no attempt should now be made to
exercise a control which must cease when that time shall arrive."
"They are all joined against me," said the Countess, when she read
the letter;--"every one of them! But still it shall never be. I will
not live to see it."

Then there was a meeting between Mr. Flick and Sir William. Mr. Flick
must inform the ladies that nothing could be done till Lady Anna
was of age;--that not even could any instructions be taken from her
before that time as to what should subsequently be done. If, when
that time came, she should still be of a mind to share with her
cousin the property, she could then instruct Mr. Goffe to make out
the necessary deeds.

All this was communicated by letter to the Countess, but Mr. Goffe
especially requested that the letter might be shown to Lady Anna, and
that he might receive a reply intimating that Lady Anna understood
its purport. If necessary he would call upon Lady Anna in Keppel
Street. After some delay and much consideration, the Countess sent
the attorney's letter to her daughter, and Lady Anna herself wrote
a reply. She perfectly understood the purport of Mr. Goffe's letter,
and would thank Mr. Goffe to call upon her on the 10th of May, when
the matter might, she hoped, be settled.



CHAPTER XLI.

NEARER AND NEARER.


So they went on living in utter misery till the month of May had come
round, and Lady Anna was at last pronounced to be convalescent.

Late one night, long after midnight, the Countess crept into her
daughter's room and sat down by the bedside. Lady Anna was asleep,
and the Countess sat there and watched. At this time the girl had
passed her birthday, and was of age. Mr. Goffe had been closeted
with her and with her mother for two mornings running, Sir William
Patterson had also been with them, and instructions had been given as
to the property, upon which action was to be at once taken. Of that
proportion of the estate which fell to Lady Anna, one entire moiety
was to be made over to the Earl. While this was being arranged no
word was said as to Daniel Thwaite, or as to the marriage with
the lord. The settlement was made as though it were a thing of
itself; and they all had been much surprised,--the mother, the
Solicitor-General, and the attorney,--at the determination of purpose
and full comprehension of the whole affair which Lady Anna displayed.
When it came to the absolute doing of the matter,--the abandonment
of all this money,--the Countess became uneasy and discontented.
She also had wished that Lord Lovel should have the property,--but
her wish had been founded on a certain object to be attained, which
object was now farther from her than ever. But the property in
question was not hers, but her daughter's, and she made no loud
objection to the proceeding. The instructions were given, and the
deeds were to be forthcoming some time before the end of the month.

It was on the night of the 11th of May that the Countess sat at her
child's bedside. She had brought up a taper with her, and there she
sat watching the sleeping girl. Thoughts wondrously at variance with
each other, and feelings thoroughly antagonistic, ran through her
brain and heart. This was her only child,--the one thing that there
was for her to love,--the only tie to the world that she possessed.
But for her girl, it would be good that she should be dead. And if
her girl should do this thing, which would make her life a burden to
her,--how good it would be for her to die! She did not fear to die,
and she feared nothing after death;--but with a coward's dread she
did fear the torment of her failure if this girl should become the
wife of Daniel Thwaite. In such case most certainly would she never
see the girl again,--and life then would be all a blank to her. But
she understood that though she should separate herself from the world
altogether, men would know of her failure, and would know that she
was devouring her own heart in the depth of her misery. If the girl
would but have done as her mother had proposed, would have followed
after her kind, and taken herself to those pleasant paths which had
been opened for her, with what a fond caressing worship, with what
infinite kisses and blessings, would she, the mother, have tended
the young Countess and assisted in making the world bright for the
high-born bride. But a tailor! Foh! What a degraded creature was her
child to cling to so base a love!

She did, however, acknowledge to herself that the girl's clinging was
of a kind she had no power to lessen. The ivy to its standard tree
is not more loyal than was her daughter to this wretched man. But
the girl might die,--or the tailor might die,--or she, the miserable
mother, might die; and so this misery might be at an end. Nothing
but death could end it. Thoughts and dreams of other violence had
crossed her brain,--of carrying the girl away, of secluding her, of
frightening her from day to day into some childish, half-idiotic
submission. But for that the tame obedience of the girl would have
been necessary,--or that external assistance which she had sought,
in vain, to obtain among the lawyers. Such hopes were now gone, and
nothing remained but death.

Why had not the girl gone when she was so like to go? Why had she not
died when it had seemed to be God's pleasure to take her? A little
indifference, some slight absence of careful tending, any chance
accident would have made that natural which was now,--which was
now so desirable and yet beyond reach! Yes;--so desirable! For
whose sake could it be wished that a life so degraded should be
prolonged? But there could be no such escape. With her eyes fixed on
vacancy, revolving it in her mind, she thought that she could kill
herself;--but she knew that she could not kill her child.

But, should she destroy herself, there would be no vengeance in that.
Could she be alone, far out at sea, in some small skiff with that
low-born tailor, and then pull out the plug, and let him know what
he had done to her as they both went down together beneath the water,
that would be such a cure of the evil as would now best suit her
wishes. But there was no such sea, and no such boat. Death, however,
might still be within her grasp.

Then she laid her hand on the girl's shoulder, and Lady Anna awoke.
"Oh, mamma;--is that you?"

"It is I, my child."

"Mamma, mamma; is anything the matter? Oh, mamma, kiss me." Then
the Countess stooped down and kissed the girl passionately. "Dear
mamma,--dearest mamma!"

"Anna, will you do one thing for me? If I never speak to you of Lord
Lovel again, will you forget Daniel Thwaite?" She paused, but Lady
Anna had no answer ready. "Will you not say as much as that for me?
Say that you will forget him till I am gone."

"Gone, mamma? You are not going!"

"Till I am dead. I shall not live long, Anna. Say at least that you
will not see him or mention his name for twelve months. Surely, Anna,
you will do as much as that for a mother who has done so much for
you." But Lady Anna would make no promise. She turned her face to the
pillow and was dumb. "Answer me, my child. I may at least demand an
answer."

"I will answer you to-morrow, mamma." Then the Countess fell on her
knees at the bedside and uttered a long, incoherent prayer, addressed
partly to the God of heaven, and partly to the poor girl who was
lying there in bed, supplicating with mad, passionate eagerness that
this evil thing might be turned away from her. Then she seized the
girl in her embrace and nearly smothered her with kisses. "My own, my
darling, my beauty, my all; save your mother from worse than death,
if you can;--if you can!"

Had such tenderness come sooner it might have had deeper effect. As
it was, though the daughter was affected and harassed,--though she
was left panting with sobs and drowned in tears,--she could not but
remember the treatment she had suffered from her mother during the
last six months. Had the request for a year's delay come sooner,
it would have been granted; but now it was made after all measures
of cruelty had failed. Ten times during the night did she say that
she would yield,--and ten times again did she tell herself that
were she to yield now, she would be a slave all her life. She had
resolved,--whether right or wrong,--still, with a strong mind and a
great purpose, that she would not be turned from her way, and when
she arose in the morning she was resolved again. She went into her
mother's room and at once declared her purpose. "Mamma, it cannot be.
I am his, and I must not forget him or be ashamed of his name;--no,
not for a day."

"Then go from me, thou ungrateful one, hard of heart, unnatural
child, base, cruel, and polluted. Go from me, if it be possible, for
ever!"

Then did they live for some days separated for a second time, each
taking her meals in her own room; and Mrs. Richards, the owner of
the lodgings, went again to Mrs. Bluestone, declaring that she was
afraid of what might happen, and that she must pray to be relieved
from the presence of the ladies. Mrs. Bluestone had to explain that
the lodgings had been taken for the quarter, and that a mother and
daughter could not be put out into the street merely because they
lived on bad terms with each other. The old woman, as was natural,
increased her bills;--but that had no effect.

On the 15th of May Lady Anna wrote a note to Daniel Thwaite, and sent
a copy of it to her mother before she had posted it. It was in two
lines;--


   DEAR DANIEL,

   Pray come and see me here. If you get this soon enough,
   pray come on Tuesday about one.

   Yours affectionately,

   ANNA.


"Tell mamma," said she to Sarah, "that I intend to go out and put
that in the post to-day." The letter was addressed to Wyndham Street.
Now the Countess knew that Daniel Thwaite had left Wyndham Street.

"Tell her," said the Countess, "tell her--; but, of what use to tell
her anything? Let the door be closed upon her. She shall never return
to me any more." The message was given to Lady Anna as she went
forth:--but she posted the letter, and then called in Bedford Square.
Mrs. Bluestone returned with her to Keppel Street; but as the door
was opened by Mrs. Richards, and as no difficulty was made as to Lady
Anna's entrance, Mrs. Bluestone returned home without asking to see
the Countess.

This happened on a Saturday, but when Tuesday came Daniel Thwaite
did not come to Keppel Street. The note was delivered in course of
post at his old abode, and was redirected from Wyndham Street late on
Monday evening,--having no doubt given cause there for much curiosity
and inspection. Late on the Tuesday it did reach Daniel Thwaite's
residence in Great Russell Street, but he was then out, wandering
about the streets as was his wont, telling himself of all the horrors
of an idle life, and thinking what steps he should take next as to
the gaining of his bride. He had known to a day when she was of age,
and had determined that he would allow her one month from thence
before he would call upon her to say what should be their mutual
fate. She had reached that age but a few days, and now she had
written to him herself.

On returning home he received the girl's letter, and when the early
morning had come,--the Wednesday morning, the day after that fixed
by Lady Anna,--he made up his mind as to his course of action. He
breakfasted at eight, knowing how useless it would be to stir early,
and then called in Keppel Street, leaving word with Mrs. Richards
herself that he would be there again at one o'clock to see Lady Anna.
"You can tell Lady Anna that I only got her note last night very
late." Then he went off to the hotel in Albemarle Street at which he
knew that Lord Lovel was living. It was something after nine when
he reached the house, and the Earl was not yet out of his bedroom.
Daniel, however, sent up his name, and the Earl begged that he would
go into the sitting-room and wait. "Tell Mr. Thwaite that I will not
keep him above a quarter of an hour." Then the tailor was shown into
the room where the breakfast things were laid, and there he waited.

Within the last few weeks very much had been said to the Earl
about Daniel Thwaite by many people, and especially by the
Solicitor-General. "You may be sure that she will become his wife,"
Sir William had said, "and I would advise you to accept him as her
husband. She is not a girl such as we at first conceived her to be.
She is firm of purpose, and very honest. Obstinate, if you will,
and,--if you will,--obstinate to a bad end. But she is generous, and
let her marry whom she will, you cannot cast her out. You will owe
everything to her high sense of honour;--and I am much mistaken if
you will not owe much to him. Accept them both, and make the best
of them. In five years he'll be in Parliament as likely as not. In
ten years he'll be Sir Daniel Thwaite,--if he cares for it. And in
fifteen years Lady Anna will be supposed by everybody to have made
a very happy marriage." Lord Lovel was at this time inclined to be
submissive in everything to his great adviser, and was now ready to
take Mr. Daniel Thwaite by the hand.

He did take him by the hand as he entered the sitting-room, radiant
from his bath, clad in a short bright-coloured dressing-gown such
as young men then wore o' mornings, with embroidered slippers on
his feet, and a smile on his face. "I have heard much of you, Mr.
Thwaite," he said, "and am glad to meet you at last. Pray sit down.
I hope you have not breakfasted."

Poor Daniel was hardly equal to the occasion. The young lord had
been to him always an enemy,--an enemy because the lord had been the
adversary of the Countess and her daughter, an enemy because the lord
was an earl and idle, an enemy because the lord was his rival. Though
he now was nearly sure that this last ground of enmity was at an
end, and though he had come to the Earl for certain purposes of his
own, he could not bring himself to feel that there should be good
fellowship between them. He took the hand that was offered to him,
but took it awkwardly, and sat down as he was bidden. "Thank your
lordship, but I breakfasted long since. If it will suit you, I will
walk about and call again."

"Not at all. I can eat, and you can talk to me. Take a cup of tea at
any rate." The Earl rang for another teacup, and began to butter his
toast.

"I believe your lordship knows that I have long been engaged to marry
your lordship's cousin,--Lady Anna Lovel."

"Indeed I have been told so."

"By herself."

"Well;--yes; by herself."

"I have been allowed to see her but once during the last eight or
nine months."

"That has not been my fault, Mr. Thwaite."

"I want you to understand, my lord, that it is not for her money that
I have sought her."

"I have not accused you, surely."

"But I have been accused. I am going to see her now,--if I can get
admittance to her. I shall press her to fix a day for our marriage,
and if she will do so, I shall leave no stone unturned to accomplish
it. She has a right to do with herself as she pleases, and no
consideration shall stop me but her wishes."

"I shall not interfere."

"I am glad of that, my lord."

"But I will not answer for her mother. You cannot be surprised, Mr.
Thwaite, that Lady Lovel should be averse to such a marriage."

"She was not averse to my father's company nor to mine a few years
since;--no nor twelve months since. But I say nothing about that.
Let her be averse. We cannot help it. I have come to you to say that
I hope something may be done about the money before she becomes my
wife. People say that you should have it."

"Who says so?"

"I cannot say who;--perhaps everybody. Should every shilling of it be
yours I should marry her as willingly to-morrow. They have given me
what is my own, and that is enough for me. For what is now hers and,
perhaps, should be yours, I will not interfere with it. When she is
my wife, I will guard for her and for those who may come after her
what belongs to her then; but as to what may be done before that, I
care nothing."

On hearing this the Earl told him the whole story of the arrangement
which was then in progress;--how the property would in fact be
divided into three parts, of which the Countess would have one, he
one, and Lady Anna one. "There will be enough for us all," said the
Earl.

"And much more than enough for me," said Daniel as he got up to take
his leave. "And now I am going to Keppel Street."

"You have all my good wishes," said the Earl. The two men again shook
hands;--again the lord was radiant and good humoured;--and again the
tailor was ashamed and almost sullen. He knew that the young nobleman
had behaved well to him, and it was a disappointment to him that any
nobleman should behave well.

Nevertheless as he walked away slowly towards Keppel Street,--for the
time still hung on his hands,--he began to feel that the great prize
of prizes was coming nearer within his grasp.



CHAPTER XLII.

DANIEL THWAITE COMES TO KEPPEL STREET.


Even the Bluestones were now convinced that Lady Anna Lovel must be
allowed to marry the Keswick tailor, and that it would be expedient
that no further impediment should be thrown in her way. Mrs.
Bluestone had been told, while walking to Keppel Street with the
young lady, of the purport of the letter and of the invitation given
to Daniel Thwaite. The Serjeant at once declared that the girl must
have her own way,--and the Solicitor-General, who also heard of it,
expressed himself very strongly. It was absurd to oppose her. She was
her own mistress. She had shown herself competent to manage her own
affairs. The Countess must be made to understand that she had better
yield at once with what best grace she could. Then it was that he
made that prophecy to the Earl as to the future success of the
fortunate tailor, and then too he wrote at great length to the
Countess, urging many reasons why her daughter should be allowed to
receive Mr. Daniel Thwaite. "Your ladyship has succeeded in very
much," wrote the Solicitor-General, "and even in respect of this
marriage you will have the satisfaction of feeling that the man is in
every way respectable and well-behaved. I hear that he is an educated
man, with culture much higher than is generally found in the state of
life which he has till lately filled, and that he is a man of high
feeling and noble purpose. The manner in which he has been persistent
in his attachment to your daughter is in itself evidence of this. And
I think that your ladyship is bound to remember that the sphere of
life in which he has hitherto been a labourer, would not have been so
humble in its nature had not the means which should have started him
in the world been applied to support and succour your own cause. I am
well aware of your feelings of warm gratitude to the father; but I
think you should bear in mind, on the son's behalf, that he has been
what he has been because his father was so staunch a friend to your
ladyship." There was very much more of it, all expressing the opinion
of Sir William that the Countess should at once open her doors to
Daniel Thwaite.

The reader need hardly be told that this was wormwood to the
Countess. It did not in the least touch her heart and had but little
effect on her purpose. Gratitude;--yes! But if the whole result of
the exertion for which the receiver is bound to be grateful, is to
be neutralised by the greed of the conferrer of the favour,--if all
is to be taken that has been given, and much more also,--what ground
will there be left for gratitude? If I save a man's purse from a
thief, and then demand for my work twice what that purse contained,
the man had better have been left with the robbers. But she was told,
not only that she ought to accept the tailor as a son-in-law, but
also that she could not help herself. They should see whether she
could not help herself. They should be made to acknowledge that she
at any rate was in earnest in her endeavours to preserve pure and
unspotted the honour of the family.

But what should she do? That she should put on a gala dress and a
smiling face and be carried off to church with a troop of lawyers and
their wives to see her daughter become the bride of a low journeyman,
was of course out of the question. By no act, by no word, by no
sign would she give aught of a mother's authority to nuptials so
disgraceful. Should her daughter become Lady Anna Thwaite, they two,
mother and daughter, would never see each other again. Of so much at
any rate she was sure. But could she be sure of nothing beyond that?
She could at any rate make an effort.

Then there came upon her a mad idea,--an idea which was itself
evidence of insanity,--of the glory which would be hers if by any
means she could prevent the marriage. There would be a halo round her
name were she to perish in such a cause, let the destruction come
upon her in what form it might. She sat for hours meditating,--and at
every pause in her thoughts she assured herself that she could still
make an effort.

She received Sir William's letter late on the Tuesday,--and during
that night she did not lie down or once fall asleep. The man, as she
knew, had been told to come at one on that day, and she had been
prepared; but he did not come, and she then thought that the letter,
which had been addressed to his late residence, had failed to reach
him. During the night she wrote a very long answer to Sir William
pleading her own cause, expatiating on her own feelings, and
palliating any desperate deed which she might be tempted to perform.
But, when the letter had been copied and folded, and duly sealed with
the Lovel arms, she locked it in her desk, and did not send it on its
way even on the following morning. When the morning came, shortly
after eight o'clock, Mrs. Richards brought up the message which
Daniel had left at the door. "Be we to let him in, my lady?" said
Mrs. Richards with supplicating hands upraised. Her sympathies were
all with Lady Anna, but she feared the Countess, and did not dare
in such a matter to act without the mother's sanction. The Countess
begged the woman to come to her in an hour for further instructions,
and at the time named Mrs. Richards, full of the importance of her
work, divided between terror and pleasurable excitement, again
toddled up-stairs. "Be we to let him in, my lady? God, he knows it's
hard upon the likes of me, who for the last three months doesn't know
whether I'm on my head or heels." The Countess very quietly requested
that when Mr. Thwaite should call he might be shown into the parlour.

"I will see Mr. Thwaite myself, Mrs. Richards; but it will be better
that my daughter should not be disturbed by any intimation of his
coming."

Then there was a consultation below stairs as to what should be done.
There had been many such consultations, but they had all ended in
favour of the Countess. Mrs. Richards from fear, and the lady's-maid
from favour, were disposed to assist the elder lady. Poor Lady Anna
throughout had been forced to fight her battles with no friend near
her. Now she had many friends,--many who were anxious to support her,
even the Bluestones, who had been so hard upon her while she was
along with them;--but they who were now her friends were never near
her to assist her with a word.

So it came to pass that when Daniel Thwaite called at the house
exactly at one o'clock Lady Anna was not expecting him. On the
previous day at that hour she had sat waiting with anxious ears for
the knock at the door which might announce his coming. But she had
waited in vain. From one to two,--even till seven in the evening, she
had waited. But he had not come, and she had feared that some scheme
had been used against her. The people at the Post Office had been
bribed,--or the women in Wyndham Street had been false. But she would
not be hindered. She would go out alone and find him,--if he were to
be found in London.

When he did come, she was not thinking of his coming. He was shown
into the dining-room, and within a minute afterwards the Countess
entered with stately step. She was well dressed, even to the
adjustment of her hair; and she was a woman so changed that he would
hardly have known her as that dear and valued friend whose slightest
word used to be a law to his father,--but who in those days never
seemed to waste a thought upon her attire. She had been out that
morning walking through the streets, and the blood had mounted to her
cheeks He acknowledged to himself that she looked like a noble and
high-born dame. There was a fire in her eye, and a look of scorn
about her mouth and nostrils, which had even for him a certain
fascination,--odious to him as were the pretensions of the so-called
great. She was the first to speak. "You have called to see my
daughter," she said.

"Yes, Lady Lovel,--I have."

"You cannot see her."

"I came at her request."

"I know you did, but you cannot see her. You can be hardly so
ignorant of the ways of the world, Mr. Thwaite, as to suppose that a
young lady can receive what visitors she pleases without the sanction
of her guardians."

"Lady Anna Lovel has no guardian, my lady. She is of age, and is at
present her own guardian."

"I am her mother, and shall exercise the authority of a mother over
her. You cannot see her. You had better go."

"I shall not be stopped in this way, Lady Lovel."

"Do you mean that you will force your way up to her? To do so you
will have to trample over me;--and there are constables in the
street. You cannot see her. You had better go."

"Is she a prisoner?"

"That is between her and me, and is no affair of yours. You are
intruding here, Mr. Thwaite, and cannot possibly gain anything by
your intrusion." Then she strode out in the passage, and motioned him
to the front door. "Mr. Thwaite, I will beg you to leave this house,
which for the present is mine. If you have any proper feeling you
will not stay after I have told you that you are not welcome."

But Lady Anna, though she had not expected the coming of her lover,
had heard the sound of voices, and then became aware that the man was
below. As her mother was speaking she rushed down-stairs and threw
herself into her lover's arms. "It shall never be so in my presence,"
said the Countess, trying to drag the girl from his embrace by the
shoulders.

"Anna;--my own Anna," said Daniel in an ecstacy of bliss. It was not
only that his sweetheart was his own, but that her spirit was so
high.

"Daniel!" she said, still struggling in his arms.

By this time they were all in the parlour, whither the Countess
had been satisfied to retreat to escape the eyes of the women who
clustered at the top of the kitchen stairs. "Daniel Thwaite," said
the Countess, "if you do not leave this, the blood which will be shed
shall rest on your head," and so saying, she drew nigh to the window
and pulled down the blind. She then crossed over and did the same to
the other blind, and having done so, took her place close to a heavy
upright desk, which stood between the fireplace and the window. When
the two ladies first came to the house they had occupied only the
first and second floors;--but, since the success of their cause, the
whole had been taken, including the parlour in which this scene was
being acted; and the Countess spent many hours daily sitting at the
heavy desk in this dark gloomy chamber.

"Whose blood shall be shed?" said Lady Anna, turning to her mother.

"It is the raving of madness," said Daniel.

"Whether it be madness or not, you shall find, sir, that it is
true. Take your hands from her. Would you disgrace the child in the
presence of her mother?"

"There is no disgrace, mamma. He is my own, and I am his. Why should
you try to part us?"

But now they were parted. He was not a man to linger much over the
sweetness of a caress when sterner work was in his hands to be
done. "Lady Lovel," he said, "you must see that this opposition is
fruitless. Ask your cousin, Lord Lovel, and he will tell you that it
is so."

"I care nothing for my cousin. If he be false, I am true. Though all
the world be false, still will I be true. I do not ask her to marry
her cousin. I simply demand that she shall relinquish one who is
infinitely beneath her,--who is unfit to tie her very shoe-string."

"He is my equal in all things," said Lady Anna, "and he shall be my
lord and husband."

"I know of no inequalities such as those you speak of, Lady Lovel,"
said the tailor. "The excellence of your daughter's merits I admit,
and am almost disposed to claim some goodness for myself, finding
that one so good can love me. But, Lady Lovel, I do not wish to
remain here now. You are disturbed."

"I am disturbed, and you had better go."

"I will go at once if you will let me name some early day on which I
may be allowed to meet Lady Anna,--alone. And I tell her here that if
she be not permitted so to see me, it will be her duty to leave her
mother's house, and come to me. There is my address, dear." Then he
handed to her a paper on which he had written the name of the street
and number at which he was now living. "You are free to come and go
as you list, and if you will send to me there, I will find you here
or elsewhere as you may command me. It is but a short five minutes'
walk beyond the house at which you were staying in Bedford Square."

The Countess stood silent for a moment or two, looking at them,
during which neither the girl spoke nor her lover. "You will not
even allow her six months to think of it?" said the Countess.
"I will allow her six years if she says that she requires time to
think of it."

"I do not want an hour,--not a minute," said Lady Anna.

The mother flashed round upon her daughter. "Poor vain, degraded
wretch," she said.

"She is a true woman, honest to the heart's core," said the lover.

"You shall come to-morrow," said the Countess. "Do you hear me,
Anna?--he shall come to-morrow. There shall be an end of this in some
way, and I am broken-hearted. My life is over for me, and I may as
well lay me down and die. I hope God in his mercy may never send upon
another woman,--upon another wife, or another mother,--trouble such
as that with which I have been afflicted. But I tell you this, Anna;
that what evil a husband can do,--even let him be evil-minded as was
your father,--is nothing,--nothing,--nothing to the cruelty of a
cruel child. Go now, Mr. Thwaite; if you please. If you will return
at the same hour to-morrow she shall speak with you--alone. And then
she must do as she pleases."

"Anna, I will come again to-morrow," said the tailor. But Lady Anna
did not answer him. She did not speak, but stayed looking at him till
he was gone.

"To-morrow shall end it all. I can stand this no longer. I have
prayed to you,--a mother to her daughter; I have prayed to you for
mercy, and you will show me none. I have knelt to you."

"Mamma!"

"I will kneel again if it may avail." And the Countess did kneel.
"Will you not spare me?"

"Get up, mamma; get up. What am I doing,--what have I done that you
should speak to me like this?"

"I ask you from my very soul,--lest I commit some terrible crime. I
have sworn that I would not see this marriage,--and I will not see
it."

"If he will consent I will delay it," said the girl trembling.

"Must I beg to him then? Must I kneel to him? Must I ask him to save
me from the wrath to come? No, my child, I will not do that. If it
must come, let it come. When you were a little thing at my knees, the
gentlest babe that ever mother kissed, I did not think that you would
live to be so hard to me. You have your mother's brow, my child, but
you have your father's heart."

"I will ask him to delay it," said Anna.

"No;--if it be to come to that I will have no dealings with you.
What; that he,--he who has come between me and all my peace, he who
with his pretended friendship has robbed me of my all, that he is to
be asked to grant me a few weeks' delay before this pollution comes
upon me,--during which the whole world will know that Lady Anna Lovel
is to be the tailor's wife! Leave me. When he comes to-morrow, you
shall be sent for;--but I will see him first. Leave me, now. I would
be alone."

Lady Anna made an attempt to take her mother's hand, but the Countess
repulsed her rudely. "Oh, mamma!"

"We must be bitter enemies or loving friends, my child. As it is we
are bitter enemies; yes, the bitterest. Leave me now. There is no
room for further words between us." Then Lady Anna slunk up to her
own room.



CHAPTER XLIII.

DANIEL THWAITE COMES AGAIN.


The Countess Lovel had prepared herself on that morning for the doing
of a deed, but her heart had failed her. How she might have carried
herself through it had not her daughter came down to them,--how far
she might have been able to persevere, cannot be said now. But it
was certain that she had so far relented that even while the hated
man was there in her presence, she determined that she would once
again submit herself to make entreaties to her child, once again to
speak of all that she had endured, and to pray at least for delay if
nothing else could be accorded to her. If her girl would but promise
to remain with her for six months, then they might go abroad,--and
the chances afforded them by time and distance would be before her.
In that case she would lavish such love upon the girl, so many
indulgences, such sweets of wealth and ease, such store of caresses
and soft luxury, that surely the young heart might thus be turned
to the things which were fit for rank, and high blood, and splendid
possessions. It could not be but that her own child,--the child who
a few months since had been as gentle with her and as obedient as an
infant,--should give way to her as far as that. She tried it, and
her daughter had referred her prayer,--or had said that she would
refer it,--to the decision of her hated lover; and the mother had
at once lost all command of her temper. She had become fierce,--nay,
ferocious; and had lacked the guile and the self-command necessary to
carry out her purpose. Had she persevered Lady Anna must have granted
her the small boon that she then asked. But she had given way to her
wrath, and had declared that her daughter was her bitterest enemy.
As she seated herself at the old desk where Lady Anna left her, she
swore within her own bosom that the deed must be done.

Even at the moment when she was resolving that she would kneel once
more at her daughter's knees, she prepared herself for the work that
she must do, should the daughter still be as hard as stone to her.
"Come again at one to-morrow," she said to the tailor; and the tailor
said that he would come.

When she was alone she seated herself on her accustomed chair and
opened the old desk with a key that had now become familiar to her
hand. It was a huge piece of furniture,--such as is never made in
these days, but is found among every congregation of old household
goods,--with numberless drawers clustering below, with a vast body,
full of receptacles for bills, wills, deeds, and waste-paper, and
a tower of shelves above, ascending almost to the ceiling. In the
centre of the centre body was a square compartment, but this had been
left unlocked, so that its contents might be ready to her hand. Now
she opened it and took from it a pistol; and, looking warily over her
shoulder to see that the door was closed, and cautiously up at the
windows, lest some eye might be spying her action even through the
thick blinds, she took the weapon in her hand and held it up so that
she might feel, if possible, how it would be with her when she should
attempt the deed. She looked very narrowly at the lock, of which
the trigger was already back at its place, so that no exertion of
arrangement might be necessary for her at the fatal moment. Never as
yet had she fired a pistol;--never before had she held such a weapon
in her hand;--but she thought that she could do it when her passion
ran high.

Then for the twentieth time she asked herself whether it would not
be easier to turn it against her own bosom,--against her own brain;
so that all might be over at once. Ah, yes;--so much easier! But how
then would it be with this man who had driven her, by his subtle
courage and persistent audacity, to utter destruction? Could he and
she be made to go down together in that boat which her fancy had
built for them, then indeed it might be well that she should seek her
own death. But were she now to destroy herself,--herself and only
herself,--then would her enemy be left to enjoy his rich prize, a
prize only the richer because she would have disappeared from the
world! And of her, if such had been her last deed, men would only
say that the mad Countess had gone on in her madness. With looks of
sad solemnity, but heartfelt satisfaction, all the Lovels, and that
wretched tailor, and her own daughter, would bestow some mock grief
on her funeral, and there would be an end for ever of Josephine
Countess Lovel,--and no one would remember her, or her deeds, or her
sufferings. When she wandered out from the house on that morning,
after hearing that Daniel Thwaite would be there at one, and had
walked nearly into the mid city so that she might not be watched,
and had bought her pistol and powder and bullets, and had then with
patience gone to work and taught herself how to prepare the weapon
for use, she certainly had not intended simply to make the triumph of
her enemy more easy.

And yet she knew well what was the penalty of murder, and she knew
also that there could be no chance of escape. Very often had she
turned it in her mind, whether she could not destroy the man so that
the hand of the destroyer might be hidden. But it could not be so.
She could not dog him in the streets. She could not get at him in his
meals to poison him. She could not creep to his bedside and strangle
him in the silent watches of the night. And this woman's heart, even
while from day to day she was meditating murder,--while she was
telling herself that it would be a worthy deed to cut off from life
one whose life was a bar to her own success,--even then revolted from
the shrinking stealthy step, from the low cowardice of the hidden
murderer. To look him in the face and then to slay him,--when no
escape for herself would be possible, that would have in it something
that was almost noble; something at any rate bold,--something that
would not shame her. They would hang her for such a deed! Let them
do so. It was not hanging that she feared, but the tongues of those
who should speak of her when she was gone. They should not speak of
her as one who had utterly failed. They should tell of a woman who,
cruelly misused throughout her life, maligned, scorned, and tortured,
robbed of her own, neglected by her kindred, deserted and damned by
her husband, had still struggled through it all till she had proved
herself to be that which it was her right to call herself;--of
a woman who, though thwarted in her ambition by her own child,
and cheated of her triumph at the very moment of her success, had
dared rather to face an ignominious death than see all her efforts
frustrated by the maudlin fancy of a girl. Yes! She would face it
all. Let them do what they would with her. She hardly knew what might
be the mode of death adjudged to a Countess who had murdered. Let
them kill her as they would, they would kill a Countess;--and the
whole world would know her story.

That day and night were very dreadful to her. She never asked a
question about her daughter. They had brought her food to her in that
lonely parlour, and she hardly heeded them as they laid the things
before her, and then removed them. Again and again did she unlock the
old desk, and see that the weapon was ready to her hand. Then she
opened that letter to Sir William Patterson, and added a postscript
to it. "What I have since done will explain everything." That was
all she added, and on the following morning, about noon, she put the
letter on the mantelshelf. Late at night she took herself to bed,
and was surprised to find that she slept. The key of the old desk
was under her pillow, and she placed her hand on it the moment that
she awoke. On leaving her own room she stood for a moment at her
daughter's door. It might be, if she killed the man, that she would
never see her child again. At that moment she was tempted to rush
into her daughter's room, to throw herself upon her daughter's bed,
and once again to beg for mercy and grace. She listened, and she knew
that her daughter slept. Then she went silently down to the dark
room and the old desk. Of what use would it be to abase herself? Her
daughter was the only thing that she could love; but her daughter's
heart was filled with the image of that low-born artisan.

"Is Lady Anna up?" she asked the maid about ten o'clock.

"Yes, my lady; she is breakfasting now."

"Tell her that when--when Mr. Thwaite comes, I will send for her as
soon as I wish to see her."

"I think Lady Anna understands that already, my lady."

"Tell her what I say."

"Yes, my lady. I will, my lady." Then the Countess spoke no further
word till, punctually at one o'clock, Daniel Thwaite was shown into
the room. "You keep your time, Mr. Thwaite," she said.

"Working men should always do that, Lady Lovel," he replied, as
though anxious to irritate her by reminding her how humble was the
man who could aspire to be the son-in-law of a Countess.

"All men should do so, I presume. I also am punctual. Well sir;--have
you anything else to say?"

"Much to say,--to your daughter, Lady Lovel."

"I do not know that you will ever see my daughter again."

"Do you mean to say that she has been taken away from this?" The
Countess was silent, but moved away from the spot on which she stood
to receive him towards the old desk, which stood open,--with the
door of the centre space just ajar. "If it be so, you have deceived
me most grossly, Lady Lovel. But it can avail you nothing, for I
know that she will be true to me. Do you tell me that she has been
removed?"

"I have told you no such thing."

"Bid her come then,--as you promised me."

"I have a word to say to you first. What if she should refuse to
come?"

"I do not believe that she will refuse. You yourself heard what she
said yesterday. All earth and all heaven should not make me doubt
her, and certainly not your word, Lady Lovel. You know how it is, and
you know how it must be."

"Yes,--I do; I do; I do." She was facing him with her back to the
window, and she put forth her left hand upon the open desk, and
thrust it forward as though to open the square door which stood
ajar;--but he did not notice her hand; he had his eye fixed upon her,
and suspected only deceit,--not violence. "Yes, I know how it must
be," she said, while her fingers approached nearer to the little
door.

"Then let her come to me."

"Will nothing turn you from it?"

"Nothing will turn me from it."

Then suddenly she withdrew her hand and confronted him more closely.
"Mine has been a hard life, Mr. Thwaite;--no life could have been
harder. But I have always had something before me for which to long,
and for which to hope;--something which I might reach if justice
should at length prevail."

"You have got money and rank."

"They are nothing--nothing. In all those many years, the thing that I
have looked for has been the splendour and glory of another, and the
satisfaction I might feel in having bestowed upon her all that she
owned. Do you think that I will stand by, after such a struggle,
and see you rob me of it all,--you,--you, who were one of the tools
which came to my hand to work with? From what you know of me, do you
think that my spirit could stoop so low? Answer me, if you have ever
thought of that. Let the eagles alone, and do not force yourself into
our nest. You will find, if you do, that you will be rent to pieces."

"This is nothing, Lady Lovel. I came here,--at your bidding, to see
your daughter. Let me see her."

"You will not go?"

"Certainly I will not go."

She looked at him as she slowly receded to her former
standing-ground, but he never for a moment suspected the nature of
her purpose. He began to think that some actual insanity had befallen
her, and was doubtful how he should act. But no fear of personal
violence affected him. He was merely questioning with himself whether
it would not be well for him to walk up-stairs into the upper room,
and seek Lady Anna there, as he stood watching the motion of her
eyes.

"You had better go," said she, as she again put her left hand on the
flat board of the open desk.

"You trifle with me, Lady Lovel," he answered. "As you will not allow
Lady Anna to come to me here, I will go to her elsewhere. I do not
doubt but that I shall find her in the house." Then he turned to
the door, intending to leave the room. He had been very near to her
while they were talking, so that he had some paces to traverse before
he could put his hand upon the lock,--but in doing so his back was
turned on her. In one respect it was better for her purpose that it
should be so. She could open the door of the compartment and put her
hand upon the pistol without having his eye upon her. But, as it
seemed to her at the moment, the chance of bringing her purpose to
its intended conclusion was less than it would have been had she been
able to fire at his face. She had let the moment go by,--the first
moment,--when he was close to her, and now there would be half the
room between them. But she was very quick. She seized the pistol,
and, transferring it to her right hand, she rushed after him, and
when the door was already half open she pulled the trigger. In the
agony of that moment she heard no sound, though she saw the flash.
She saw him shrink and pass the door, which he left unclosed, and
then she heard a scuffle in the passage, as though he had fallen
against the wall. She had provided herself especially with a second
barrel,--but that was now absolutely useless to her. There was no
power left to her wherewith to follow him and complete the work which
she had begun. She did not think that she had killed him, though
she was sure that he was struck. She did not believe that she had
accomplished anything of her wishes,--but had she held in her hand a
six-barrelled revolver, as of the present day, she could have done no
more with it. She was overwhelmed with so great a tremor at her own
violence that she was almost incapable of moving. She stood glaring
at the door, listening for what should come, and the moments seemed
to be hours. But she heard no sound whatever. A minute passed away
perhaps, and the man did not move. She looked around as if seeking
some way of escape,--as though, were it possible, she would get to
the street through the window. There was no mode of escape, unless
she would pass out through the door to the man who, as she knew, must
still be there. Then she heard him move. She heard him rise,--from
what posture she knew not, and step towards the stairs. She was still
standing with the pistol in her hand, but was almost unconscious that
she held it. At last her eye glanced upon it, and she was aware that
she was still armed. Should she rush after him, and try what she
could do with that other bullet? The thought crossed her mind, but
she knew that she could do nothing. Had all the Lovels depended upon
it, she could not have drawn that other trigger. She took the pistol,
put it back into its former hiding-place, mechanically locked the
little door, and then seated herself in her chair.



CHAPTER XLIV.

THE ATTEMPT AND NOT THE DEED CONFOUNDS US.


The tailor's hand was on the lock of the door when he first saw the
flash of the fire, and then felt that he was wounded. Though his back
was turned to the woman he distinctly saw the flash, but he never
could remember that he had heard the report. He knew nothing of the
nature of the injury he had received, and was hardly aware of the
place in which he had been struck, when he half closed the door
behind him and then staggered against the opposite wall. For a moment
he was sick, almost to fainting, but yet he did not believe that he
had been grievously hurt. He was, however, disabled, weak, and almost
incapable of any action. He seated himself on the lowest stair, and
began to think. The woman had intended to murder him! She had lured
him there with the premeditated intention of destroying him! And this
was the mother of his bride,--the woman whom he intended to call his
mother-in-law! He was not dead, nor did he believe that he was like
to die; but had she killed him,--what must have been the fate of the
murderess! As it was, would it not be necessary that she should be
handed over to the law, and dealt with for the offence? He did not
know that they might not even hang her for the attempt.

He said afterwards that he thought that he sat there for a quarter of
an hour. Three minutes, however, had not passed before Mrs. Richards,
ascending from the kitchen, found him upon the stairs. "What is it,
Mr. Thwaite?" said she.

"Is anything the matter?" he asked with a faint smile.

"The place is full of smoke," she said, "and there is a smell of
gunpowder."

"There is no harm done at any rate," he answered.

"I thought I heard a something go off," said Sarah, who was behind
Mrs. Richards.

"Did you?" said he. "I heard nothing; but there certainly is a
smoke," and he still smiled.

"What are you sitting there for, Mr. Thwaite?" asked Mrs. Richards.

"You ain't no business to sit there, Mr. Thwaite," said Sarah.

"You've been and done something to the Countess," said Mrs. Richards.

"The Countess is all right. I'm going up-stairs to see Lady
Anna;--that's all. But I've hurt myself a little. I'm bad in my left
shoulder, and I sat down just to get a rest." As he spoke he was
still smiling.

Then the woman looked at him and saw that he was very pale. At that
instant he was in great pain, though he felt that as the sense of
intense sickness was leaving him he would be able to go up-stairs and
say a word or two to his sweetheart, should he find her. "You ain't
just as you ought to be, Mr. Thwaite," said Mrs. Richards. He was
very haggard, and perspiration was on his brow, and she thought that
he had been drinking.

"I am well enough," said he rising,--"only that I am much troubled by
a hurt in my arm. At any rate I will go up-stairs." Then he mounted
slowly, leaving the two women standing in the passage.

Mrs. Richards gently opened the parlour door, and entered the room,
which was still reeking with smoke and the smell of the powder, and
there she found the Countess seated at the old desk, but with her
body and face turned round towards the door. "Is anything the matter,
my lady?" asked the woman.

"Where has he gone?"

"Mr. Thwaite has just stepped up-stairs,--this moment. He was very
queer like, my lady."

"Is he hurt?"

"We think he's been drinking, my lady," said Sarah.

"He says that his shoulder is ever so bad," said Mrs. Richards.

Then for the first time it occurred to the Countess that perhaps the
deed which she had done,--the attempt in which she had failed,--might
never be known. Instinctively she had hidden the pistol and had
locked the little door, and concealed the key within her bosom as
soon as she was alone. Then she thought that she would open the
window; but she had been afraid to move, and she had sat there
waiting while she heard the sound of voices in the passage. "Oh,--his
shoulder!" said she. "No,--he has not been drinking. He never drinks.
He has been very violent, but he never drinks. Well,--why do you
wait?"

"There is such a smell of something," said Mrs. Richards.

"Yes;--you had better open the windows. There was an accident. Thank
you;--that will do."

"And is he to be alone,--with Lady Anna, up-stairs?" asked the maid.

"He is to be alone with her. How can I help it? If she chooses to be
a scullion she must follow her bent. I have done all I could. Why do
you wait? I tell you that he is to be with her. Go away, and leave
me." Then they went and left her, wondering much, but guessing
nothing of the truth. She watched them till they had closed the door,
and then instantly opened the other window wide. It was now May, but
the weather was still cold. There had been rain the night before, and
it had been showery all the morning. She had come in from her walk
damp and chilled, and there was a fire in the grate. But she cared
nothing for the weather. Looking round the room she saw a morsel
of wadding near the floor, and she instantly burned it. She longed
to look at the pistol, but she did not dare to take it from its
hiding-place lest she should be discovered in the act. Every energy
of her mind was now strained to the effort of avoiding detection.
Should he choose to tell what had been done, then, indeed, all would
be over. But had he not resolved to be silent he would hardly have
borne the agony of the wound and gone up-stairs without speaking
of it. She almost forgot now the misery of the last year in the
intensity of her desire to escape the disgrace of punishment. A
sudden nervousness, a desire to do something by which she might help
to preserve herself, seized upon her. But there was nothing which she
could do. She could not follow him lest he should accuse her to her
face. It would be vain for her to leave the house till he should have
gone. Should she do so, she knew that she would not dare return to
it. So she sat, thinking, dreaming, plotting, crushed by an agony of
fear, looking anxiously at the door, listening for every footfall
within the house; and she watched too for the well-known click of
the area gate, dreading lest any one should go out to seek the
intervention of the constables.

In the meantime Daniel Thwaite had gone up-stairs, and had knocked at
the drawing-room door. It was instantly opened by Lady Anna herself.
"I heard you come;--what a time you have been here!--I thought that
I should never see you." As she spoke she stood close to him that he
might embrace her. But the pain of his wound affected his whole body,
and he felt that he could hardly raise even his right arm. He was
aware now that the bullet had entered his back, somewhere on his left
shoulder. "Oh, Daniel;--are you ill?" she said, looking at him.

"Yes, dear;--I am ill;--not very ill. Did you hear nothing?"

"No!"

"Nor yet see anything?"

"No!"

"I will tell you all another time;--only do not ask me now." She had
seated herself beside him and wound her arm round his back as though
to support him. "You must not touch me, dearest."

"You have been hurt."

"Yes;--I have been hurt. I am in pain, though I do not think that it
signifies. I had better go to a surgeon, and then you shall hear from
me."

"Tell me, Daniel;--what is it, Daniel?"

"I will tell you,--but not now. You shall know all, but I
should do harm were I to say it now. Say not a word to any one,
sweetheart,--unless your mother ask you."

"What shall I tell her?"

"That I am hurt,--but not seriously hurt;--and that the less said
the sooner mended. Tell her also that I shall expect no further
interruption to my letters when I write to you,--or to my visits when
I can come. God bless you, dearest;--one kiss, and now I will go."

"You will send for me if you are ill, Daniel?"

"If I am really ill, I will send for you." So saying, he left her,
went down-stairs, with great difficulty opened for himself the front
door, and departed.

Lady Anna, though she had been told nothing of what had happened,
except that her lover was hurt, at once surmised something of what
had been done. Daniel Thwaite had suffered some hurt from her
mother's wrath. She sat for a while thinking what it might have been.
She had seen no sign of blood. Could it be that her mother had struck
him in her anger with some chance weapon that had come to hand? That
there had been violence she was sure,--and sure also that her mother
had been in fault. When Daniel had been some few minutes gone she
went down, that she might deliver his message. At the foot of the
stairs, and near the door of the parlour, she met Mrs. Richards. "I
suppose the young man has gone, my lady?" asked the woman.

"Mr. Thwaite has gone."

"And I make so bold, my lady, as to say that he ought not to come
here. There has been a doing of some kind, but I don't know what. He
says as how he's been hurt, and I'm sure I don't know how he should
be hurt here,--unless he brought it with him. I never had nothing of
the kind here before, long as I've been here. Of course your title
and that is all right, my lady; but the young man isn't fit;--that's
the truth of it. My belief is he'd been a drinking; and I won't have
it in my house."

Lady Anna passed by her without a word and went into her mother's
room. The Countess was still seated in her chair, and neither rose
nor spoke when her daughter entered. "Mamma, Mr. Thwaite is hurt."

"Well;--what of it? Is it much that ails him?"

"He is in pain. What has been done, mamma?" The Countess looked at
her, striving to learn from the girl's face and manner what had been
told and what concealed. "Did you--strike him?"

"Has he said that I struck him?"

"No, mamma;--but something has been done that should not have been
done. I know it. He has sent you a message, mamma."

"What was it?" asked the Countess, in a hoarse voice.

"That he was hurt, but not seriously."

"Oh;--he said that."

"I fear he is hurt seriously."

"But he said that he was not?"

"Yes;--and that the less said the sooner mended."

"Did he say that too?"

"That was his message."

The Countess gave a long sigh, then sobbed, and at last broke out
into hysteric tears. It was evident to her now that the man was
sparing her,--was endeavouring to spare her. He had told no one as
yet. "The least said the soonest mended." Oh yes;--if he would say
never a word to any one of what had occurred between them that day,
that would be best for her. But how could he not tell? When some
doctor should ask him how he had come by that wound, surely he would
tell then! It could not be possible that such a deed should have been
done there, in that little room, and that no one should know it! And
why should he not tell,--he who was her enemy? Had she caught him at
advantage, would she not have smote him, hip and thigh? And then she
reflected what it would be to owe perhaps her life to the mercy of
Daniel Thwaite,--to the mercy of her enemy, of him who knew,--if no
one else should know,--that she had attempted to murder him. It would
be better for her, should she be spared to do so, to go away to some
distant land, where she might hide her head for ever.

"May I go to him, mamma, to see him?" Lady Anna asked. The Countess,
full of her own thoughts, sat silent, answering not a word. "I know
where he lives, mamma, and I fear that he is much hurt."

"He will not--die," muttered the Countess.

"God forbid that he should die;--but I will go to him." Then she
returned up-stairs without a word of opposition from her mother, put
on her bonnet, and sallied forth. No one stopped her or said a word
to her now, and she seemed to herself to be as free as air. She
walked up to the corner of Gower Street, and turned down into Bedford
Square, passing the house of the Serjeant. Then she asked her way
into Great Russell Street, which she found to be hardly more than a
stone's throw from the Serjeant's door, and soon found the number at
which her lover lived. No;--Mr. Thwaite was not at home. Yes;--she
might wait for him;--but he had no room but his bedroom. Then she
became very bold. "I am engaged to be his wife," she said. "Are
you the Lady Anna?" asked the woman, who had heard the story. Then
she was received with great distinction, and invited to sit down
in a parlour on the ground-floor. There she sat for three hours,
motionless, alone,--waiting,--waiting,--waiting. When it was quite
dark, at about six o'clock, Daniel Thwaite entered the room with his
left arm bound up. "My girl!" he said, with so much joy in his tone
that she could not but rejoice to hear him. "So you have found me
out, and have come to me!"

"Yes, I have come. Tell me what it is. I know that you are hurt."

"I have been hurt certainly. The doctor wanted me to go into a
hospital, but I trust that I may escape that. But I must take care of
myself. I had to come back here in a coach, because the man told me
not to walk."

"How was it, Daniel? Oh, Daniel, you will tell me everything?"

Then she sat beside him as he lay upon the couch, and listened to him
while he told her the whole story. He hid nothing from her, but as he
went on he made her understand that it was his intention to conceal
the whole deed, to say nothing of it, so that the perpetrator
should escape punishment, if it might be possible. She listened in
awe-struck silence as she heard the tale of her mother's guilt. And
he, with wonderful skill, with hearty love for the girl, and in true
mercy to her feelings, palliated the crime of the would-be murderess.
"She was beside herself with grief and emotion," he said, "and has
hardly surprised me by what she has done. Had I thought of it, I
should almost have expected it."

"She may do it again, Daniel."

"I think not. She will be cowed now, and quieter. She did not
interfere when you told her that you were coming to me? It will be
a lesson to her, and so it may be good for us." Then he bade her to
tell her mother that he, as far as he was concerned, would hold his
peace. If she would forget all past injuries, so would he. If she
would hold out her hand to him, he would take it. If she could not
bring herself to this,--could not bring herself as yet,--then let her
go apart. No notice should be taken of what she had done. "But she
must not again stand between us," he said.

"Nothing shall stand between us," said Lady Anna.

Then he told her, laughing as he did so, how hard it had been for
him to keep the story of his wound secret from the doctor, who had
already extracted the ball, and who was to visit him on the morrow.
The practitioner to whom he had gone, knowing nothing of gunshot
wounds, had taken him to a first-class surgeon, and the surgeon had
of course asked as to the cause of the wound. Daniel had said that it
was an accident as to which he could not explain the cause. "You mean
you will not tell," said the surgeon. "Exactly so. I will not tell.
It is my secret. That I did not do it myself you may judge from the
spot in which I was shot." To this the surgeon assented; and, though
he pressed the question, and said something as to the necessity for
an investigation, he could get no satisfaction. However, he had
learned Daniel's name and address. He was to call on the morrow, and
would then perhaps succeed in learning something of the mystery. "In
the meantime, my darling, I must go to bed, for it seems as though
every bone in my body was sore. I have brought an old woman with me
who is to look after me."

Then she left him, promising that she would come on the morrow and
would nurse him. "Unless they lock me up, I will be here," she said.
Daniel Thwaite thought that in the present circumstances no further
attempt would be made to constrain her actions.



CHAPTER XLV.

THE LAWYERS AGREE.


When a month had passed by a great many people knew how Mr. Daniel
Thwaite had come by the wound in his back, but nobody knew it
"officially." There is a wide difference in the qualities of
knowledge regarding such matters. In affairs of public interest we
often know, or fancy that we know, down to every exact detail, how a
thing has been done,--who have given the bribes and who have taken
them,--who has told the lie and who has pretended to believe it,--who
has peculated and how the public purse has suffered,--who was in
love with such a one's wife and how the matter was detected, then
smothered up, and condoned; but there is no official knowledge, and
nothing can be done. The tailor and the Earl, the Countess and her
daughter, had become public property since the great trial had been
commenced, and many eyes were on them. Before a week had gone by it
was known in every club and in every great drawing-room that the
tailor had been shot in the shoulder,--and it was almost known that
the pistol had been fired by the hands of the Countess. The very
eminent surgeon into whose hands Daniel had luckily fallen did not
press his questions very far when his patient told him that it would
be for the welfare of many people that nothing further should be
asked on the matter. "An accident has occurred," said Daniel, "as to
which I do not intend to say anything further. I can assure you that
no injury has been done beyond that which I suffer." The eminent
surgeon no doubt spoke of the matter among his friends, but he always
declared that he had no certain knowledge as to the hand which fired
the pistol.

The women in Keppel Street of course talked. There had certainly been
a smoke and a smell of gunpowder. Mrs. Richards had heard nothing.
Sarah thought that she had heard a noise. They both were sure that
Daniel Thwaite had been much the worse for drink,--a statement which
led to considerable confusion. No pistol was ever seen,--though
the weapon remained in the old desk for some days, and was at last
conveyed out of the house when the Countess left it with all her
belongings. She had been afraid to hide it more stealthily or even
throw it away, lest her doing so should be discovered. Had the law
interfered,--had any search-warrant been granted,--the pistol would,
of course, have been found. As it was, no one asked the Countess a
question on the subject. The lawyers who had been her friends, and
had endeavoured to guide her through her difficulties, became afraid
of her, and kept aloof from her. They had all gone over to the
opinion that Lady Anna should be allowed to marry the tailor, and had
on that account become her enemies. She was completely isolated, and
was now spoken of mysteriously,--as a woman who had suffered much,
and was nearly mad with grief, as a violent, determined, dangerous
being, who was interesting as a subject for conversation, but one not
at all desirable as an acquaintance. During the whole of this month
the Countess remained in Keppel Street, and was hardly ever seen by
any but the inmates of that house.

Lady Anna had returned home all alone, on the evening of the day on
which the deed had been done, after leaving her lover in the hands
of the old nurse with whose services he had been furnished. The rain
was still falling as she came through Russell Square. The distance
was indeed short, but she was wet and cold and draggled when she
returned; and the criminality of the deed which her mother had
committed had come fully home to her mind during the short journey.
The door was opened to her by Mrs. Richards, and she at once asked
for the Countess. "Lady Anna, where have you been?" asked Mrs.
Richards, who was learning to take upon herself, during these
troubles, something of the privilege of finding fault. But Lady
Anna put her aside without a word, and went into the parlour. There
sat the Countess just as she had been left,--except that a pair of
candles stood upon the table, and that the tea-things had been laid
there. "You are all wet," she said. "Where have you been?"

"He has told me all," the girl replied, without answering the
question. "Oh, mamma;--how could you do it?"

"Who has driven me to it? It has been you,--you, you. Well;--what
else?"

"Mamma, he has forgiven you."

"Forgiven me! I will not have his forgiveness."

"Oh, mamma;--if I forgive you, will you not be friends with us?" She
stooped over her mother, and kissed her, and then went on and told
what she had to tell. She stood and told it all in a low voice, so
that no ear but that of her mother should hear her,--how the ball had
hit him, how it had been extracted, how nothing had been and nothing
should be told, how Daniel would forgive it all and be her friend,
if she would let him. "But, mamma, I hope you will be sorry." The
Countess sat silent, moody, grim, with her eyes fixed on the table.
She would say nothing. "And, mamma,--I must go to him every day,--to
do things for him and to help to nurse him. Of course he will be my
husband now." Still the Countess said not a word, either of approval
or of dissent. Lady Anna sat down for a moment or two, hoping that
her mother would allow her to eat and drink in the room, and that
thus they might again begin to live together. But not a word was
spoken nor a motion made, and the silence became awful, so that the
girl did not dare to keep her seat. "Shall I go, mamma?" she said.

"Yes;--you had better go." After that they did not see each other
again on that evening, and during the week or ten days following they
lived apart.

On the following morning, after an early breakfast, Lady Anna went to
Great Russell Street, and there she remained the greater part of the
day. The people of the house understood that the couple were to be
married as soon as their lodger should be well, and had heard much of
the magnificence of the marriage. They were kind and good, and the
tailor declared very often that this was the happiest period of his
existence. Of all the good turns ever done to him, he said, the wound
in his back had been the best. As his sweetheart sat by his bedside
they planned their future life. They would still go to the distant
land on which his heart was set, though it might be only for awhile;
and she, with playfulness, declared that she would go there as Mrs.
Thwaite. "I suppose they can't prevent me calling myself Mrs.
Thwaite, if I please."

"I am not so sure of that," said the tailor. "Evil burs stick fast."

It would be vain now to tell of all the sweet lovers' words that were
spoken between them during those long hours;--but the man believed
that no girl had ever been so true to her lover through so many
difficulties as Lady Anna had been to him, and she was sure that she
had never varied in her wish to become the wife of the man who had
first asked her for her love. She thought much and she thought often
of the young lord; but she took the impress of her lover's mind, and
learned to regard her cousin, the Earl, as an idle, pretty popinjay,
born to eat, to drink, and to carry sweet perfumes. "Just a
butterfly," said the tailor.

"One of the brightest butterflies," said the girl.

"A woman should not be a butterfly,--not altogether a butterfly," he
answered. "But for a man it is surely a contemptible part. Do you
remember the young man who comes to Hotspur on the battlefield, or
him whom the king sent to Hamlet about the wager? When I saw Lord
Lovel at his breakfast table, I thought of them. I said to myself
that spermaceti was the 'sovereignest thing on earth for an inward
wound,' and I told myself that he was of 'very soft society, and
great showing.'" She smiled, though she did not know the words he
quoted, and assured him that her poor cousin Lord Lovel would not
trouble him much in the days that were to come. "He will not trouble
me at all, but as he is your cousin I would fain that he could be a
man. He had a sort of gown on which would have made a grand frock for
you, sweetheart;--only too smart I fear for my wife." She laughed
and was pleased,--and remembered without a shade either of regret
or remorse the manner in which the popinjay had helped her over the
stepping-stones at Bolton Abbey.

But the tailor, though he thus scorned the lord, was quite willing
that a share of the property should be given up to him. "Unless you
did, how on earth could he wear such grand gowns as that? I can
understand that he wants it more than I do, and if there are to be
earls, I suppose they should be rich. We do not want it, my girl."

"You will have half, Daniel," she said.

"As far as that goes, I do not want a doit of it,--not a penny-piece.
When they paid me what became my own by my father's will, I was rich
enough,--rich enough for you and me too, my girl, if that was all.
But it is better that it should be divided. If he had it all he
would buy too many gowns; and it may be that with us some good will
come of it. As far as I can see, no good comes of money spent on
race-courses, and in gorgeous gowns."

This went on from day to day throughout a month, and every day Lady
Anna took her place with her lover. After a while her mother came up
into the drawing-room in Keppel Street, and then the two ladies again
lived together. Little or nothing, however, was said between them
as to their future lives. The Countess was quiet, sullen,--and to a
bystander would have appeared to be indifferent. She had been utterly
vanquished by the awe inspired by her own deed, and by the fear which
had lasted for some days that she might be dragged to trial for the
offence. As that dread subsided she was unable to recover her former
spirits. She spoke no more of what she had done and what she had
suffered, but seemed to submit to the inevitable. She said nothing of
any future life that might be in store for her, and, as far as her
daughter could perceive, had no plans formed for the coming time. At
last Lady Anna found it necessary to speak of her own plans. "Mamma,"
she said, "Mr. Thwaite wishes that banns should be read in church for
our marriage."

"Banns!" exclaimed the Countess.

"Yes, mamma; he thinks it best." The Countess made no further
observation. If the thing was to be, it mattered little to her
whether they were to be married by banns or by licence,--whether her
girl should walk down to church like a maid-servant, or be married
with all the pomp and magnificence to which her rank and wealth might
entitle her. How could there be splendour, how even decency, in such
a marriage as this? She at any rate would not be present, let them be
married in what way they would. On the fourth Sunday after the shot
had been fired the banns were read for the first time in Bloomsbury
Church, and the future bride was described as Anna Lovel,--commonly
called Lady Anna Lovel,--spinster. Neither on that occasion, or on
either of the two further callings, did any one get up in church to
declare that impediment existed why Daniel Thwaite the tailor and
Lady Anna Lovel should not be joined together in holy matrimony.

In the mean time the lawyers had been at work dividing the property,
and in the process of doing so it had been necessary that Mr. Goffe
should have various interviews with the Countess. She also, as the
undisputed widow of the late intestate Earl, was now a very rich
woman, with an immense income at her control. But no one wanted
assistance from her. There was her revenue, and she was doomed to
live apart with it in her solitude,--with no fellow-creature to
rejoice with her in her triumph, with no dependant whom she could
make happy with her wealth. She was a woman with many faults,--but
covetousness was not one of them. If she could have given it all
to the young Earl,--and her daughter with it, she would have been
a happy woman. Had she been permitted to dream that it was all so
settled that her grandchild would become of all Earl Lovels the most
wealthy and most splendid, she would have triumphed indeed. But, as
it was, there was no spot in her future career brighter to her than
those long years of suffering which she had passed in the hope that
some day her child might be successful. Triumph indeed! There was
nothing before her but solitude and shame.

Nevertheless she listened to Mr. Goffe, and signed the papers that
were put before her. When, however, he spoke to her of what was
necessary for the marriage,--as to the settlement, which must, Mr.
Goffe said, be made as to the remaining moiety of her daughter's
property,--she answered curtly that she knew nothing of that. Her
daughter's affairs were no concern of hers. She had, indeed, worked
hard to establish her daughter's rights, but her daughter was now of
age, and could do as she pleased with her own. She would not even
remain in the room while the matter was being discussed. "Lady Anna
and I have separate interests," she said haughtily.

Lady Anna herself simply declared that half of her estate should be
made over to her cousin, and that the other half should go to her
husband. But the attorney was not satisfied to take instructions on
a matter of such moment from one so young. As to all that was to
appertain to the Earl, the matter was settled. The Solicitor-General
and Serjeant Bluestone had acceded to the arrangement, and the
Countess herself had given her assent before she had utterly
separated her own interests from those of her daughter. In regard
to so much, Mr. Goffe could go to work in conjunction with Mr.
Flick without a scruple; but as to that other matter there must be
consultations, conferences, and solemn debate. The young lady, no
doubt, might do as she pleased; but lawyers can be very powerful. Sir
William was asked for his opinion, and suggested that Daniel Thwaite
himself should be invited to attend at Mr. Goffe's chambers, as soon
as his wound would allow him to do so. Daniel, who did not care for
his wound so much as he should have done, was with Mr. Goffe on the
following morning, and heard a lengthy explanation from the attorney.
The Solicitor-General had been consulted;--this Mr. Goffe said,
feeling that a tailor would not have a word to say against so high
an authority;--the Solicitor-General had been consulted, and was of
opinion that Lady Anna's interests should be guarded with great care.
A very large property, he might say a splendid estate, was concerned.
Mr. Thwaite of course understood that the family had been averse
to this marriage,--naturally very averse. Now, however, they were
prepared to yield.

The tailor interrupted the attorney at this period of his speech. "We
don't want anybody to yield, Mr. Goffe. We are going to do what we
please, and don't know anything about yielding."

Mr. Goffe remarked that all that might be very well, but that, as so
large a property was at stake, the friends of the lady, according to
all usage, were bound to interfere. A settlement had already been
made in regard to the Earl.

"You mean, Mr. Goffe, that Lady Anna has given her cousin half her
money?"

The attorney went on to say that Mr. Thwaite might put it in that
way if he pleased. The deeds had already been executed. With regard
to the other moiety Mr. Thwaite would no doubt not object to a
trust-deed, by which it should be arranged that the money should be
invested in land, the interest to be appropriated to the use of Lady
Anna, and the property be settled on the eldest son. Mr. Thwaite
would, of course, have the advantage of the income during his wife's
life. The attorney, in explaining all this, made an exceedingly good
legal exposition, and then waited for the tailor's assent.

"Are those Lady Anna's instructions?"

Mr. Goffe replied that the proposal was made in accordance with the
advice of the Solicitor-General.

"I'll have nothing to do with such a settlement," said the tailor.
"Lady Anna has given away half her money, and may give away the
whole if she pleases. She will be the same to me whether she comes
full-handed or empty. But when she is my wife her property shall be
my property,--and when I die there shall be no such abomination as an
eldest son." Mr. Goffe was persuasive, eloquent, indignant, and very
wise. All experience, all usage, all justice, all tradition, required
that there should be some such settlement as he had suggested. But it
was in vain. "I don't want my wife to have anything of her own before
marriage," said he; "but she certainly shall have nothing after
marriage,--independent of me." For a man with sound views of domestic
power and marital rights always choose a Radical! In this case there
was no staying him. The girl was all on his side, and Mr. Goffe, with
infinite grief, was obliged to content himself with binding up a
certain portion of the property to make an income for the widow,
should the tailor die before his wife. And thus the tailor's marriage
received the sanction of all the lawyers.

A day or two after this Daniel Thwaite called upon the Countess.
It was now arranged that they should be married early in July, and
questions had arisen as to the manner of the ceremony. Who should
give away the bride? Of what nature should the marriage be? Should
there be any festival? Should there be bridesmaids? Where should they
go when they were married? What dresses should be bought? After what
fashion should they be prepared to live? Those, and questions of a
like nature, required to be answered, and Lady Anna felt that these
matters should not be fixed without some reference to her mother.
It had been her most heartfelt desire to reconcile the Countess to
the marriage,--to obtain, at any rate, so much recognition as would
enable her mother to be present in the church. But the Countess had
altogether refused to speak on the subject, and had remained silent,
gloomy, and impenetrable. Then Daniel had himself proposed that he
would see her, and on a certain morning he called. He sent up his
name, with his compliments, and the Countess allowed him to be shown
into her room. Lady Anna had begged that it might be so, and she had
yielded,--yielded without positive assent, as she had now done in
all matters relating to this disastrous marriage. On that morning,
however, she had spoken a word. "If Mr. Thwaite chooses to see me, I
must be alone." And she was alone when the tailor was shown into the
room. Up to that day he had worn his arm in a sling,--and should then
have continued to do so; but, on this visit of peace to her who had
attempted to be his murderer, he put aside this outward sign of the
injury she had inflicted on him. He smiled as he entered the room,
and she rose to receive him. She was no longer a young woman;--and no
woman of her age or of any other had gone through rougher usage;--but
she could not keep the blood out of her cheeks as her eyes met
his, nor could she summon to her support that hard persistency of
outward demeanour with which she had intended to arm herself for the
occasion. "So you have come to see me, Mr. Thwaite?" she said.

"I have come, Lady Lovel, to shake hands with you, if it may be so,
before my marriage with your daughter. It is her wish that we should
be friends,--and mine also." So saying, he put out his hand, and the
Countess slowly gave him hers. "I hope the time may come, Lady Lovel,
when all animosity may be forgotten between you and me, and nothing
be borne in mind but the old friendship of former years."

"I do not know that that can be," she said.

"I hope it may be so. Time cures all things,--and I hope it may be
so."

"There are sorrows, Mr. Thwaite, which no time can cure. You have
triumphed, and can look forward to the pleasures of success. I have
been foiled, and beaten, and broken to pieces. With me the last is
worse even than the first. I do not know that I can ever have another
friend. Your father was my friend."

"And I would be so also."

"You have been my enemy. All that he did to help me,--all that
others have done since to forward me on my way, has been brought
to nothing--by you! My joys have been turned to grief, my rank has
been made a disgrace, my wealth has become like ashes between my
teeth;--and it has been your doing. They tell me that you will be my
daughter's husband. I know that it must be so. But I do not see that
you can be my friend."

"I had hoped to find you softer, Lady Lovel."

"It is not my nature to be soft. All this has not tended to make me
soft. If my daughter will let me know from time to time that she is
alive, that is all that I shall require of her. As to her future
career, I cannot interest myself in it as I had hoped to do.
Good-bye, Mr. Thwaite. You need fear no further interference from
me."

So the interview was over, and not a word had been said about the
attempt at murder.



CHAPTER XLVI.

HARD LINES.


At the time that the murder was attempted Lord Lovel was in
London,--and had seen Daniel Thwaite on that morning; but before any
confirmed rumour had reached his ears he had left London again on his
road to Yoxham. He knew now that he would be endowed with something
like ten thousand a year out of the wealth of the late Earl, but
that he would not have the hand of his fair cousin, the late Earl's
daughter. Perhaps it was as well as it was. The girl had never loved
him, and he could now choose for himself;--and need not choose till
it should be his pleasure to settle himself as a married man. After
all, his marriage with Lady Anna would have been a constrained
marriage,--a marriage which he would have accepted as the means of
making his fortune. The girl certainly had pleased him;--but it
might be that a girl who preferred a tailor would not have continued
to please him. At any rate he could not be unhappy with his
newly-acquired fortune, and he went down to Yoxham to receive the
congratulation of his friends, thinking that it would become him now
to make some exertion towards reconciling his uncle and aunt to the
coming marriage.

"Have you heard anything about Mr. Thwaite?" Mr. Flick said to him
the day before he started. The Earl had heard nothing. "They say that
he has been wounded by a pistol-ball." Lord Lovel stayed some days at
a friend's house on his road into Yorkshire, and when he reached the
rectory, the rector had received news from London. Mr. Thwaite the
tailor had been murdered, and it was surmised that the deed had been
done by the Countess. "I trust the papers were signed before you
left London," said the anxious rector. The documents making over
the property were all right, but the Earl would believe nothing of
the murder. Mr. Thwaite might have been wounded. He had heard so
much before,--but he was quite sure that it had not been done by the
Countess. On the following day further tidings came. Mr. Thwaite was
doing well, but everybody said that the attempt had been made by Lady
Lovel. Thus by degrees some idea of the facts as they had occurred
was received at the rectory.

"You don't mean that you want us to have Mr. Thwaite here?" said the
rector, holding up his hands, upon hearing a proposition made to him
by his nephew a day or two later.

"Why not, uncle Charles?"

"I couldn't do it. I really don't think your aunt could bring herself
to sit down to table with him."

"Aunt Jane?"

"Yes, your aunt Jane,--or your aunt Julia either." Now a quieter lady
than aunt Jane, or one less likely to turn up her nose at any guest
whom her husband should choose to entertain, did not exist.

"May I ask my aunts?"

"What good can it do, Frederic?"

"He's going to marry our cousin. He's not at all such a man as you
seem to think."

"He has been a journeyman tailor all his life."

"You'll find he'll make a very good sort of gentleman. Sir William
Patterson says that he'll be in Parliament before long."

"Sir William! Sir William is always meddling. I have never thought
much about Sir William."

"Come, uncle Charles,--you should be fair. If we had gone on
quarrelling and going to law, where should I have been now? I should
never have got a shilling out of the property. Everybody says so. No
doubt Sir William acted very wisely."

"I am no lawyer. I can't say how it might have been. But I may have
my doubts if I like. I have always understood that Lady Lovel, as you
choose to call her, was never Lord Lovel's wife. For twenty years I
have been sure of it, and I can't change so quickly as some other
people."

"She is Lady Lovel now. The King and Queen would receive her as such
if she went to Court. Her daughter is Lady Anna Lovel."

"It may be so. It is possible."

"If it be not so," said the young lord thumping the table, "where
have I got the money from?" This was an argument that the rector
could not answer;--so he merely shook his head. "I am bound to
acknowledge them after taking her money."

"But not him. You haven't had any of his money. You needn't
acknowledge him."

"We had better make the best of it, uncle Charles. He is going to
marry our cousin, and we should stand by her. Sir William very
strongly advises me to be present at the marriage, and to offer to
give her away."

"The girl you were going to marry yourself!"

"Or else that you should do it. That of course would be better."

The rector of Yoxham groaned when the proposition was made to him.
What infinite vexation of spirit and degradation had come to him from
these spurious Lovels during the last twelve months! He had been made
to have the girl in his house and to give her precedence as Lady
Anna, though he did not believe in her; he had been constrained to
treat her as the desired bride of his august nephew the Earl,--till
she had refused the Earl's hand; after he had again repudiated her
and her mother because of her base attachment to a low-born artisan,
he had been made to re-accept her in spirit, because she had been
generous to his nephew;--and now he was asked to stand at the altar
and give her away to the tailor! And there could come to him neither
pleasure nor profit from the concern. All that he had endured he
had borne simply for the sake of his family and his nephew. "She is
degrading us all,--as far as she belongs to us," said the rector. "I
can't see why I should be asked to give her my countenance in doing
it."

"Everybody says that it is very good of her to be true to the man she
loved when she was poor and in obscurity. Sir William says--"

"---- Sir William!" muttered the rector between his teeth, as he
turned away in disgust. What had been the first word of that minatory
speech Lord Lovel did not clearly hear. He had been brought up as
a boy by his uncle, and had never known his uncle to offend by
swearing. No one in Yoxham would have believed it possible that the
parson of the parish should have done so. Mrs. Grimes would have
given evidence in any court in Yorkshire that it was absolutely
impossible. The archbishop would not have believed it though
his archdeacon had himself heard the word. All the man's known
antecedents since he had been at Yoxham were against the probability.
The entire close at York would have been indignant had such an
accusation been made. But his nephew in his heart of hearts believed
that the rector of Yoxham had damned the Solicitor-General.

There was, however, more cause for malediction, and further
provocations to wrath, in store for the rector. The Earl had not as
yet opened all his budget, or let his uncle know the extent of the
sacrifice that was to be demanded from him. Sir William had been very
urgent with the young nobleman to accord everything that could be
accorded to his cousin. "It is not of course for me to dictate," he
had said, "but as I have been allowed so far to give advice somewhat
beyond the scope of my profession, perhaps you will let me say that
in mere honesty you owe her all that you can give. She has shared
everything with you, and need have given nothing. And he, my lord,
had he been so minded, might no doubt have hindered her from doing
what she has done. You owe it to your honour to accept her and her
husband with an open hand. Unless you can treat her with cousinly
regard you should not have taken what has been given to you as a
cousin. She has recognised you to your great advantage as the head of
her family, and you should certainly recognise her as belonging to
it. Let the marriage be held down at Yoxham. Get your uncle and aunt
to ask her down. Do you give her away, and let your uncle marry them.
If you can put me up for a night in some neighbouring farm-house, I
will come and be a spectator. It will be for your honour to treat her
after that fashion." The programme was a large one, and the Earl felt
that there might be some difficulty.

But in the teeth of that dubious malediction he persevered, and his
next attack was upon aunt Julia. "You liked her;--did you not?"

"Yes;--I liked her." The tone implied great doubt. "I liked her, till
I found that she had forgotten herself."

"But she didn't forget herself. She just did what any girl would have
done, living as she was living. She has behaved nobly to me."

"She has behaved no doubt conscientiously."

"Come, aunt Julia! Did you ever know any other woman to give away
ten thousand a-year to a fellow simply because he was her cousin? We
should do something for her. Why should you not ask her down here
again?"

"I don't think my brother would like it."

"He will if you tell him. And we must make a gentleman of him."

"My dear Frederic, you can never wash a blackamoor white."

"Let us try. Don't you oppose it. It behoves me, for my honour, to
show her some regard after what she has done for me."

Aunt Julia shook her head, and muttered to herself some further
remark about negroes. The inhabitants of the Yoxham rectory,--who
were well born, ladies and gentlemen without a stain, who were
hitherto free from all base intermarriages, and had nothing among
their male cousins below soldiers and sailors, parsons and lawyers,
who had successfully opposed an intended marriage between a cousin in
the third degree and an attorney because the alliance was below the
level of the Lovels, were peculiarly averse to any intermingling of
ranks. They were descended from ancient earls, and their chief was
an earl of the present day. There was but one titled young lady now
among them,--and she had only just won her right to be so considered.
There was but one Lady Anna,--and she was going to marry a tailor!
"Duty is duty," said aunt Julia as she hurried away. She meant her
nephew to understand that duty commanded her to shut her heart
against any cousin who could marry a tailor.

The lord next attacked aunt Jane. "You wouldn't mind having her
here?"

"Not if your uncle thought well of it," said Mrs. Lovel.

"I'll tell you what my scheme is." Then he told it all. Lady Anna
was to be invited to the rectory. The tailor was to be entertained
somewhere near on the night preceding his wedding. The marriage was
to be celebrated by his uncle in Yoxham Church. Sir William was to
be asked to join them. And the whole thing was to be done exactly as
though they were all proud of the connection.

"Does your uncle know?" asked Mrs. Lovel, who had been nearly stunned
by the proposition.

"Not quite. I want you to suggest it. Only think, aunt Jane, what
she has done for us all!" Aunt Jane couldn't think that very much
had been done for her. They were not to be enriched by the cousin's
money. They had never been interested in the matter on their own
account. They wanted nothing. And yet they were to be called upon to
have a tailor at their board,--because Lord Lovel was the head of
their family. But the Earl was the Earl; and poor Mrs. Lovel knew how
much she owed to his position. "If you wish it of course I'll tell
him, Frederic."

"I do wish it;--and I'll be so much obliged to you."

The next morning the parson had been told all that was required of
him, and he came down to prayers as black as a thunder-cloud. It had
been before suggested to him that he should give the bride away, and
though he had grievously complained of the request, he knew that he
must do it should the Earl still demand it. He had no power to oppose
the head of the family. But he had never thought then that he would
be asked to pollute his own rectory by the presence of that odious
tailor. While he was shaving that morning very religious ideas had
filled his mind. What a horrible thing was wickedness! All this evil
had come upon him and his because the late Earl had been so very
wicked a man! He had sworn to his wife that he would not bear it.
He had done and was ready to do more almost than any other uncle in
England. But this he could not endure. Yet when he was shaving, and
thinking with religious horror of the iniquities of that iniquitous
old lord, he knew that he would have to yield. "I dare say they
wouldn't come," said aunt Julia. "He won't like to be with us any
more than we shall like to have him." There was some comfort in that
hope; and trusting to it the rector had yielded everything before the
third day was over.

"And I may ask Sir William?" said the Earl.

"Of course we shall be glad to see Sir William Patterson if you
choose to invite him," said the rector, still oppressed by gloom.
"Sir William Patterson is a gentleman no doubt, and a man of high
standing. Of course I and your aunt will be pleased to receive him.
As a lawyer I don't think much of him;--but that has nothing to do
with it." It may be remarked here that though Mr. Lovel lived for a
great many years after the transactions which are here recorded, he
never gave way in reference to the case that had been tried. If the
lawyers had persevered as they ought to have done, it would have been
found out that the Countess was no Countess, that the Lady Anna was
no Lady Anna, and that all the money had belonged by right to the
Earl. With that belief,--with that profession of belief,--he went to
his grave an old man of eighty.

In the meantime he consented that the invitation should be given. The
Countess and her daughter were to be asked to Yoxham;--the use of the
parish church was to be offered for the ceremony; he was to propose
to marry them; the Earl was to give the bride away; and Daniel
Thwaite the tailor was to be asked to dine at Yoxham Rectory on the
day before the marriage! The letters were to be written from the
rectory by aunt Julia, and the Earl was to add what he pleased for
himself. "I suppose this sort of trial is sent to us for our good,"
said the rector to his wife that night in the sanctity of their
bedroom.



CHAPTER XLVII.

THINGS ARRANGE THEMSELVES.


But the Countess never gave way an inch. The following was the answer
which she returned to the note written to her by aunt Julia;--

"The Countess Lovel presents her compliments to Miss Lovel. The
Countess disapproves altogether of the marriage which is about to
take place between Lady Anna Lovel and Mr. Daniel Thwaite, and will
take no part in the ceremony."

"By heavens,--she is the best Lovel of us all," said the rector when
he read the letter.

This reply was received at Yoxham three days before any answer came
either from Lady Anna or from the tailor. Daniel had received his
communication from the young lord, who had called him "Dear Mr.
Thwaite," who had written quite familiarly about the coming nuptials
with "his cousin Anna,"--had bade him come down and join the family
"like a good fellow,"--and had signed himself, "Yours always most
sincerely, Lovel." "It almost takes my breath away," said the tailor
to his sweetheart, laughing.

"They are cousins, you know," said Lady Anna. "And there was a little
girl there I loved so much."

"They can't but despise me, you know," said the tailor.

"Why should any one despise you?"

"No one should,--unless I be mean and despicable. But they do,--you
may be sure. It is only human nature that they should. We are made of
different fabric,--though the stuff was originally the same. I don't
think I should be at my ease with them. I should be half afraid of
their gilt and their gingerbread, and should be ashamed of myself
because I was so. I should not know how to drink wine with them, and
should do a hundred things which would make them think me a beast."

"I don't see why you shouldn't hold up your head with any man in
England," said Lady Anna.

"And so I ought;--but I shouldn't. I should be awed by those whom
I feel to be my inferiors. I had rather not. We had better keep to
ourselves, dear!" But the girl begged for some delay. It was a matter
that required to be considered. If it were necessary for her to
quarrel with all her cousins for the sake of her husband,--with the
bright fainéant young Earl, with aunts Jane and Julia, with her
darling Minnie, she would do so. The husband should be to her in
all respects the first and foremost. For his sake, now that she had
resolved that she would be his, she would if necessary separate
herself from all the world. She had withstood the prayers of her
mother, and she was sure that nothing else could move her. But if
the cousins were willing to accept her husband, why should he not be
willing to be accepted? Pride in him might be as weak as pride in
them. If they would put out their hands to him, why should he refuse
to put out his own? "Give me a day, Daniel, to think about it." He
gave her the day, and then that great decider of all things, Sir
William, came to him, congratulating him, bidding him be of good
cheer, and saying fine things of the Lovel family generally. Our
tailor received him courteously, having learned to like the man,
understanding that he had behaved with honesty and wisdom in regard
to his client, and respecting him as one of the workers of the day;
but he declared that for the Lovel family, as a family,--"he did not
care for them particularly." "They are poles asunder from me," he
said.

"Not so," replied Sir William. "They were poles asunder, if you will.
But by your good fortune and merit, if you will allow me to say so,
you have travelled from the one pole very far towards the other."

"I like my own pole a deal the best, Sir William."

"I am an older man than you, Mr. Thwaite, and allow me to assure you
that you are wrong."

"Wrong in preferring those who work for their bread to those who eat
it in idleness?"

"Not that;--but wrong in thinking that there is not hard work done
at the one pole as well as the other; and wrong also in not having
perceived that the best men who come up from age to age are always
migrating from that pole which you say you prefer, to the antipodean
pole to which you are tending yourself. I can understand your feeling
of contempt for an idle lordling, but you should remember that lords
have been made lords in nine cases out of ten for good work done by
them for the benefit of their country."

"Why should the children of lords be such to the tenth and twentieth
generation?"

"Come into parliament, Mr. Thwaite, and if you have views on that
subject opposed to hereditary peerages, express them there. It is a
fair subject for argument. At present, I think that the sense of the
country is in favour of an aristocracy of birth. But be that as it
may, do not allow yourself to despise that condition of society which
it is the ambition of all men to enter."

"It is not my ambition."

"Pardon me. When you were a workman among workmen, did you not wish
to be their leader? When you were foremost among them, did you not
wish to be their master? If you were a master tradesman, would you
not wish to lead and guide your brother tradesmen? Would you not
desire wealth in order that you might be assisted by it in your views
of ambition? If you were an alderman in your borough, would you
not wish to be the mayor? If mayor, would you not wish to be its
representative in Parliament? If in Parliament, would you not wish
to be heard there? Would you not then clothe yourself as those among
whom you lived, eat as they ate, drink as they drank, keep their
hours, fall into their habits, and be one of them? The theory of
equality is very grand."

"The grandest thing in the world, Sir William."

"It is one to which all legislative and all human efforts should
and must tend. All that is said and all that is done among people
that have emancipated themselves from the thraldom of individual
aggrandizement, serve to diminish in some degree the distance between
the high and the low. But could you establish absolute equality in
England to-morrow, as it was to have been established in France some
half century ago, the inequality of men's minds and character would
re-establish an aristocracy within twenty years. The energetic, the
talented, the honest, and the unselfish will always be moving towards
an aristocratic side of society, because their virtues will beget
esteem, and esteem will beget wealth,--and wealth gives power for
good offices."

"As when one man throws away forty thousand a year on race-courses."

"When you make much water boil, Mr. Thwaite, some of it will probably
boil over. When two men run a race, some strength must be wasted in
fruitless steps beyond the goal. It is the fault of many patriotic
men that, in their desire to put down the evils which exist they will
see only the power that is wasted, and have no eyes for the good work
done. The subject is so large that I should like to discuss it with
you when we have more time. For the present let me beg of you, for
your own sake as well as for her who is to be your wife, that you
will not repudiate civility offered to you by her family. It will
show a higher manliness in you to go among them, and accept among
them the position which your wife's wealth and your own acquirements
will give you, than to stand aloof moodily because they are
aristocrats."

"You can make yourself understood when you speak, Sir William."

"I am glad to hear you say so," said the lawyer, smiling.

"I cannot, and so you have the best of me. But you can't make me like
a lord, or think that a young man ought to wear a silk gown."

"I quite agree with you that the silk gowns should be kept for their
elders," and so the conversation was ended.

Daniel Thwaite had not been made to like a lord, but the eloquence
of the urbane lawyer was not wasted on him. Thinking of it all as he
wandered alone through the streets, he began to believe that it would
be more manly to do as he was advised than to abstain because the
doing of the thing would in itself be disagreeable to him. On the
following day, Lady Anna was with him as usual; for the pretext of
his wound still afforded to her the means of paying to him those
daily visits which in happier circumstances he would naturally have
paid to her. "Would you like to go to Yoxham?" he said. She looked
wistfully up into his face. With her there was a real wish that the
poles might be joined together by her future husband. She had found,
as she had thought of it, that she could not make herself either
happy or contented except by marrying him, but it had not been
without regret that she had consented to destroy altogether the link
which bound her to the noble blood of the Lovels. She had been made
to appreciate the sweet flavour of aristocratic influences, and now
that the Lovels were willing to receive her in spite of her marriage,
she was more than willing to accept their offered friendship. "If you
really wish it, you shall go," he said.

"But you must go also."

"Yes;--for one day. And I must have a pair of gloves and a black
coat."

"And a blue one,--to be married in."

"Alas me! Must I have a pink silk gown to walk about in, early in the
morning?"

"You shall if you like, and I'll make it for you."

"I'd sooner see you darning my worsted stockings, sweetheart."

"I can do that too."

"And I shall have to go to church in a coach, and come back in
another, and all the people will smell sweet, and make eyes at me
behind my back, and wonder among themselves how the tailor will
behave himself."

"The tailor must behave himself properly," said Lady Anna.

"That's just what he won't do,--and can't do. I know you'll be
ashamed of me, and then we shall both be unhappy."

"I won't be ashamed of you. I will never be ashamed of you. I will be
ashamed of them if they are not good to you. But, Daniel, you shall
not go if you do not like it. What does it all signify, if you are
not happy?"

"I will go," said he. "And now I'll sit down and write a letter to my
lord."

Two letters were written accepting the invitation. As that from the
tailor to the lord was short and characteristic it shall be given.


   MY DEAR LORD,

   I am much obliged to you for your lordship's invitation
   to Yoxham, and if accepting it will make me a good fellow,
   I will accept it. I fear, however, that I can never be a
   proper fellow to your lordship. Not the less do I feel
   your courtesy, and I am,

   With all sincerity,
   Your lordship's very obedient servant,

   DANIEL THWAITE.


Lady Anna's reply to aunt Julia was longer and less sententious, but
it signified her intention of going down to Yoxham a week before the
day settled for the marriage, which was now the 10th of July. She was
much obliged, she said, to the rector for his goodness in promising
to marry them; and as she had no friends of her own she hoped that
Minnie Lovel would be her bridesmaid. There were, however, sundry
other letters before the ceremony was performed, and among them was
one in which she was asked to bring Miss Alice Bluestone down with
her,--so that she might have one bridesmaid over and beyond those
provided by the Yoxham aristocracy. To this arrangement Miss Alice
Bluestone acceded joyfully,--in spite of that gulf, of which she had
spoken;--and, so accompanied, but without her lady's-maid, Lady Anna
returned to Yoxham that she might be there bound in holy matrimony
to Daniel Thwaite the tailor, by the hands of her cousin, the Rev.
Charles Lovel.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

THE MARRIAGE.


The marriage was nearly all that a marriage should be when a Lady
Anna is led to the hymeneal altar. As the ceremony was transferred
from Bloomsbury, London, to Yoxham, in Yorkshire, a licence had been
procured, and the banns of which Daniel Thwaite thought so much, had
been called in vain. Of course there are differences in aristocratic
marriages. All earls' daughters are not married at St. George's,
Hanover Square, nor is it absolutely necessary that a bishop should
tie the knot, or that the dresses should be described in a newspaper.
This was essentially a quiet marriage,--but it was quiet with a
splendid quietude, and the obscurity of it was graceful and decorous.
As soon as the thing was settled,--when it was a matter past doubt
that all the Lovels were to sanction the marriage,--the two aunts
went to work heartily. Another Lovel girl, hardly more than seen
before by any of the family, was gathered to the Lovel home as a
third bridesmaid, and for the fourth,--who should officiate, but the
eldest daughter of Lady Fitzwarren? The Fitzwarrens were not rich,
did not go to town annually, and the occasions for social brilliancy
in the country are few and far between! Lady Fitzwarren did not like
to refuse her old friend, Mrs. Lovel; and then Lady Anna was Lady
Anna,--or at any rate would be so, as far as the newspapers of the
day were concerned. Miss Fitzwarren allowed herself to be attired
in white and blue, and to officiate in the procession,--having,
however, assured her most intimate friend, Miss De Moleyns, that
no consideration on earth should induce her to allow herself to be
kissed by the tailor.

In the week previous to the arrival of Daniel Thwaite, Lady Anna
again ingratiated herself with the ladies at the rectory. During the
days of her persecution she had been silent and apparently hard;--but
now she was again gentle, yielding, and soft. "I do like her manner,
all the same," said Minnie. "Yes, my dear. It's a pity that it should
be as it is to be, because she is very nice." Minnie loved her
friend, but thought it to be a thing of horror that her friend should
marry a tailor. It was almost as bad as the story of the Princess who
had to marry a bear;--worse indeed, for Minnie did not at all believe
that the tailor would ever turn out to be a gentleman, whereas she
had been sure from the first that the bear would turn into a prince.

Daniel came to Yoxham, and saw very little of anybody at the rectory.
He was taken in at the house of a neighbouring squire, where he
dined as a matter of course. He did call at the rectory, and saw his
bride,--but on that occasion he did not even see the rector. The
squire took him to the church in the morning, dressed in a blue frock
coat, brown trousers, and a grey cravat. He was very much ashamed of
his own clothes, but there was nothing about him to attract attention
had not everybody known he was a tailor. The rector shook hands with
him politely but coldly. The ladies were more affectionate; and
Minnie looked up into his face long and anxiously. "He wasn't very
nice," she said afterwards, "but I thought he'd be worse than
that!" When the marriage was over he kissed his wife, but made no
attempt upon the bridesmaids. Then there was a breakfast at the
rectory,--which was a very handsome bridal banquet. On such occasions
the part of the bride is always easily played. It is her duty to look
pretty if she can, and should she fail in that,--as brides usually
do,--her failure is attributed to the natural emotions of the
occasion. The part of the bridegroom is more difficult. He should
be manly, pleasant, composed, never flippant, able to say a few
words when called upon, and quietly triumphant. This is almost more
than mortal can achieve, and bridegrooms generally manifest some
shortcomings at the awful moment. Daniel Thwaite was not successful.
He was silent and almost morose. When Lady Fitzwarren congratulated
him with high-flown words and a smile,--a smile that was intended to
combine something of ridicule with something of civility,--he almost
broke down in his attempt to answer her. "It is very good of you, my
lady," said he. Then she turned her back and whispered a word to the
parson, and Daniel was sure that she was laughing at him. The hero of
the day was the Solicitor-General. He made a speech, proposing health
and prosperity to the newly-married couple. He referred, but just
referred, to the trial, expressing the pleasure which all concerned
had felt in recognising the rights and rank of the fair and noble
bride as soon as the facts of the case had come to their knowledge.
Then he spoke of the truth and long-continued friendship and devoted
constancy of the bridegroom and his father, saying that in the long
experience of his life he had known nothing more touching or more
graceful than the love which in early days had sprung up between the
beautiful young girl and her earliest friend. He considered it to be
among the happinesses of his life that he had been able to make the
acquaintance of Mr. Daniel Thwaite, and he expressed a hope that he
might long be allowed to regard that gentleman as his friend. There
was much applause, in giving which the young Earl was certainly the
loudest. The rector could not bring himself to say a word. He was
striving to do his duty by the head of his family, but he could not
bring himself to say that the marriage between Lady Anna Lovel and
the tailor was a happy event. Poor Daniel was compelled to make some
speech in reply to his friend, Sir William. "I am bad at speaking,"
said he, "and I hope I shall be excused. I can only say that I am
under deep obligation to Sir William Patterson for what he has done
for my wife."

The couple went away with a carriage and four horses to York, and the
marriage was over. "I hope I have done right," said the rector in
whispered confidence to Lady Fitzwarren.

"I think you have, Mr. Lovel. I'm sure you have. The circumstances
were very difficult, but I am sure you have done right. She must
always be considered as the legitimate child of her father."

"They say so," murmured the rector sadly.

"Just that. And as she will always be considered to be the Lady Anna,
you were bound to treat her as you have done. It was a pity that
it was not done earlier, so that she might have formed a worthier
connection. The Earl, however, has not been altogether overlooked,
and there is some comfort in that. I dare say Mr. Thwaite may be
a good sort of man, though he is--not just what the family could
have wished." These words were undoubtedly spoken by her ladyship
with much pleasure. The Fitzwarrens were poor, and the Lovels were
all rich. Even the young Earl was now fairly well to do in the
world,--thanks to the generosity of the newly-found cousin. It was,
therefore, pleasant to Lady Fitzwarren to allude to the family
misfortune which must in some degree alloy the prosperity of her
friends. Mr. Lovel understood it all, and sighed; but he felt no
anger. He was grateful to Lady Fitzwarren for coming to his house at
all on so mournful an occasion.

And so we may bid farewell to Yoxham. The rector was an honest,
sincere man, unselfish, true to his instincts, genuinely English,
charitable, hospitable, a doer of good to those around him. In
judging of such a character we find the difficulty of drawing the
line between political sagacity and political prejudice. Had he been
other than he was, he would probably have been less serviceable in
his position.

The bride and bridegroom went for their honeymoon into Devonshire,
and on their road they passed through London. Lady Anna Thwaite,--for
she had not at least as yet been able to drop her title,--wrote to
her mother telling her of her arrival, and requesting permission to
see her. On the following day she went alone to Keppel Street and was
admitted. "Dear, dear mamma," she said, throwing herself into the
arms of her mother.

"So it is done?" said the Countess.

"Yes;--mamma,--we are married. I wrote to you from York."

"I got your letter, but I could not answer it. What could I say?
I wish it had not been so;--but it is done. You have chosen for
yourself, and I will not reproach you."

"Do not reproach me now, mamma."

"It would be useless. I will bear my sorrows in silence, such as they
are. Do not talk to me of him, but tell me what is the life that is
proposed for you."

They were to stay in the south of Devonshire for a month and then to
sail for the new colony founded at the Antipodes. As to any permanent
mode of life no definite plan had yet been formed. They were bound
for Sydney, and when there, "my husband,"--as Lady Anna called
him, thinking that the word might be less painful to the ears of
her mother than the name of the man who had become so odious to
her,--would do as should seem good to him. They would at any rate
learn something of the new world that was springing up, and he would
then be able to judge whether he would best serve the purpose that he
had at heart by remaining there or by returning to England. "And now,
mamma, what will you do?"

"Nothing," said the Countess.

"But where will you live?"

"If I could only find out, my child, where I might die, I would tell
you that."

"Mamma, do not talk to me of dying."

"How should I talk of my future life, my dear? For what should I
live? I had but you, and you have left me."

"Come with me, mamma."

"No, my dear. I could not live with him nor he with me. It will be
better that he and I should never see each other again."

"But you will not stay here?"

"No;--I shall not stay here. I must use myself to solitude, but the
solitude of London is unendurable. I shall go back to Cumberland if
I can find a home there. The mountains will remind me of the days
which, sad as they were, were less sad than the present. I little
dreamed then when I had gained everything my loss would be so great
as it has been. Was the Earl there?"

"At our marriage? Oh yes, he was there."

"I shall ask him to do me a kindness. Perhaps he will let me live at
Lovel Grange?"

When the meeting was over Lady Anna returned to her husband
overwhelmed with tears. She was almost broken-hearted when she asked
herself whether she had in truth been cruel to her mother. But she
knew not how she could have done other than she had done. Her mother
had endeavoured to conquer her by hard usage,--and had failed. But
not the less her heart was very sore. "My dear," said the tailor to
her, "hearts will be sore. As the world goes yet awhile there must be
injustice; and sorrow will follow."

When they had been gone from London about a month the Countess wrote
to her cousin the Earl and told him her wishes. "If you desire to
live there of course there must be an end of it. But if not, you
might let the old place to me. It will not be as if it were gone out
of the family. I will do what I can for the people around me, so that
they may learn not to hate the name of Lovel."

The young lord told her that she should have the use of the house as
long as she pleased,--for her lifetime if it suited her to live there
so long. As for rent,--of course he could take none after all that
had been done for him. But the place should be leased to her so that
she need not fear to be disturbed. When the spring time came, after
the sailing of the vessel which took the tailor and his wife off to
the Antipodes, Lady Lovel travelled down with her maid to Cumberland,
leaving London without a friend to whom she could say adieu. And at
Lovel Grange she took up her abode, amidst the old furniture and the
old pictures, with everything to remind her of the black tragedy of
her youth, when her husband had come to her and had told her, with a
smile upon his lips and scorn in his eye, that she was not his wife,
and that the child which she bore would be a bastard. Over his wicked
word she had at any rate triumphed. Now she was living there in his
house the unquestioned and undoubted Countess Lovel, the mistress of
much of his wealth, while still were living around her those who had
known her when she was banished from her home. There, too often with
ill-directed generosity, she gave away her money, and became loved
of the poor around her. But in the way of society she saw no human
being, and rarely went beyond the valley in which stood the lonely
house to which she had been brought as a bride.

Of the further doings of Mr. Daniel Thwaite and his wife Lady
Anna,--of how they travelled and saw many things; and how he became
perhaps a wiser man,--the present writer may, he hopes, live to tell.


Printed by Virtue and Co., City Road, London.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Specific changes in wording of the text are listed below.

   Volume I, Chapter XIX, paragraph 43. The word "Lady" was changed
   to "Aunt" in the sentence: Mrs. Lovel accompanied them, but AUNT
   Julia made her farewells in the rectory drawing-room.

   Volume II, Chapter XXXVII, paragraph 1. The word "was" was changed
   to "were" in the sentence: The Countess had assented;--but when
   the moment came, there WERE reasons against her sudden departure.

   Volume II, Chapter XXXIX, paragraph 5. The word "or" was deleted
   from the sentence: He pointed it out as a fact that the Earl had
   not the slightest claim upon any portion of the estate,--not more
   than he would have had if this money had come to Lady Anna from
   her mother's instead of [OR] from her father's relatives.

   Volume II, Chapter XXXIX, paragraph 6. The word "not" was deleted
   from the sentence: If the Earl could get £10,000 a year by
   amicable arrangement, the Solicitor-General would be shown to have
   been right in the eyes of all men, and it was [NOT] probable,--as
   both Mr. Goffe and Mr. Flick felt,--that he would not repudiate a
   settlement of the family affairs by which he would be proved to
   have been a discreet counsellor.

   Volume II, Chapter XLV, paragraph 20. "David" was changed to
   "Daniel" in the sentence: Neither on that occasion, or on either
   of the two further callings, did any one get up in church to
   declare that impediment existed why DANIEL Thwaite the tailor and
   Lady Anna Lovel should not be joined together in holy matrimony.





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