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Title: Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite
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 "Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite" ***

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HUMBLETHWAITE***


SIR HARRY HOTSPUR OF HUMBLETHWAITE.

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE,

Author of "Framley Parsonage," etc.



London:
Hurst and Blackett, Publishers,
13, Great Marlborough Street.
1871

The right of Translation is reserved.

London:
R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor, Printers,
Bread Street Hill.



CONTENTS

   CHAPTER I.      SIR HARRY HOTSPUR.
   CHAPTER II.     OUR HEROINE.
   CHAPTER III.    LORD ALFRED'S COURTSHIP.
   CHAPTER IV.     VACILLATION.
   CHAPTER V.      GEORGE HOTSPUR.
   CHAPTER VI.     THE BALL IN BRUTON STREET.
   CHAPTER VII.    LADY ALTRINGHAM.
   CHAPTER VIII.   AIREY FORCE.
   CHAPTER IX.     "I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE."
   CHAPTER X.      MR. HART AND CAPTAIN STUBBER.
   CHAPTER XI.     MRS. MORTON.
   CHAPTER XII.    THE HUNT BECOMES HOT.
   CHAPTER XIII.   "I WILL NOT DESERT HIM."
   CHAPTER XIV.    PERTINACITY.
   CHAPTER XV.     COUSIN GEORGE IS HARD PRESSED.
   CHAPTER XVI.    SIR HARRY'S RETURN.
   CHAPTER XVII.   "LET US TRY."
   CHAPTER XVIII.  GOOD ADVICE.
   CHAPTER XIX.    THE NEW SMITHY.
   CHAPTER XX.     COUSIN GEORGE'S SUCCESS.
   CHAPTER XXI.    EMILY HOTSPUR'S SERMON.
   CHAPTER XXII.   GEORGE HOTSPUR YIELDS.
   CHAPTER XXIII.  "I SHALL NEVER BE MARRIED."
   CHAPTER XXIV.   THE END.



SIR HARRY HOTSPUR OF HUMBLETHWAITE.

CHAPTER I.

SIR HARRY HOTSPUR.


Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite was a mighty person in Cumberland,
and one who well understood of what nature were the duties, and of
what sort the magnificence, which his position as a great English
commoner required of him. He had twenty thousand a year derived from
land. His forefathers had owned the same property in Cumberland for
nearly four centuries, and an estate nearly as large in Durham for
more than a century and a half. He had married an earl's daughter,
and had always lived among men and women not only of high rank, but
also of high character. He had kept race-horses when he was young, as
noblemen and gentlemen then did keep them, with no view to profit,
calculating fairly their cost as a part of his annual outlay, and
thinking that it was the proper thing to do for the improvement
of horses and for the amusement of the people. He had been in
Parliament, but had made no figure there, and had given it up. He
still kept his house in Bruton Street, and always spent a month or
two in London. But the life that he led was led at Humblethwaite, and
there he was a great man, with a great domain around him,--with many
tenants, with a world of dependants among whom he spent his wealth
freely, saving little, but lavishing nothing that was not his own
to lavish,--understanding that his enjoyment was to come from the
comfort and respect of others, for whose welfare, as he understood
it, the good things of this world had been bestowed upon him. He was
a proud man, with but few intimacies,--with a few dear friendships
which were the solace of his life,--altogether gracious in his
speech, if it were not for an apparent bashfulness among strangers;
never assuming aught, deferring much to others outwardly, and showing
his pride chiefly by a certain impalpable _noli me tangere_, which
just sufficed to make itself felt and obeyed at the first approach of
any personal freedom. He was a handsome man,--if an old man near to
seventy may be handsome,--with grey hair, and bright, keen eyes, and
arched eyebrows, with a well-cut eagle nose, and a small mouth, and a
short dimpled chin. He was under the middle height, but nevertheless
commanded attention by his appearance. He wore no beard save a slight
grey whisker, which was cut away before it reached his chin. He was
strongly made, but not stout, and was hale and active for his age.

Such was Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite. The account of Lady
Elizabeth, his wife, may be much shorter. She was known,--where she
was known,--simply as Sir Harry's wife. He indeed was one of those
men of whom it may be said that everything appertaining to them takes
its importance from the fact of its being theirs. Lady Elizabeth was
a good woman, a good wife, and a good mother, and was twenty years
younger than her husband. He had been forty-five years old when he
had married her, and she, even yet, had not forgotten the deference
which was due to his age.

Two years before the time at which our story will begin, a great
sorrow, an absolutely crushing grief, had fallen upon the House
of Humblethwaite. An only son had died just as he had reached his
majority. When the day came on which all Humblethwaite and the
surrounding villages were to have been told to rejoice and make merry
because another man of the Hotspurs was ready to take the reins of
the house as soon as his father should have been gathered to his
fathers, the poor lad lay a-dying, while his mother ministered by
his bedside, and the Baronet was told by the physician--who had been
brought from London--that there was no longer for him any hope that
he should leave a male heir at Humblethwaite to inherit his name and
his honours.

For months it was thought that Lady Elizabeth would follow her boy.
Sir Harry bore the blow bravely, though none who do not understand
the system well can conceive how the natural grief of the father was
increased by the disappointment which had fallen upon the head of the
house. But the old man bore it well, making but few audible moans,
shedding no tears, altering in very little the habits of life; still
spending money, because it was good for others that it should be
spent, and only speaking of his son when it was necessary for him to
allude to those altered arrangements as to the family property which
it was necessary that he should make. But still he was a changed man,
as those perceived who watched him closest. Cloudesdale the butler
knew well in what he was changed, as did old Hesketh the groom, and
Gilsby the gamekeeper. He had never been given to much talk, but was
now more silent than of yore. Of horses, dogs, and game there was
no longer any mention whatever made by the Baronet. He was still
constant with Mr. Lanesby, the steward, because it was his duty to
know everything that was done on the property; but even Mr. Lanesby
would acknowledge that, as to actual improvements,--the commencement
of new work in the hope of future returns, the Baronet was not at all
the man he had been. How was it possible that he should be the man he
had been when his life was so nearly gone, and that other life had
gone also, which was to have been the renewal and continuation of his
own?

When the blow fell, it became Sir Harry's imperative duty to make
up his mind what he would do with his property. As regarded the two
estates, they were now absolutely, every acre of them, at his own
disposal. He had one child left him, a daughter,--in whom, it is
hoped, the reader may be induced to take some interest, and with
her to feel some sympathy, for she will be the person with whom the
details of this little story must most be concerned; and he had a
male heir, who must needs inherit the title of the family, one George
Hotspur,--not a nephew, for Sir Harry had never had a brother, but
the son of a first cousin who had not himself been much esteemed at
Humblethwaite.

Now Sir Harry was a man who, in such a condition as this in which
he was now placed, would mainly be guided by his ideas of duty. For
a month or two he said not a word to any one, not even to his own
lawyer, though he himself had made a will, a temporary will, duly
witnessed by Mr. Lanesby and another, so that the ownership of the
property should not be adjusted simply by the chance direction of law
in the event of his own sudden demise; but his mind was doubtless
much burdened with the subject. How should he discharge this fresh
responsibility which now rested on him? While his boy had lived, the
responsibility of his property had had nothing for him but charms.
All was to go to the young Harry,--all, as a matter of course; and
it was only necessary for him to take care that every acre should
descend to his heir not only unimpaired by him in value, but also
somewhat increased. Provision for his widow and for his girl had
already been made before he had ventured on matrimony,--provision
sufficient for many girls had Fortune so far favoured him. But that
an eldest son should have all the family land,--one, though as many
sons should have been given to him as to Priam,--and that that one
should have it unencumbered, as he had had it from his father,--this
was to him the very law of his being. And he would have taught that
son, had already begun to teach him when the great blow came, that
all this was to be given to him, not that he might put it into
his own belly, or wear it on his own back, or even spend it as he
might list himself, but that he might so live as to do his part in
maintaining that order of gentlehood in England, by which England had
become--so thought Sir Harry--the proudest and the greatest and the
justest of nations.

But now he had no son, and yet the duty remained to him of
maintaining his order. It would perhaps have been better for him,
it would certainly have been easier, had some settlement or family
entail fixed all things for him. Those who knew him well personally,
but did not know the affairs of his family, declared among themselves
that Sir Harry would take care that the property went with the title.
A marriage might be arranged. There could be nothing to object to a
marriage between second cousins. At any rate Sir Harry Hotspur was
certainly not the man to separate the property from the title. But
they who knew the family, and especially that branch of the family
from which George Hotspur came, declared that Sir Harry would never
give his daughter to such a one as was this cousin. And if not his
daughter, then neither would he give to such a scapegrace either
Humblethwaite in Cumberland or Scarrowby in Durham. There did exist a
party who said that Sir Harry would divide the property, but they who
held such an opinion certainly knew very little of Sir Harry's social
or political tenets. Any such division was the one thing which he
surely would not effect.

When twelve months had passed after the death of Sir Harry's son,
George Hotspur had been at Humblethwaite and had gone, and Sir
Harry's will had been made. He had left everything to his daughter,
and had only stipulated that her husband, should she marry, should
take the name of Hotspur. He had decided, that should his daughter,
as was probable, marry within his lifetime, he could then make what
settlements he pleased, even to the changing of the tenor of his
will, should he think fit to change it. Should he die and leave her
still a spinster, he would trust to her in everything. Not being
a man of mystery, he told his wife and his daughter what he had
done,--and what he still thought that he possibly might do; and
being also a man to whom any suspicion of injustice was odious, he
desired his attorney to make known to George Hotspur what had been
settled. And in order that this blow to Cousin George might be
lightened,--Cousin George having in conversation acknowledged to a
few debts,--an immediate present was made to him of four thousand
pounds, and double that amount was assured to him at the Baronet's
death.

The reader may be sure that the Baronet had heard many things
respecting Cousin George which he did not like. To him personally it
would have been infinitely preferable that the title and the estates
should have gone together, than that his own daughter should be a
great heiress. That her outlook into the world was fair and full of
promise of prosperity either way, was clear enough. Twenty thousand
a year would not be necessary to make her a happy woman. And then it
was to him a manifest and a sacred religion that to no man or to no
woman were appointed the high pinnacles of fortune simply that that
man or that woman might enjoy them. They were to be held as thrones
are held, for the benefit of the many. And in the disposition of this
throne, the necessity of making which had fallen upon him from the
loss of his own darling, he had brought himself to think--not of his
daughter's happiness, or to the balance of which, in her possessing
or not possessing the property, he could venture on no prophecy,--but
of the welfare of all those who might measure their weal or woe from
the manner in which the duties of this high place were administered.
He would fain that there should still have been a Sir Harry or a Sir
George Hotspur of Humblethwaite; but he found that his duty required
him to make the other arrangement.

And yet he had liked the cousin, who indeed had many gifts to win
liking both from men and women. Previously to the visit very little
had been known personally of young George Hotspur at Humblethwaite.
His father, also a George, had in early life quarrelled with the
elder branch of the family, and had gone off with what money belonged
to him, and had lived and died in Paris. The younger George had been
educated abroad, and then had purchased a commission in a regiment of
English cavalry. At the time when young Harry died it was only known
of him at Humblethwaite that he had achieved a certain reputation
in London, and that he had sold out of the army. He was talked of
as a man who shot birds with precision. Pigeons he could shoot with
wonderful dexterity,--which art was at Humblethwaite supposed to be
much against him. But then he was equally successful with partridges
and pheasants; and partly on account of such success, and partly
probably because his manner was pleasant, he was known to be a
welcome guest at houses in which men congregate to slaughter game. In
this way he had a reputation, and one that was not altogether cause
for reproach; but it had not previously recommended him to the notice
of his cousin.

Just ten months after poor Harry's death he was asked, and went, to
Humblethwaite. Probably at that moment the Baronet's mind was still
somewhat in doubt. The wish of Lady Elizabeth had been clearly
expressed to her husband to the effect that encouragement should be
given to the young people to fall in love with each other. To this
Sir Harry never assented; though there was a time,--and that time had
not yet passed when George Hotspur reached Humblethwaite,--in which
the Baronet was not altogether averse to the idea of the marriage.
But when George left Humblethwaite the Baronet had made up his mind.
Tidings had reached him, and he was afraid of the cousin. And other
tidings had reached him also; or rather perhaps it would be truer
to him to say that another idea had come to him. Of all the young
men now rising in England there was no young man who more approved
himself to Sir Harry's choice than did Lord Alfred Gresley, the
second son of his old friend and political leader the Marquis of
Milnthorp. Lord Alfred had but scanty fortune of his own, but was
in Parliament and in office, and was doing well. All men said all
good things of him. Then there was a word or two spoken between
the Marquis and the Baronet, and just a word also with Lord Alfred
himself. Lord Alfred had no objection to the name of Hotspur. This
was in October, while George Hotspur was still declaring that Gilbsy
knew nothing of getting up a head of game; and then Lord Alfred
promised to come to Humblethwaite at Christmas. It was after this
that George owned to a few debts. His confession on that score did
him no harm. Sir Harry had made up his mind that day. Sir Harry had
at that time learned a good deal of his cousin George's mode of life
in London, and had already decided that this young man was not one
whom it would be well to set upon the pinnacle.

And yet he had liked the young man, as did everybody. Lady Elizabeth
had liked him much, and for a fortnight had gone on hoping that all
difficulties might have solved themselves by the young man's marriage
with her daughter. It need hardly be said that not a word one way or
the other was spoken to Emily Hotspur; but it seemed to the mother
that the young people, though there was no love-making, yet liked
each other. Sir Harry at this time was up in London for a month or
two, hearing tidings, seeing Lord Alfred, who was at his office; and
on his return, that solution by family marriage was ordered to be for
ever banished from the maternal bosom. Sir Harry said that it would
not do.

Nevertheless, he was good to the young cousin, and when the time was
drawing nigh for the young man's departure he spoke of a further
visit. The coverts at Humblethwaite, such as they were, would always
be at his service. This was a week before the cousin went; but by the
coming of the day on which the cousin took his departure Sir Harry
regretted that he had made that offer of future hospitality.



CHAPTER II.

OUR HEROINE.


"He has said nothing to her?" asked Sir Harry, anxiously, of his
wife.

"I think not," replied Lady Elizabeth.

"Had he said anything that meant anything, she would have told you?"

"Certainly she would," said Lady Elizabeth.

Sir Harry knew his child, and was satisfied that no harm had been
done; nevertheless, he wished that that further invitation had
not been given. If this Christmas visitor that was to come to
Humblethwaite could be successful, all would be right; but it had
seemed to Sir Harry, during that last week of Cousin George's sojourn
beneath his roof, there had been more of cousinly friendship between
the cousins than had been salutary, seeing, as he had seen, that any
closer connection was inexpedient. But he thought that he was sure
that no great harm had been done. Had any word been spoken to his
girl which she herself had taken as a declaration of love, she would
certainly have told her mother. Sir Harry would no more doubt his
daughter than he would his own honour. There were certain points
and lines of duty clearly laid down for a girl so placed as was his
daughter; and Sir Harry, though he could not have told whence the
knowledge of these points and lines had come to his child, never for
a moment doubted but that she knew them, and would obey them. To know
and to obey such points of duty were a part of the inheritance of
such an one as Emily Hotspur. Nevertheless, it might be possible that
her fancy should be touched, and that she herself should know nothing
of it,--nothing that she could confide even to a mother. Sir Harry
understanding this, and having seen in these last days something as
he thought of too close a cousinly friendship, was anxious that Lord
Alfred should come and settle everything. If Lord Alfred should be
successful, all danger would be at an end, and the cousin might come
again and do what he liked with the coverts. Alas, alas! the cousin
should never have been allowed to show his handsome, wicked face at
Humblethwaite!

Emily Hotspur was a girl whom any father would have trusted; and
let the reader understand this of her, that she was one in whom
intentional deceit was impossible. Neither to her father nor to any
one could she lie either in word or action. And all these lines and
points of duty were well known to her, though she knew not, and had
never asked herself, whence the lesson had come. Will it be too much
to say, that they had formed a part of her breeding, and had been
given to her with her blood? She understood well that from her, as
heiress of the House of Humblethwaite, a double obedience was due
to her father,--the obedience of a child added to that which was
now required from her as the future transmitter of honours of the
house. And yet no word had been said to her of the honours of the
house; nor, indeed, had many words ever been said as to that other
obedience. These lessons, when they have been well learned, have ever
come without direct teaching.

But she knew more than this, and the knowledge had reached her in the
same manner. Though she owed a great duty to her father, there was
a limit to that duty, of which, unconsciously, she was well aware.
When her mother told her that Lord Alfred was coming, having been
instructed to do so by Sir Harry; and hinted, with a caress and a
kiss, and a soft whisper, that Lord Alfred was one of whom Sir Harry
approved greatly, and that if further approval could be bestowed Sir
Harry would not be displeased, Emily as she returned her mother's
embrace, felt that she had a possession of her own with which neither
father nor mother might be allowed to interfere. It was for them, or
rather for him, to say that a hand so weighted as was hers should not
be given here or there; but it was not for them, not even for him, to
say that her heart was to be given here, or to be given there. Let
them put upon her what weight they might of family honours, and of
family responsibility, that was her own property;--if not, perhaps,
to be bestowed at her own pleasure, because of the pressure of that
weight, still her own, and absolutely beyond the bestowal of any
other.

Nevertheless, she declared to herself, and whispered to her mother,
that she would be glad to welcome Lord Alfred. She had known him well
when she was a child of twelve years old and he was already a young
man in Parliament. Since those days she had met him more than once in
London. She was now turned twenty, and he was something more than ten
years her senior; but there was nothing against him, at any rate, on
the score of age. Lord Alfred was admitted on every side to be still
a young man; and though he had already been a lord of one Board or
of another for the last four years, and had earned a reputation for
working, he did not look like a man who would be more addicted to
sitting at Boards than spending his time with young women. He was
handsome, pleasant, good-humoured, and full of talk; had nothing
about him of the official fogy; and was regarded by all his friends
as a man who was just now fit to marry. "They say that he is such a
good son, and such a good brother," said Lady Elizabeth, anxiously.

"Quite a Phoenix!" said Emily, laughing. Then Lady Elizabeth began
to fear that she had said too much, and did not mention Lord Alfred's
name for two days.

But Miss Hotspur had by that time resolved that Lord Alfred should
have a fair chance. If she could teach herself to think that of all
men walking the earth Lord Alfred was the best and the most divine,
the nearest of all men to a god, how excellent a thing would it be!
Her great responsibility as to the family burden would in that case
already be acquitted with credit. The wishes of her father, which on
such a subject were all but paramount, would be gratified; and she
herself would then be placed almost beyond the hand of misfortune to
hurt her. At any rate, the great and almost crushing difficulty of
her life would so be solved. But the man must have enough in her eyes
of that godlike glory to satisfy her that she had found in him one
who would be almost a divinity, at any rate to her. Could he speak as
that other man spoke? Could he look as that other one looked? Would
there be in his eye such a depth of colour, in his voice such a sound
of music, in his gait so divine a grace? For that other one, though
she had looked into the brightness of the colour, though she had
heard the sweetness of the music, though she had watched the elastic
spring of the step, she cared nothing as regarded her heart--her
heart, which was the one treasure of her own. No; she was sure of
that. Of her one own great treasure, she was much too chary to give
it away unasked, and too independent, as she told herself, to give
it away unauthorized. The field was open to Lord Alfred; and, as her
father wished it, Lord Alfred should be received with every favour.
If she could find divinity, then she would bow before it readily.

Alas for Lord Alfred! We may all know that when she thought of it
thus, there was but poor chance of success for Lord Alfred. Let him
have what of the godlike he might, she would find but little of it
there when she made her calculations and resolutions after such
fashion as this. The man who becomes divine in a woman's eyes, has
generally achieved his claim to celestial honours by sudden assault.
And, alas! the qualities which carry him through it and give the halo
to his head may after all be very ungodlike. Some such achievement
had already fallen in the way of Cousin George; though had Cousin
George and Lord Alfred been weighed in just scales, the divinity of
the latter, such as it was, would have been found greatly to prevail.
Indeed, it might perhaps have been difficult to lay hold of and bring
forward as presentable for such office as that of a lover for such
a girl any young man who should be less godlike than Cousin George.
But he had gifts of simulation, which are valuable; and poor Emily
Hotspur had not yet learned the housewife's trick of passing the web
through her fingers, and of finding by the touch whether the fabric
were of fine wool, or of shoddy made up with craft to look like wool
of the finest.

We say that there was but small chance for Lord Alfred; nevertheless
the lady was dutifully minded to give him all the chance that it was
in her power to bestow. She did not tell herself that her father's
hopes were vain. Of her preference for that other man she never told
herself anything. She was not aware that it existed. She knew that he
was handsome; she thought that he was clever. She knew that he had
talked to her as no man had ever talked before. She was aware that
he was her nearest relative beyond her father and mother, and that
therefore she might be allowed to love him as a cousin. She told
herself that he was a Hotspur, and that he must be the head of the
Hotspurs when her father should be taken from them. She thought
that he looked as a man should look who would have to carry such a
dignity. But there was nothing more. No word had been said to her on
the subject; but she was aware, because no word had been said, that
it was not thought fitting that she should be her cousin's bride. She
could not but know how great would be the advantage could the estates
and the title be kept together. Even though he should inherit no
acre of the land,--and she had been told by her father that such
was his decision,--this Cousin George must become the head of the
House of Hotspur; and to be head of the House of Hotspur was to
her a much greater thing than to be the owner of Humblethwaite and
Scarrowby. Gifts like the latter might be given to a mere girl, like
herself,--were to be so given. But let any man living do what he
might, George Hotspur must become the head and chief of the old House
of Hotspur. Nevertheless, it was not for her to join the two things
together, unless her father should see that it would be good for her
to do so.

Emily Hotspur was very like her father, having that peculiar cast of
countenance which had always characterized the family. She had the
same arch in her eyebrows, indicating an aptitude for authority; the
same well-formed nose, though with her the beak of the eagle was less
prominent; the same short lip, and small mouth, and delicate dimpled
chin. With both of them the lower part of the face was peculiarly
short, and finely cut. With both of them the brow was high and broad,
and the temples prominent. But the girl's eyes were blue, while those
of the old man were brightly green. It was told of him that when a
boy his eyes also had been blue. Her hair, which was very plentiful,
was light in colour, but by no means flaxen. Her complexion was as
clear as the finest porcelain; but there were ever roses in her
cheeks, for she was strong by nature, and her health was perfect. She
was somewhat short of stature, as were all the Hotspurs, and her feet
and hands and ears were small and delicate. But though short, she
seemed to lack nothing in symmetry, and certainly lacked nothing in
strength. She could ride or walk the whole day, and had no feeling
that such vigour of body was a possession of which a young lady
should be ashamed. Such as she was, she was the acknowledged beauty
of the county; and at Carlisle, where she showed herself at least
once a year at the county ball, there was neither man nor woman,
young nor old, who was not ready to say that Emily Hotspur was, among
maidens, the glory of Cumberland.

Her life hitherto had been very quiet. There was the ball at
Carlisle, which she had attended thrice; on the last occasion,
because of her brother's death, she had been absent, and the family
of the Hotspurs had been represented there only by the venison and
game which had been sent from Humblethwaite. Twice also she had spent
the months of May and June in London; but it had not hitherto suited
the tone of her father's character to send his daughter out into all
the racket of a London season. She had gone to balls, and to the
opera, and had ridden in the Park, and been seen at flower-shows;
but she had not been so common in those places as to be known to the
crowd. And, hitherto, neither in town or country, had her name been
connected with that of any suitor for her hand. She was now twenty,
and the reader will remember that in the twelve months last past, the
House of Humblethwaite had been clouded with deep mourning.

The cousin was come and gone, and the Baronet hoped in his heart
that there might be an end of him as far as Humblethwaite was
concerned;--at any rate till his child should have given herself to a
better lover. Tidings had been sent to Sir Harry during the last week
of the young man's sojourn beneath his roof, which of all that had
reached his ears were the worst. He had before heard of recklessness,
of debt, of dissipation, of bad comrades. Now he heard of worse than
these. If that which he now heard was true, there had been dishonour.
But Sir Harry was a man who wanted ample evidence before he allowed
his judgment to actuate his conduct, and in this case the evidence
was far from ample. He did not stint his hospitality to the future
baronet, but he failed to repeat that promise of a future welcome
which had already been given, and which had been thankfully accepted.
But a man knows that such an offer of renewed hospitality should be
repeated at the moment of departure, and George Hotspur, as he was
taken away to the nearest station in his cousin's carriage, was quite
aware that Sir Harry did not then desire that the visit should be
repeated.

Lord Alfred was to be at Humblethwaite on Christmas-eve. The
emergencies of the Board at which he sat would not allow of an
earlier absence from London. He was a man who shirked no official
duty, and was afraid of no amount of work; and though he knew how
great was the prize before him, he refused to leave his Board before
the day had come at which his Board must necessarily dispense with
his services. Between him and his father there had been no reticence,
and it was clearly understood by him that he was to go down and win
twenty thousand a year and the prettiest girl in Cumberland, if his
own capacity that way, joined to all the favour of the girl's father
and mother, would enable him to attain success. To Emily not a word
more had been said on the subject than those which have been already
narrated as having been spoken by the mother to the daughter. With
all his authority, with all his love for his only remaining child,
with all his consciousness of the terrible importance of the matter
at issue, Sir Harry could not bring himself to suggest to his
daughter that it would be well for her to fall in love with the guest
who was coming to them. But to Lady Elizabeth he said very much. He
had quite made up his mind that the thing would be good, and, having
done so, he was very anxious that the arrangement should be made. It
was natural that this girl of his should learn to love some youth;
and how terrible was the danger of her loving amiss, when so much
depended on her loving wisely! The whole fate of the House of Hotspur
was in her hands,--to do with it as she thought fit! Sir Harry
trembled as he reflected what would be the result were she to come to
him some day and ask his favour for a suitor wholly unfitted to bear
the name of Hotspur, and to sit on the throne of Humblethwaite and
Scarrowby.

"Is she pleased that he is coming?" he said to his wife, the evening
before the arrival of their guest.

"Certainly she is pleased. She knows that we both like him."

"I remember when she used to talk about him--often," said Sir Harry.

"That was when she was a child."

"But a year or two ago," said Sir Harry.

"Three or four years, perhaps; and with her that is a long time. It
is not likely that she should talk much of him now. Of course she
knows what it is that we wish."

"Does she think about her cousin at all?" he said some hours
afterwards.

"Yes, she thinks of him. That is only natural, you know."

"It would be unnatural that she should think of him much."

"I do not see that," said the mother, keen to defend her daughter
from what might seem to be an implied reproach. "George Hotspur is a
man who will make himself thought of wherever he goes. He is clever,
and very amusing;--there is no denying that. And then he has the
Hotspur look all over."

"I wish he had never set his foot within the house," said the father.

"My dear, there is no such danger as you think," said Lady Elizabeth.
"Emily is not a girl prone to fall in love at a moment's notice
because a man is good-looking and amusing;--and certainly not with
the conviction which she must have that her doing so would greatly
grieve you." Sir Harry believed in his daughter, and said no more;
but he thoroughly wished that Lord Alfred's wedding-day was fixed.

"Mamma," said Emily, on the following day, "won't Lord Alfred be very
dull?"

"I hope not, my dear."

"What is he to do, with nobody else here to amuse him?"

"The Crutchleys are coming on the 27th."

Now Mr. and Mrs. Crutchley were, as Emily thought, very ordinary
people, and quite unlikely to afford amusement to Lord Alfred. Mr.
Crutchley was an old gentleman of county standing, and with property
in the county, living in a large dull red house in Penrith, of
whom Sir Harry thought a good deal, because he was a gentleman who
happened to have had great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. But
he was quite as old as Sir Harry, and Mrs. Crutchley was a great deal
older than Lady Elizabeth.

"What will Lord Alfred have to say to Mrs. Crutchley, mamma?"

"What do people in society always have to say to each other? And the
Lathebys are coming here to dine to-morrow, and will come again, I
don't doubt, on the 27th."

Mr. Latheby was the young Vicar of Humblethwaite, and Mrs. Latheby
was a very pretty young bride whom he had just married.

"And then Lord Alfred shoots," continued Lady Elizabeth.

"Cousin George said that the shooting wasn't worth going after," said
Emily, smiling. "Mamma, I fear it will be a failure." This made Lady
Elizabeth unhappy, as she thought that more was meant than was really
said. But she did not confide her fears to her husband.



CHAPTER III.

LORD ALFRED'S COURTSHIP.


The Hall, as the great house at Humblethwaite was called, consisted
in truth of various edifices added one to another at various periods;
but the result was this, that no more picturesque mansion could be
found in any part of England than the Hall at Humblethwaite. The
oldest portion of it was said to be of the time of Henry VII.; but it
may perhaps be doubted whether the set of rooms with lattice windows
looking out on to the bowling-green, each window from beneath its
own gable, was so old as the date assigned to it. It is strange how
little authority can usually be found in family records to verify
such statements. It was known that Humblethwaite and the surrounding
manors had been given to, or in some fashion purchased by, a certain
Harry Hotspur, who also in his day had been a knight, when Church
lands were changing hands under Henry VIII. And there was authority
to prove that that Sir Harry had done something towards making a
home for himself on the spot; but whether those very gables were a
portion of the building which the monks of St. Humble had raised for
themselves in the preceding reign, may probably be doubted. That
there were fragments of masonry, and parts of old timber, remaining
from the monastery was probably true enough. The great body of the
old house, as it now stood, had been built in the time of Charles
II., and there was the date in the brickwork still conspicuous on the
wall looking into the court. The hall and front door as it now stood,
very prominent but quite at the end of the house, had been erected in
the reign of Queen Anne, and the modern drawing-rooms with the best
bedrooms over them, projecting far out into the modern gardens, had
been added by the present baronet's father. The house was entirely
of brick, and the old windows,--not the very oldest, the reader will
understand, but those of the Caroline age,--were built with strong
stone mullions, and were longer than they were deep, beauty of
architecture having in those days been more regarded than light. Who
does not know such windows, and has not declared to himself often
how sad a thing it is that sanitary or scientific calculations
should have banished the like of them from our houses? Two large
oriel windows coming almost to the ground, and going up almost to
the ceilings, adorned the dining-room and the library. From the
drawing-rooms modern windows, opening on to a terrace, led into the
garden.

You entered the mansion by a court that was enclosed on two sides
altogether, and on the two others partially. Facing you, as you drove
in, was the body of the building, with the huge porch projecting on
the right so as to give the appearance of a portion of the house
standing out on that side. On the left was that old mythic Tudor
remnant of the monastery, of which the back wall seen from the court
was pierced only with a small window here and there, and was covered
with ivy. Those lattice windows, from which Emily Hotspur loved to
think that the monks of old had looked into their trim gardens, now
looked on to a bowling-green which was kept very trim in honour of
the holy personages who were supposed to have played there four
centuries ago. Then, at the end of this old building, there had been
erected kitchens, servants' offices, and various rooms, which turned
the corner of the court in front, so that only one corner had, as
it were, been left for ingress and egress. But the court itself was
large, and in the middle of it there stood an old stone ornamental
structure, usually called the fountain, but quite ignorant of water,
loaded with griffins and satyrs and mermaids with ample busts, all
overgrown with a green damp growth, which was scraped off by the
joint efforts of the gardener and mason once perhaps in every five
years.

It often seems that the beauty of architecture is accidental. A great
man goes to work with great means on a great pile, and makes a great
failure. The world perceives that grace and beauty have escaped him,
and that even magnificence has been hardly achieved. Then there grows
up beneath various unknown hands a complication of stones and brick
to the arrangement of which no great thought seems to have been
given; and, lo, there is a thing so perfect in its glory that he who
looks at it declares that nothing could be taken away and nothing
added without injury and sacrilege and disgrace. So it had been, or
rather so it was now, with the Hall at Humblethwaite. No rule ever
made for the guidance of an artist had been kept. The parts were out
of proportion. No two parts seemed to fit each other. Put it all on
paper, and it was an absurdity. The huge hall and porch added on by
the builder of Queen Anne's time, at the very extremity of the house,
were almost a monstrosity. The passages and staircases, and internal
arrangements, were simply ridiculous. But there was not a portion
of the whole interior that did not charm; nor was there a corner of
the exterior, nor a yard of an outside wall, that was not in itself
eminently beautiful.

Lord Alfred Gresley, as he was driven into the court in the early
dusk of a winter evening, having passed through a mile and a half
of such park scenery as only Cumberland and Westmoreland can show,
was fully alive to the glories of the place. Humblethwaite did not
lie among the lakes,--was, indeed, full ten miles to the north of
Keswick; but it was so placed that it enjoyed the beauty and the
luxury of mountains and rivers, without the roughness of unmanageable
rocks, or the sterility and dampness of moorland. Of rocky fragments,
indeed, peeping out through the close turf, and here and there coming
forth boldly so as to break the park into little depths, with now and
again a real ravine, there were plenty. And there ran right across
the park, passing so near the Hall as to require a stone bridge in
the very flower-garden, the Caldbeck, as bright and swift a stream
as ever took away the water from neighbouring mountains. And to the
south of Humblethwaite there stood the huge Skiddaw, and Saddleback
with its long gaunt ridge; while to the west, Brockleband Fell seemed
to encircle the domain. Lord Alfred, as he was driven up through the
old trees, and saw the deer peering at him from the knolls and broken
fragments of stone, felt that he need not envy his elder brother if
only his lines might fall to him in this very pleasant place.

He had known Humblethwaite before; and, irrespective of all its
beauties, and of the wealth of the Hotspurs, was quite willing to
fall in love with Emily Hotspur. That a man with such dainties
offered to him should not become greedy, that there should be no
touch of avarice when such wealth was shown to him, is almost more
than we may dare to assert. But Lord Alfred was a man not specially
given to covetousness. He had recognized it as his duty as a man not
to seek for these things unless he could in truth love the woman who
held them in her hands to give. But as he looked round him through
the gloaming of the evening, he thought that he remembered that Emily
Hotspur was all that was loveable.

But, reader, we must not linger long over Lord Alfred's love. A few
words as to the father, a few as to the daughter, and a few also as
to the old house where they dwelt together, it has been necessary to
say; but this little love story of Lord Alfred's,--if it ever was a
love story,--must be told very shortly.

He remained five weeks at Humblethwaite, and showed himself willing
to receive amusement from old Mrs. Crutchley and from young Mrs.
Latheby. The shooting was quite good enough for him, and he won
golden opinions from every one about the place. He made himself
acquainted with the whole history of the house, and was prepared to
prove to demonstration that Henry VII.'s monks had looked out of
those very windows, and had played at bowls on that very green. Emily
became fond of him after a fashion, but he failed to assume any
aspect of divinity in her eyes.

Of the thing to be done, neither father nor mother said a word to
the girl; and she, though she knew so well that the doing of it was
intended, said not a word to her mother. Had Lady Elizabeth known how
to speak, had she dared to be free with her own child, Emily would
soon have told her that there was no chance for Lord Alfred. And Lady
Elizabeth would have believed her. Nay, Lady Elizabeth, though she
could not speak, had the woman's instinct, which almost assured her
that the match would never be made. Sir Harry, on the other side,
thought that things went prosperously; and his wife did not dare to
undeceive him. He saw the young people together, and thought that he
saw that Emily was kind. He did not know that this frank kindness was
incompatible with love in such a maiden's ways. As for Emily herself,
she knew that it must come. She knew that she could not prevent it. A
slight hint or two she did give, or thought she gave, but they were
too fine, too impalpable to be of avail.

Lord Alfred spoke nothing of love till he made his offer in form. At
last he was not hopeful himself. He had found it impossible to speak
to this girl of love. She had been gracious with him, and almost
intimate, and yet it had been impossible. He thought of himself that
he was dull, stupid, lethargic, and miserably undemonstrative. But
the truth was that there was nothing for him to demonstrate. He had
come there to do a stroke of business, and he could not throw into
this business a spark of that fire which would have been kindled
by such sympathy had it existed. There are men who can raise such
sparks, the pretence of fire, where there is no heat at all;--false,
fraudulent men; but he was not such an one. Nevertheless he went on
with his business.

"Miss Hotspur," he said to her one morning between breakfast and
lunch, when, as usual, opportunity had been given him to be alone
with her, "I have something to say to you, which I hope at any rate
it will not make you angry to hear."

"I am sure you will say nothing to make me angry," she replied.

"I have already spoken to your father, and I have his permission. I
may say more. He assures me that he hopes I may succeed." He paused
a moment, but she remained quite tranquil. He watched her, and could
see that the delicate pink on her cheek was a little heightened, and
that a streak of colour showed itself on her fair brow; but there
was nothing in her manner to give him either promise of success or
assurance of failure. "You will know what I mean?"

"Yes, I know," she said, almost in a whisper.

"And may I hope? To say that I love you dearly seems to be saying
what must be a matter of course."

"I do not see that at all," she replied with spirit.

"I do love you very dearly. If I may be allowed to think that you
will be my wife, I shall be the happiest man in England. I know how
great is the honour which I seek, how immense in every way is the
gift which I ask you to give me. Can you love me?"

"No," she said, again dropping her voice to a whisper.

"Is that all the answer, Miss Hotspur?"

"What should I say? How ought I to answer you? If I could say it
without seeming to be unkind, indeed, indeed, I would do so."

"Perhaps I have been abrupt."

"It is not that. When you ask me--to--to--love you, of course I know
what you mean. Should I not speak the truth at once?"

"Must this be for always?"

"For always," she replied. And then it was over.

He did not himself press his suit further, though he remained at
Humblethwaite for three days after this interview.

Before lunch on that day the story had been told by Emily to her
mother, and by Lord Alfred to Sir Harry. Lady Elizabeth knew well
enough that the story would never have to be told in another way. Sir
Harry by no means so easily gave up his enterprise. He proposed to
Lord Alfred that Emily should be asked to reconsider her verdict.
With his wife he was very round, saying that an answer given so
curtly should go for nothing, and that the girl must be taught her
duty. With Emily herself he was less urgent, less authoritative,
and indeed at last somewhat suppliant. He explained to her how
excellent would be the marriage; how it would settle this terrible
responsibility which now lay on his shoulders with so heavy a weight;
how glorious would be her position; and how the Hotspurs would still
live as a great family could she bring herself to be obedient. And he
said very much in praise of Lord Alfred, pointing out how good a man
he was, how moral, how diligent, how safe, how clever,--how sure,
with the assistance of the means which she would give him, to be one
of the notable men of the country. But she never yielded an inch. She
said very little,--answered him hardly a word, standing close to him,
holding by his arm and his hand. There was the fact, that she would
not have the man, would not have the man now or ever, certainly would
not have him; and Sir Harry, let him struggle as he might, and talk
his best, could not keep himself from giving absolute credit to her
assurance.

The visit was prolonged for three days, and then Lord Alfred left
Humblethwaite Hall, with less appreciation of all its beauties than
he had felt as he was first being driven up to the Hall doors. When
he went, Sir Harry could only bid God bless him, and assure him that,
should he ever choose to try his fortune again, he should have all
the aid which a father could give him.

"It would be useless," said Lord Alfred; "she knows her own mind too
well."

And so he went his way.



CHAPTER IV.

VACILLATION.


When the spring-time came, Sir Harry Hotspur with his wife and
daughter, went up to London. During the last season the house in
Bruton Street had been empty. He and his wife were then mourning
their lost son, and there was no place for the gaiety of London in
their lives. Sir Harry was still thinking of his great loss. He was
always thinking of the boy who was gone, who had been the apple of
his eye, his one great treasure, the only human being in the world
whose superior importance to his own he had been ready, in his heart
of hearts, to admit; but it was needful that the outer signs of
sorrow should be laid aside, and Emily Hotspur was taken up to
London, in order that she might be suited with a husband. That, in
truth, was the reason of their going. Neither Sir Harry nor Lady
Elizabeth would have cared to leave Cumberland had there been no such
cause. They would have been altogether content to remain at home had
Emily been obedient enough in the winter to accept the hand of the
suitor proposed for her.

The house was opened in Bruton Street, and Lord Alfred came to see
them. So also did Cousin George. There was no reason why Cousin
George should not come. Indeed, had he not done so, he must have been
the most ungracious of cousins. He came, and found Lady Elizabeth and
Emily at home. Emily told him that they were always there to receive
visitors on Sundays after morning church, and then he came again. She
had made no such communication to Lord Alfred, but then perhaps it
would have been hardly natural that she should have done so. Lady
Elizabeth, in a note which she had occasion to write to Lord Alfred,
did tell him of her custom on a Sunday afternoon; but Lord Alfred
took no such immediate advantage of the offer as did Cousin George.

As regarded the outward appearance of their life, the Hotspurs were
gayer this May than they had been heretofore when living in London.
There were dinner-parties, whereas in previous times there had only
been dinners at which a few friends might join them;--and there was
to be a ball. There was a box at the Opera, and there were horses
for the Park, and there was an understanding that the dealings with
Madame Milvodi, the milliner, were to be as unlimited as the occasion
demanded. It was perceived by every one that Miss Hotspur was to
be settled in life. Not a few knew the story of Lord Alfred. Every
one knew the facts of the property and Emily's position as heiress,
though every one probably did not know that it was still in Sir
Harry's power to leave every acre of the property to whom he pleased.
Emily understood it all herself. There lay upon her that terrible
responsibility of doing her best with the Hotspur interests. To
her the death of her brother had at the time been the blackest of
misfortunes, and it was not the less so now as she thought of her
own position. She had been steady enough as to the refusal of Lord
Alfred, knowing well enough that she cared nothing for him. But there
had since come upon her moments almost of regret that she should have
been unable to accept him. It would have been so easy a way of escape
from all her troubles without the assistance of Madame Milvodi, and
the opera-box, and the Park horses! At the time she had her own ideas
about another man, but her ideas were not such as to make her think
that any further work with Madame Milvodi and the opera-box would be
unnecessary.

Then came the question of asking Cousin George to the house. He had
already been told to come on Sundays, and on the very next Sunday had
been there. He had given no cause of offence at Humblethwaite, and
Lady Elizabeth was of opinion that he should be asked to dinner.
If he were not asked, the very omission would show that they were
afraid of him. Lady Elizabeth did not exactly explain this to her
husband,--did not accurately know that such was her fear; but Sir
Harry understood her feelings, and yielded. Let Cousin George be
asked to dinner.

Sir Harry at this time was vacillating with more of weakness than
would have been expected from a man who had generally been so firm
in the affairs of his life. He had been quite clear about George
Hotspur, when those inquiries of his were first made, and when his
mind had first accepted the notion of Lord Alfred as his chosen
son-in-law. But now he was again at sea. He was so conscious of the
importance of his daughter's case, that he could not bring himself to
be at ease, and to allow himself to expect that the girl would, in
the ordinary course of nature, dispose of her young heart not to her
own injury, as might reasonably be hoped from her temperament, her
character, and her education. He could not protect himself from daily
and hourly thought about it. Her marriage was not as the marriage of
other girls. The house of Hotspur, which had lived and prospered for
so many centuries, was to live and prosper through her; or rather
mainly through the man whom she should choose as her husband. The
girl was all-important now, but when she should have once disposed of
herself her importance would be almost at an end. Sir Harry had in
the recess of his mind almost a conviction that, although the thing
was of such utmost moment, it would be better for him, better for
them all, better for the Hotspurs, that the matter should be allowed
to arrange itself than that there should be any special judgment used
in selection. He almost believed that his girl should be left to
herself, as are other girls. But the thing was of such moment that he
could not save himself from having it always before his eyes.

And yet he knew not what to do; nor was there any aid forthcoming
from Lady Elizabeth. He had tried his hand at the choice of a proper
husband, and his daughter would have none of the man so chosen. So
he had brought her up to London, and thrown her as it were upon the
market. Let Madame Milvodi and the opera-box and the Park horses
do what they could for her. Of course a watch should be kept on
her;--not from doubt of her excellence, but because the thing to be
disposed of was so all-important, and the girl's mode of disposing
of it might, without disgrace or fault on her part, be so vitally
prejudicial to the family!

For, let it be remembered, no curled darling of an eldest son would
suit the exigencies of the case, unless such eldest son were willing
altogether to merge the claims of his own family, and to make himself
by name and purpose a Hotspur. Were his child to present to him as
his son-in-law some heir to a noble house, some future earl, say even
a duke in embryo, all that would be as nothing to Sir Harry. It was
not his ambition to see his daughter a duchess. He wanted no name,
or place, or dominion for any Hotspur greater or higher or more
noble than those which the Hotspurs claimed and could maintain for
themselves. To have Humblethwaite and Scarrowby lost amidst the vast
appanages and domains of some titled family, whose gorgeous glories
were new and paltry in comparison with the mellow honours of his own
house, would to him have been a ruin to all his hopes. There might,
indeed, be some arrangement as to the second son proceeding from such
a marriage,--as to a future chance Hotspur; but the claims of the
Hotspurs were, he thought, too high and too holy for such future
chance; and in such case, for one generation at least, the Hotspurs
would be in abeyance. No: it was not that which he desired. That
would not suffice for him. The son-in-law that he desired should be
well born, a perfect gentleman, with belongings of whom he and his
child might be proud; but he should be one who should be content to
rest his claims to material prosperity and personal position on the
name and wealth that he would obtain with his wife. Lord Alfred had
been the very man; but then his girl would have none of Lord Alfred!
Eldest sons there might be in plenty ready to take such a bride; and
were some eldest son to come to him and ask for his daughter's hand,
some eldest son who would do so almost with a right to claim it if
the girl's consent were gained, how could he refuse? And yet to leave
a Hotspur behind him living at Humblethwaite, and Hotspurs who should
follow that Hotspur, was all in all to him.

Might he venture to think once again of Cousin George? Cousin George
was there, coming to the house, and his wife was telling him that
it was incumbent on them to ask the young man to dinner. It was
incumbent on them, unless they meant to let him know that he was to
be regarded absolutely as a stranger,--as one whom they had taken
up for a while, and now chose to drop again. A very ugly story had
reached Sir Harry's ears about Cousin George. It was said that he
had twice borrowed money from the money-lenders on his commission,
passing some document for security of its value which was no
security, and that he had barely escaped detection, the two Jews
knowing that the commission would be forfeited altogether if the
fraud were brought to light. The commission had been sold, and the
proceeds divided between the Jews, with certain remaining claims to
them on Cousin George's personal estate. Such had been the story
which in a vague way had reached Sir Harry's ears. It is not easily
that such a man as Sir Harry can learn the details of a disreputable
cousin's life. Among all his old friends he had none more dear to him
than Lord Milnthorp; and among his younger friends none more intimate
than Lord Burton, the eldest son of Lord Milnthorp, Lord Alfred's
brother. Lord Burton had told him the story, telling him at the same
time that he could not vouch for its truth. "Upon my word, I don't
know," said Lord Burton, when interrogated again. "I think if I were
you I would regard it as though I had never heard it. Of course, he
was in debt."

"That is altogether another thing," said Sir Harry.

"Altogether! I think that probably he did pawn his commission. That
is bad, but it isn't so very bad. As for the other charge against
him, I doubt it." So said Lord Burton, and Sir Harry determined that
the accusation should go for nothing.

But his own child, his only child, the transmitter of all the great
things that fortune had given to him; she, in whose hands were to lie
the glories of Humblethwaite and Scarrowby; she, who had the giving
away of the honour of their ancient family,--could she be trusted
to one of whom it must be admitted that all his early life had been
disreputable, even if the world's lenient judgment in such matters
should fail to stigmatize it as dishonourable? In other respects,
however, he was so manifestly the man to whom his daughter ought to
be given in marriage! By such arrangement would the title and the
property be kept together,--and by no other which Sir Harry could
now make, for his word had been given to his daughter that she was
to be his heiress. Let him make what arrangements he might, this
Cousin George, at his death, would be the head of the family. Every
"Peerage" that was printed would tell the old story to all the world.
By certain courtesies of the law of descent his future heirs would be
Hotspurs were his daughter married to Lord Alfred or the like; but
the children of such a marriage would not be Hotspurs in very truth,
nor by any courtesy of law, or even by any kindness of the Minister
or Sovereign, could the child of such a union become the baronet,
the Sir Harry of the day, the head of the family. The position was
one which no Sovereign and no Minister could achieve, or touch, or
bestow. It was his, beyond the power of any earthly potentate to
deprive him of it, and would have been transmitted by him to a son
with as absolute security. But--alas! alas!

Sir Harry gave no indication that he thought it expedient to change
his mind on the subject. When Lady Elizabeth proposed that Cousin
George should be asked to dinner, he frowned and looked black as he
acceded; but, in truth, he vacillated. The allurements on that side
were so great that he could not altogether force upon himself the
duty of throwing them from him. He knew that Cousin George was no
fitting husband for his girl, that he was a man to whom he would not
have thought of giving her, had her happiness been his only object.
And he did not think of so bestowing her now. He became uneasy
when he remembered the danger. He was unhappy as he remembered
how amusing, how handsome, how attractive was Cousin George. He
feared that Emily might like him!--by no means hoped it. And yet he
vacillated, and allowed Cousin George to come to the house, only
because Cousin George must become, on his death, the head of the
Hotspurs.

Cousin George came on one Sunday, came on another Sunday, dined at
the house, and was of course asked to the ball. But Lady Elizabeth
had so arranged her little affairs that when Cousin George left
Bruton Street on the evening of the dinner party he and Emily had
never been for two minutes alone together since the family had come
up to London. Lady Elizabeth herself liked Cousin George, and, had an
edict to that effect been pronounced by her husband, would have left
them alone together with great maternal satisfaction. But she had
been told that it was not to be so, and therefore the young people
had never been allowed to have opportunities. Lady Elizabeth in her
very quiet way knew how to do the work of the world that was allotted
to her. There had been other balls, and there had been ridings in
the Park, and all the chances of life which young men, and sometimes
young women also, know so well how to use; but hitherto Cousin George
had kept, or had been constrained to keep, his distance.

"I want to know, Mamma," said Emily Hotspur, the day before the ball,
"whether Cousin George is a black sheep or a white sheep?"

"What do you mean, my dear, by asking such a question as that?"

"I don't like black sheep. I don't see why young men are to be
allowed to be black sheep; but yet you know they are."

"How can it be helped?"

"People should not notice them, Mamma."

"My dear, it is a most difficult question,--quite beyond me, and I am
sure beyond you. A sheep needn't be black always because he has not
always been quite white; and then you know the black lambs are just
as dear to their mother as the white."

"Dearer, I think."

"I quite agree with you, Emily, that in general society black sheep
should be avoided."

"Then they shouldn't be allowed to come in," said Emily. Lady
Elizabeth knew from this that there was danger, but the danger was
not of a kind which enabled her specially to consult Sir Harry.



CHAPTER V.

GEORGE HOTSPUR.


A little must now be told to the reader of Cousin George and the
ways of his life. As Lady Elizabeth had said to her daughter, that
question of admitting black sheep into society, or of refusing them
admittance, is very difficult. In the first place, whose eyes are
good enough to know whether in truth a sheep be black or not? And
then is it not the fact that some little amount of shade in the
fleece of male sheep is considered, if not absolutely desirable,
at any rate quite pardonable? A male sheep with a fleece as white
as that of a ewe-lamb,--is he not considered to be, among muttons,
somewhat insipid? It was of this taste which Pope was conscious
when he declared that every woman was at heart a rake. And so it
comes to pass that very black sheep indeed are admitted into society,
till at last anxious fathers and more anxious mothers begin to be
aware that their young ones are turned out to graze among ravenous
wolves. This, however, must be admitted, that lambs when so treated
acquire a courage which tends to enable them to hold their own, even
amidst wolfish dangers.

Cousin George, if not a ravenous wolf, was at any rate a very black
sheep indeed. In our anxiety to know the truth of him it must not
be said that he was absolutely a wolf,--not as yet,--because in his
career he had not as yet made premeditated attempts to devour prey.
But in the process of delivering himself up to be devoured by others,
he had done things which if known of any sheep should prevent that
sheep from being received into a decent flock. There had been that
little trouble about his commission, in which, although he had not
intended to cheat either Jew, he had done that which the world would
have called cheating had the world known it. As for getting goods
from tradesmen without any hope or thought of paying for them, that
with him was so much a thing of custom,--as indeed it was also with
them,--that he was almost to be excused for considering it the normal
condition of life for a man in his position. To gamble and lose money
had come to him quite naturally at a very early age. There had now
come upon him an idea that he might turn the tables, that in all
gambling transactions some one must win, and that as he had lost
much, so possibly might he now win more. He had not quite yet reached
that point in his education at which the gambler learns that the
ready way to win much is to win unfairly;--not quite yet, but he was
near it. The wolfhood was coming on him, unless some good fortune
might save him. There might, however, be such good fortune in store
for him. As Lady Elizabeth had said, a sheep that was very dark in
colour might become white again. If it be not so, what is all this
doctrine of repentance in which we believe?

Blackness in a male sheep in regard to the other sin is venial
blackness. Whether the teller of such a tale as this should say so
outright, may be matter of dispute; but, unless he say so, the teller
of this tale does not know how to tell his tale truly. Blackness such
as that will be all condoned, and the sheep received into almost any
flock, on condition, not of repentance or humiliation or confession,
but simply of change of practice. The change of practice in certain
circumstances and at a certain period becomes expedient; and if it be
made, as regards tints in the wool of that nature, the sheep becomes
as white as he is needed to be. In this respect our sheep had been as
black as any sheep, and at this present period of his life had need
of much change before he would be fit for any decent social herding.

And then there are the shades of black which come from
conviviality,--which we may call table blackness,--as to which there
is an opinion constantly disseminated by the moral newspapers of
the day, that there has come to be altogether an end of any such
blackness among sheep who are gentlemen. To make up for this, indeed,
there has been expressed by the piquant newspapers of the day an
opinion that ladies are taking up the game which gentlemen no longer
care to play. It may be doubted whether either expression has in
it much of truth. We do not see ladies drunk, certainly, and we do
not see gentlemen tumbling about as they used to do, because their
fashion of drinking is not that of their grandfathers. But the love
of wine has not gone out from among men; and men now are as prone
as ever to indulge their loves. Our black sheep was very fond of
wine,--and also of brandy, though he was wolf enough to hide his
taste when occasion required it.

Very early in life he had come from France to live in England, and
had been placed in a cavalry regiment, which had, unfortunately for
him, been quartered either in London or its vicinity. And, perhaps
equally unfortunate for him, he had in his own possession a small
fortune of some £500 a year. This had not come to him from his
father; and when his father had died in Paris, about two years before
the date of our story, he had received no accession of regular
income. Some couple of thousand of pounds had reached his hands
from his father's effects, which had helped him through some of the
immediately pressing difficulties of the day,--for his own income at
that time had been altogether dissipated. And now he had received a
much larger sum from his cousin, with an assurance, however, that the
family property would not become his when he succeeded to the family
title. He was so penniless at the time, so prone to live from hand to
mouth, so little given to consideration of the future, that it may be
doubted whether the sum given to him was not compensation in full for
all that was to be withheld from him.

Still there was his chance with the heiress! In regarding this
chance, he had very soon determined that he would marry his cousin
if it might be within his power to do so. He knew, and fully
appreciated, his own advantages. He was a handsome man,--tall for a
Hotspur, but with the Hotspur fair hair and blue eyes, and well-cut
features. There lacked, however, to him, that peculiar aspect of
firmness about the temples which so strongly marked the countenance
of Sir Harry and his daughter; and there had come upon him a _blasé_
look, and certain outer signs of a bad life, which, however, did not
mar his beauty, nor were they always apparent. The eye was not always
bloodshot, nor was the hand constantly seen to shake. It may be said
of him, both as to his moral and physical position, that he was on
the edge of the precipice of degradation, but that there was yet a
possibility of salvation.

He was living in a bachelor's set of rooms, at this time, in St.
James's Street, for which, it must be presumed, that ready money was
required. During the last winter he had horses in Northamptonshire,
for the hire of which, it must be feared, that his prospects as heir
to Humblethwaite had in some degree been pawned. At the present time
he had a horse for Park riding, and he looked upon a good dinner,
with good wine, as being due to him every day, as thoroughly as
though he earned it. That he had never attempted to earn a shilling
since the day on which he had ceased to be a soldier, now four years
since, the reader will hardly require to be informed.

In spite of all his faults, this man enjoyed a certain social
popularity for which many a rich man would have given a third of his
income. Dukes and duchesses were fond of him; and certain persons,
standing very high in the world, did not think certain parties were
perfect without him. He knew how to talk enough, and yet not to talk
too much. No one could say of him that he was witty, well-read, or
given to much thinking; but he knew just what was wanted at this
point of time or at that, and could give it. He could put himself
forward, and could keep himself in the background. He could shoot
well without wanting to shoot best. He could fetch and carry, but
still do it always with an air of manly independence. He could
subserve without an air of cringing. And then he looked like a
gentleman.

Of all his well-to-do friends, perhaps he who really liked him best
was the Earl of Altringham. George Hotspur was at this time something
under thirty years of age, and the Earl was four years his senior.
The Earl was a married man, with a family, a wife who also liked poor
George, an enormous income, and a place in Scotland at which George
always spent the three first weeks of grouse-shooting. The Earl was
a kindly, good-humoured, liberal, but yet hard man of the world.
He knew George Hotspur well, and would on no account lend him a
shilling. He would not have given his friend money to extricate him
from any difficulty. But he forgave the sinner all his sins, opened
Castle Corry to him every year, provided him with the best of
everything, and let him come and dine at Altringham House, in Carlton
Gardens, as often almost as he chose during the London season. The
Earl was very good to George, though he knew more about him than
perhaps did any other man; but he would not bet with George, nor
would he in any way allow George to make money out of him.

"Do you suppose that I want to win money of you?" he once said to our
friend, in answer to a little proposition that was made to him at
Newmarket. "I don't suppose you do," George had answered. "Then you
may be sure that I don't want to lose any," the Earl had replied. And
so the matter was ended, and George made no more propositions of the
kind.

The two men were together at Tattersall's, looking at some horses
which the Earl had sent up to be sold the day after the dinner in
Bruton Street. "Sir Harry seems to be taking to you very kindly,"
said the Earl.

"Well,--yes; in a half-and-half sort of way."

"It isn't everybody that would give you £5,000, you know."

"I am not everybody's heir," said George.

"No; and you ain't his,--worse luck."

"I am,--in regard to the title."

"What good will that do you?"

"When he's gone, I shall be the head of the family. As far as I can
understand these matters, he hasn't a right to leave the estates away
from me."

"Power is right, my boy. Legal power is undoubtedly right."

"He should at any rate divide them. There are two distinct
properties, and either of them would make me a rich man. I don't feel
so very much obliged to him for his money,--though of course it was
convenient."

"Very convenient, I should say, George. How do you get on with your
cousin?"

"They watch me like a cat watches a mouse."

"Say a rat, rather, George. Don't you know they are right? Would not
I do the same if she were my girl, knowing you as I do?"

"She might do worse, my Lord."

"I'll tell you what it is. He thinks that he might do worse. I don't
doubt about that. All this matter of the family and the title, and
the name, would make him ready to fling her to you,--if only you were
a shade less dark a horse than you are."

"I don't know that I'm darker than others."

"Look here, old fellow; I don't often trouble you with advice, but I
will now. If you'll set yourself steadily to work to live decently,
if you'll tell Sir Harry the whole truth about your money matters,
and really get into harness, I believe you may have her. Such a one
as you never had such a chance before. But there's one thing you must
do."

"What is the one thing?"

"Wash your hands altogether of Mrs. Morton. You'll have a difficulty,
I know, and perhaps it will want more pluck than you've got. You
haven't got pluck of that kind."

"You mean that I don't like to break a woman's heart?"

"Fiddlestick! Do you see that mare, there?"

"I was just looking at her. Why should you part with her?"

"She was the best animal in my stables, but she's given to eating
the stable-boys; old Badger told me flat, that he wouldn't have her
in the stables any longer. I pity the fellow who will buy her,--or
rather his fellow. She killed a lad once in Brookborough's stables."

"Why don't you shoot her?"

"I can't afford to shoot horses, Captain Hotspur. I had my chance in
buying her, and somebody else must have his chance now. That's the
lot of them; one or two good ones, and the rest what I call rags. Do
you think of what I've said; and be sure of this: Mrs. Morton and
your cousin can't go on together. Ta, Ta!--I'm going across to my
mother's."

George Hotspur, when he was left alone, did think a great deal about
it. He was not a man prone to assure himself of a lady's favour
without cause; and yet he did think that his cousin liked him. As to
that terrible difficulty to which Lord Altringham had alluded, he
knew that something must be done; but there were cruel embarrassments
on that side of which even Altringham knew nothing. And then why
should he do that which his friend had indicated to him, before he
knew whether it would be necessary? As to taking Sir Harry altogether
into his confidence about his money matters, that was clearly
impossible. Heaven and earth! How could the one man speak such
truths, or the other man listen to them? When money difficulties
come of such nature as those which weighted the shoulders of poor
George Hotspur, it is quite impossible that there should be any such
confidence with any one. The sufferer cannot even make a confidant of
himself, cannot even bring himself to look at his own troubles massed
together. It was not the amount of his debts, but the nature of them,
and the characters of the men with whom he had dealings, that were so
terrible. Fifteen thousand pounds--less than one year's income from
Sir Harry's property--would clear him of everything, as far as he
could judge; but there could be no such clearing, otherwise than by
money disbursed by himself, without a disclosure of dirt which he
certainly would not dare to make to Sir Harry before his marriage.

But yet the prize to be won was so great, and there were so many
reasons for thinking that it might possibly be within his grasp! If,
after all, he might live to be Sir George Hotspur of Humblethwaite
and Scarrowby! After thinking of it as well as he could, he
determined that he would make the attempt; but as to those
preliminaries to which Lord Altringham had referred, he would for the
present leave them to chance.

Lord Altringham had been quite right when he told George Hotspur that
he was deficient in a certain kind of pluck.



CHAPTER VI.

THE BALL IN BRUTON STREET.


Sir Harry vacillated, Lady Elizabeth doubted, and Cousin George
was allowed to come to the ball. At this time, in the common
understanding of such phrase, Emily Hotspur was heart-whole in regard
to her cousin. Had she been made to know that he had gone away for
ever,--been banished to some antipodes from which he never could
return,--there would have been no lasting sorrow on her part, though
there might have been some feeling which would have given her an ache
for the moment. She had thought about him, as girls will think of men
as to whom they own to themselves that it is possible that they may
be in love with them some day;--and she liked him much. She also
liked Lord Alfred, but the liking had been altogether of a different
kind. In regard to Lord Alfred she had been quite sure, from the
first days of her intercourse with him, that she could never be in
love with him. He was to her no more than old Mr. Crutchley or young
Mr. Latheby,--a man, and a good sort of man, but no more than a man.
To worship Lord Alfred must be impossible to her. She had already
conceived that it would be quite possible for her to worship her
Cousin George in the teeth of all the hard things that she had heard
of him. The reader may be sure that such a thought had passed through
her mind when she asked her mother whether Cousin George was to be
accepted as a black sheep or a white one?

The ball was a very grand affair, and Emily Hotspur was a very great
lady. It had come to be understood that the successful suitor for her
hand would be the future lord of Humblethwaite, and the power with
which she was thus vested gave her a prestige and standing which can
hardly be attained by mere wit and beauty, even when most perfectly
combined. It was not that all who worshipped, either at a distance
or with passing homage, knew the fact of the heiress-ship, or had
ever heard of the £20,000 a year; but, given the status, and the
worshippers will come. The word had gone forth in some mysterious
way, and it was acknowledged that Emily Hotspur was a great young
lady. Other young ladies, who were not great, allowed themselves to
be postponed to her almost without jealousy, and young gentlemen
without pretensions regarded her as one to whom they did not dare
to ask to be introduced. Emily saw it all, and partly liked it, and
partly despised it. But, even when despising it, she took advantage
of it. The young gentlemen without pretensions were no more to her
than the chairs and tables; and the young ladies who submitted to her
and adored her,--were allowed to be submissive, and to adore. But of
this she was quite sure,--that her Cousin George must some day be the
head of her own family. He was a man whom she was bound to treat with
attentive regard, if they who had the custody of her chose to place
her in his company at all.

At this ball there were some very distinguished people
indeed,--persons whom it would hardly be improper to call
illustrious. There were two royal duchesses, one of whom was English,
and no less than three princes. The Russian and French ambassadors
were both there. There was the editor of the most influential
newspaper of the day,--for a few minutes only; and the Prime Minister
passed through the room in the course of the evening. Dukes and
duchesses below the royal degree were common; and as for earls and
countesses, and their daughters, they formed the ruck of the crowd.
The Poet-laureate didn't come indeed, but was expected; and three
Chinese mandarins of the first quality entered the room at eleven,
and did not leave till one. Poor Lady Elizabeth suffered a great deal
with those mandarins. From all this it will be seen that the ball was
quite a success.

George Hotspur dined that day with Lord and Lady Altringham, and went
with them to the ball in the evening. Lord Altringham, though his
manner was airy and almost indifferent, was in truth most anxious
that his friend should be put upon his feet by the marriage; and the
Countess was so keen about it, that there was nothing in the way of
innocent intrigue which she would not have done to accomplish it. She
knew that George Hotspur was a rake, was a gambler, was in debt, was
hampered by other difficulties, and all the rest of it; but she liked
the man, and was therefore willing to believe that a rich marriage
would put it all right. Emily Hotspur was nothing to her, nor was Sir
Harry; but George had often made her own house pleasant to her, and
therefore, to her thinking, deserved a wife with £20,000 a year. And
then, if there might have been scruples under other circumstances,
that fact of the baronetcy overcame them. It could not be wrong
in one placed as was Lady Altringham to assist in preventing any
separation of the title and the property. Of course George might
probably squander all that he could squander; but that might be made
right by settlements and entails. Lady Altringham was much more
energetic than her husband, and had made out quite a plan of the
manner in which George should proceed. She discussed the matter with
him at great length. The one difficulty she was, indeed, obliged to
slur over; but even that was not altogether omitted in her scheme.
"Whatever incumbrances there may be, free yourself from them at
once," she had advised.

"That is so very easy to say, Lady Altringham, but so difficult to
do."

"As to debts, of course they can't be paid without money. Sir Harry
will find it worth his while to settle any debts. But if there is
anything else, stop it at once." Of course there was something else,
and of course Lady Altringham knew what that something else was. She
demanded, in accordance with her scheme, that George should lose no
time. This was in May. It was known that Sir Harry intended to leave
town early in June. "Of course you will take him at his word, and go
to Humblethwaite when you leave us," she had said.

"No time has been named."

"Then you can name your own without difficulty. You will write from
Castle Corry and say you are coming. That is, if it's not all settled
by that time. Of course, it cannot be done in a minute, because
Sir Harry must consent; but I should begin at once,--only, Captain
Hotspur, leave nothing for them to find out afterwards. What is past
they will forgive." Such had been Lady Altringham's advice, and no
doubt she understood the matter which she had been discussing.

When George Hotspur entered the room, his cousin was dancing with a
prince. He could see her as he stood speaking a few words to Lady
Elizabeth. And in talking to Lady Elizabeth he did not talk as a
stranger would, or a common guest. He had quite understood all that
he might gain by assuming the intimacy of cousinhood, and he had
assumed it. Lady Elizabeth was less weary than before when he stood
by her, and accepted from his hand some little trifle of help, which
was agreeable to her. And he showed himself in no hurry, and told her
some little story that pleased her. What a pity it was that Cousin
George should be a scamp, she thought, as he went on to greet Sir
Harry.

And with Sir Harry he remained a minute or two. On such an occasion
as this Sir Harry was all smiles, and quite willing to hear a
little town gossip. "Come with the Altringhams, have you? I'm told
Altringham has just sold all his horses. What's the meaning of that?"

"The old story, Sir Harry. He has weeded his stable, and got the
buyers to think that they were getting the cream. There isn't a man
in England knows better what he's about than Altringham."

Sir Harry smiled his sweetest, and answered with some good-humoured
remark, but he said in his heart that "birds of a feather flock
together," and that his cousin was--not a man of honour.

There are some things that no rogue can do. He can understand what it
is to condemn roguery, to avoid it, to dislike it, to disbelieve in
it;--but he cannot understand what it is to hate it. Cousin George
had probably exaggerated the transaction of which he had spoken, but
he had little thought that in doing so he had helped to imbue Sir
Harry with a true idea of his own character.

George passed on, and saw his cousin, who was now standing up with a
foreign ambassador. He just spoke to her as he passed her, calling
her by her Christian name as he did so. She gave him her hand ever so
graciously; and he, when he had gone on, returned and asked her to
name a dance.

"But I don't think I've one left that I mean to dance," she said.

"Then give me one that you don't mean to dance," he answered. And of
course she gave it to him.

It was an hour afterwards that he came to claim her promise, and she
put her arm through his and stood up with him. There was no talk then
of her not dancing, and she went whirling round the room with him in
great bliss. Cousin George waltzed well. All such men do. It is a
part of their stock-in-trade. On this evening Emily Hotspur thought
that he waltzed better than any one else, and told him so. "Another
turn? Of course I will with you, because you know what you're about."

"I'd blush if I'd time," said he.

"A great many gentlemen ought to blush, I know. That prince, whose
name I always forget, and you, are the only men in the room who dance
well, according to my ideas."

Then off they went again, and Emily was very happy. He could at least
dance well, and there could be no reason why she should not enjoy his
dancing well since he had been considered to be white enough to be
asked to the ball.

But with George there was present at every turn and twist of the
dance an idea that he was there for other work than that. He was
tracking a head of game after which there would be many hunters. He
had his advantages, and so would they have theirs. One of his was
this,--that he had her there with him now, and he must use it. She
would not fall into his mouth merely by being whirled round the room
pleasantly. At last she was still, and consented to take a walk with
him out of the room, somewhere out amidst the crowd, on the staircase
if possible, so as to get a breath of fresh air. Of course he soon
had her jammed into a corner out of which there was no immediate mode
of escape.

"We shall never get away again," she said, laughing. Had she wanted
to get away her tone and manner would have been very different.

"I wonder whether you feel yourself to be the same sort of person
here that you are at Humblethwaite," he said.

"Exactly the same."

"To me you seem to be so different."

"In what way?"

"I don't think you are half so nice."

"How very unkind!"

Of course she was flattered. Of all flattery praise is the coarsest
and least efficacious. When you would flatter a man, talk to him
about himself, and criticise him, pulling him to pieces by comparison
of some small present fault with his past conduct;--and the rule
holds the same with a woman. To tell her that she looks well is
feeble work; but complain to her wofully that there is something
wanting at the present moment, something lacking from the usual high
standard, some temporary loss of beauty, and your solicitude will
prevail with her.

"And in what am I not nice? I am sure I'm trying to be as nice as I
know how."

"Down at Humblethwaite you are simply yourself,--Emily Hotspur."

"And what am I here?"

"That formidable thing,--a success. Don't you feel yourself that you
are lifted a little off your legs?"

"Not a bit;--not an inch. Why should I?"

"I fail to make you understand quite what I mean. Don't you feel that
with all these princes and potentates you are forced to be something
else than your natural self? Don't you know that you have to put on a
special manner, and to talk in a special way? Does not the champagne
fly to your head, more or less?"

"Of course, the princes and potentates are not the same as old Mrs.
Crutchley, if you mean that."

"I am not blaming you, you know, only I cannot help being very
anxious; and I found you so perfect at Humblethwaite that I cannot
say that I like any change. You know I am to come to Humblethwaite
again?"

"Of course you are."

"You go down next month, I believe?"

"Papa talks of going to Scarrowby for a few weeks. He always does
every year, and it is so dull. Did you ever see Scarrowby?"

"Never."

"You ought to come there some day. You know one branch of the
Hotspurs did live there for ever so long."

"Is it a good house?"

"Very bad indeed; but there are enormous woods, and the country is
very wild, and everything is at sixes and sevens. However, of course
you would not come, because it is in the middle of your London
season. There would be ever so many things to keep you. You are a man
who, I suppose, never was out of London in June in your life, unless
some race meeting was going on."

"Do you really take me for such as that, Emily?"

"Yes, I do. That is what they tell me you are. Is it not true? Don't
you go to races?"

"I should be quite willing to undertake never to put my foot on a
racecourse again this minute. I will do so now if you will only ask
it of me."

She paused a moment, half thinking that she would ask it, but at last
she determined against it.

"No," she said; "if you think it proper to stay away, you can do so
without my asking it. I have no right to make such a request. If you
think races are bad, why don't you stay away of your own accord?"

"They are bad," he said.

"Then why do you go to them?"

"They are bad, and I do go to them. They are very bad, and I go
to them very often. But I will stay away and never put my foot on
another racecourse if you, my cousin, will ask me."

"That is nonsense."

"Try me. It shall not be nonsense. If you care enough about me to
wish to save me from what is evil, you can do it. I care enough about
you to give up the pursuit at your bidding."

As he said this he looked down into her eyes, and she knew that the
full weight of his gaze was upon her. She knew that his words and his
looks together were intended to impress her with some feeling of his
love for her. She knew at the moment, too, that they gratified her.
And she remembered also in the same moment that her Cousin George was
a black sheep.

"If you cannot refrain from what is bad without my asking you," she
said, "your refraining will do no good."

He was making her some answer, when she insisted on being taken away.
"I must get into the dancing-room; I must indeed, George. I have
already thrown over some poor wretch. No, not yet, I see, however. I
was not engaged for the quadrille; but I must go back and look after
the people."

He led her back through the crowd; and as he did so he perceived that
Sir Harry's eyes were fixed upon him. He did not much care for that.
If he could carry his Cousin Emily, he thought that he might carry
the Baronet also.

He could not get any special word with her again that night. He asked
her for another dance, but she would not grant it to him. "You forget
the princes and potentates to whom I have to attend," she said to
him, quoting his own words.

He did not blame her, even to himself, judging by the importance
which he attached to every word of private conversation which he
could have with her, that she found it to be equally important.
It was something gained that she should know that he was thinking
of her. He could not be to her now like any cousin, or any other
man, with whom she might dance three or four times without meaning
anything. As he was aware of it, so must she be; and he was glad that
she should feel that it was so.

"Emily tells me that you are going to Scarrowby next month," he said
afterwards to Sir Harry.

Sir Harry frowned, and answered him very shortly, "Yes, we shall go
there in June."

"Is it a large place?"

"Large? How do you mean? It is a good property."

"But the house?"

"The house is quite large enough for us," said Sir Harry; "but we do
not have company there."

This was said in a very cold tone, and there was nothing more to
be added. George, to do him justice, had not been fishing for an
invitation to Scarrowby. He had simply been making conversation with
the Baronet. It would not have suited him to go to Scarrowby, because
by doing so he would have lost the power of renewing his visit to
Humblethwaite. But Sir Harry in this interview had been so very
ungracious,--and as George knew very well, because of the scene in
the corner,--that there might be a doubt whether he would ever get to
Humblethwaite at all. If he failed, however, it should not be for the
want of audacity on his own part.

But, in truth, Sir Harry's blackness was still the result of
vacillation. Though he would fain redeem this prodigal, if it were
possible, and give him everything that was to be given; yet, when he
saw the prodigal attempting to help himself to the good things, his
wrath was aroused. George Hotspur, as he betook himself from Bruton
Street to such other amusements as were at his command, meditated
much over his position. He thought he could give up the racecourses;
but he was sure that he could at any rate say that he would give them
up.



CHAPTER VII.

LADY ALTRINGHAM.


There was one more meeting between Cousin George and Emily Hotspur,
before Sir Harry left London with his wife and daughter. On the
Sunday afternoon following the ball he called in Bruton Street, and
found Lord Alfred there. He knew that Lord Alfred had been refused,
and felt it to be a matter of course that the suit would be pressed
again. Nevertheless, he was quite free from animosity to Lord Alfred.
He could see at a glance that there was no danger for him on that
side. Lord Alfred was talking to Lady Elizabeth when he entered, and
Emily was engaged with a bald-headed old gentleman with a little
ribbon and a star. The bald-headed old gentleman soon departed,
and then Cousin George, in some skilfully indirect way, took an
opportunity of letting Emily know that he should not go to Goodwood
this July.

"Not go to Goodwood?" said she, pretending to laugh. "It will be most
unnatural, will it not? They'll hardly start the horses without you,
I should think."

"They'll have to start them without me, at any rate." Of course she
understood what he meant, and understood also why he had told her.
But if his promise were true, so much good had been done,--and she
sincerely believed that it was true. In what way could he make love
to her better than by refraining from his evil ways for the sake of
pleasing her? Other bald-headed old gentlemen and bewigged old ladies
came in, and he had not time for another word. He bade her adieu,
saying nothing now of his hope of meeting her in the autumn, and was
very affectionate in his farewell to Lady Elizabeth. "I don't suppose
I shall see Sir Harry before he starts. Say 'good-bye' for me."

"I will, George."

"I am so sorry you are going. It has been so jolly, coming in here
of a Sunday, Lady Elizabeth, and you have been so good to me. I wish
Scarrowby was at the bottom of the sea."

"Sir Harry wouldn't like that at all."

"I dare say not. And as such places must be, I suppose they ought to
be looked after. Only why in June? Good-bye! We shall meet again some
day." But not a word was said about Humblethwaite in September. He
did not choose to mention the prospect of his autumn visit, and she
did not dare to do so. Sir Harry had not renewed the offer, and she
would not venture to do so in Sir Harry's absence.

June passed away,--as Junes do pass in London,--very gaily in
appearance, very quickly in reality, with a huge outlay of money and
an enormous amount of disappointment. Young ladies would not accept,
and young men would not propose. Papas became cross and stingy, and
mammas insinuated that daughters were misbehaving. The daughters
fought their own battles, and became tired in the fighting of them,
and many a one had declared to herself before July had come to an end
that it was all vanity and vexation of spirit.

The Altringhams always went to Goodwood,--husband and wife. Goodwood
and Ascot for Lady Altringham were festivals quite as sacred as were
Epsom and Newmarket for the Earl. She looked forward to them all the
year, learned all she could about the horses which were to run, was
very anxious and energetic about her party, and, if all that was said
was true, had her little book. It was an institution also that George
Hotspur should be one of the party; and of all the arrangements
usually made, it was not the one which her Ladyship could dispense
with the easiest. George knew exactly what she liked to have done,
and how. The Earl himself would take no trouble, and desired simply
to be taken there and back and to find everything that was wanted the
very moment it was needed. And in all such matters the Countess chose
that the Earl should be indulged. But it was necessary to have some
one who would look after something--who would direct the servants,
and give the orders, and be responsible. George Hotspur did it
all admirably, and on such occasions earned the hospitality which
was given to him throughout the year. At Goodwood he was almost
indispensable to Lady Altringham; but for this meeting she was
willing to dispense with him. "I tell you, Captain Hotspur, that
you're not to go," she said to him.

"Nonsense, Lady Altringham."

"What a child you are! Don't you know what depends on it?"

"It does not depend on that."

"It may. Every little helps. Didn't you promise her that you
wouldn't?"

"She didn't take it in earnest."

"I tell you, you know nothing about a woman. She will take it very
much in earnest if you break your word."

"She'll never know."

"She will. She'll learn it. A girl like that learns everything. Don't
go; and let her know that you have not gone."

George Hotspur thought that he might go, and yet let her know that he
had not gone. An accomplished and successful lie was to him a thing
beautiful in itself,--an event that had come off usefully, a piece of
strategy that was evidence of skill, so much gained on the world at
the least possible outlay, an investment from which had come profit
without capital. Lady Altringham was very hard on him, threatening
him at one time with the Earl's displeasure, and absolute refusal of
his company. But he pleaded hard that his book would be ruinous to
him if he did not go; that this was a pursuit of such a kind that a
man could not give it up all of a moment; that he would take care
that his name was omitted from the printed list of Lord Altringham's
party; and that he ought to be allowed this last recreation. The
Countess at last gave way, and George Hotspur did go to Goodwood.

With the success or failure of his book on that occasion our story
is not concerned. He was still more flush of cash than usual, having
something left of his cousin's generous present. At any rate, he came
to no signal ruin at the races, and left London for Castle Corry on
the 10th of August without any known diminution to his prospects. At
that time the Hotspurs were at Humblethwaite with a party; but it had
been already decided that George should not prepare to make his visit
till September. He was to write from Castle Corry. All that had been
arranged between him and the Countess, and from Castle Corry he did
write:--


   DEAR LADY ELIZABETH,--Sir Harry was kind enough to say
   last winter that I might come to Humblethwaite again
   this autumn. Will you be able to take me in on the 2nd
   September? we have about finished with Altringham's house,
   and Lady A. has had enough of me. They remain here till
   the end of this month. With kind regards to Sir Harry and
   Emily,

   Believe me, yours always,

   GEORGE HOTSPUR.


Nothing could be simpler than this note, and yet every word of it had
been weighed and dictated by Lady Altringham. "That won't do at all.
You mustn't seem to be so eager," she had said, when he showed her
the letter as prepared by himself. "Just write as you would do if you
were coming here." Then she sat down, and made the copy for him.

There was very great doubt and there was much deliberation over that
note at Humblethwaite. The invitation had doubtless been given, and
Sir Harry did not wish to turn against his own flesh and blood,--to
deny admittance to his house to the man who was the heir to his
title. Were he to do so, he must give some reason; he must declare
some quarrel; he must say boldly that all intercourse between them
was to be at an end; and he must inform Cousin George that this
strong step was taken because Cousin George was a--blackguard! There
was no other way of escape left. And then Cousin George had done
nothing since the days of the London intimacies to warrant such
treatment; he had at least done nothing to warrant such treatment at
the hands of Sir Harry. And yet Sir Harry thoroughly wished that his
cousin was at Jerusalem. He still vacillated, but his vacillation did
not bring him nearer to his cousin's side of the case. Every little
thing that he saw and heard made him know that his cousin was a man
to whom he could not give his daughter even for the sake of the
family, without abandoning his duty to his child. At this moment,
while he was considering George's letter, it was quite clear to him
that George should not be his son-in-law; and yet the fact that the
property and the title might be brought together was not absent from
his mind when he gave his final assent. "I don't suppose she cares
for him," he said to his wife.

"She's not in love with him, if you mean that."

"What else should I mean?" he said, crossly.

"She may learn to be in love with him."

"She had better not. She must be told. He may come for a week. I
won't have him here for longer. Write to him and say that we shall be
happy to have him from the second to the ninth. Emily must be told
that I disapprove of him, but that I can't avoid opening my house to
him."

These were the most severe words he had ever spoken about Cousin
George, but then the occasion had become very critical. Lady
Elizabeth's reply was as follows:--


   MY DEAR COUSIN GEORGE,--Sir Harry and I will be very happy
   to have you on the second, as you propose, and hope you
   will stay till the eleventh.

   Yours sincerely,

   ELIZABETH HOTSPUR.


He was to come on a Saturday, but she did not like to tell him to go
on a Saturday, because of the following day. Where could the poor
fellow be on the Sunday? She therefore stretched her invitation for
two days beyond the period sanctioned by Sir Harry.

"It's not very gracious," said George, as he showed the note to Lady
Altringham.

"I don't like it the less on that account. It shows that they're
afraid about her, and they wouldn't be afraid without cause."

"There is not much of that, I fancy."

"They oughtn't to have a chance against you,--not if you play your
game well. Even in ordinary cases the fathers and mothers are beaten
by the lovers nine times out of ten. It is only when the men are
oafs and louts that they are driven off. But with you, with your
cousinship, and half-heirship, and all your practice, and the family
likeness, and the rest of it, if you only take a little trouble--"

"I'll take any amount of trouble."

"No, you won't. You'll deny yourself nothing, and go through no
ordeal that is disagreeable to you. I don't suppose your things are
a bit better arranged in London than they were in the spring." She
looked at him as though waiting for an answer, but he was silent.
"It's too late for anything of that kind now, but still you may do
very much. Make up your mind to this, that you'll ask Miss Hotspur to
be your wife before you leave--what's the name of the place?"

"I have quite made up my mind to that, Lady Altringham."

"As to the manner of doing it, I don't suppose that I can teach you
anything."

"I don't know about that."

"At any rate I shan't try. Only remember this. Get her to promise
to be firm, and then go at once to Sir Harry. Don't let there be an
appearance of doubt in speaking to him. And if he tells you of the
property,--angrily I mean,--then do you tell him of the title. Make
him understand that you give as much as you get. I don't suppose he
will yield at first. Why should he? You are not the very best young
man about town, you know. But if you get her, he must follow. She
looks like one that would stick to it, if she once had said it."

Thus prompted George Hotspur went from Castle Corry to Humblethwaite.
I wonder whether he was aware of the extent of the friendship of his
friend, and whether he ever considered why it was that such a woman
should be so anxious to assist him in making his fortune, let it be
at what cost it might to others! Lady Altringham was not the least
in love with Captain Hotspur, was bound to him by no tie whatsoever,
would suffer no loss in the world should Cousin George come to utter
and incurable ruin; but she was a woman of energy, and, as she liked
the man, she was zealous in his friendship.



CHAPTER VIII.

AIREY FORCE.


Lady Elizabeth had been instructed by Sir Harry to warn her
daughter not to fall in love with Cousin George during his visit to
Humblethwaite; and Lady Elizabeth was, as a wife, accustomed to obey
her husband in all things. But obedience in this matter was very
difficult. Such a caution as that received is not easily given even
between a mother and a child, and is especially difficult when the
mother is unconsciously aware of her child's superiority to herself.
Emily was in all respects the bigger woman of the two, and was sure
to get the best of it in any such cautioning. It is so hard to have
to bid a girl, and a good girl too, not to fall in love with a
particular man! There is left among us at any rate so much of reserve
and assumed delicacy as to require us to consider, or pretend to
consider on the girl's behalf, that of course she won't fall in love.
We know that she will, sooner or later; and probably as much sooner
as opportunity may offer. That is our experience of the genus girl in
the general; and we quite approve of her for her readiness to do so.
It is, indeed, her nature; and the propensity has been planted in her
for wise purposes. But as to this or that special sample of the genus
girl, in reference to this or that special sample of the genus young
man, we always feel ourselves bound to take it as a matter of course
that there can be nothing of the kind, till the thing is done. Any
caution on the matter is therefore difficult and disagreeable, as
conveying almost an insult. Mothers in well-regulated families do not
caution their daughters in reference to special young men. But Lady
Elizabeth had been desired by her husband to give the caution, and
must in some sort obey the instruction. Two days before George's
arrival she endeavoured to do as she was told; not with the most
signal success.

"Your Cousin George is coming on Saturday."

"So I heard Papa say."

"Your Papa gave him a sort of invitation when he was here last time,
and so he has proposed himself."

"Why should not he? It seems very natural. He is the nearest relation
we have got, and we all like him."

"I don't think your Papa does like him."

"I do."

"What I mean is your Papa doesn't approve of him. He goes to races,
and bets, and all that kind of thing. And then your Papa thinks that
he's over head and ears in debt."

"I don't know anything about his debts. As for his going to races, I
believe he has given them up. I am sure he would if he were asked."
Then there was a pause, for Lady Elizabeth hardly knew how to
pronounce her caution. "Why shouldn't Papa pay his debts?"

"My dear!"

"Well, Mamma, why shouldn't he? And why shouldn't Papa let him have
the property; I mean, leave it to him instead of to me?"

"If your brother had lived--"

"He didn't live, Mamma. That has been our great misfortune. But so it
is; and why shouldn't George be allowed to take his place? I'm sure
it would be for the best. Papa thinks so much about the name, and the
family, and all that."

"My dear, you must leave him to do as he thinks fit in all such
matters. You may be sure that he will do what he believes to be his
duty. What I was going to say was this--" And, instead of saying it,
Lady Elizabeth still hesitated.

"I know what you want to say, Mamma, just as well as though the words
were out of your mouth. You want to make me to understand that George
is a black sheep."

"I'm afraid he is."

"But black sheep are not like blackamoors; they may be washed white.
You said so yourself the other day."

"Did I, my dear?"

"Certainly you did; and certainly they may. Why, Mamma, what is all
religion but the washing of black sheep white; making the black a
little less black, scraping a spot white here and there?"

"I am afraid your Cousin George is beyond washing."

"Then Mamma, all I can say is, he oughtn't to come here. Mind,
I think you wrong him. I daresay he has been giddy and fond of
pleasure; but if he is so bad as you say, Papa should tell him at
once not to come. As far as I am concerned, I don't believe he is so
bad; and I shall be glad to see him."

There was no cautioning a young woman who could reason in this way,
and who could look at her mother as Emily looked. It was not, at
least, within the power of Lady Elizabeth to do so. And yet she could
not tell Sir Harry of her failure. She thought that she had expressed
the caution; and she thought also that her daughter would be wise
enough to be guided,--not by her mother's wisdom, but by the words of
her father. Poor dear woman! She was thinking of it every hour of the
day; but she said nothing more on the subject, either to her daughter
or to Sir Harry.

The black sheep came, and made one of a number of numerous visitors.
It had been felt that the danger would be less among a multitude; and
there was present a very excellent young man, as to whom there were
hopes. Steps had not been taken about this excellent young man as had
been done in reference to Lord Alfred; but still there were hopes. He
was the eldest son of a Lincolnshire squire, a man of fair property
and undoubted family; but who, it was thought, would not object to
merge the name of Thoresby in that of Hotspur. Nothing came of the
young man, who was bashful, and to whom Miss Hotspur certainly gave
no entertainment of a nature to remove his bashfulness. But when
the day for George's coming had been fixed, Sir Harry thought it
expedient to write to young Thoresby and accelerate a visit which had
been previously proposed. Sir Harry as he did so almost hated himself
for his anxiety to dispose of his daughter. He was a gentleman, every
inch of him; and he thoroughly desired to do his duty. He knew,
however, that there was much in his feelings of which he could not
but be ashamed. And yet, if something were not done to assist his
girl in a right disposal of all that she had to bestow with her hand,
how was it probable that it could be disposed aright?

The black sheep came, and found young Thoresby and some dozen other
strangers in the house. He smiled upon them all, and before the first
evening was over had made himself the popular man of the house. Sir
Harry, like a fool as he was, had given his cousin only two fingers,
and had looked black at their first meeting. Nothing could be gained
by conduct such as that with such a guest. Before the gentlemen left
the dinner-table on the first day even he had smiled and joked and
had asked questions about "Altringham's mountains." "The worst of you
fellows who go to Scotland is that you care nothing for real sport
when you come down south afterwards." All this conversation about
Lord Altringham's grouse and the Scotch mountains helped George
Hotspur, so that when he went into the drawing-room he was in the
ascendant. Many men have learned the value of such ascendancy, and
most men have known the want of it.

Poor Lady Elizabeth had not a chance with Cousin George. She
succumbed to him at once, not knowing why, but feeling that she
herself became bright, amusing, and happy when talking to him. She
was a woman not given to familiarities; but she did become familiar
with him, allowing him little liberties of expression which no other
man would take with her, and putting them all down to the score of
cousinhood. He might be a black sheep. She feared there could be but
little doubt that he was one. But, from her worsted-work up to the
demerits of her dearest friend, he did know how to talk better than
any other young man she knew. To Emily, on that first evening, he
said very little. When he first met her he had pressed her hand, and
looked into her eyes, and smiled on her with a smile so sweet that
it was as though a god had smiled on her. She had made up her mind
that he should be nothing to her,--nothing beyond a dear cousin;
nevertheless, her eye had watched him during the whole hour of
dinner, and, not knowing that it was so, she had waited for his
coming to them in the evening. Heavens and earth! what an oaf was
that young Thoresby as the two stood together near the door! She did
not want her cousin to come and talk to her, but she listened and
laughed within herself as she saw how pleased was her mother by the
attentions of the black sheep.

One word Cousin George did say to Emily Hotspur that night, just as
the ladies were leaving the room. It was said in a whisper, with a
little laugh, with that air of half joke half earnest which may be so
efficacious in conversation: "I did not go to Goodwood, after all."

She raised her eyes to his for a quarter of a second, thanking him
for his goodness in refraining. "I don't believe that he is really a
black sheep at all," she said to herself that night, as she laid her
head upon her pillow.

After all, the devil fights under great disadvantages, and has to
carry weights in all his races which are almost unfair. He lies as a
matter of course, believing thoroughly in lies, thinking that it is
by lies chiefly that he must make his running good; and yet every lie
he tells, after it has been told and used, remains as an additional
weight to be carried. When you have used your lie gracefully and
successfully, it is hard to bury it and get it well out of sight.
It crops up here and there against you, requiring more lies; and
at last, too often, has to be admitted as a lie, most usually
so admitted in silence, but still admitted,--to be forgiven or
not, according to the circumstances of the case. The most perfect
forgiveness is that which is extended to him who is known to lie
in everything. The man has to be taken, lies and all, as a man is
taken with a squint, or a harelip, or a bad temper. He has an uphill
game to fight, but when once well known, he does not fall into the
difficulty of being believed.

George Hotspur's lie was believed. To our readers it may appear to
have been most gratuitous, unnecessary, and inexpedient. The girl
would not have quarrelled with him for going to the races,--would
never have asked anything about it. But George knew that he must make
his running. It would not suffice that she should not quarrel with
him. He had to win her, and it came so natural to him to lie! And the
lie was efficacious; she was glad to know that he stayed away from
the races--for her sake. Had it not been for her sake? She would not
bid him stay away, but she was so glad that he had stayed! The lie
was very useful;--if it only could have been buried and put out of
sight when used!

There was partridge-shooting for four days; not good shooting, but
work which carried the men far from home, and enabled Sir Harry to
look after his cousin. George, so looked after, did not dare to say
that on any day he would shirk the shooting. But Sir Harry, as he
watched his cousin, gradually lost his keenness for watching him.
Might it not be best that he should let matters arrange themselves?
This young squire from Lincolnshire was evidently an oaf. Sir Harry
could not even cherish a hope on that side. His girl was very good,
and she had been told, and the work of watching went so much against
the grain with him! And then, added to it all, was the remembrance
that if the worst came to the worst, the title and property would be
kept together. George Hotspur might have fought his fight, we think,
without the aid of his lie.

On the Friday the party was to some extent broken up. The oaf and
sundry other persons went away. Sir Harry had thought that the cousin
would go on the Saturday, and had been angry with his wife because
his orders on that head had not been implicitly obeyed. But when the
Friday came, and George offered to go in with him to Penrith, to
hear some case of fish-poaching which was to be brought before the
magistrates, he had forgiven the offence. George had a great deal to
say about fish, and then went on to say a good deal about himself. If
he could only get some employment, a farm, say, where he might have
hunting, how good it would be! For he did not pretend to any virtuous
abnegation of the pleasures of the world, but was willing,--so he
said,--to add to them some little attempt to earn his own bread. On
this day Sir Harry liked his cousin better than he had ever done
before, though he did not even then place the least confidence in his
cousin's sincerity as to the farm and the earning of bread.

On their return to the Hall on Friday they found that a party
had been made to go to Ulleswater on the Saturday. A certain Mrs.
Fitzpatrick was staying in the house, who had never seen the lake,
and the carriage was to take them to Airey Force. Airey Force, as
everybody knows, is a waterfall near to the shores of the lake, and
is the great lion of the Lake scenery on that side of the mountains.
The waterfall was full fifteen miles from Humblethwaite, but the
distance had been done before, and could be done again. Emily, Mrs.
Fitzpatrick, and two other young ladies were to go. Mr. Fitzpatrick
would sit on the box. There was a youth there also who had left
school and not yet gone to college. He was to be allowed to drive a
dog-cart. Of course George Hotspur was ready to go in the dog-cart
with him.

George had determined from the commencement of his visit, when he
began to foresee that this Saturday would be more at his command than
any other day, that on this Saturday he would make or mar his fortune
for life. He had perceived that his cousin was cautious with him,
that he would be allowed but little scope for love-making, that she
was in some sort afraid of him; but he perceived also that in a quiet
undemonstrative way she was very gracious to him. She never ignored
him, as young ladies will sometimes ignore young men, but thought of
him even in his absence, and was solicitous for his comfort. He was
clever enough to read little signs, and was sure at any rate that she
liked him.

"Why did you not postpone the party till George was gone?" Sir Harry
said to his wife.

"The Fitzpatricks also go on Monday," she answered, "and we could not
refuse them."

Then again it occurred to Sir Harry that life would not be worth
having if he was to be afraid to allow his daughter to go to a picnic
in company with her cousin.

There is a bridge across the water at the top of Airey Force, which
is perhaps one of the prettiest spots in the whole of our Lake
country. The entire party on their arrival of course went up to
the bridge, and then the entire party of course descended. How it
happened that in the course of the afternoon George and Emily were
there again, and were there unattended, who can tell? If she had
meant to be cautious, she must very much have changed her plans in
allowing herself to be led thither. And as he stood there, with no
eye resting on them, his arm was round her waist and she was pressed
to his side.

"Dearest, dearest," he said, "may I believe that you love me?"

"I have said so. You may believe it if you will."

She did not attempt to make the distance greater between them. She
leant against him willingly.

"Dear George, I do love you. My choice has been made. I have to trust
to you for everything."

"You shall never trust in vain," he said.

"You must reform, you know," she said, turning round and looking up
into his face with a smile. "They say that you have been wild. You
must not be wild any more, sir."

"I will reform. I have reformed. I say it boldly; I have become an
altered man since I knew you. I have lived with one hope, and even
the hope alone has changed me. Now I have got all that I have hoped
for. Oh, Emily, I wish you knew how much I love you!"

They were there on the bridge, or roaming together alone among the
woods, for nearly an hour after that, till Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who knew
the value of the prize and the nature of the man, began to fear that
she had been remiss in her duty as chaperon. As Emily came down and
joined the party at last, she was perfectly regardless either of
their frowns or smiles. There had been one last compact made between
the lovers.

"George," she had said, "whatever it may cost us, let there be no
secrets."

"Of course not," he replied.

"I will tell Mamma to-night; and you must tell Papa. You will promise
me?"

"Certainly. It is what I should insist on doing myself. I could not
stay in his house under other circumstances. But you too must promise
me one thing, Emily."

"What is it?"

"You will be true to me, even though he should refuse his consent?"

She paused before she answered him.

"I will be true to you. I cannot be otherwise than true to you. My
love was a thing to give, but when given I cannot take it back. I
will be true to you, but of course we cannot be married unless Papa
consents."

He urged her no further. He was too wise to think it possible that he
could do so without injuring his cause. Then they found the others,
and Emily made her apologies to Mrs. Fitzpatrick for the delay with a
quiet dignity that struck her Cousin George almost with awe. How had
it been that such a one as he had won so great a creature?

George, as he was driven home by his young companion, was full of
joyous chatter and light small talk. He had done a good stroke of
business, and was happy. If only the Baronet could be brought round,
all the troubles which had enveloped him since a beard had first
begun to grow on his chin would disappear as a mist beneath the
full rays of the sun; or even if there still might be a trouble or
two,--and as he thought of his prospects he remembered that they
could not all be made to disappear in the mist fashion,--there would
be that which would gild the clouds. At any rate he had done a good
stroke of business. And he loved the girl too. He thought that of all
the girls he had seen about town, or about the country either, she
was the bonniest and the brightest and the most clever. It might well
have been that a poor devil like he in search of an heiress might
have been forced to put up with personal disadvantages,--with age,
with plain looks, with vulgar manners, with low birth; but here, so
excellent was his fortune, there was everything which fortune could
give! Love her? Of course he loved her. He would do anything on earth
for her. And how jolly they would be together when they got hold of
their share of that £20,000 a year! And how jolly it would be to owe
nothing to anybody! As he thought of this, however, there came upon
him the reminiscence of a certain Captain Stubber, and the further
reminiscence of a certain Mr. Abraham Hart, with both of whom he had
dealings; and he told himself that it would behove him to call up
all his pluck when discussing those gentlemen and their dealings,
with the Baronet. He was sure that the Baronet would not like Captain
Stubber nor Mr. Hart, and that a good deal of pluck would be needed.
But on the whole he had done a great stroke of business; and, as
a consequence of his success, talked and chatted all the way home,
till the youth who was driving him thought that George was about the
nicest fellow that he had ever met.

Emily Hotspur, as she took her place in the carriage, was very
silent. She also had much of which to think, much on which--as she
dreamed--to congratulate herself. But she could not think of it and
talk at the same time. She had made her little apology with graceful
ease. She had just smiled,--but the smile was almost a rebuke,--when
one of her companions had ventured on the beginning of some little
joke as to her company, and then she had led the way to the carriage.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick and the two girls were nothing to her now, let
them suspect what they choose or say what they might. She had given
herself away, and she triumphed in the surrender. The spot on which
he had told her of his love should be sacred to her for ever. It was
a joy to her that it was near to her own home, the home that she
would give to him, so that she might go there with him again and
again. She had very much to consider and to remember. A black sheep!
No! Of all the flock he should be the least black. It might be that
in the energy of his pleasures he had exceeded other men, as he did
exceed all other men in everything that he did and said. Who was so
clever? who so bright? who so handsome, so full of poetry and of
manly grace? How sweet was his voice, how fine his gait, how gracious
his smile! And then in his brow there was that look of command which
she had ever recognized in her father's face as belonging to his race
as a Hotspur,--only added to it was a godlike beauty which her father
never could have possessed.

She did not conceal from herself that there might be trouble with her
father. And yet she was not sure but that upon the whole he would be
pleased after a while. Humblethwaite and the family honours would
still go together, if he would sanction this marriage; and she knew
how he longed in his heart that it might be so. For a time probably
he might be averse to her prayers. Should it be so, she would simply
give him her word that she would never during his lifetime marry
without his permission,--and then she would be true to her troth. As
to her truth in that respect there could be no doubt. She had given
her word; and that, for a Hotspur, must be enough.

She could not talk as she thought of all this, and therefore had
hardly spoken when George appeared at the carriage door to give the
ladies a hand as they came into the house. To her he was able to give
one gentle pressure as she passed on; but she did not speak to him,
nor was it necessary that she should do so. Had not everything been
said already?



CHAPTER IX.

"I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE."


The scene which took place that night between the mother and daughter
may be easily conceived. Emily told her tale, and told it in a manner
which left no doubt of her persistency. She certainly meant it. Lady
Elizabeth had almost expected it. There are evils which may come or
may not; but as to which, though we tell ourselves that they may
still be avoided, we are inwardly almost sure that they will come.
Such an evil in the mind of Lady Elizabeth had been Cousin George.
Not but what she herself would have liked him for a son-in-law had it
not been so certain that he was a black sheep.

"Your father will never consent to it, my dear."

"Of course, Mamma, I shall do nothing unless he does."

"You will have to give him up."

"No, Mamma, not that; that is beyond what Papa can demand of me. I
shall not give him up, but I certainly shall not marry him without
Papa's consent, or yours."

"Nor see him?"

"Well; if he does not come I cannot see him."

"Nor correspond with him?"

"Certainly not, if Papa forbids it."

After that, Lady Elizabeth did give way to a considerable extent.
She did not tell her daughter that she considered it at all probable
that Sir Harry would yield; but she made it to be understood that
she herself would do so if Sir Harry would be persuaded. And she
acknowledged that the amount of obedience promised by Emily was all
that could be expected. "But, Mamma," said Emily, before she left her
mother, "do you not know that you love him yourself?"

"Love is such a strong word, my dear."

"It is not half strong enough," said Emily, pressing her two hands
together. "But you do, Mamma?"

"I think he is very agreeable, certainly."

"And handsome?--only that goes for nothing."

"Yes, he is a fine-looking man."

"And clever? I don't know how it is; let there be who there may in
the room, he is always the best talker."

"He knows how to talk, certainly."

"And, Mamma, don't you think that there is a something,--I don't know
what,--something not at all like other men about him that compels
one to love him? Oh, Mamma, do say something nice to me! To me he is
everything that a man should be."

"I wish he were, my dear."

"As for the sort of life he has been leading, spending more money
than he ought, and all that kind of thing, he has promised to reform
it altogether; and he is doing it now. At any rate, you must admit,
Mamma, that he is not false."

"I hope not, my dear."

"Why do you speak in that way, Mamma? Does he talk like a man that
is false? Have you ever known him to be false? Don't be prejudiced,
Mamma, at any rate."

The reader will understand that when the daughter had brought her
mother as far as this, the elder lady was compelled to say "something
nice" at last. At any rate there was a loving embrace between them,
and an understanding that the mother would not exaggerate the
difficulties of the position either by speech or word.

"Of course you will have to see your papa to-morrow morning," Lady
Elizabeth said.

"George will tell him everything to-night," said Emily. She as she
went to her bed did not doubt but what the difficulties would melt.
Luckily for her,--so luckily!--it happened that her lover possessed
by his very birth a right which, beyond all other possessions, would
recommend him to her father. And then had not the man himself all
natural good gifts to recommend him? Of course he had not money or
property, but she had, or would have, property; and of all men alive
her father was the least disposed to be greedy. As she half thought
of it and half dreamt of it in her last waking moments of that
important day, she was almost altogether happy. It was so sweet to
know that she possessed the love of him whom she loved better than
all the world beside.

Cousin George did not have quite so good a time of it that night. The
first thing he did on his return from Ulleswater to Humblethwaite
was to write a line to his friend Lady Altringham. This had been
promised, and he did so before he had seen Sir Harry.


   DEAR LADY A.--I have been successful with my younger
   cousin. She is the bonniest, and the best, and the
   brightest girl that ever lived, and I am the happiest
   fellow. But I have not as yet seen the Baronet. I am to do
   so to-night, and will report progress to-morrow. I doubt I
   shan't find him so bonny and so good and so bright. But,
   as you say, the young birds ought to be too strong for the
   old ones.--Yours most sincerely,

   G. H.


This was written while he was dressing, and was put into the
letter-box by himself as he came downstairs. It was presumed that the
party had dined at the Falls; but there was "a tea" prepared for them
on an extensive scale. Sir Harry, suspecting nothing, was happy and
almost jovial with Mr. Fitzpatrick and the two young ladies. Emily
said hardly a word. Lady Elizabeth, who had not as yet been told, but
already suspected something, was very anxious. George was voluble,
witty, and perhaps a little too loud. But as the lad who was going
to Oxford, and who had drank a good deal of champagne and was now
drinking sherry, was loud also, George's manner was not specially
observed. It was past ten before they got up from the table, and
nearly eleven before George was able to whisper a word to the
Baronet. He almost shirked it for that night, and would have done so
had he not remembered how necessary it was that Emily should know
that his pluck was good. Of course she would be asked to abandon him.
Of course she would be told that it was her duty to give him up. Of
course she would give him up unless he could get such a hold upon her
heart as to make her doing so impossible to her. She would have to
learn that he was an unprincipled spendthrift,--nay worse than that,
as he hardly scrupled to tell himself. But he need not weight his own
character with the further burden of cowardice. The Baronet could
not eat him, and he would not be afraid of the Baronet. "Sir Harry,"
he whispered, "could you give me a minute or two before we go to
bed?" Sir Harry started as though he had been stung, and looked his
cousin sharply in the face without answering him. George kept his
countenance, and smiled.

"I won't keep you long," he said.

"You had better come to my room," said Sir Harry, gruffly, and
led the way into his own sanctum. When there, he sat down in his
accustomed arm-chair without offering George a seat, but George soon
found a seat for himself. "And now what is it?" said Sir Harry, with
his blackest frown.

"I have asked my cousin to be my wife."

"What! Emily?"

"Yes, Emily; and she has consented. I now ask for your approval." We
must give Cousin George his due, and acknowledge that he made his
little request exactly as he would have done had he been master of
ten thousand a year of his own, quite unencumbered.

"What right had you, sir, to speak to her without coming to me
first?"

"One always does, I think, go to the girl first," said George.

"You have disgraced yourself, sir, and outraged my hospitality. You
are no gentleman!"

"Sir Harry, that is strong language."

"Strong! Of course it is strong. I mean it to be strong. I shall make
it stronger yet if you attempt to say another word to her."

"Look here, Sir Harry, I am bound to bear a good deal from you, but I
have a right to explain."

"You have a right, sir, to go away from this, and go away you shall."

"Sir Harry, you have told me that I am not a gentleman."

"You have abused my kindness to you. What right have you, who have
not a shilling in the world, to speak to my daughter? I won't have
it, and let that be an end of it. I won't have it. And I must desire
that you will leave Humblethwaite to-morrow. I won't have it."

"It is quite true that I have not a shilling."

"Then what business have you to speak to my daughter?"

"Because I have that which is worth many shillings, and which you
value above all your property. I am the heir to your name and title.
When you are gone, I must be the head of this family. I do not in the
least quarrel with you for choosing to leave your property to your
own child, but I have done the best I could to keep the property and
the title together. I love my cousin."

"I don't believe in your love, sir."

"If that is all, I do not doubt but that I can satisfy you."

"It is not all; and it is not half all. And it isn't because you are
a pauper. You know it all as well as I do, without my telling you,
but you drive me to tell you."

"Know what, sir?"

"Though you hadn't a shilling, you should have had her if you could
win her,--had your life been even fairly decent. The title must go to
you,--worse luck for the family. You can talk well enough, and what
you say is true. I would wish that they should go together."

"Of course it will be better."

"But, sir,--" then Sir Henry paused.

"Well, Sir Harry?"

"You oblige me to speak out. You are such a one, that I do not dare
to let you have my child. Your life is so bad, that I should not be
justified in doing so for any family purpose. You would break her
heart."

"You wrong me there, altogether."

"You are a gambler."

"I have been, Sir Harry."

"And a spendthrift?"

"Well--yes; as long as I had little or nothing to spend."

"I believe you are over head and ears in debt now, in spite of the
assistance you have had from me within twelve months."

Cousin George remembered the advice which had been given him, that
he should conceal nothing from his cousin. "I do owe some money
certainly," he said.

"And how do you mean to pay it?"

"Well--if I marry Emily, I suppose that--you will pay it."

"That's cool, at any rate."

"What can I say, Sir Harry?"

"I would pay it all, though it were to half the property--"

"Less than a year's income would clear off every shilling I owe, Sir
Harry."

"Listen to me, sir. Though it were ten years' income, I would pay it
all, if I thought that the rest would be kept with the title, and
that my girl would be happy."

"I will make her happy."

"But, sir, it is not only that you are a gambler and spendthrift,
and an unprincipled debtor without even a thought of paying. You are
worse than this. There;--I am not going to call you names. I know
what you are, and you shall not have my daughter."

George Hotspur found himself compelled to think for a few moments
before he could answer a charge so vague, and yet, as he knew, so
well founded. Nevertheless he felt that he was progressing. His debts
would not stand in his way, if only he could make this rich father
believe that in other matters his daughter would not be endangered by
the marriage. "I don't quite know what you mean, Sir Harry. I am not
going to defend myself. I have done much of which I am ashamed. I was
turned very young upon the world, and got to live with rich people
when I was myself poor. I ought to have withstood the temptation,
but I didn't, and I got into bad hands. I don't deny it. There is a
horrid Jew has bills of mine now."

"What have you done with that five thousand pounds?"

"He had half of it; and I had to settle for the last Leger, which
went against me."

"It is all gone?"

"Pretty nearly. I don't pretend but what I have been very reckless as
to money; I am ready to tell you the truth about everything. I don't
say that I deserve her; but I do say this,--that I should not have
thought of winning her, in my position, had it not been for the
title. Having that in my favour I do not think that I was misbehaving
to you in proposing to her. If you will trust me now, I will be as
grateful and obedient a son as any man ever had."

He had pleaded his cause well, and he knew it. Sir Harry also felt
that his cousin had made a better case than he would have believed
to be possible. He was quite sure that the man was a scamp, utterly
untrustworthy, and yet the man's pleading for himself had been
efficacious. He sat silent for full five minutes before he spoke
again, and then he gave judgment as follows: "You will go away
without seeing her to-morrow."

"If you wish it."

"And you will not write to her."

"Only a line."

"Not a word," said Sir Harry, imperiously.

"Only a line, which I will give open to you. You can do with it as
you please."

"And as you have forced upon me the necessity, I shall make inquiries
in London as to your past life. I have heard things which perhaps may
be untrue."

"What things, Sir Harry?"

"I shall not demean myself or injure you by repeating them, unless
I find cause to believe they are true. I do believe that the result
will be such as to make me feel that in justice to my girl I cannot
allow you to become her husband. I tell you so fairly. Should the
debts you owe be simple debts, not dishonourably contracted, I will
pay them."

"And then she shall be mine?"

"I will make no such promise. You had better go now. You can have
the carriage to Penrith as early as you please in the morning; or to
Carlisle if you choose to go north. I will make your excuses to Lady
Elizabeth. Good night."

Cousin George stood for a second in doubt, and then shook hands with
the Baronet. He reached Penrith the next morning soon after ten, and
breakfasted alone at the hotel.

There were but very few words spoken on the occasion between the
father and daughter, but Emily did succeed in learning pretty nearly
the truth of what had taken place. On the Monday her mother gave her
the following note:--


   DEAREST,--At your father's bidding, I have gone suddenly.
   You will understand why I have done so. I shall try to do
   just as he would have me; but you will, I know, be quite
   sure that I should never give you up.--Yours for ever and
   ever,

   G. H.


The father had thought much of it, and at last had determined that
Emily should have the letter.

In the course of the week there came other guests to Humblethwaite,
and it so chanced that there was a lady who knew the Altringhams,
who had unfortunately met the Altringhams at Goodwood, and who, most
unfortunately, stated in Emily's hearing that she had seen George
Hotspur at Goodwood.

"He was not there," said Emily, quite boldly.

"Oh, yes; with the Altringhams, as usual. He is always with them at
Goodwood."

"He was not at the last meeting," said Emily, smiling.

The lady said nothing till her lord was present, and then appealed to
him. "Frank, didn't you see George Hotspur with the Altringhams at
Goodwood, last July?"

"To be sure I did, and lost a pony to him on Eros."

The lady looked at Emily, who said nothing further; but she was still
quite convinced that George Hotspur had not been at those Goodwood
races.

It is so hard, when you have used a lie commodiously, to bury it, and
get well rid of it.



CHAPTER X.

MR. HART AND CAPTAIN STUBBER.


When George Hotspur left Humblethwaite, turned out of the house
by the angry Baronet early in the morning,--as the reader will
remember,--he was at his own desire driven to Penrith, choosing to
go south rather than north. He had doubted for a while as to his
immediate destination. The Altringhams were still at Castle Corry,
and he might have received great comfort from her ladyship's advice
and encouragement. But, intimate as he was with the Altringhams, he
did not dare to take a liberty with the Earl. A certain allowance of
splendid hospitality at Castle Corry was at his disposal every year,
and Lord Altringham always welcomed him with thorough kindness. But
George Hotspur had in some fashion been made to understand that he
was not to overstay his time; and he was quite aware that the Earl
could be very disagreeable upon occasions. There was a something in
the Earl of which George was afraid; and, to tell the truth, he did
not dare to go back to Castle Corry. And then, might it not be well
for him to make immediate preparation in London for those inquiries
respecting his debts and his character which Sir Harry had decided
to make? It would be very difficult for him to make any preparation
that could lead to a good result; but if no preparation were made,
the result would be very bad indeed. It might perhaps be possible
to do something with Mr. Hart and Captain Stubber. He had no other
immediate engagements. In October he was due to shoot pheasants with
a distinguished party in Norfolk, but this business which he had now
in hand was of so much importance that even the pheasant-shooting and
the distinguished party were not of much moment to him.

He went to Penrith, and thence direct to London. It was the habit of
his life to give up his London lodgings when he left town at the end
of the season, and spare himself the expense of any home as long as
he could find friends to entertain him. There are certain items of
the cost of living for which the greatest proficient in the art of
tick must pay, or he will come to a speedy end;--and a man's lodging
is one of them. If indeed the spendthrift adapts himself to the
splendour of housekeeping, he may, provided his knowledge of his
business be complete, and his courage adequate, house himself
gloriously for a year or two with very small payment in ready money.
He may even buy a mansion with an incredibly small outlay, and, when
once in it, will not easily allow himself to be extruded. George
Hotspur, however, not from any want of knowledge or of audacity, but
from the nature of the life he chose to lead, had abstained from such
investment of his credit, and had paid for his lodgings in St. James'
Street. He was consequently houseless at the moment, and on his
arrival in London took himself to an hotel close behind the military
club to which he belonged.

At this moment he was comparatively a rich man. He had between three
and four hundred pounds at a bank at which he kept an account when
possessed of funds. But demands upon him were very pressing, and
there was a certain Captain Stubber who was bitter against him,
almost to blood, because one Mr. Abraham Hart had received two
thousand pounds from the proceeds of Sir Harry's generosity. Captain
Stubber had not received a shilling, and had already threatened
Cousin George with absolute exposure if something were not done to
satisfy him.

George, when he had ordered his dinner at his club, wrote the
following letter to Lady Altringham. He had intended to write from
Penrith in the morning, but when there had been out of sorts and
unhappy, and had disliked to confess, after his note of triumph
sounded on the previous evening, that he had been turned out of
Humblethwaite. He had got over that feeling during the day, with
the help of sundry glasses of sherry and a little mixed curaçoa and
brandy which he took immediately on his arrival in London,--and, so
supported, made a clean breast of it, as the reader shall see.


   DEAR LADY A., [he said]--Here I am, back in town, banished
   from heaven. My darling, gentle, future papa-in-law
   gave me to understand, when I told him the extent of my
   hopes last night, that the outside of the park-gates at
   Humblethwaite was the place for me; nevertheless he sent
   me to Penrith with the family horses, and, taking it as
   a whole, I think that my interview with him, although
   very disagreeable, was not unsatisfactory. I told him
   everything that I could tell him. He was kind enough to
   call me a blackguard (!!!) because I had gone to Emily
   without speaking to him first. On such occasions, however,
   a man takes anything. I ventured to suggest that what I
   had done was not unprecedented among young people, and
   hinted that while he could make me the future master of
   Humblethwaite, I could make my cousin the future Lady
   Hotspur; and that in no other way could Humblethwaite and
   the Hotspurs be kept together. It was wonderful how he
   cooled down after a while, saying that he would pay all my
   debts if he found them--satisfactory. I can only say that
   I never found them so.

   It ended in this--that he is to make inquiry about me, and
   that I am to have my cousin unless I am found out to be
   very bad indeed. How or when the inquiries will be made I
   do not know; but I am here to prepare for them.

   Yours always most faithfully,

   G. H.

   I do not like to ask Altringham to do anything for me. No
   man ever had a kinder friend than I have had in him, and
   I know he objects to meddle in the money matters of other
   people. But if he could lend me his name for a thousand
   pounds till I can get these things settled, I believe
   I could get over every other difficulty. I should as a
   matter of course include the amount in the list of debts
   which I should give to Sir Harry; but the sum at once,
   which I could raise on his name without trouble to him,
   would enable me to satisfy the only creditor who will be
   likely to do me real harm with Sir Harry. I think you
   will understand all this, and will perceive how very
   material the kindness to me may be; but if you think that
   Altringham will be unwilling to do it, you had better not
   show him this letter.


It was the mixed curaçoa and brandy which gave George Hotspur the
courage to make the request contained in his postscript. He had not
intended to make it when he sat down to write, but as he wrote the
idea had struck him that if ever a man ought to use a friend this was
an occasion for doing so. If he could get a thousand pounds from Lord
Altringham, he might be able to stop Captain Stubber's mouth. He did
not believe that he should be successful, and he thought it probable
that Lord Altringham might express vehement displeasure. But the
game was worth the candle, and then he knew that he could trust the
Countess.

London was very empty, and he passed a wretched evening at his club.
There were not men enough to make up a pool, and he was obliged to
content himself with a game of billiards with an old half-pay naval
captain, who never left London, and who would bet nothing beyond
a shilling on the game. The half-pay navy captain won four games,
thereby paying for his dinner, and then Cousin George went sulkily to
bed.

He had come up to town expressly to see Captain Stubber and Mr. Hart,
and perhaps also to see another friend from whom some advice might
be had; but on the following morning he found himself very averse to
seeking any of these advisers. He had applied to Lady Altringham for
assistance, and he told himself that it would be wise to wait for her
answer. And yet he knew that it would not be wise to wait, as Sir
Harry would certainly be quick in making his promised inquiries. For
four days he hung about between his hotel and his club, and then he
got Lady Altringham's answer. We need only quote the passage which
had reference to George's special request:--


   Gustavus says that he will have nothing to do with money.
   You know his feelings about it. And he says that it would
   do no good. Whatever the debts are, tell them plainly to
   Sir Harry. If this be some affair of play, as Gustavus
   supposes, tell that to Sir Harry. Gustavus thinks that the
   Baronet would without doubt pay any such debt which could
   be settled or partly settled by a thousand pounds.


"D----d heartless, selfish fellow! quite incapable of anything like
true friendship," said Cousin George to himself, when he read Lady
Altringham's letter.

Now he must do something. Hitherto neither Stubber, nor Hart, nor the
other friend knew of his presence in London. Hart, though a Jew, was
much less distasteful to him than Captain Stubber, and to Mr. Abraham
Hart he went first.

Mr. Abraham Hart was an attorney,--so called by himself and
friends,--living in a genteel street abutting on Gray's Inn Road,
with whose residence and place of business, all beneath the same
roof, George Hotspur was very well acquainted. Mr. Hart was a man
in the prime of life, with black hair and a black beard, and a new
shining hat, and a coat with a velvet collar and silk lining. He was
always dressed in the same way, and had never yet been seen by Cousin
George without his hat on his head. He was a pleasant-spoken, very
ignorant, smiling, jocose man, with a slightly Jewish accent, who
knew his business well, pursued it diligently, and considered himself
to have a clear conscience. He had certain limits of forbearance
with his customers--limits which were not narrow; but, when those
were passed, he would sell the bed from under a dying woman with her
babe, or bread from the mouth of a starving child. To do so was the
necessity of his trade,--for his own guidance in which he had made
laws. The breaking of those laws by himself would bring his trade to
an end, and therefore he declined to break them.

Mr. Hart was a man who attended to his business, and he was found at
home even in September. "Yes, Mr. 'Oshspur, it's about time something
was done now; ain't it?" said Mr. Hart, smiling pleasantly.

Cousin George, also smiling, reminded his friend of the two thousand
pounds paid to him only a few months since. "Not a shilling was
mine of that, Captain 'Oshspur, not a brass fardin'. That was quite
neshesshary just then, as you know, Captain 'Oshspur, or the fat must
have been in the fire. And what's up now?"

Not without considerable difficulty Cousin George explained to the
Jew gentleman what was "up." He probably assumed more inclination on
the part of Sir Harry for the match than he was justified in doing;
but was very urgent in explaining to Mr. Hart that when inquiry was
made on the part of Sir Harry as to the nature of the debt, the naked
truth should not be exactly told.

"It was very bad, vasn't it, Captain 'Oshspur, having to divide with
that fellow Stubber the money from the 'Orse Guards? You vas too
clever for both of us there, Mr. 'Oshspur; veren't you now, Captain
'Oshspur? And I've two cheques still on my 'ands which is marked 'No
account!' 'No account' is very bad. Isn't 'No account' very bad on
a cheque, Captain 'Oshspur? And then I've that cheque on Drummond,
signed;--God knows how that is signed! There ain't no such person
at all. Baldebeque! That's more like it than nothing else. When you
brought me that, I thought there vas a Lord Baldebeque; and I know
you live among lords, Captain 'Oshspur."

"On my honour I brought it you,--just as I took it at Tattersall's."

"There was an expert as I showed it to says it is your handwriting,
Captain 'Oshspur."

"He lies!" said Cousin George, fiercely.

"But when Stubber would have half the sale money, for the
commission--and wanted it all too! lord, how he did curse and swear!
That was bad, Captain 'Oshspur."

Then Cousin George swallowed his fierceness for a time, and proceeded
to explain to Mr. Hart that Sir Harry would certainly pay all his
debts if only those little details could be kept back to which Mr.
Hart had so pathetically alluded. Above all it would be necessary to
preserve in obscurity that little mistake which had been made as to
the pawning of the commission. Cousin George told a great many lies,
but he told also much that was true. The Jew did not believe one of
the lies; but then, neither did he believe much of the truth. When
George had finished his story, then Mr. Hart had a story of his own
to tell.

"To let you know all about it, Captain 'Oshspur, the old gent has
begun about it already."

"What, Sir Harry?"

"Yes, Sir 'Arry. Mr. Boltby--"

"He's the family lawyer."

"I suppose so, Captain 'Oshspur. Vell, he vas here yesterday, and vas
very polite. If I'd just tell him all about everything, he thought
as 'ow the Baronet would settle the affair off 'and. He vas very
generous in his offer, vas Mr. Boltby; but he didn't say nothin' of
any marriage, Captain 'Oshspur."

"Of course he didn't. You are not such a fool as to suppose he
would."

"No; I ain't such a fool as I looks, Captain Oshspur, am I? I didn't
think it likely, seeing vat vas the nature of his interrogatories.
Mr. Boltby seemed to know a good deal. It is astonishing how much
them fellows do know."

"You didn't tell him anything?"

"Not much, Captain 'Oshspur--not at fust starting. I'm a going to
have my money, you know, Captain 'Oshspur. And if I see my vay to my
money one vay, and if I don't see no vay the other vay, vy, vhat's
a man to do? You can't blame me, Captain 'Oshspur. I've been very
indulgent with you; I have, Captain 'Oshspur."

Cousin George promised, threatened, explained, swore by all his
gods, and ended by assuring Mr. Abraham Hart that his life and death
were in that gentleman's keeping. If Mr. Hart would only not betray
him, the money would be safe and the marriage would be safe, and
everything would easily come right. Over and above other things,
Cousin George would owe to Mr. Abraham Hart a debt of gratitude which
never would be wholly paid. Mr. Hart could only say that he meant to
have his money, but that he did not mean to be "ungenteel." Much in
his opinion must depend on what Stubber would do. As for Stubber,
he couldn't speak to Stubber himself, as he and Stubber "were two."
As for himself, if he could get his money he certainly would not be
"ungenteel." And he meant what he said--meant more than he said. He
would still run some risk rather than split on an old customer such
as "Captain 'Oshspur." But now that a sudden way to his money was
opened to him, he could not undertake to lose sight of it.

With a very heavy heart Cousin George went from Mr. Hart's house to
the house of call of Captain Stubber. Mr. Boltby had been before him
with Hart, and he augured the worst from Sir Harry's activity in the
matter. If Mr. Boltby had already seen the Captain, all his labour
would probably be too late. Where Captain Stubber lived, even so
old a friend of his as Cousin George did not know. And in what way
Captain Stubber had become a captain, George, though he had been a
military man himself, had never learned. But Captain Stubber had a
house of call in a very narrow, dirty little street near Red Lion
Square. It was close to a public-house, but did not belong to the
public-house. George Hotspur, who had been very often to the place
of call, had never seen there any appurtenances of the Captain's
business. There were no account-books, no writing-table, no ink even,
except that contained in a little box with a screw, which Captain
Stubber would take out of his own pocket. Mr. Hart was so far
established and civilized as to keep a boy whom he called a clerk;
but Captain Stubber seemed to keep nothing. A dirty little girl at
the house of call would run and fetch Captain Stubber, if he were
within reach; but most usually an appointment had to be made with
the Captain. Cousin George well remembered the day when his brother
Captain first made his acquaintance. About two years after the
commencement of his life in London, Captain Stubber had had an
interview with him in the little waiting-room just within the club
doors. Captain Stubber then had in his possession a trumpery note of
hand with George's signature, which, as he stated, he had "done" for
a small tradesman with whom George had been fool enough to deal for
cigars. From that day to the present he and Captain Stubber had been
upon most intimate and confidential terms. If there was any one in
the world whom Cousin George really hated, it was Captain Stubber.

On this occasion Captain Stubber was forthcoming after a delay of
about a quarter of an hour. During that time Cousin George had stood
in the filthy little parlour of the house of call in a frame of mind
which was certainly not to be envied. Had Mr. Boltby also been with
Captain Stubber? He knew his two creditors well enough to understand
that the Jew, getting his money, would be better pleased to serve
him than to injure him. But the Captain would from choice do him an
ill turn. Nothing but self-interest would tie up Captain Stubber's
tongue. Captain Stubber was a tall thin gentleman, probably over
sixty years of age, with very seedy clothes, and a red nose. He
always had Berlin gloves, very much torn about the fingers, carried
a cotton umbrella, wore--as his sole mark of respectability--a very
stiff, clean, white collar round his neck, and invariably smelt of
gin. No one knew where he lived, or how he carried on his business;
but, such as he was, he had dealings with large sums of money, or at
least with bills professing to stand for large sums, and could never
have been found without a case in his pocket crammed with these
documents. The quarter of an hour seemed to George to be an age; but
at last Captain Stubber knocked at the front door and was shown into
the room.

"How d'ye do, Captain Stubber?" said George.

"I'd do a deal better, Captain Hotspur, if I found it easier
sometimes to come by my own."

"Well, yes; but no doubt you have your profit in the delay, Captain
Stubber."

"It's nothing to you, Captain Hotspur, whether I have profit or loss.
All you 'as got to look to is to pay me what you owe me. And I intend
that you shall, or by G---- you shall suffer for it! I'm not going to
stand it any longer. I know where to have you, and have you I will."

Cousin George was not quite sure whether the Captain did know where
to have him. If Mr. Boltby had been with him, it might be so; but
then Captain Stubber was not a man so easily found as Mr. Hart, and
the connection between himself and the Captain might possibly have
escaped Mr. Boltby's inquiries. It was very difficult to tell the
story of his love to such a man as Captain Stubber, but he did tell
it. He explained all the difficulties of Sir Harry's position in
regard to the title and the property, and he was diffuse upon his own
advantages as head of the family, and of the need there was that he
should marry the heiress.

"But there is not an acre of it will come to you unless he gives it
you?" inquired Captain Stubber.

"Certainly not," said Cousin George, anxious that the Captain should
understand the real facts of the case to a certain extent.

"And he needn't give you the girl?"

"The girl will give herself, my friend."

"And he needn't give the girl the property?"

"But he will. She is his only child."

"I don't believe a word about it. I don't believe such a one as Sir
Harry Hotspur would lift his hand to help such as you."

"He has offered to pay my debts already."

"Very well. Let him make the offer to me. Look here, Captain Hotspur,
I am not a bit afraid of you, you know."

"Who asks you to be afraid?"

"Of all the liars I ever met with, you are the worst."

George Hotspur smiled, looking up at the red nose of the malignant
old man as though it were a joke; but that which he had to hear at
this moment was a heavy burden. Captain Stubber probably understood
this, for he repeated his words.

"I never knew any liar nigh so bad as you. And then there is such a
deal worse than lies. I believe I could send you to penal servitude,
Captain Hotspur."

"You could do no such thing," said Cousin George, still trying to
look as though it were a joke, "and you don't think you could."

"I'll do my best at any rate, if I don't have my money soon. You
could pay Mr. Hart two thousand pounds, but you think I'm nobody."

"I am making arrangements now for having every shilling paid to you."

"Yes, I see. I've known a good deal about your arrangements. Look
here, Captain Hotspur, unless I have five hundred pounds on or before
Saturday, I'll write to Sir Harry Hotspur, and I'll give him a
statement of all our dealings. You can trust me, though I can't trust
you. Good morning, Captain Hotspur."

Captain Stubber did believe in his heart that he was a man much
injured by Cousin George, and that Cousin George was one whom he was
entitled to despise. And yet a poor wretch more despicable, more
dishonest, more false, more wicked, or more cruel than Captain
Stubber could not have been found in all London. His business
was carried on with a small capital borrowed from a firm of low
attorneys, who were the real holders of the bills he carried, and the
profits which they allowed him to make were very trifling. But from
Cousin George during the last twelve months he had made no profit at
all. And Cousin George in former days had trodden upon him as on a
worm.

Cousin George did not fail to perceive that Mr. Boltby had not as yet
applied to Captain Stubber.



CHAPTER XI.

MRS. MORTON.


Five hundred pounds before Saturday, and this was Tuesday! As Cousin
George was taken westward from Red Lion Square in a cab, three or
four different lines of conduct suggested themselves to him. In the
first place, it would be a very good thing to murder Captain Stubber.
In the present effeminate state of civilization and with the existing
scruples as to the value of human life, he did not see his way
clearly in this direction, but entertained the project rather as a
beautiful castle in the air. The two next suggestions were to pay him
the money demanded, or to pay him half of it. The second suggestion
was the simpler, as the state of Cousin George's funds made it
feasible; but then that brute would probably refuse to take the half
in lieu of the whole when he found that his demand had absolutely
produced a tender of ready cash. As for paying the whole, it might
perhaps be done. It was still possible that, with such prospects
before him as those he now possessed, he could raise a hundred or
hundred and fifty pounds; but then he would be left penniless. The
last course of action which he contemplated was, to take no further
notice of Captain Stubber, and let him tell his story to Sir Harry if
he chose to tell it. The man was such a blackguard that his entire
story would probably not be believed; and then was it not almost
necessary that Sir Harry should hear it? Of course there would be
anger, and reproaches, and threats, and difficulty. But if Emily
would be true to him, they might all by degrees be levelled down.
This latter line of conduct would be practicable, and had this
beautiful attraction,--that it would save for his own present use
that charming balance of ready money which he still possessed. Had
Altringham possessed any true backbone of friendship, he might now,
he thought, have been triumphant over all his difficulties.

When he sat down to his solitary dinner at his club, he was very
tired with his day's work. Attending to the affairs of such gentlemen
as Mr. Hart and Captain Stubber,--who well know how to be masterful
when their time for being masterful has come,--is fatiguing enough.
But he had another task to perform before he went to bed, which he
would fain have kept unperformed were it possible to do so. He had
written to a third friend to make an appointment for the evening,
and this appointment he was bound to keep. He would very much rather
have stayed at his club and played billiards with the navy captain,
even though he might again have lost his shillings. The third friend
was that Mrs. Morton to whom Lord Altringham had once alluded.
"I supposed that it was coming," said Mrs. Morton, when she had
listened, without letting a word fall from her own lips, to the long
rambling story which Cousin George told her,--a rambling story in
which there were many lies, but in which there was the essential
truth, that Cousin George intended, if other things could be made to
fit, to marry his cousin Emily Hotspur. Mrs. Morton was a woman who
had been handsome,--dark, thin, with great brown eyes and thin lips
and a long well-formed nose; she was in truth three years younger
than George Hotspur, but she looked to be older. She was a clever
woman and well read too, and in every respect superior to the man
whom she had condescended to love. She earned her bread by her
profession as an actress, and had done so since her earliest years.
What story there may be of a Mr. Morton who had years ago married,
and ill-used, and deserted her, need not here be told. Her strongest
passion at this moment was love for the cold-blooded reprobate who
had now come to tell her of his intended marriage. She had indeed
loved George Hotspur, and George had been sufficiently attached to
her to condescend to take aid from her earnings.

"I supposed that it was coming," she said in a low voice when he
brought to an end the rambling story which she had allowed him to
tell without a word of interruption.

"What is a fellow to do?" said George.

"Is she handsome?"

George thought that he might mitigate the pain by making little of
his cousin. "Well, no, not particularly. She looks like a lady."

"And I suppose I don't." For a moment there was a virulence in this
which made poor George almost gasp. This woman was patient to a
marvel, long-bearing, affectionate, imbued with that conviction
so common to woman and the cause of so much delight to men,--that
ill-usage and suffering are intended for woman; but George knew that
she could turn upon him if goaded far enough, and rend him. He could
depend upon her for very much, because she loved him; but he was
afraid of her. "You didn't mean that, I know," she added, smiling.

"Of course I didn't."

"No; your cruelties don't lie in that line; do they, George?"

"I'm sure I never mean to be cruel to you, Lucy."

"I don't think you do. I hardly believe that you ever mean
anything,--except just to get along and live."

"A fellow must live, you know," said George.

In ordinary society George Hotspur could be bright, and he was proud
of being bright. With this woman he was always subdued, always made
to play second fiddle, always talked like a boy; and he knew it. He
had loved her once, if he was capable of loving anything; but her
mastery over him wearied him, even though he was, after a fashion,
proud of her cleverness, and he wished that she were,--well, dead, if
the reader choose that mode of expressing what probably were George's
wishes. But he had never told himself that he desired her death. He
could build pleasant castles in the air as to the murder of Captain
Stubber, but his thoughts did not travel that way in reference to
Mrs. Morton.

"She is not pretty, then,--this rich bride of yours?"

"Not particularly; she's well enough, you know."

"And well enough is good enough for you;--is it? Do you love her,
George?"

The woman's voice was very low and plaintive as she asked the
question. Though from moment to moment she could use her little skill
in pricking him with her satire, still she loved him; and she would
vary her tone, and as at one minute she would make him uneasy by her
raillery, so at the next she would quell him by her tenderness. She
looked into his face for a reply, when he hesitated. "Tell me that
you do not love her," she said, passionately.

"Not particularly," replied George.

"And yet you would marry her?"

"What's a fellow to do? You see how I am fixed about the title. These
are kinds of things to which a man situated as I am is obliged to
submit."

"Royal obligations, as one might call them."

"By George, yes," said George, altogether missing the satire. From
any other lips he would have been sharp enough to catch it. "One
can't see the whole thing go to the dogs after it has kept its head
up so long! And then you know, a man can't live altogether without an
income."

"You have done so, pretty well."

"I know that I owe you a lot of money, Lucy; and I know also that I
mean to pay you."

"Don't talk about that. I don't know how at such a time as this you
can bring yourself to mention it." Then she rose from her seat and
flashed into wrath, carried on by the spirit of her own words. "Look
here, George; if you send me any of that woman's money, by the living
God I will send it back to herself. To buy me with her money! But it
is so like a man."

"I didn't mean that. Sir Harry is to pay all my debts."

"And will not that be the same? Will it not be her money? Why is he
to pay your debts? Because he loves you?"

"It is all a family arrangement. You don't quite understand."

"Of course I don't understand. Such a one as I cannot lift myself so
high above the earth. Great families form a sort of heaven of their
own, which poor broken, ill-conditioned, wretched, common creatures
such as I am cannot hope to comprehend. But, by heaven, what a lot of
the vilest clay goes to the making of that garden of Eden! Look here,
George;--you have nothing of your own?"

"Not much, indeed."

"Nothing. Is not that so? You can answer me at any rate."

"You know all about it," he said,--truly enough, for she did know.

"And you cannot earn a penny."

"I don't know that I can. I never was very good at earning anything."

"It isn't gentlemanlike, is it? But I can earn money."

"By George! yes. I've often envied you. I have indeed."

"How flattering! As far as it went you should have had it
all,--nearly all,--if you could have been true to me."

"But, Lucy,--about the family?"

"And about your debts? Of course I couldn't pay debts which were
always increasing. And of course your promises for the future were
false. We both knew that they were false when they were made. Did
we not?" She paused for an answer, but he made none. "They meant
nothing; did they? He is dead now."

"Morton is dead?"

"Yes; he died in San Francisco, months ago."

"I couldn't have known that, Lucy; could I?"

"Don't be a fool! What difference would it have made? Don't pretend
anything so false. It would be disgusting on the very face of it. It
mattered nothing to you whether he lived or died. When is it to be?"

"When is what to be?"

"Your marriage with this ill-looking young woman, who has got money,
but whom you do not even pretend to love."

It struck even George that this was a way in which Emily Hotspur
should not be described. She had been acknowledged to be the beauty
of the last season, one of the finest girls that had ever been seen
about London; and, as for loving her,--he did love her. A man might
be fond of two dogs, or have two pet horses, and why shouldn't he
love two women! Of course he loved his cousin. But his circumstances
at the moment were difficult, and he didn't quite know how to explain
all this.

"When is it to be?" she said, urging her question imperiously.

In answer to this he gave her to understand that there was still a
good deal of difficulty. He told her something of his position with
Captain Stubber, and defined,--not with absolute correctness,--the
amount of consent which Sir Harry had given to the marriage.

"And what am I to do?" she asked.

He looked blankly into her face. She then rose again, and unlocking a
desk with a key that hung at her girdle, she took from it a bundle of
papers.

"There," she said; "there is the letter in which I have your promise
to marry me when I am free;--as I am now. It could not be less
injurious to you than when locked up there; but the remembrance of
it might frighten you." She threw the letter to him across the table,
but he did not touch it. "And here are others which might be taken to
mean the same thing. There! I am not so injured as I might seem to
be,--for I never believed them. How could I believe anything that you
would say to me,--anything that you would write?"

"Don't be down on me too hard, Lucy."

"No, I will not be down upon you at all. If these things pained you,
I would not say them. Shall I destroy the letters?" Then she took
them, one after another, and tore them into small fragments. "You
will be easier now, I know."

"Easy! I am not very easy, I can tell you."

"Captain Stubber will not let you off so gently as I do. Is that it?"

Then there was made between them a certain pecuniary arrangement,
which if Mrs. Morton trusted at all the undertaking made to her,
showed a most wonderful faith on her part. She would lend him £250
towards the present satisfaction of Captain Stubber; and this sum, to
be lent for such a purpose, she would consent to receive back again
out of Sir Harry's money. She must see a certain manager, she said;
but she did not doubt but that her loan would be forthcoming on the
Saturday morning. Captain George Hotspur accepted the offer, and was
profuse in his thanks. After that, when he was going, her weakness
was almost equal to his vileness.

"You will come and see me," she said, as she held his hand. Again he
paused a moment. "George, you will come and see me?"

"Oh, of course I will."

"A great deal I can bear; a great deal I have borne; but do not be
a coward. I knew you before she did, and have loved you better, and
have treated you better than ever she will do. Of course you will
come?"

He promised her that he would, and then went from her.

On the Saturday morning Captain Stubber was made temporarily happy by
the most unexpected receipt of five hundred pounds.



CHAPTER XII.

THE HUNT BECOMES HOT.


September passed away with Captain Hotspur very unpleasantly. He had
various interviews with Captain Stubber, with Mr. Hart, and with
other creditors, and found very little amusement. Lady Altringham
had written to him again, advising him strongly to make out a
complete list of his debts, and to send them boldly to Sir Harry. He
endeavoured to make out the list, but had hardly the audacity to do
it even for his own information. When the end of September had come,
and he was preparing himself to join the party of distinguished
pheasant-shooters in Norfolk, he had as yet sent no list to
Sir Harry, nor had he heard a word from Humblethwaite. Certain
indications had reached him,--continued to reach him from day to
day,--that Mr. Boltby was at work, but no communication had been made
actually to himself even by Mr. Boltby. When and how and in what form
he was expected to send the schedule of his debts to Sir Harry he
did not know; and thus it came to pass that when the time came for
his departure from town, he had sent no such schedule at all. His
sojourn, however, with the distinguished party was to last only for a
week, and then he would really go to work. He would certainly himself
write to Sir Harry before the end of October.

In the meantime there came other troubles,--various other troubles.
One other trouble vexed him sore. There came to him a note from a
gentleman with whom his acquaintance was familiar though slight,--as
follows:--


   DEAR HOTSPUR,--Did I not meet you at the last Goodwood
   meeting? If you don't mind, pray answer me the question.
   You will remember, I do not doubt, that I did; that I lost
   my money too, and paid it.--Yours ever,

   F. STACKPOOLE.


He understood it all immediately. The Stackpooles had been at
Humblethwaite. But what business had the man to write letters to him
with the object of getting him into trouble? He did not answer the
note, but, nevertheless, it annoyed him much. And then there was
another great vexation. He was now running low in funds for present
use. He had made what he feared was a most useless outlay in
satisfying Stubber's immediate greed for money, and the effect was,
that at the beginning of the last week in September he found himself
with hardly more than fifty sovereigns in his possession, which would
be considerably reduced before he could leave town. He had been worse
off before,--very much worse; but it was especially incumbent on him
now to keep up that look of high feather which cannot be maintained
in its proper brightness without ready cash. He must take a
man-servant with him among the distinguished guests; he must fee
gamekeepers, pay railway fares, and have loose cash about him for
a hundred purposes. He wished it to be known that he was going to
marry his cousin. He might find some friend with softer heart than
Altringham, who would lend him a few hundreds on being made to
believe in this brilliant destiny; but a roll of bank-notes in his
pocket would greatly aid him in making the destiny credible. Fifty
pounds, as he well knew, would melt away from him like snow. The
last fifty pounds of a thousand always goes quicker than any of the
nineteen other fifties.

Circumstances had made it impossible for him to attend the Leger
this year, but he had put a little money on it. The result had done
nothing for or against him,--except this, that whereas he received
between one and two hundred pounds, he conceived the idea of paying
only a portion of what he had lost. With reference to the remainder,
he wrote to ask his friend if it would be quite the same if the money
were paid at Christmas. If not, of course it should be sent at once.
The friend was one of the Altringham set, who had been at Castle
Corry, and who had heard of George's hopes in reference to his
cousin. George added a postscript to his letter: "This kind of thing
will be over for me very soon. I am to be a Benedict, and the house
of Humblethwaite and the title are to be kept together. I know you
will congratulate me. My cousin is a charming girl, and worth all
that I shall lose ten times over." It was impossible, he thought,
that the man should refuse him credit for eighty pounds till
Christmas, when the man should know that he was engaged to be married
to £20,000 a year! But the man did refuse. The man wrote back to say
that he did not understand this kind of thing at all, and that he
wanted his money at once. George Hotspur sent the man his money, not
without many curses on the illiberality of such a curmudgeon. Was it
not cruel that a fellow would not give him so trifling an assistance
when he wanted it so badly? All the world seemed to conspire to hurt
him just at this most critical moment of his life! In many of his
hardest emergencies for ready money he had gone to Mrs. Morton. But
even he felt that just at present he could not ask her for more.

Nevertheless, a certain amount of cash was made to be forthcoming
before he took his departure for Norfolk. In the course of the
preceding spring he had met a young gentleman in Mr. Hart's small
front parlour, who was there upon ordinary business. He was a young
gentleman with good prospects, and with some command of ready money;
but he liked to live, and would sometimes want Mr. Hart's assistance.
His name was Walker, and though he was not exactly one of that class
in which it delighted Captain Hotspur to move, nevertheless he was
not altogether disdained by that well-born and well-bred gentleman.
On the third of October, the day before he left London to join his
distinguished friends in Norfolk, George Hotspur changed a cheque
for nearly three hundred pounds at Mr. Walker's banker's. Poor Mr.
Walker! But Cousin George went down to Norfolk altogether in high
feather. If there were play, he would play. He would bet about
pulling straws if he could find an adversary to bet with him. He
could chink sovereigns about at his ease, at any rate, during the
week. Cousin George liked to chink sovereigns about at his ease. And
this point of greatness must be conceded to him,--that, however black
might loom the clouds of the coming sky, he could enjoy the sunshine
of the hour.

In the meantime Mr. Boltby was at work, and before Cousin George had
shot his last pheasant in such very good company, Sir Harry was up
in town assisting Mr. Boltby. How things had gone at Humblethwaite
between Sir Harry and his daughter must not be told on this page;
but the reader may understand that nothing had as yet occurred to
lessen Sir Harry's objection to the match. There had been some
correspondence between Sir Harry and Mr. Boltby, and Sir Harry had
come up to town. When the reader learns that on the very day on
which Cousin George and his servant were returning to London by the
express train from Norfolk, smoking many cigars and drinking many
glasses,--George of sherry, and the servant probably of beer and
spirits alternately,--each making himself happy with a novel;
George's novel being French, and that of the servant English
sensational,--the reader, when he learns that on this very day Sir
Harry had interviews with Captain Stubber and also with Mrs. Morton,
will be disposed to think that things were not going very well for
Cousin George. But then the reader does not as yet know the nature of
the persistency of Emily Hotspur.

What Sir Harry did with Captain Stubber need not be minutely
described. There can be no doubt that Cousin George was not spared by
the Captain, and that when he understood what might be the result of
telling the truth, he told all that he knew. In that matter of the
£500 Cousin George had really been ill-treated. The payment had done
him no sort of service whatever. Of Captain Stubber's interview with
Sir Harry nothing further need now be said. But it must be explained
that Sir Harry, led astray by defective information, made a mistake
in regard to Mrs. Morton, and found out his mistake. He did not much
like Mrs. Morton, but he did not leave her without an ample apology.
From Mrs. Morton he learned nothing whatever in regard to Cousin
George,--nothing but this, that Mrs. Morton did not deny that she
was acquainted with Captain Hotspur. Mr. Boltby had learned, however,
that Cousin George had drawn the money for a cheque payable to her
order, and he had made himself nearly certain of the very nature of
the transaction.

Early on the morning after George's return he was run to ground by
Mr. Boltby's confidential clerk, at the hotel behind the club. It
was so early, to George at least, that he was still in bed. But the
clerk, who had breakfasted at eight, been at his office by nine, and
had worked hard for two hours and a half since, did not think it at
all early. George, who knew that his pheasant-shooting pleasure was
past, and that immediate trouble was in store for him, had consoled
himself over-night with a good deal of curaçoa and seltzer and
brandy, and had taken these comforting potations after a bottle of
champagne. He was, consequently, rather out of sorts when he was run
to ground in his very bedroom by Boltby's clerk. He was cantankerous
at first, and told the clerk to go and be d----d. The clerk pleaded
Sir Harry. Sir Harry was in town, and wanted to see his cousin. A
meeting must, of course, be arranged. Sir Harry wished that it might
be in Mr. Boltby's private room. When Cousin George objected that he
did not choose to have any interview with Sir Harry in presence of
the lawyer, the clerk very humbly explained that the private room
would be exclusively for the service of the two gentlemen. Sick as he
was, Cousin George knew that nothing was to be gained by quarrelling
with Sir Harry. Though Sir Harry should ask for an interview in
presence of the Lord Mayor, he must go to it. He made the hour as
late as he could, and at last three o'clock was settled.

At one, Cousin George was at work upon his broiled bones and tea
laced with brandy, having begun his meal with soda and brandy. He was
altogether dissatisfied with himself. Had he known on the preceding
evening what was coming, he would have dined on a mutton chop and a
pint of sherry, and have gone to bed at ten o'clock. He looked at
himself in the glass, and saw that he was bloated and red,--and a
thing foul to behold. It was a matter of boast to him,--the most
pernicious boast that ever a man made,--that in twenty-four hours
he could rid himself of all outward and inward sign of any special
dissipation; but the twenty-four hours were needed, and now not
twelve were allowed him. Nevertheless, he kept his appointment. He
tried to invent some lie which he might send by a commissioner, and
which might not ruin him. But he thought upon the whole that it would
be safer for him to go.

When he entered the room he saw at a glance that there was to be
war,--war to the knife,--between him and Sir Harry. He perceived at
once that if it were worth his while to go on with the thing at all,
he must do so in sole dependence on the spirit and love of Emily
Hotspur. Sir Harry at their first greeting declined to shake hands
with him, and called him Captain Hotspur.

"Captain Hotspur," he said, "in a word, understand that there must be
no further question of a marriage between you and my daughter."

"Why not, Sir Harry?"

"Because, sir--" and then he paused--"I would sooner see my girl dead
at my feet than entrust her to such a one as you. It was true what
you said to me at Humblethwaite. There would have been something
very alluring to me in the idea of joining the property and the
title together. A man will pay much for such a whim. I would not
unwillingly have paid very much in money; but I am not so infamously
wicked as to sacrifice my daughter utterly by giving her to one so
utterly unworthy of her as you are."

"I told you that I was in debt, Sir Harry."

"I wanted no telling as to that; but I did want telling as to your
mode of life, and I have had it now. You had better not press me. You
had better see Mr. Boltby. He will tell you what I am willing to do
for you upon receiving your written assurance that you will never
renew your offer of marriage to Miss Hotspur."

"I cannot do that," said Cousin George, hoarsely.

"Then I shall leave you with your creditors to deal with as they
please. I have nothing further to suggest myself, and I would
recommend that you should see Mr. Boltby before you leave the
chambers."

"What does my cousin say?" he asked.

"Were you at Goodwood last meeting?" asked Sir Harry. "But of course
you were."

"I was," he answered. He was obliged to acknowledge so much, not
quite knowing what Stackpoole might have said or done. "But I can
explain that."

"There is no need whatever of any explanation. Do you generally
borrow money from such ladies as Mrs. Morton?" Cousin George blushed
when this question was asked, but made no answer to it. It was one
that he could not answer. "But it makes no difference, Captain
Hotspur. I mention these things only to let you feel that I know you.
I must decline any further speech with you. I strongly advise you to
see Mr. Boltby at once. Good afternoon."

So saying, the Baronet withdrew quickly, and Cousin George heard him
shut the door of the chambers.

After considering the matter for a quarter of an hour, Cousin George
made up his mind that he would see the lawyer. No harm could come
to him from seeing the lawyer. He was closeted with Mr. Boltby for
nearly an hour, and before he left the chamber had been forced to
confess to things of which he had not thought it possible that Mr.
Boltby should ever have heard. Mr. Boltby knew the whole story of
the money raised on the commission, of the liabilities to both Hart
and Stubber, and had acquainted himself with the history of Lord
Baldebeque's cheque. Mr. Boltby was not indignant, as had been Sir
Harry, but intimated it as a thing beyond dispute that a man who had
done such things as could be proved against Cousin George,--and as
would undoubtedly be proved against him if he would not give up his
pursuit of the heiress,--must be disposed of with severity, unless
he retreated at once of his own accord. Mr. Boltby did indeed hint
something about a criminal prosecution, and utter ruin,
and--incarceration.

But if George Hotspur would renounce his cousin utterly,--putting
his renunciation on paper,--Sir Harry would pay all his debts to the
extent of twenty thousand pounds, would allow him four hundred a year
on condition that he would live out of England, and would leave him a
further sum of twenty thousand pounds by his will, on condition that
no renewed cause of offence were given.

"You had better, perhaps, go home and think about it, Mr. Hotspur,"
said the lawyer. Cousin George did go away and think about it.



CHAPTER XIII.

"I WILL NOT DESERT HIM."


Sir Harry, before he had left Humblethwaite for London in October,
had heard enough of his cousin's sins to make him sure that the
match must be opposed with all his authority. Indeed he had so felt
from the first moment in which George had begun to tell him of
what had occurred at Airey Force. He had never thought that George
Hotspur would make a fitting husband for his daughter. But, without
so thinking, he had allowed his mind to dwell upon the outside
advantages of the connection, dreaming of a fitness which he knew did
not exist, till he had vacillated, and the evil thing had come upon
him. When the danger was so close upon him to make him see what it
was, to force him to feel what would be the misery threatened to his
daughter, to teach him to realize his own duty, he condemned himself
bitterly for his own weakness. Could any duty which he owed to the
world be so high or so holy as that which was due from him to his
child? He almost hated his name and title and position as he thought
of the evil that he had already done. Had his cousin George been in
no close succession to the title, would he have admitted a man of
whom he knew so much ill, and of whom he had never heard any good,
within his park palings? And then he could not but acknowledge to
himself that by asking such a one to his house,--a man such as this
young cousin who was known to be the heir to the title,--he had given
his daughter special reason to suppose that she might regard him as
a fitting suitor for her hand. She of course had known,--had felt as
keenly as he had felt, for was she not a Hotspur?--that she would be
true to her family by combining her property and the title, and that
by yielding to such a marriage she would be doing a family duty,
unless there were reasons against it stronger than those connected
with his name. But as to those other reasons, must not her father and
her mother know better than she could know? When she found that the
man was made welcome both in town and country, was it not natural
that she should suppose that there were no stronger reasons? All this
Sir Harry felt, and blamed himself and determined that though he must
oppose his daughter and make her understand that the hope of such a
marriage must be absolutely abandoned, it would be his duty to be
very tender with her. He had sinned against her already, in that he
had vacillated and had allowed that handsome but vile and worthless
cousin to come near her.

In his conduct to his daughter, Sir Harry endeavoured to be just,
and tender, and affectionate; but in his conduct to his wife on
the occasion he allowed himself some scope for the ill-humour not
unnaturally incident to his misfortune. "Why on earth you should
have had him in Bruton Street when you knew very well what he was, I
cannot conceive," said Sir Harry.

"But I didn't know," said Lady Elizabeth, fearing to remind her
husband that he also had sanctioned the coming of the cousin.

"I had told you. It was there that the evil was done. And then to let
them go to that picnic together!"

"What could I do when Mrs. Fitzpatrick asked to be taken? You
wouldn't have had me tell Emily that she should not be one of the
party."

"I would have put it off till he was out of the house."

"But the Fitzpatricks were going too," pleaded the poor woman.

"It wouldn't have happened at all if you had not asked him to stay
till the Monday," said Sir Harry; and to this charge Lady Elizabeth
knew that there was no answer. There she had clearly disobeyed her
husband; and though she doubtless suffered much from some dim idea of
injustice, she was aware that as she had so offended she must submit
to be told that all this evil had come from her wrong-doing.

"I hope she will not be obstinate," said Sir Harry to his wife.
Lady Elizabeth, though she was not an acute judge of character, did
know her own daughter, and was afraid to say that Emily would not
be obstinate. She had the strongest possible respect as well as
affection for her own child; she thoroughly believed in Emily--much
more thoroughly than she did in herself. But she could not say that
in such a matter Emily would not be obstinate. Lady Elizabeth was
very intimately connected with two obstinate persons, one of whom was
young and the other old; and she thought that perhaps the younger was
the more obstinate of the two.

"It is quite out of the question that she should marry him," said Sir
Harry, sadly. Still Lady Elizabeth made no reply. "I do not think
that she will disobey me," continued Sir Harry. Still Lady Elizabeth
said nothing. "If she gives me a promise, she will keep it," said Sir
Harry.

Then the mother could answer, "I am sure she will."

"If the worst come to the worst, we must go away."

"To Scarrowby?" suggested Lady Elizabeth, who hated Scarrowby.

"That would do no good. Scarrowby would be the same as Humblethwaite
to her, or perhaps worse. I mean abroad. We must shut up the place
for a couple of years, and take her to Naples and Vienna, or perhaps
to Egypt. Everything must be changed to her!--that is, if the evil
has gone deep enough."

"Is he so very bad?" asked Lady Elizabeth.

"He is a liar and a blackguard, and I believe him to be a swindler,"
said Sir Harry. Then Lady Elizabeth was mute, and her husband left
her.

At this time he had heard the whole story of the pawning of the
commission, had been told something of money raised by worthless
cheques, and had run to ground that lie about the Goodwood races. But
he had not yet heard anything special of Mrs. Morton. The only attack
on George's character which had as yet been made in the hearing of
Emily had been with reference to the Goodwood races. Mrs. Stackpoole
was a lady of some determination, and one who in society liked to
show that she was right in her assertions, and well informed on
matters in dispute; and she hated Cousin George. There had therefore
come to be a good deal said about the Goodwood meeting, so that the
affair reached Sir Harry's ears. He perceived that Cousin George
had lied, and determined that Emily should be made to know that her
cousin had lied. But it was very difficult to persuade her of this.
That everybody else should tell stories about George and the Goodwood
meeting seemed to her to be natural enough; she contented herself
with thinking all manner of evil of Mr. and Mrs. Stackpoole, and
reiterating her conviction that George Hotspur had not been at the
meeting in question.

"I don't know that it much signifies," Mrs. Stackpoole had said in
anger.

"Not in the least," Emily had replied, "only that I happen to know
that my cousin was not there. He goes to so many race meetings that
there has been some little mistake."

Then Mr. Stackpoole had written to Cousin George, and Cousin George
had thought it wise to make no reply. Sir Harry, however, from other
sources had convinced himself of the truth, and had told his daughter
that there was evidence enough to prove the fact in any court of law.
Emily when so informed had simply held her tongue, and had resolved
to hate Mrs. Stackpoole worse than ever.

She had been told from the first that her engagement with her cousin
would not receive her father's sanction; and for some days after
that there had been silence on the subject at Humblethwaite, while
the correspondence with Mr. Boltby was being continued. Then there
came the moment in which Sir Harry felt that he must call upon his
daughter to promise obedience, and the conversation which has been
described between him and Lady Elizabeth was preparatory to his doing
so.

"My dear," he said to his daughter, "sit down; I want to speak to
you."

He had sent for her into his own morning room, in which she did not
remember to have been asked to sit down before. She would often
visit him there, coming in and out on all manner of small occasions,
suggesting that he should ride with her, asking for the loan of a
gardener for a week for some project of her own, telling him of a big
gooseberry, interrupting him ruthlessly on any trifle in the world.
But on such occasions she would stand close to him, leaning on him.
And he would scold her,--playfully, or kiss her, or bid her begone
from the room,--but would always grant what she asked of him. To him,
though he hardly knew that it was so, such visits from his darling
had been the bright moments of his life. But up to this morning he
had never bade her be seated in that room.

"Emily," he said, "I hope you understand that all this about your
cousin George must be given up." She made no reply, though he waited
perhaps for a minute. "It is altogether out of the question. I am
very, very sorry that you have been subjected to such a sorrow. I
will own that I have been to blame for letting him come to my house."

"No, Papa, no."

"Yes, my dear, I have been to blame, and I feel it keenly. I did not
then know as much of him as I do now, but I had heard that which
should have made me careful to keep him out of your company."

"Hearing about people, Papa! Is that fair? Are we not always hearing
tales about everybody?"

"My dear child, you must take my word for something."

"I will take it for everything in all the world, Papa."

"He has been a thoroughly bad young man."

"But, Papa--"

"You must take my word for it when I tell you that I have positive
proof of what I am telling you."

"But, Papa--"

"Is not that enough?"

"No, Papa. I am heartily sorry that he should have been what you call
a bad young man. I wish young men weren't so bad;--that there were no
racecourses, and betting, and all that. But if he had been my brother
instead of my cousin--"

"Don't talk about your brother, Emily."

"Should we hate him because he has been unsteady? Should we not do
all that we could in the world to bring him back? I do not know that
we are to hate people because they do what they ought not to do."

"We hate liars."

"He is not a liar. I will not believe it."

"Why did he tell you that he was not at those races, when he was
there as surely as you are here? But, my dear, I will not argue about
all this with you. It is not right that I should do so. It is my duty
to inquire into these things, and yours to believe me and to obey
me." Then he paused, but his daughter made no reply to him. He looked
into her face, and saw there that mark about her eyes which he knew
he so often showed himself; which he so well remembered with his
father. "I suppose you do believe me, Emily, when I tell you that he
is worthless."

"He need not be worthless always."

"His conduct has been such that he is unfit to be trusted with
anything."

"He must be the head of our family some day, Papa."

"That is our misfortune, my dear. No one can feel it as I do. But I
need not add to it the much greater misfortune of sacrificing to him
my only child."

"If he was so bad, why did he come here?"

"That is true. I did not expect to be rebuked by you, Emily, but I am
open to that rebuke."

"Dear, dear Papa, indeed I did not mean to rebuke you. But I cannot
give him up."

"You must give him up."

"No, Papa. If I did, I should be false. I will not be false. You say
that he is false. I do not know that, but I will not be false. Let me
speak to you for one minute."

"It is of no use."

"But you will hear me, Papa. You always hear me when I speak to
you." She had left her chair now, and was standing close to him, not
leaning upon him as was her wont in their pleasantest moments of
fellowship, but ready to do so whenever she should find that his mood
would permit it. "I will never marry him without your leave."

"Thanks, Emily; I know how sacred is a promise from you."

"But mine to him is equally sacred. I shall still be engaged to him.
I told him how it would be. I said that, as long as you or Mamma
lived, I would never marry without your leave. Nor would I see him,
or write to him without your knowledge. I told him so. But I told him
also that I would always be true to him. I mean to keep my word."

"If you find him to be utterly worthless, you cannot be bound by such
a promise."

"I hope it may not be so. I do not believe that it is so. I know him
too well to think that he can be utterly worthless. But if he was,
who should try to save him from worthlessness if not his nearest
relatives? We try to reclaim the worst criminals, and sometimes we
succeed. And he must be the head of the family. Remember that. Ought
we not to try to reclaim him? He cannot be worse than the prodigal
son."

"He is ten times worse. I cannot tell you what has been his life."

"Papa, I have often thought that in our rank of life society is
responsible for the kind of things which young men do. If he was at
Goodwood, which I do not believe, so was Mr. Stackpoole. If he was
betting, so was Mr. Stackpoole."

"But Mr. Stackpoole did not lie."

"I don't know that," she said, with a little toss of her head.

"Emily, you have no business either to say or to think it."

"I care nothing for Mr. Stackpoole whether he tells truth or not. He
and his wife have made themselves very disagreeable,--that is all.
But as for George, he is what he is, because other young men are
allowed to be the same."

"You do not know the half of it."

"I know as much as I want to know, Papa. Let one keep as clear of it
as one can, it is impossible not to hear how young men live. And yet
they are allowed to go everywhere, and are flattered and encouraged.
I do not pretend that George is better than others. I wish he were.
Oh, how I wish it! But such as he is he belongs in a way to us, and
we ought not to desert him. He belongs, I know, to me, and I will not
desert him."

Sir Harry felt that there was no arguing with such a girl as this.
Some time since he had told her that it was unfit that he should be
brought into an argument with his own child, and there was nothing
now for him but to fall back upon the security which that assertion
gave him. He could not charge her with direct disobedience, because
she had promised him that she would not do any of those things
which, as a father, he had a right to forbid. He relied fully on her
promise, and so far might feel himself to be safe. Nevertheless he
was very unhappy. Of what service would his child be to him or he
to her, if he were doomed to see her pining from day to day with an
unpermitted love? It was the dearest wish of his heart to make her
happy, as it was his fondest ambition to see her so placed in the
world that she might be the happy transmitter of all the honours
of the house of Humblethwaite,--if she could not transmit all the
honours of the name. Time might help him. And then if she could be
made really to see how base was the clay of which had been made this
image which she believed to be of gold, might it not be that at last
she would hate a thing that was so vile? In order that she might do
so, he would persist in finding out what had been the circumstances
of this young man's life. If, as he believed, the things which George
Hotspur had done were such as in another rank of life would send the
perpetrator to the treadmill, surely then she would not cling to her
lover. It would not be in her nature to prefer that which was foul
and abominable and despised of all men. It was after this, when he
had seen Mr. Boltby, that the idea occurred to him of buying up
Cousin George, so that Cousin George should himself abandon his
engagement.

"You had better go now, my dear," he said, after his last speech. "I
fully rely upon the promise you have made me. I know that I can rely
upon it. And you also may rely upon me. I give you my word as your
father that this man is unfit to be your husband, and that I should
commit a sin greater than I can describe to you were I to give my
sanction to such a marriage."

Emily made no answer to this, but left the room without having once
leaned upon her father's shoulder.

That look of hers troubled him sadly when he was alone. What was to
be the meaning of it, and what the result? She had given him almost
unasked the only promise which duty required her to give, but at the
same time she had assured him by her countenance, as well as by her
words, that she would be as faithful to her lover as she was prepared
to be obedient to her father. And then if there should come a long
contest of that nature, and if he should see her devoted year after
year to a love which she would not even try to cast off from her, how
would he be able to bear it? He, too, was firm, but he knew himself
to be as tender-hearted as he was obstinate. It would be more than
he could bear. All the world would be nothing for him then. And if
there were ever to be a question of yielding, it would be easier
to do something towards lessening the vileness of the man now than
hereafter. He, too, had some of that knowledge of the world which had
taught Lady Altringham to say that the young people in such contests
could always beat the old people. Thinking of this, and of that look
upon his child's brows, he almost vacillated again. Any amount of
dissipation he could now have forgiven; but to be a liar, too, and a
swindler! Before he went to bed that night he had made up his mind to
go to London and to see Mr. Boltby.



CHAPTER XIV.

PERTINACITY.


On the day but one after the scene narrated in the last chapter
Sir Harry went to London, and Lady Elizabeth and Emily were left
alone together in the great house at Humblethwaite. Emily loved her
mother dearly. The proper relations of life were reversed between
them, and the younger domineered over the elder. But the love
which the daughter felt was probably the stronger on this account.
Lady Elizabeth never scolded, never snubbed, never made herself
disagreeable, was never cross; and Emily, with her strong perceptions
and keen intelligence, knew all her mother's excellence, and loved
it the better because of her mother's weakness. She preferred her
father's company, but no one could say she neglected her mother for
the sake of her father.

Hitherto she had said very little to Lady Elizabeth as to her lover.
She had, in the first place, told her mother, and then had received
from her mother, second-hand, her father's disapproval. At that time
she had only said that it was "too late." Poor Lady Elizabeth had
been able to make no useful answer to this. It certainly was too
late. The evil should have been avoided by refusing admittance to
Cousin George both in London and at Humblethwaite. It certainly was
too late;--too late, that is, to avoid the evil altogether. The girl
had been asked for her heart, and had given it. It was very much too
late. But evils such as that do admit of remedy. It is not every girl
that can marry the man whom she first confesses that she loves. Lady
Elizabeth had some idea that her child, being nobler born and of more
importance than other people's children, ought to have been allowed
by fate to do so,--as there certainly is a something withdrawn from
the delicate aroma of a first-class young woman by any transfer of
affections;--but if it might not be so, even an Emily Hotspur must
submit to a lot not uncommon among young women in general, and
wait and wish till she could acknowledge to herself that her heart
was susceptible of another wound. That was the mother's hope at
present,--her hope, when she was positively told by Sir Harry that
George Hotspur was quite out of the question as a husband for the
heiress of Humblethwaite. But this would probably come the sooner if
little or nothing were said of George Hotspur.

The reader need hardly be told that Emily herself regarded the matter
in a very different light. She also had her ideas about the delicacy
and the aroma of a maiden's love. She had confessed her love very
boldly to the man who had asked for it; had made her rich present
with a free hand, and had grudged nothing in the making of it. But
having given it, she understood it to be fixed as the heavens that
she could never give the same gift again. It was herself that she
had given, and there was no retracting the offering. She had thought,
and had then hoped, and had afterwards hoped more faintly, that the
present had been well bestowed;--that in giving it she had disposed
of herself well. Now they told her that it was not so, and that she
could hardly have disposed of herself worse. She would not believe
that; but, let it be as it might, the thing was done. She was his.
He had a right in her which she could not withdraw from him. Was not
this sort of giving acknowledged by all churches in which the words
for "better or for worse" were uttered as part of the marriage vow?
Here there had been as yet no church vow, and therefore her duty
was still due to her father. But the sort of sacrifice,--so often a
sacrifice of the good to the bad,--which the Church not only allowed
but required and sanctified, could be as well conveyed by one promise
as by another. What is a vow but a promise? and by what process are
such vows and promises made fitting between a man and a woman? Is it
not by that compelled rendering up of the heart which men call love?
She had found that he was dearer to her than everything in the world
besides; that to be near him was a luxury to her; that his voice was
music to her; that the flame of his eyes was sunlight; that his touch
was to her, as had never been the touch of any other human being.
She could submit to him, she who never would submit to any one. She
could delight to do his bidding, even though it were to bring him his
slippers. She had confessed nothing of this, even to herself, till he
had spoken to her on the bridge; but then, in a moment, she had known
that it was so, and had not coyed the truth with him by a single nay.
And now they told her that he was bad.

Bad as he was, he had been good enough to win her. 'Twas thus she
argued with herself. Who was she that she should claim for herself
the right of having a man that was not bad? That other man that had
come to her, that Lord Alfred, was, she was told, good at all points;
and he had not moved her in the least. His voice had possessed no
music for her; and as for fetching his slippers for him,--he was to
her one of those men who seem to be created just that they might
be civil when wanted and then get out of the way! She had not been
able for a moment to bring herself to think of regarding him as her
husband. But this man, this bad man! From the moment that he had
spoken to her on the bridge, she knew that she was his for ever.

It might be that she liked a bad man best. So she argued with herself
again. If it were so she must put up with what misfortune her own
taste might bring upon her. At any rate the thing was done, and why
should any man be thrown over simply because the world called him
bad? Was there to be no forgiveness for wrongs done between man and
man, when the whole theory of our religion was made to depend on
forgiveness from God to man? It is the duty of some one to reclaim an
evident prodigal; and why should it not be her duty to reclaim this
prodigal? Clearly, the very fact that she loved the prodigal would
give her a potentiality that way which she would have with no other
prodigal. It was at any rate her duty to try. It would at least be
her duty if they would allow her to be near enough to him to make
the attempt. Then she filled her mind with ideas of a long period
of probation, in which every best energy of her existence should
be given to this work of reclaiming the prodigal, so that at last
she might put her own hand into one that should be clean enough
to receive it. With such a task before her she could wait. She
could watch him and give all her heart to his welfare, and never be
impatient except that he might be made happy. As she thought of this,
she told herself plainly that the work would not be easy, that there
would be disappointment, almost heart-break, delays and sorrows; but
she loved him, and it would be her duty; and then, if she could be
successful, how great, how full of joy would be the triumph! Even
if she were to fail and perish in failing, it would be her duty. As
for giving him up because he had the misfortune to be bad, she would
as soon give him up on the score of any other misfortune;--because
he might lose a leg, or become deformed, or be stricken deaf by
God's hand! One does not desert those one loves, because of their
misfortunes! 'Twas thus she argued with herself, thinking that she
could see,--whereas, poor child, she was so very blind!

"Mamma," she said, "has Papa gone up to town about Cousin George?"

"I do not know, my dear. He did not say why he was going."

"I think he has. I wish I could make him understand."

"Understand what, my dear?"

"All that I feel about it. I am sure it would save him much trouble.
Nothing can ever separate me from my cousin."

"Pray don't say so, Emily."

"Nothing can. Is it not better that you and he should know the truth?
Papa goes about trying to find out all the naughty things that George
has ever done. There has been some mistake about a race meeting, and
all manner of people are asked to give what Papa calls evidence that
Cousin George was there. I do not doubt but George has been what
people call dissipated."

"We do hear such dreadful stories!"

"You would not have thought anything about them if it had not been
for me. He is not worse now than when he came down here last year.
And he was always asked to Bruton Street."

"What do you mean by this, dear?"

"I do not mean to say that young men ought to do all these things,
whatever they are,--getting into debt, and betting, and living fast.
Of course it is very wrong. But when a young man has been brought
up in that way, I do think he ought not to be thrown over by his
nearest and dearest friends"--that last epithet was uttered with all
the emphasis which Emily could give to it--"because he falls into
temptation."

"I am afraid George has been worse than others, Emily."

"So much the more reason for trying to save him. If a man be in the
water, you do not refuse to throw him a rope because the water is
deep."

"But, dearest, your papa is thinking of you." Lady Elizabeth was not
quick enough of thought to explain to her daughter that if the rope
be of more value than the man, and if the chance of losing the rope
be much greater than that of saving the man, then the rope is not
thrown.

"And I am thinking of George," said Emily.

"But if it should appear that he had done things,--the wickedest
things in the world?"

"I might break my heart in thinking of it, but I should never give
him up."

"If he were a murderer?" suggested Lady Elizabeth, with horror.

The girl paused, feeling herself to be hardly pressed, and then came
that look upon her brow which Lady Elizabeth understood as well as
did Sir Harry. "Then I would be a murderer's wife," she said.

"Oh, Emily!"

"I must make you understand me, Mamma, and I want Papa to understand
it too. No consideration on earth shall make me say that I will
give him up. They may prove if they like that he was on all the
racecourses in the world, and get that Mrs. Stackpoole to swear to
it;--and it is ten times worse for a woman to go than it is for a
man, at any rate;--but it will make no difference. If you and Papa
tell me not to see him or write to him,--much less to marry him,--of
course I shall obey you. But I shall not give him up a bit the more,
and he must not be told that I will give him up. I am sure Papa will
not wish that anything untrue should be told. George will always be
to me the dearest thing in the whole world,--dearer than my own soul.
I shall pray for him every night, and think of him all day long. And
as to the property, Papa may be quite sure that he can never arrange
it by any marriage that I shall make. No man shall ever speak to me
in that way, if I can help it. I won't go where any man can speak to
me. I will obey,--but it will be at the cost of my life. Of course
I will obey Papa and you; but I cannot alter my heart. Why was he
allowed to come here,--the head of our own family,--if he be so bad
as this? Bad or good, he will always be all the world to me."

To such a daughter as this Lady Elizabeth had very little to say that
might be of avail. She could quote Sir Harry, and entertain some dim
distant wish that Cousin George might even yet be found to be not
quite so black as he had been painted.



CHAPTER XV.

COUSIN GEORGE IS HARD PRESSED.


The very sensible and, as one would have thought, very manifest idea
of buying up Cousin George originated with Mr. Boltby. "He will have
his price, Sir Harry," said the lawyer. Then Sir Harry's eyes were
opened, and so excellent did this mode of escape seem to him that he
was ready to pay almost any price for the article. He saw it at a
glance. Emily had high-flown notions, and would not yield; he feared
that she would not yield, let Cousin George's delinquencies be shown
to be as black as Styx. But if Cousin George could be made to give
her up,--then Emily must yield; and, yielding in such manner, having
received so rude a proof of her lover's unworthiness, it could not
be but that her heart would be changed. Sir Harry's first idea of a
price was very noble; all debts to be paid, a thousand a year for
the present, and Scarrowby to be attached to the title. What price
would be too high to pay for the extrication of his daughter from
so grievous a misfortune? But Mr. Boltby was more calm. As to the
payment of the debts,--yes, within a certain liberal limit. For the
present, an income of five hundred pounds he thought would be almost
as efficacious a bait as double the amount; and it would be well to
tack to it the necessity of a residence abroad. It might, perhaps,
serve to get the young man out of the country for a time. If the
young man bargained on either of these headings, the matter could be
reconsidered by Mr. Boltby; as to settling Scarrowby on the title,
Mr. Boltby was clearly against it. "He would raise every shilling he
could on post-obits within twelve months." At last the offer was made
in the terms with which the reader is already acquainted. George was
sent off from the lawyer's chambers with directions to consider the
terms, and Mr. Boltby gave his clerk some little instructions for
perpetuating the irritation on the young man which Hart and Stubber
together were able to produce. The young man should be made to
understand that hungry creditors, who had been promised their money
on certain conditions, could become very hungry indeed.

George Hotspur, blackguard and worthless as he was, did not at first
realize the fact that Sir Harry and Mr. Boltby were endeavouring to
buy him. He was asked to give up his cousin, and he was told that
if he did so a certain very generous amount of pecuniary assistance
should be given to him; but yet he did not at the first glance
perceive that one was to be the price of the other,--that if he took
the one he would meanly have sold the other. It certainly would have
been very pleasant to have all his debts paid for him, and the offer
of five hundred pounds a year was very comfortable. Of the additional
sum to be given when Sir Harry should die, he did not think so much.
It might probably be a long time coming, and then Sir Harry would
of course be bound to do something for the title. As for living
abroad,--he might promise that, but they could not make him keep his
promise. He would not dislike to travel for six months, on condition
that he should be well provided with ready money. There was much that
was alluring in the offer, and he began to think whether he could not
get it all without actually abandoning his cousin. But then he was to
give a written pledge to that effect, which, if given, no doubt would
be shown to her. No; that would not do. Emily was his prize; and
though he did not value her at her worth, not understanding such
worth, still he had an idea that she would be true to him. Then at
last came upon him an understanding of the fact, and he perceived
that a bribe had been offered to him.

For half a day he was so disgusted at the idea that his virtue was
rampant within him. Sell his Emily for money? Never! His Emily,--and
all her rich prospects, and that for a sum so inadequate! They little
knew their man when they made a proposition so vile! That evening, at
his club, he wrote a letter to Sir Harry, and the letter as soon as
written was put into the club letter-box, addressed to the house in
Bruton Street; in which, with much indignant eloquence, he declared
that the Baronet little understood the warmth of his love, or the
extent of his ambition in regard to the family. "I shall be quite
ready to submit to any settlements," he said, "so long as the
property is entailed upon the Baronet who shall come after myself;
I need not say that I hope the happy fellow may be my own son."

But, on the next morning, on his first waking, his ideas were more
vague, and a circumstance happened which tended to divert them from
the current in which they had run on the preceding evening. When he
was going through the sad work of dressing, he bethought himself that
he could not at once force this marriage on Sir Harry--could not do
so, perhaps, within a twelvemonth or more, let Emily be ever so true
to him,--and that his mode of living had become so precarious as
to be almost incompatible with that outward decency which would be
necessary for him as Emily's suitor. He was still very indignant at
the offer made to him, which was indeed bribery of which Sir Harry
ought to be ashamed; but he almost regretted that his letter to Sir
Harry had been sent. It had not been considered enough, and certainly
should not have been written simply on after-dinner consideration.
Something might have been inserted with the view of producing ready
money, something which might have had a flavour of yielding, but
which could not have been shown to Emily as an offer on his part
to abandon her; and then he had a general feeling that his letter
had been too grandiloquent,--all arising, no doubt, from a fall in
courage incidental to a sick stomach.

But before he could get out of his hotel a visitor was upon him.
Mr. Hart desired to see him. At this moment he would almost have
preferred to see Captain Stubber. He remembered at the moment that
Mr. Hart was acquainted with Mr. Walker, and that Mr. Walker would
probably have sought the society of Mr. Hart after a late occurrence
in which he, Cousin George, had taken part. He was going across
to breakfast at his club, when he found himself almost forced to
accompany Mr. Hart into a little private room at the left hand of the
hall of the hotel. He wanted his breakfast badly, and was altogether
out of humour. He had usually found Mr. Hart to be an enduring
man, not irascible, though very pertinacious, and sometimes almost
good-natured. For a moment he thought he would bully Mr. Hart, but
when he looked into Mr. Hart's face, his heart misgave him.

"This is a most inconvenient time--," he had begun. But he hesitated,
and Mr. Hart began his attack at once.

"Captain 'Oshspur--sir, let me tell you this von't do no longer."

"What won't do, Mr. Hart?"

"Vat von't do? You know vat von't do. Let me tell you this. You'll be
at the Old Bailey very soon, if you don't do just vat you is told to
do."

"Me at the Old Bailey!"

"Yes, Captain 'Oshspur,--you at the Old Bailey. In vat vay did you
get those moneys from poor Mr. Valker? I know vat I says. More than
three hundred pounds! It was card-sharping."

"Who says it was card-sharping?"

"I says so, Captain 'Oshspur, and so does Mr. Bullbean. Mr. Bullbean
vill prove it." Mr. Bullbean was a gentleman known well to Mr. Hart,
who had made one of the little party at Mr. Walker's establishment,
by means of which Cousin George had gone, flush of money, down among
his distinguished friends in Norfolk. "Vat did you do with poor
Valker's moneys? It vas very hard upon poor Mr. Valker,--very hard."

"It was fair play, Mr. Hart."

"Gammon, Captain 'Oshspur! Vere is the moneys?"

"What business is that of yours?"

"Oh, very well. Bullbean is quite ready to go before a
magistrate,--ready at once. I don't know how that vill help us with
our pretty cousin with all the fortune."

"How will it help you then?"

"Look here, Captain 'Oshspur; I vill tell you vat vill help me, and
vill help Captain Stubber, and vill help everybody. The young lady
isn't for you at all. I know all about it, Captain 'Oshspur. Mr.
Boltby is a very nice gentleman, and understands business."

"What is Mr. Boltby to me?"

"He is a great deal to me, because he vill pay me my moneys, and he
vill pay Captain Stubber, and vill pay everybody. He vill pay you
too, Captain 'Oshspur,--only you must pay poor Valker his moneys.
I have promised Valker he shall have back his moneys, or Sir Harry
shall know that too. You must just give up the young woman;--eh,
Captain 'Oshspur!"

"I'm not going to be dictated to, Mr. Hart."

"When gentlemans is in debt they must be dictated to, or else be
quodded. We mean to have our money from Mr. Boltby, and that at once.
Here is the offer to pay it,--every shilling,--and to pay you! You
must give the lady up. You must go to Mr. Boltby, and write just what
he tells you. If you don't--!"

"Well, if I don't!"

"By the living God, before two weeks are over you shall be in prison.
Bullbean saw it all. Now you know, Captain 'Oshspur. You don't like
dictating to, don't you? If you don't do as you're dictated to, and
that mighty sharp, as sure as my name is Abraham Hart, everything
shall come out. Every d----d thing, Captain 'Oshspur! And now good
morning, Captain 'Oshspur. You had better see Mr. Boltby to-day,
Captain 'Oshspur."

How was a man so weighted to run for such stakes as those he was
striving to carry off? When Mr. Hart left him he was not only sick
in the stomach, but sick at heart also,--sick all over. He had gone
from bad to worse; he had lost the knowledge of the flavour of vice
and virtue; and yet now, when there was present to him the vanishing
possibility of redeeming everything by this great marriage, it seemed
to him that a life of honourable ease--such a life as Sir Harry would
wish him to live if permitted to marry the girl and dwell among his
friends at Humblethwaite--would be much sweeter, much more to his
real taste, than the life which he had led for the last ten years.
What had been his positive delights? In what moments had he actually
enjoyed them? From first to last had there not been trouble and
danger and vexation of spirit, and a savour of dirt about it all,
which even to his palate had been nauseous? Would he not willingly
reform? And yet, when the prospect of reform was brought within reach
of his eyes, of a reform so pleasant in all its accompaniments, of
reform amidst all the wealth of Humblethwaite, with Emily Hotspur by
his side, there came these harpies down upon him rendering it all
impossible. Thrice, in speaking of them to himself, he called them
harpies; but it never occurred to him to think by what name Mr.
Walker would have designated him.

But things around him were becoming so serious that he must do
something. It might be that he would fall to the ground, losing
everything. He could not understand about Bullbean. Bullbean had
had his share of the plunder in regard to all that he had seen. The
best part of the evening's entertainment had taken place after Mr.
Bullbean had retired. No doubt, however, Mr. Bullbean might do him a
damage.

He had written to Sir Harry, refusing altogether the offer made to
him. Could he, after writing such a letter, at once go to the lawyer
and accept the offer? And must he admit to himself, finally, that it
was altogether beyond his power to win his cousin's hand? Was there
no hope of that life at Humblethwaite which, when contemplated at a
distance, had seemed to him to be so green and pleasant? And what
would Emily think of him? In the midst of all his other miseries that
also was a misery. He was able, though steeped in worthlessness, so
to make for himself a double identity as to imagine and to personify
a being who should really possess fine and manly aspirations with
regard to a woman, and to look upon himself,--his second self,--as
that being; and to perceive with how withering a contempt such a
being would contemplate such another man as was in truth the real
George Hotspur, whose actual sorrows and troubles had now become so
unendurable.

Who would help him in his distress? The Altringhams were still in
Scotland, and he knew well that, though Lady Altringham was fond of
him, and though Lord Altringham liked him, there was no assistance
to be had there of the kind that he needed. His dearly intimate
distinguished friends in Norfolk, with whom he had been always
"George," would not care if they heard that he had been crucified.
It seemed to him that the world was very hard and very cruel. Who
did care for him? There were two women who cared for him, who really
loved him, who would make almost any sacrifice for him, who would
even forget his sins, or at least forgive them. He was sure of that.
Emily Hotspur loved him, but there were no means by which he could
reach Emily Hotspur. She loved him, but she would not so far disobey
her father and mother, or depart from her own word, as to receive
even a letter from him. But the other friend who loved him,--he still
could see her. He knew well the time at which he would find her at
home, and some three or four hours after his interview with Mr. Hart
he knocked at Mrs. Morton's door.

"Well, George," she said, "how does your wooing thrive?"

He had no preconceived plan in coming to her. He was possessed by
that desire, which we all of us so often feel, to be comforted by
sympathy; but he hardly knew even how to describe the want of it.

"It does not thrive at all," he said, throwing himself gloomily into
an easy chair.

"That is bad news. Has the lady turned against you?"

"Oh no," said he, moodily,--"nothing of that sort."

"That would be impossible, would it not? Fathers are stern, but to
such a one as you daughters are always kind. That is what you mean;
eh, George?"

"I wish you would not chaff me, Lucy. I am not well, and I did not
come to be chaffed."

"The chaffing is all to be on one side, is it, George? Well; I will
say nothing to add to your discomforts. What is it ails you? You will
drink liqueurs after dinner. That is what makes you so wretched. And
I believe you drink them before dinner too."

"Hardly ever. I don't do such a thing three times in a month. It is
not that; but things do trouble me so."

"I suppose Sir Harry is not well pleased."

"He is doing what he ought not to do, I must say that;--quite what I
call ungentlemanlike. A lawyer should never be allowed to interfere
between gentlemen. I wonder who would stand it, if an attorney were
set to work to make all manner of inquiries about everything that he
had ever done?"

"I could not, certainly. I should cave in at once, as the boys say."

"Other men have been as bad as I have, I suppose. He is sending about
everywhere."

"Not only sending, George, but going himself. Do you know that Sir
Harry did me the honour of visiting me?"

"No!"

"But he did. He sat there in that very chair, and talked to me in a
manner that nobody ever did before, certainly. What a fine old man he
is, and how handsome!"

"Yes; he is a good-looking old fellow."

"So like you, George."

"Is he?"

"Only you know, less,--less,--less, what shall I say?--less
good-natured, perhaps."

"I know what you mean. He is not such a fool as I am."

"You're not a fool at all, George; but sometimes you are weak. He
looks to be strong. Is she like him?"

"Very like him."

"Then she must be handsome."

"Handsome; I should think she is too!" said George, quite forgetting
the description of his cousin which he had given some days previously
to Mrs. Morton.

She smiled, but took no notice aloud of his blunder. She knew him so
well that she understood it all. "Yes," she went on; "he came here
and said some bitter things. He said more, perhaps, than he ought to
have done."

"About me, Lucy?"

"I think that he spoke chiefly about myself. There was a little
explanation, and then he behaved very well. I have no quarrel with
him myself. He is a fine old gentleman; and having one only daughter,
and a large fortune, I do not wonder that he should want to make
inquiries before he gives her to you."

"He could do that without an attorney."

"Would you tell him the truth? The fact is, George, that you are not
the sort of son-in-law that fathers like. I suppose it will be off;
eh, George?" George made no immediate reply. "It is not likely that
she should have the constancy to stick to it for years, and I am sure
you will not. Has he offered you money?" Then George told her almost
with accuracy the nature of the proposition made to him.

"It is very generous," she said.

"I don't see much of that."

"It certainly is very generous."

"What ought a fellow to do?"

"Only fancy, that you should come to me to ask me such a question!"

"I know you will tell me true."

"Do you love her?"

"Yes."

"With all your heart?"

"What is the meaning of that? I do love her."

"Better than her father's money?"

"Much better."

"Then stick to her through thick and thin. But you don't. I must not
advise you in accordance with what you say, but with what I think.
You will be beaten, certainly. She will never be your wife; and were
you so married, you would not be happy with such people. But she
will never be your wife. Take Sir Harry's offer, and write to her a
letter, explaining how it is best for all that you should do so."

He paused a moment, and then he asked her one other question: "Would
you write the letter for me, Lucy?"

She smiled again as she answered him: "Yes; if you make up your mind
to do as Sir Harry asks you, I will write a draft of what I think you
should say to her."



CHAPTER XVI.

SIR HARRY'S RETURN.


Sir Harry received the grandly worded and indignant letter which had
been written at the club, and Cousin George hesitated as to that
other letter which his friend was to dictate for him. Consequently it
became necessary that Sir Harry should leave London before the matter
was settled. In truth the old Baronet liked the grandly worded and
indignant letter. It was almost such a letter as a Hotspur should
write on such an occasion. There was an admission of pecuniary
weakness which did not quite become a Hotspur, but otherwise the
letter was a good letter. Before he left London he took the letter
with him to Mr. Boltby, and on his way thither could not refrain from
counting up all the good things which would befall him and his if
only this young man might be reclaimed and recast in a mould such as
should fit the heir of the Hotspurs. He had been very bad,--so bad
that when Sir Harry counted up his sins they seemed to be as black
as night. And then, as he thought of them, the father would declare
to himself that he would not imperil his daughter by trusting her
to one who had shown himself to be so evil. But again another mode
of looking at it all would come upon him. The kind of vice of which
George had been undoubtedly guilty was very distasteful to Sir Harry;
it had been ignoble and ungentlemanlike vice. He had been a liar,
and not only a gambler, but a professional gambler. He had not
simply got into debt, but he had got into debt in a fashion that was
fraudulent;--so at least Sir Harry thought. And yet, need it be said
that this reprobate was beyond the reach of all forgiveness? Had not
men before him done as bad, and yet were brought back within the pale
of decent life? In this still vacillating mood of mind Sir Harry
reached his lawyer's. Mr. Boltby did not vacillate at all. When he
was shown the letter he merely smiled.

"I don't think it is a bad letter," said Sir Harry.

"Words mean so little, Sir Harry," said Mr. Boltby, "and come so
cheap."

Sir Harry turned the letter over in his hand and frowned; he did not
quite like to be told even by his confidential lawyer that he was
mistaken. Unconsciously he was telling himself that after all George
Hotspur had been born a gentleman, and that therefore, underlying all
the young man's vileness and villany there must be a substratum of
noble soil of which the lawyer perhaps knew nothing. Mr. Boltby saw
that his client was doubting, and having given much trouble to the
matter, and not being afraid of Sir Harry, he determined to speak his
mind freely.

"Sir Harry," he said, "in this matter I must tell you what I really
think."

"Certainly."

"I am sorry to have to speak ill of one bearing your name; and were
not the matter urgent as it is, I should probably repress something
of my opinion. As it is, I do not dare to do so. You could not in all
London find a man less fit to be the husband of Miss Hotspur than her
cousin."

"He is a gentleman--by birth," said Sir Harry.

"He is an unprincipled blackguard by education, and the more
blackguard because of his birth; there is nothing too bad for him to
do, and very little so bad but what he has done it. He is a gambler,
a swindler, and, as I believe, a forger and a card-sharper. He has
lived upon the wages of the woman he has professed to love. He has
shown himself to be utterly spiritless, abominable, and vile. If my
clerk in the next room were to slap his face, I do not believe that
he would resent it." Sir Harry frowned, and moved his feet rapidly
on the floor. "In my thorough respect and regard for you, Sir Harry,"
continued Mr. Boltby, "I have undertaken a work which I would not
have done for above two or three other men in the world beside
yourself. I am bound to tell you the result, which is this,--that I
would sooner give my own girl to the sweeper at the crossing than to
George Hotspur."

Sir Harry's brow was very black. Perhaps he had not quite known his
lawyer. Perhaps it was that he had less power of endurance than
he had himself thought in regard to the mention of his own family
affairs. "Of course," he said, "I am greatly indebted to you, Mr.
Boltby, for the trouble you have taken."

"I only hope it may be of service to you."

"It has been of service. What may be the result in regard to this
unfortunate young man I cannot yet say. He has refused our offer,--I
must say as I think--honourably."

"It means nothing."

"How nothing, Mr. Boltby?"

"No man accepts such a bargain at first. He is playing his hand
against yours, Sir Harry, and he knows that he has got a very good
card in his own. It was not to be supposed that he would give in at
once. In besieging a town the surest way is to starve the garrison.
Wait a while and he will give in. When a town has within its walls
such vultures as will now settle upon him, it cannot stand out very
long. I shall hear more of him before many days are over."

"You think, then, that I may return to Humblethwaite."

"Certainly, Sir Harry; but I hope, Sir Harry, that you will return
with the settled conviction on your mind that this young man must not
on any consideration be allowed to enter your family."

The lawyer meant well, but he overdid his work. Sir Harry got up and
shook hands with him and thanked him, but left the room with some
sense of offence. He had come to Mr. Boltby for information, and
he had received it. But he was not quite sure that he had intended
that Mr. Boltby should advise him touching his management of his
own daughter. Mr. Boltby, he thought, had gone a little beyond his
tether. Sir Harry acknowledged to himself that he had learned a great
deal about his cousin, and it was for him to judge after that whether
he would receive his cousin at Humblethwaite. Mr. Boltby should not
have spoken about the crossing-sweeper. And then Sir Harry was not
quite sure that he liked that idea of setting vultures upon a man;
and Sir Harry remembered something of his old lore as a hunting man.
It is astonishing what blood will do in bringing a horse through mud
at the end of a long day. Mr. Boltby probably did not understand how
much, at the very last, might be expected from breeding. When Sir
Harry left Mr. Boltby's chambers he was almost better-minded towards
Cousin George than he had been when he entered them; and in this
frame of mind, both for and against the young man, he returned to
Humblethwaite. It must not be supposed, however, that as the result
of the whole he was prepared to yield. He knew, beyond all doubt,
that his cousin was thoroughly a bad subject,--a worthless and, as
he believed, an irredeemable scamp; but yet he thought of what might
happen if he were to yield!

Things were very sombre when he reached Humblethwaite. Of course
his wife could not refrain from questions. "It is very bad," he
said,--"as bad as can be."

"He has gambled?"

"Gambled! If that were all! You had better not ask about it; he is a
disgrace to the family."

"Then there can be no hope for Emily?"

"No hope! Why should there not be hope? All her life need not depend
on her fancy for a man of whom after all she has not seen so very
much. She must get over it. Other girls have had to do the same."

"She is not like other girls, Harry."

"How not like them?"

"I think she is more persistent; she has set her heart upon loving
this young man, and she will love him."

"Then she must."

"She will break her heart," said Lady Elizabeth.

"She will break mine, I know," said Sir Harry.

When he met his daughter he had embraced her, and she had kissed
him and asked after his welfare; but he felt at once that she was
different from what she used to be,--different, not only as regarded
herself, but different also in her manner. There came upon him a sad,
ponderous conviction that the sunlight had gone out from their joint
lives, that all pleasant things were over for both of them, and that,
as for him, it would be well for him that he should die. He could
not be happy if there were discord between him and his child,--and
there must be discord. The man had been invited with a price to take
himself off, and had not been sufficiently ignoble to accept the
offer. How could he avoid the discord, and bring back the warmth of
the sun into his house? Then he remembered those terribly forcible
epithets which Mr. Boltby had spoken. "He is an unprincipled
blackguard; and the worse blackguard because of his birth." The words
had made Sir Harry angry, but he believed them to be true. If there
were to be any yielding, he would not yield as yet; but that living
in his house without sunshine was very grievous to him. "She will
kill me," he said to himself, "if she goes on like this."

And yet it was hard to say of what it was that he complained. Days
went by and his daughter said nothing and did nothing of which he
could complain. It was simply this,--that the sunshine was no longer
bright within his halls. Days went by, and George Hotspur's name had
never been spoken by Emily in the hearing of her father or mother.
Such duties as there were for her to do were done. The active duties
of a girl in her position are very few. It was her custom of a
morning to spread butter on a bit of toast for her father to eat.
This she still did, and brought it to him as was her wont; but
she did not bring it with her old manner. It was a thing still
done,--simply because not to do it would be an omission to be
remarked. "Never mind it," said her father the fourth or fifth
morning after his return, "I'd sooner do it for myself." She did
not say a word, but on the next morning the little ceremony, which
had once been so full of pleasant affection, was discontinued. She
had certain hours of reading, and these were prolonged rather than
abandoned. But both her father and mother perceived that her books
were changed; her Italian was given up, and she took to works of
religion,--sermons, treatises, and long commentaries.

"It will kill me," said Sir Harry to his wife.

"I am afraid it will kill her," said Lady Elizabeth. "Do you see how
her colour has gone, and she eats so little!"

"She walks every day."

"Yes; and comes in so tired. And she goes to church every Wednesday
and Friday at Hesket. I'm sure she is not fit for it such weather as
this."

"She has the carriage?"

"No, she walks."

Then Sir Harry gave orders that his daughter should always have the
carriage on Wednesdays and Fridays. But Emily, when her mother told
her this, insisted that she would sooner walk.

But what did the carriage or no carriage on Wednesday signify? The
trouble was deeper than that. It was so deep that both father and
mother felt that something must be done, or the trouble would become
too heavy for their backs. Ten days passed and nothing was heard
either from Mr. Boltby or from Cousin George. Sir Harry hardly knew
what it was then he expected to hear; but it seemed that he did
expect something. He was nervous at the hour of post, and was aware
himself that he was existing on from day to day with the idea of soon
doing some special thing,--he knew not what,--but something that
might put an end to the frightful condition of estrangement between
him and his child in which he was now living. It told even upon his
duty among his tenants. It told upon his farm. It told upon almost
every workman in the parish. He had no heart for doing anything. It
did not seem certain to him that he could continue to live in his own
house. He could not bring himself to order that this wood should be
cut, or that those projected cottages should be built. Everything was
at a standstill; and it was clear to him that Emily knew that all
this had come from her rash love for her cousin George. She never
now came and stood at his elbow in his own room, or leaned upon his
shoulder; she never now asked him questions, or brought him out from
his papers to decide questions in the garden,--or rather to allow
himself to be ruled by her decisions. There were greetings between
them morning and evening, and questions were asked and answered
formally; but there was no conversation. "What have I done that I
should be punished in this way?" said Sir Harry to himself.

If he was prompt to think himself hardly used, so also was his
daughter. In considering the matter in her own mind she had found it
to be her duty to obey her father in her outward conduct, founding
her convictions in this matter upon precedent and upon the general
convictions of the world. In the matter of bestowing herself upon
a suitor, a girl is held to be subject to her parents. So much she
knew, or believed that she knew; and therefore she would obey. She
had read and heard of girls who would correspond with their lovers
clandestinely, would run away with their lovers, would marry their
lovers as it were behind their fathers' backs. No act of this kind
would she do. She had something within her which would make it
dreadful to her ever to have to admit that she had been personally
wrong,--some mixture of pride and principle, which was strong enough
to keep her stedfast in her promised obedience. She would do nothing
that could be thrown in her teeth; nothing that could be called
unfeminine, indelicate, or undutiful. But she had high ideas of what
was due to herself, and conceived that she would be wronged by her
father, should her father take advantage of her sense of duty to
crush her heart. She had her own rights and her own privileges, with
which grievous and cruel interference would be made, should her
father, because he was her father, rob her of the only thing which
was sweet to her taste or desirable in her esteem. Because she was
his heiress he had no right to make her his slave. But even should he
do so, she had in her own hands a certain security. The bondage of a
slave no doubt he might allot to her, but not the task-work. Because
she would cling to her duty and keep the promise which she had made
to him, it would be in his power to prevent the marriage upon which
she had set her heart; but it was not within his power, or within
his privilege as a father, to force upon her any other marriage. She
would never help him with her hand in that adjustment of his property
of which he thought so much unless he would help her in her love.
And in the meantime sunshine should be banished from the house, such
sunshine as had shone round her head. She did not so esteem herself
as to suppose that, because she was sad, therefore her father
and mother would be wretched; but she did feel herself bound to
contribute to the house in general all the wretchedness which might
come from her own want of sunlight. She suffered under a terrible
feeling of ill-usage. Why was she, because she was a girl and
an heiress, to be debarred from her own happiness? If she were
willing to risk herself, why should others interfere? And if the
life and conduct of her cousin were in truth so bad as they were
represented,--which she did not in the least believe,--why had he
been allowed to come within her reach? It was not only that he was
young, clever, handsome, and in every way attractive, but that, in
addition to all this, he was a Hotspur, and would some day be the
head of the Hotspurs. Her father had known well enough that her
family pride was equal to his own. Was it not natural that, when a
man so endowed had come in her way, she should learn to love him? And
when she had loved him, was it not right that she should cling to her
love?

Her father would fain treat her like a beast of burden kept in the
stables for a purpose; or like a dog whose obedience and affections
might be transferred from one master to another for a price. She
would obey her father; but her father should be made to understand
that hers was not the nature of a beast of burden or of a dog. She
was a Hotspur as thoroughly as was he. And then they brought men
there to her, selected suitors, whom she despised. What did they
think of her when imagining that she would take a husband not of
her own choosing? What must be their idea of love, and of marriage
duty, and of that close intercourse of man and wife? To her feeling
a woman should not marry at all unless she could so love a man as
to acknowledge to herself that she was imperatively required to
sacrifice all that belonged to her for his welfare and good. Such was
her love for George Hotspur,--let him be what he might. They told
her that he was bad and that he would drag her into the mud. She was
willing to be dragged into the mud; or, at any rate, to make her own
struggle during the dragging, as to whether he should drag her in, or
she should drag him out.

And then they brought men to her--walking-sticks,--Lord Alfred and
young Mr. Thoresby, and insulted her by supposing of her that she
would marry a man simply because he was brought there as a fitting
husband. She would be dutiful and obedient as a daughter, according
to her idea of duty and of principle; but she would let them know
that she had an identity of her own, and that she was not to be
moulded like a piece of clay.

No doubt she was hard upon her father. No doubt she was in very
truth disobedient and disrespectful. It was not that she should have
married any Lord Alfred that was brought to her, but that she should
have struggled to accommodate her spirit to her father's spirit.
But she was a Hotspur; and though she could be generous, she could
not yield. And then the hold of a child upon the father is so much
stronger than that of the father on the child! Our eyes are set in
our face, and are always turned forward. The glances that we cast
back are but occasional.

And so the sunshine was banished from the house of Humblethwaite, and
the days were as black as the night.



CHAPTER XVII.

"LET US TRY."


Things went on thus at Humblethwaite for three weeks, and Sir Harry
began to feel that he could endure it no longer. He had expected to
have heard again from Mr. Boltby, but no letter had come. Mr. Boltby
had suggested to him something of starving out the town, and he had
expected to be informed before this whether the town were starved
out or not. He had received an indignant and grandiloquent letter
from his cousin, of which as yet he had taken no notice. He had taken
no notice of the letter, although it had been written to decline a
proposal of very great moment made by himself. He felt that in these
circumstances Mr. Boltby ought to have written to him. He ought to
have been told what was being done. And yet he had left Mr. Boltby
with a feeling which made it distasteful to him to ask further
questions from the lawyer on the subject. Altogether his position was
one as disagreeable and painful as it well could be.

But at last, in regard to his own private life with his daughter, he
could bear it no longer. The tenderness of his heart was too much for
his pride, and he broke down in his resolution to be stern and silent
with her till all this should have passed by them. She was so much
more to him than he was to her! She was his all in all;--whereas
Cousin George was hers. He was the happier at any rate in this, that
he would never be forced to despise where he loved.

"Emily," he said to her at last, "why is it that you are so changed
to me?"

"Papa!"

"Are you not changed? Do you not know that everything about the house
is changed?"

"Yes, Papa."

"And why is it so? I do not keep away from you. You used to come to
me every day. You never come near me now."

She hesitated for a moment with her eyes turned to the ground, and
then as she answered him she looked him full in the face. "It is
because I am always thinking of my cousin George."

"But why should that keep us apart, Emily? I wish that it were not
so; but why should that keep us apart?"

"Because you are thinking of him too, and think so differently! You
hate him; but I love him."

"I do not hate him. It is not that I hate him. I hate his vices."

"So do I."

"I know that he is not a fit man for you to marry. I have not been
able to tell you the things that I know of him."

"I do not wish to be told."

"But you might believe me when I assure you that they are of a nature
to make you change your feelings towards him. At this very moment he
is attached to--to--another person."

Emily Hotspur blushed up to her brows, and her cheeks and forehead
were suffused with blood; but her mouth was set as firm as a rock,
and then came that curl over her eye which her father had so dearly
loved when she was a child, but which was now held by him to be so
dangerous. She was not going to be talked out of her love in that
way. Of course there had been things,--were things of which she knew
nothing and desired to know nothing. Though she herself was as pure
as the driven snow, she did not require to be told that there were
impurities in the world. If it was meant to be insinuated that he was
untrue to her, she simply disbelieved it. But what if he were? His
untruth would not justify hers. And untruth was impossible to her.
She loved him, and had told him so. Let him be ever so false, it
was for her to bring him back to truth or to spend herself in the
endeavour. Her father did not understand her at all when he talked to
her after this fashion. But she said nothing. Her father was alluding
to a matter on which she could say nothing.

"If I could explain to you the way in which he has raised money for
his daily needs, you would feel that he had degraded himself beneath
your notice."

"He cannot degrade himself beneath my notice;--not now. It is too
late."

"But, Emily,--do you mean to say then that, let you set your
affections where you might,--however wrongly, on however base a
subject,--your mamma and I ought to yield to them, merely because
they are so set?"

"He is your heir, Papa."

"No; you are my heir. But I will not argue upon that. Grant that he
were my heir; even though every acre that is mine must go to feed his
wickedness the very moment that I die, would that be a reason for
giving my child to him also? Do you think that you are no more to
me than the acres, or the house, or the empty title? They are all
nothing to my love for you."

"Papa!"

"I do not think that you have known it. Nay, darling, I have hardly
known it myself. All other anxieties have ceased with me now that
I have come to know what it really is to be anxious for you. Do you
think that I would not abandon any consideration as to wealth or
family for your happiness? It has come to that with me, Emily, that
they are nothing to me now;--nothing. You are everything."

"Dear Papa!" And now once again she leant upon his shoulder.

"When I tell you of the young man's life, you will not listen to me.
You regard it simply as groundless opposition."

"No, Papa; not groundless,--only useless."

"But am I not bound to see that my girl be not united to a man who
would disgrace her, misuse her, drag her into the dirt,"--that idea
of dragging George out was strong in Emily's mind as she listened to
this,--"make her wretched and contemptible, and degrade her? Surely
this is a father's duty; and my child should not turn from me, and
almost refuse to speak to me, because I do it as best I can!"

"I do not turn from you, Papa."

"Has my darling been to me as she used to be?"

"Look here, Papa; you know what it is I have promised you."

"I do, dearest."

"I will keep my promise. I will never marry him till you consent.
Even though I were to see him every day for ten years, I would not do
so when I had given my word."

"I am sure of it, Emily."

"But let us try, you and I and Mamma together. If you will do that;
oh, I will be so good to you! Let us see if we cannot make him good.
I will never ask to marry him till you yourself are satisfied that
he has reformed." She looked into his face imploringly, and she saw
that he was vacillating. And yet he was a strong man, not given in
ordinary things to much doubt. "Papa, let us understand each other
and be friends. If we do not trust each other, who can trust any
one?"

"I do trust you."

"I shall never care for any one else."

"Do not say that, my child. You are too young to know your own heart.
These are wounds which time will cure. Others have suffered as you
are suffering, and yet have become happy wives and mothers."

"Papa, I shall never change. I think I love him more because he
is--so weak. Like a poor child that is a cripple, he wants more
love than those who are strong. I shall never change. And look here,
Papa; I know it is my duty to obey you by not marrying without your
consent. But it can never be my duty to marry any one because you or
Mamma ask me. You will agree to that, Papa?"

"I should never think of pressing any one on you."

"That is what I mean. And so we do understand each other. Nothing
can teach me not to think of him, and to love him, and to pray for
him. As long as I live I shall do so. Nothing you can find out about
him will alter me in that. Pray, pray do not go on finding out bad
things. Find out something good, and then you will begin to love
him."

"But if there is nothing good?" Sir Harry, as he said this,
remembered the indignant refusal of his offer which was at that
moment in his pocket, and confessed to himself that he had no right
to say that nothing good could be found in Cousin George.

"Do not say that, Papa. How can you say that of any one? Remember, he
has our name, and he must some day be at the head of our family."

"It will not be long, first," said Sir Harry, mournfully.

"Many, many, many years, I hope. For his sake as well as ours, I pray
that it may be so. But still it is natural to suppose that the day
will come."

"Of course it will come."

"Must it not be right, then, to make him fit for it when it comes? It
can't be your great duty to think of him, as it is mine; but still it
must be a duty to you too. I will not excuse his life, Papa; but have
there not been temptations,--such great temptations? And then, other
men are excused for doing what he has done. Let us try together,
Papa. Say that you will try."

It was clear to Sir Harry through it all that she knew nothing as yet
of the nature of the man's offences. When she spoke of temptation not
resisted, she was still thinking of commonplace extravagance, of the
ordinary pleasures of fast young men, of racecourses, and betting,
perhaps, and of tailors' bills. That lie which he had told about
Goodwood she had, as it were, thrown behind her, so that she should
not be forced to look at it. But Sir Harry knew him to be steeped
in dirty lies up to the hip, one who cheated tradesmen on system,
a gambler who looked out for victims, a creature so mean that he
could take a woman's money! Mr. Boltby had called him a swindler, a
card-sharper, and a cur; and Sir Harry, though he was inclined at
the present moment to be angry with Mr. Boltby, had never known the
lawyer to be wrong. And this was the man for whom his daughter was
pleading with all the young enthusiasm of her nature,--was pleading,
not as for a cousin, but in order that he might at last be welcomed
to that house as her lover, her husband, the one human being chosen
out from all the world to be the recipient of the good things of
which she had the bestowal! The man was so foul in the estimation of
Sir Harry that it was a stain to be in his presence; and this was the
man whom he as a father was implored to help to save, in order that
at some future time his daughter might become the reprobate's wife!

"Papa, say that you will help me," repeated Emily, clinging to him,
and looking up into his face.

He could not say that he would help her, and yet he longed to say
some word that might comfort her. "You have been greatly shaken by
all this, dearest."

"Shaken! Yes, in one sense I have been shaken. I don't know quite
what you mean. I shall never be shaken in the other way."

"You have been distressed."

"Yes; distressed."

"And, indeed, so have we all," he continued. "I think it will be best
to leave this for a while."

"For how long, Papa?"

"We need not quite fix that. I was thinking of going to Naples for
the winter." He was silent, waiting for her approbation, but she
expressed none. "It is not long since you said how much you would
like to spend a winter in Naples."

She still paused, but it was but for a moment. "At that time, Papa,
I was not engaged." Did she mean to tell him, that because of this
fatal promise which she had made, she never meant to stir from
her home till she should be allowed to go with that wretch as
her husband; that because of this promise, which could never be
fulfilled, everything should come to an end with her? "Papa," she
said, "that would not be the way to try to save him, to go away and
leave him among those who prey upon him;--unless, indeed, he might go
too!"

"What! with us?"

"With you and Mamma. Why not? You know what I have promised. You can
trust me."

"It is a thing absolutely not to be thought of," he said; and then he
left her. What was he to do? He could take her abroad, no doubt, but
were he to do so in her present humour, she would, of course, relapse
into that cold, silent, unloving, undutiful obedience which had been
so distressing to him. She had made a great request to him, and he
had not absolutely refused it. But the more he thought of it the more
distasteful did it become to him. You cannot touch pitch and not be
defiled. And the stain of this pitch was so very black! He could pay
money, if that would soothe her. He could pay money, even if the man
should not accept the offer made to him, should she demand it of him.
And if the man would reform himself, and come out through the fire
really purified, might it not be possible that at some long future
time Emily should become his wife? Or, if some sort of half promise
such as this were made to Emily, would not that soften her for
the time, and induce her to go abroad with a spirit capable of
satisfaction, if not of pleasure? If this could be brought about,
then time might do the rest. It would have been a delight to him to
see his daughter married early, even though his own home might have
been made desolate; but now he would be content if he thought he
could look forward to some future settlement in life that might
become her rank and fortune.

Emily, when her father left her, was aware that she had received
no reply to her request, which she was entitled to regard as
encouraging; but she thought that she had broken the ice, and that
her father would by degrees become accustomed to her plan. If she
could only get him to say that he would watch over the unhappy one,
she herself would not be unhappy. It was not to be expected that she
should be allowed to give her own aid at first to the work, but she
had her scheme. His debts must be paid, and an income provided for
him. And duties, too, must be given to him. Why should he not live
at Scarrowby, and manage the property there? And then, at length, he
would be welcomed to Humblethwaite, when her own work might begin.
Neither for him nor for her must there be any living again in London
until this task should have been completed. That any trouble could be
too great, any outlay of money too vast for so divine a purpose, did
not occur to her. Was not this man the heir to her father's title;
and was he not the owner of her own heart? Then she knelt down and
prayed that the Almighty Father would accomplish this good work for
her;--and yet, not for her, but for him; not that she might be happy
in her love, but that he might be as a brand saved from the burning,
not only hereafter, but here also, in the sight of men. Alas,
dearest, no; not so could it be done! Not at thy instance, though thy
prayers be as pure as the songs of angels;--but certainly at his, if
only he could be taught to know that the treasure so desirable in thy
sight, so inestimable to thee, were a boon worthy of his acceptance.



CHAPTER XVIII.

GOOD ADVICE.


Two or three days after the little request made by Cousin George to
Mrs. Morton, the Altringhams came suddenly to town. George received a
note from Lady Altringham addressed to him at his club.


   We are going through to the Draytons in Hampshire. It
   is a new freak. Four or five horses are to be sold, and
   Gustavus thinks of buying the lot. If you are in town,
   come to us. You must not think that we are slack about you
   because Gustavus would have nothing to do with the money.
   He will be at home to-morrow till eleven. I shall not go
   out till two. We leave on Thursday.--Yours, A. A.


This letter he received on the Wednesday. Up to that hour he had done
nothing since his interview with Mr. Hart; nor during those few days
did he hear from that gentleman, or from Captain Stubber, or from Mr.
Boltby. He had written to Sir Harry refusing Sir Harry's generous
offer, and subsequently to that had made up his mind to accept
it,--and had asked, as the reader knows, for Mrs. Morton's
assistance. But the making up of George Hotspur's mind was nothing.
It was unmade again that day after dinner, as he thought of all the
glories of Humblethwaite and Scarrowby combined. Any one knowing
him would have been sure that he would do nothing till he should be
further driven. Now there had come upon the scene in London one who
could drive him.

He went to the Earl's house just at eleven, not wishing to seem to
avoid the Earl, but still desirous of seeing as little of his friend
on that occasion as possible. He found Lord Altringham standing in
his wife's morning-room. "How are you, old fellow? How do things go
with the heiress?" He was in excellent humour, and said nothing about
the refused request. "I must be off. You do what my Lady advises; you
may be sure that she knows a deal more about it than you or I." Then
he went, wishing George success in his usual friendly, genial way,
which, as George knew, meant very little.

With Lady Altringham the case was different. She was in earnest about
it. It was to her a matter of real moment that this great heiress
should marry one of her own set, and a man who wanted money so
badly as did poor George. And she liked work of that kind. George's
matrimonial prospects were more interesting to her than her husband's
stables. She was very soon in the thick of it all, asking questions,
and finding out how the land lay. She knew that George would lie; but
that was to be expected from a man in his position. She knew also
that she could with fair accuracy extract the truth from his lies.

"Pay all your debts, and give you five hundred pounds a year for his
life."

"The lawyer has offered that," said George, sadly.

"Then you may be sure," continued Lady Altringham, "that the young
lady is in earnest. You have not accepted it?"

"Oh dear, no. I wrote to Sir Harry quite angrily. I told him I wanted
my cousin's hand."

"And what next?"

"I have heard nothing further from anybody."

Lady Altringham sat and thought. "Are these people in London
bothering you?" George explained that he had been bothered a good
deal, but not for the last four or five days. "Can they put you in
prison, or anything of that kind?"

George was not quite sure whether they might or might not have some
such power. He had a dreadful weight on his mind of which he could
say nothing to Lady Altringham. Even she would be repelled from
him were she to know of that evening's work between him and Messrs.
Walker and Bullbean. He said at last that he did not think they could
arrest him, but that he was not quite sure.

"You must do something to let her know that you are as much in
earnest as she is."

"Exactly."

"It is no use writing, because she wouldn't get your letters."

"She wouldn't have a chance."

"And if I understand her she would not do anything secretly."

"I am afraid not," said George.

"You will live, perhaps, to be glad that it is so. When girls
come out to meet their lovers clandestinely before marriage, they
get so fond of the excitement that they sometimes go on doing it
afterwards."

"She is as,--as--as sure to go the right side of the post as any girl
in the world."

"No doubt. So much the better for you. When those girls do catch the
disease, they always have it very badly. They mean only to have one
affair, and naturally want to make the most of it. Well, now what I
would do is this. Run down to Humblethwaite."

"To Humblethwaite!"

"Yes. I don't suppose you are going to be afraid of anybody. Knock
at the door, and send your card to Sir Harry. Drive into the
stable-yard, so that everybody about the place may know that you are
there, and then ask to see the Baronet."

"He wouldn't see me."

"Then ask to see Lady Elizabeth."

"She wouldn't be allowed to see me."

"Then leave a letter, and say that you'll wait for an answer. Write
to Miss Hotspur whatever you like to say in the way of a love-letter,
and put it under cover to Sir Harry--open."

"She'll never get it."

"I don't suppose she will. Not but what she may--only that isn't the
first object. But this will come of it. She'll know that you've been
there. That can't be kept from her. You may be sure that she was very
firm in sticking to you when he offered to pay all that money to get
rid of you. She'll remain firm if she's made to know that you are the
same. Don't let her love die out for want of notice."

"I won't."

"If they take her abroad, go after them. Stick to it, and you'll wear
them out if she helps you. And if she knows that you are sticking to
it, she'll do the same for honour. When she begins to be a little
pale, and to walk out at nights, and to cough in the morning, they'll
be tired out and send for Dr. George Hotspur. That's the way it will
go if you play your game well."

Cousin George was lost in admiration at the wisdom and generalship of
this great counsellor, and promised implicit obedience. The Countess
went on to explain that it might be expedient to postpone this
movement for a week or two. "You should leave just a little interval,
because you cannot always be doing something. For some days after his
return her father won't cease to abuse you, which will keep you well
in her mind. When those men begin to attack you again, so as to make
London too hot, then run down to Humblethwaite. Don't hide your light
under a bushel. Let the people down there know all about it."

George Hotspur swore eternal gratitude and implicit obedience, and
went back to his club.

Mr. Hart and Captain Stubber did not give him much rest. From Mr.
Boltby he received no further communication. For the present Mr.
Boltby thought it well to leave him in the hands of Mr. Hart and
Captain Stubber. Mr. Boltby, indeed, did not as yet know of Mr.
Bullbean's story, although certain hints had reached him which had,
as he thought, justified him in adding the title of card-sharper to
those other titles with which he had decorated his client's cousin's
name. Had he known the entire Walker story, he would probably have
thought that Cousin George might have been bought at a considerably
cheaper price than that fixed in the Baronet's offer, which was
still in force. But then Mr. Hart had his little doubts also and his
difficulties. He, too, could perceive that were he to make this last
little work of Captain Hotspur's common property in the market, it
might so far sink Captain Hotspur's condition and value in the world
that nobody would think it worth his while to pay Captain Hotspur's
debts. At present there was a proposition from an old gentleman,
possessed of enormous wealth, to "pay all Captain Hotspur's debts."
Three months ago, Mr. Hart would willingly have sold every scrap
of the Captain's paper in his possession for the half of the
sum inscribed on it. The whole sum was now promised, and would
undoubtedly be paid if the Captain could be worked upon to do as
Mr. Boltby desired. But if the gentlemen employed on this delicate
business were to blow upon the Captain too severely, Mr. Boltby would
have no such absolute necessity to purchase the Captain. The Captain
would sink to zero, and not need purchasing. Mr. Walker must have
back his money,--or so much of it as Mr. Hart might permit him
to take. That probably might be managed; and the Captain must be
thoroughly frightened, and must be made to write the letter which Mr.
Boltby desired. Mr. Hart understood his work very well;--so, it is
hoped, does the reader.

Captain Stubber was in these days a thorn in our hero's side; but Mr.
Hart was a scourge of scorpions. Mr. Hart never ceased to talk of Mr.
Walker, and of the determination of Walker and Bullbean to go before
a magistrate if restitution were not made. Cousin George of course
denied the foul play, but admitted that he would repay the money if
he had it. There should be no difficulty about the money, Mr. Hart
assured him, if he would only write that letter to Mr. Boltby. In
fact, if he would write that letter to Mr. Boltby, he should be made
"shquare all round." So Mr. Hart was pleased to express himself. But
if this were not done, and done at once, Mr. Hart swore by his God
that Captain "'Oshspur" should be sold up, root and branch, without
another day's mercy. The choice was between five hundred pounds a
year in any of the capitals of Europe, and that without a debt,--or
penal servitude. That was the pleasant form in which Mr. Hart put the
matter to his young friend.

Cousin George drank a good deal of curaçoa, and doubted between Lady
Altringham and Mr. Hart. He knew that he had not told everything to
the Countess. Excellent as was her scheme, perfect as was her wisdom,
her advice was so far more dangerous than the Jew's, that it was
given somewhat in the dark. The Jew knew pretty well everything. The
Jew was interested, of course, and therefore his advice must also be
regarded with suspicion. At last, when Mr. Hart and Captain Stubber
between them had made London too hot to hold him, he started for
Humblethwaite,--not without leaving a note for "dear Mr. Hart,"
in which he explained to that gentleman that he was going to
Westmoreland suddenly, with a purpose that would, he trusted, very
speedily enable him to pay every shilling that he owed.

"Yesh," said Mr. Hart, "and if he ain't quick he shall come back with
a 'andcuff on."

Captain Hotspur could not very well escape Mr. Hart. He started by
the night-train for Penrith, and before doing so prepared a short
letter for Miss Hotspur, which, as instructed, he put open under
an envelope addressed to the Baronet. There should be nothing
clandestine, nothing dishonourable. Oh dear, no! He quite taught
himself to believe that he would have hated anything dishonourable or
clandestine. His letter was as follows:--


   DEAREST EMILY,--After what has passed between us, I cannot
   bear not to attempt to see you or to write to you. So
   I shall go down and take this letter with me. Of course
   I shall not take any steps of which Sir Harry might
   disapprove. I wrote to him two or three weeks ago, telling
   him what I proposed, and I thought that he would have
   answered me. As I have not heard from him I shall take
   this with me to Humblethwaite, and shall hope, though I do
   not know whether I may dare to expect, to see the girl I
   love better than all the world.--Always your own,

   GEORGE HOTSPUR.


Even this was not composed by himself, for Cousin George, though
he could often talk well,--or at least sufficiently well for the
purposes which he had on hand,--was not good with his pen on such an
occasion as this. Lady Altringham had sent him by post a rough copy
of what he had better say, and he had copied her ladyship's words
verbatim. There is no matter of doubt at all but that on all such
subjects an average woman can write a better letter than an average
man; and Cousin George was therefore right to obtain assistance from
his female friends.

He slept at Penrith till nearly noon, then breakfasted and started
with post-horses for Humblethwaite. He felt that everybody knew what
he was about, and was almost ashamed of being seen. Nevertheless he
obeyed his instructions. He had himself driven up through the lodges
and across the park into the large stable-yard of the Hall. Lady
Altringham had quite understood that more people must see and hear
him in this way than if he merely rang at the front door and were
from thence dismissed. The grooms and the coachman saw him, as did
also three or four of the maids who were in the habit of watching to
see that the grooms and coachman did their work. He had brought with
him a travelling-bag,--not expecting to be asked to stay and dine,
but thinking it well to be prepared. This, however, he left in the
fly as he walked round to the hall-door. The footman was already
there when he appeared, as word had gone through the house that
Mr. George had arrived. Was Sir Harry at home? Yes, Sir Harry was
at home;--and then George found himself in a small parlour, or
book-room, or subsidiary library, which he had very rarely known to
be used. But there was a fire in the room, and he stood before it,
twiddling his hat.

In a quarter of an hour the door was opened, and the servant came
in with a tray and wine and sandwiches. George felt it to be an
inappropriate welcome; but still, after a fashion, it was a welcome.

"Is Sir Harry in the house?" he asked.

"Yes, Mr. Hotspur."

"Does he know that I am here?"

"Yes, Mr. Hotspur, I think he does."

Then it occurred to Cousin George that perhaps he might bribe the
servant; and he put his hand into his pocket. But before he had
communicated the two half-crowns, it struck him that there was no
possible request which he could make to the man in reference to which
a bribe would be serviceable.

"Just ask them to look to the horses," he said; "I don't know whether
they were taken out."

"The horses is feeding, Mr. Hotspur," said the man.

Every word the man spoke was gravely spoken, and George understood
perfectly that he was held to have done a very wicked thing in coming
to Humblethwaite. Nevertheless, there was a decanter full of sherry,
which, as far as it went, was an emblem of kindness. Nobody should
say that he was unwilling to accept kindness at his cousin's hands,
and he helped himself liberally. Before he was interrupted again he
had filled his glass four times.

But in truth it needed something to support him. For a whole hour
after the servant's disappearance he was left alone. There were books
in the room,--hundreds of them; but in such circumstances who could
read? Certainly not Cousin George, to whom books at no time gave much
comfort. Twice and thrice he stepped towards the bell, intending to
ring it, and ask again for Sir Harry; but twice and thrice he paused.
In his position he was bound not to give offence to Sir Harry. At
last the door was opened, and with silent step, and grave demeanour,
and solemn countenance, Lady Elizabeth walked into the room. "We are
very sorry that you should have been kept so long waiting, Captain
Hotspur," she said.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE NEW SMITHY.


Sir Harry was sitting alone in the library when the tidings were
brought to him that George Hotspur had reached Humblethwaite with
a pair of post-horses from Penrith. The old butler, Cloudesdale,
brought him the news, and Cloudesdale whispered it into his ears with
solemn sorrow. Cloudesdale was well aware that Cousin George was no
credit to the house of Humblethwaite. And much about the same time
the information was brought to Lady Elizabeth by her housekeeper, and
to Emily by her own maid. It was by Cloudesdale's orders that George
was shown into the small room near the hall; and he told Sir Harry
what he had done in a funereal whisper. Lady Altringham had been
quite right in her method of ensuring the general delivery of the
information about the house.

Emily flew at once to her mother. "George is here," she said. Mrs.
Quick, the housekeeper, was at that moment leaving the room.

"So Quick tells me. What can have brought him, my dear?"

"Why should he not come, Mamma?"

"Because your papa will not make him welcome to the house. Oh,
dear,--he knows that. What are we to do?" In a few minutes Mrs. Quick
came back again. Sir Harry would be much obliged if her ladyship
would go to him. Then it was that the sandwiches and sherry were
ordered. It was a compromise on the part of Lady Elizabeth between
Emily's prayer that some welcome might be shown, and Sir Harry's
presumed determination that the banished man should continue to be
regarded as banished. "Take him some kind of refreshment, Quick;--a
glass of wine or something, you know." Then Mrs. Quick had cut the
sandwiches with her own hand, and Cloudesdale had given the sherry.
"He ain't eaten much, but he's made it up with the wine," said
Cloudesdale, when the tray was brought back again.

Lady Elizabeth went down to her husband, and there was a
consultation. Sir Harry was quite clear that he would not now, on
this day, admit Cousin George as a guest into his house; nor would he
see him. To that conclusion he came after his wife had been with him
some time. He would not see him, there, at Humblethwaite. If George
had anything to say that could not be said in a letter, a meeting
might be arranged elsewhere. Sir Harry confessed, however, that
he could not see that good results could come from any meeting
whatsoever. "The truth is, that I don't want to have anything more to
do with him," said Sir Harry. That was all very well, but as Emily's
wants in this respect were at variance with her father's, there was
a difficulty. Lady Elizabeth pleaded that some kind of civility, at
least some mitigation of opposition, should be shown, for Emily's
sake. At last she was commissioned to go to Cousin George, to send
him away from the house, and, if necessary, to make an appointment
between him and Sir Harry at the Crown, at Penrith, for the morrow.
Nothing on earth should induce Sir Harry to see his cousin anywhere
on his own premises. As for any meeting between Cousin George and
Emily, that was, of course, out of the question,--and he must go from
Humblethwaite. Such were the instructions with which Lady Elizabeth
descended to the little room.

Cousin George came forward with the pleasantest smile to take Lady
Elizabeth by the hand. He was considerably relieved when he saw Lady
Elizabeth, because of her he was not afraid. "I do not at all mind
waiting," he said. "How is Sir Harry?"

"Quite well."

"And yourself?"

"Pretty well, thank you."

"And Emily?"

Lady Elizabeth knew that in answering him she ought to call her own
daughter Miss Hotspur, but she lacked the courage. "Emily is well
too. Sir Harry has thought it best that I should come to you and
explain that just at present he cannot ask you to Humblethwaite."

"I did not expect it."

"And he had rather not see you himself,--at least not here." Lady
Elizabeth had not been instructed to propose a meeting. She had
been told rather to avoid it if possible. But, like some other
undiplomatic ambassadors, in her desire to be civil, she ran at once
to the extremity of the permitted concessions. "If you have anything
to say to Sir Harry--"

"I have, Lady Elizabeth; a great deal."

"And if you could write it--"

"I am so bad at writing."

"Then Sir Harry will go over and see you to-morrow at Penrith."

"That will be so very troublesome to him!"

"You need not regard that. At what hour shall he come?"

Cousin George was profuse in declaring that he would be at his
cousin's disposal at any hour Sir Harry might select, from six in the
morning throughout the day and night. But might he not say a word to
Emily? At this proposition Lady Elizabeth shook her head vigorously.
It was quite out of the question. Circumstanced as they all were at
present, Sir Harry would not think of such a thing. And then it would
do no good. Lady Elizabeth did not believe that Emily herself would
wish it. At any rate there need be no further talk about it, as
any such interview was at present quite impossible. By all which
arguments and refusals, and the tone in which they were pronounced,
Cousin George was taught to perceive that, at any rate in the mind
of Lady Elizabeth, the process of parental yielding had already
commenced.

On all such occasions interviews are bad. The teller of this story
ventures to take the opportunity of recommending parents in such
cases always to refuse interviews, not only between the young lady
and the lover who is to be excluded, but also between themselves and
the lover. The vacillating tone,--even when the resolve to suppress
vacillation has been most determined,--is perceived and understood,
and at once utilized, by the least argumentative of lovers, even by
lovers who are obtuse. The word "never" may be so pronounced as to
make the young lady's twenty thousand pounds full present value for
ten in the lover's pocket. There should be no arguments, no letters,
no interviews; and the young lady's love should be starved by the
absence of all other mention of the name, and by the imperturbable
good humour on all other matters of those with whom she comes in
contact in her own domestic circle. If it be worth anything, it won't
be starved; but if starving to death be possible, that is the way to
starve it. Lady Elizabeth was a bad ambassador; and Cousin George,
when he took his leave, promising to be ready to meet Sir Harry at
twelve on the morrow, could almost comfort himself with a prospect
of success. He might be successful, if only he could stave off
the Walker and Bullbean portion of Mr. Hart's persecution! For he
understood that the success of his views at Humblethwaite must
postpone the payment by Sir Harry of those moneys for which Mr. Hart
and Captain Stubber were so unreasonably greedy. He would have dared
to defy the greed, but for the Walker and Bullbean portion of the
affair. Sir Harry already knew that he was in debt to these men;
already knew with fair accuracy the amount of those debts. Hart and
Stubber could not make him worse in Sir Harry's eyes than he was
already, unless the Walker and Bullbean story should be told with the
purpose of destroying him. How he did hate Walker and Bullbean and
the memory of that evening;--and yet the money which now enabled him
to drink champagne at the Penrith Crown was poor Mr. Walker's money!
As he was driven back to Penrith he thought of all this, for some
moments sadly, and at others almost with triumph. Might not a letter
to Mr. Hart, with perhaps a word of truth in it, do some good? That
evening, after his champagne, he wrote a letter:--


   DEAR MR. HART,--Things are going uncommon well here, only
   I hope you will do nothing to disturb just at present.
   It _must_ come off, if a little time is given, and then
   _every shilling_ will be paid. A few pounds more or less
   won't make any difference. Do arrange this, and you'll
   find I'll never forget how kind you have been. I've been
   at Humblethwaite to-day, and things are going quite
   smooth.

   Yours most sincerely,

   GEORGE HOTSPUR.

   Don't mention Walker's name, and everything shall be
   settled just as you shall fix.

   The Crown, Penrith, Thursday.


The moment the letter was written he rang the bell and gave it to the
waiter. Such was the valour of drink operating on him now, as it had
done when he wrote that other letter to Sir Harry! The drink made him
brave to write, and to make attempts, and to dare consequences; but
even whilst brave with drink, he knew that the morning's prudence
would refuse its assent to such courage; and therefore, to save
himself from the effects of the morning's cowardice, he put the
letter at once out of his own power of control. After this fashion
were arranged most of Cousin George's affairs. Before dinner on
that day the evening of which he had passed with Mr. Walker, he had
resolved that certain hints given to him by Mr. Bullbean should be
of no avail to him;--not to that had he yet descended, nor would he
so descend;--but with his brandy after dinner divine courage had
come, and success had attended the brave. As soon as he was awake on
that morning after writing to Mr. Hart, he rang his bell to inquire
whether that letter which he had given to the waiter at twelve
o'clock last night were still in the house. It was too late. The
letter in which so imprudent a mention had been made of Mr. Walker's
name was already in the post. "Never mind," said Cousin George to
himself; "None but the brave deserve the fair." Then he turned round
for another nap. It was not much past nine, and Sir Harry would not
be there before twelve.

In the mean time there had been hope also and doubt also at
Humblethwaite. Sir Harry was not surprised and hardly disappointed
when he was told that he was to go to Penrith to see his cousin.
The offer had been made by himself, and he was sure that he would
not escape with less; and when Emily was told by her mother of the
arrangement, she saw in it a way to the fulfilment of the prayer
which she had made to her father. She would say nothing to him that
evening, leaving to him the opportunity of speaking to her, should he
choose to do so. But on the following morning she would repeat her
prayer. On that evening not a word was said about George while Sir
Harry and Lady Elizabeth were together with their daughter. Emily had
made her plan, and she clung to it. Her father was very gentle with
her, sitting close to her as she played some pieces of music to him
in the evening, caressing her and looking lovingly into her eyes, as
he bade God bless her when she left him for the night; but he had
determined to say nothing to encourage her. He was still minded that
there could be no such encouragement; but he doubted;--in his heart
of hearts he doubted. He would still have bought off Cousin George
by the sacrifice of half his property, and yet he doubted. After all,
there would be some consolation in that binding together of the name
and the property.

"What will you say to him?" Lady Elizabeth asked her husband that
night.

"Tell him to go away."

"Nothing more than that?"

"What more is there to say? If he be willing to be bought, I will buy
him. I will pay his debts and give him an income."

"You think, then, there can be no hope?"

"Hope!--for whom?"

"For Emily."

"I hope to preserve her--from a--scoundrel." And yet he had thought
of the consolation!

Emily was very persistent in carrying out her plan. Prayers at
Humblethwaite were always read with admirable punctuality at a
quarter-past nine, so that breakfast might be commenced at half-past.
Sir Harry every week-day was in his own room for three-quarters of an
hour before prayers. All this was like clock-work at Humblethwaite.
There would always be some man or men with Sir Harry during these
three-quarters of an hour,--a tenant, a gamekeeper, a groom, a
gardener, or a bailiff. But Emily calculated that if she made her
appearance and held her ground, the tenant or the bailiff would
give way, and that thus she would ensure a private interview with
her father. Were she to wait till after breakfast, this would be
difficult. A very few minutes after the half-hour she knocked at the
door and was admitted. The village blacksmith was then suggesting a
new smithy.

"Papa," said Emily, "if you would allow me half a minute--"

The village blacksmith and the bailiff, who was also present,
withdrew, bowing to Emily, who gave to each of them a smile and a
nod. They were her old familiar friends, and they looked kindly at
her. She was to be their future lady; but was it not all important
that their future lord should be a Hotspur?

Sir Harry had thought it not improbable that his daughter would come
to him, but would have preferred to avoid the interview if possible.
Here it was, however, and could not be avoided.

"Papa," she said, kissing him, "you are going to Penrith to-day."

"Yes, my dear."

"To see Cousin George?"

"Yes, Emily."

"Will you remember what we were saying the other day;--what I said?"

"I will endeavour to do my duty as best I may," said Sir Harry, after
a pause.

"I am sure you will, Papa;--and so do I. I do endeavour to do my
duty. Will you not try to help him?"

"Certainly, I will try to help him; for your sake rather than for his
own. If I can help him with money, by paying his debts and giving him
means to live, I will do so."

"Papa, that is not what I mean."

"What else can I do?"

"Save him from the evil of his ways."

"I will try. I would,--if I knew how,--even if only for the name's
sake."

"For my sake also, Papa. Papa, let us do it together; you and I and
Mamma. Let him come here."

"It is impossible."

"Let him come here," she said, as though disregarding his refusal.
"You need not be afraid of me. I know how much there is to do that
will be very hard in doing before any,--any other arrangement can be
talked about."

"I am not afraid of you, my child."

"Let him come, then."

"No;--it would do no good. Do you think he would live here quietly?"

"Try him."

"What would people say?"

"Never mind what people would say: he is our cousin; he is your heir.
He is the person whom I love best in all the world. Have you not a
right to have him here if you wish it? I know what you are thinking
of; but, Papa, there can never be anybody else;--never."

"Emily, you will kill me, I think."

"Dear Papa, let us see if we cannot try. And, oh, Papa, pray, pray
let me see him." When she went away the bailiff and the blacksmith
returned; but Sir Harry's power of resistance was gone, so that he
succumbed to the new smithy without a word.



CHAPTER XX.

COUSIN GEORGE'S SUCCESS.


Thoughts crowded quick into the mind of Sir Harry Hotspur as he
had himself driven over to Penrith. It was a dull, dreary day in
November, and he took the close carriage. The distance was about ten
miles, and he had therefore something above an hour for thinking.
When men think much, they can rarely decide. The affairs as to which
a man has once acknowledged to himself that he may be either wise or
foolish, prudent or imprudent, are seldom matters on which he can by
any amount of thought bring himself to a purpose which to his own
eyes shall be clearly correct. When he can decide without thinking,
then he can decide without a doubt, and with perfect satisfaction.
But in this matter Sir Harry thought much. There had been various
times at which he was quite sure that it was his duty to repudiate
this cousin utterly. There had never been a time at which he had been
willing to accept him. Nevertheless, at this moment, with all his
struggles of thought he could not resolve. Was his higher duty due
to his daughter, or to his family,--and through his family to his
country, which, as he believed, owed its security and glory to the
maintenance of its aristocracy? Would he be justified,--justified
in any degree,--in subjecting his child to danger in the hope that
his name and family pride might be maintained? Might he take his own
desires in that direction as any make-weight towards a compliance
with his girl's strong wishes, grounded as they were on quite other
reasons? Mr. Boltby had been very eager in telling him that he ought
to have nothing to say to this cousin, had loaded the cousin's name
with every imaginable evil epithet; and of Mr. Boltby's truth and
honesty there could be no doubt. But then Mr. Boltby had certainly
exceeded his duty, and was of course disposed, by his professional
view of the matter, to think any step the wisest which would tend to
save the property from dangerous hands. Sir Harry felt that there
were things to be saved of more value than the property;--the family,
the title, perhaps that reprobate cousin himself; and then, above
all, his child. He did believe that his child would not smile for him
again, unless he would consent to make some effort in favour of her
lover.

Doubtless the man was very bad. Sir Harry was sick at heart as
he thought of the evil nature of the young man's vices. Of a man
debauched in his life, extravagant with his money, even of a gambler,
a drunkard, one fond of low men and of low women;--of one even such
as this there might be hope, and the vicious man, if he will give up
his vices, may still be loved and at last respected. But of a liar, a
swindler, one mean as well as vicious, what hope could there be? It
was essential to Sir Harry that the husband of his daughter should at
any rate be a gentleman. The man's blood, indeed, was good; and blood
will show at last, let the mud be ever so deep. So said Sir Harry to
himself. And Emily would consent that the man should be tried by what
severest fire might be kindled for the trying of him. If there were
any gold there, it might be possible to send the dross adrift, and
to get the gold without alloy. Could Lady Altringham have read Sir
Harry's mind as his carriage was pulled up, just at twelve o'clock,
at the door of the Penrith Crown, she would have been stronger than
ever in her belief that young lovers, if they be firm, can always
conquer opposing parents.

But alas, alas, there was no gold with this dross, and in that matter
of blood, as to which Sir Harry's ideas were so strong, and indeed
so noble, he entertained but a muddled theory. Noblesse oblige. High
position will demand, and will often exact, high work. But that rule
holds as good with a Buonaparte as with a Bourbon, with a Cromwell
as with a Stewart; and succeeds as often and fails as often with
the low born as with the high. And good blood too will have its
effect,--physical for the most part,--and will produce bottom,
lasting courage, that capacity of carrying on through the mud to
which Sir Harry was wont to allude; but good blood will bring no
man back to honesty. The two things together, no doubt, assist in
producing the highest order of self-denying man.

When Sir Harry got out of his carriage, he had not yet made up his
mind. The waiter had been told that he was expected, and showed him
up at once into the large sitting-room looking out into the street,
which Cousin George had bespoke for the occasion. He had had a
smaller room himself, but had been smoking there, and at this moment
in that room there was a decanter and a wine-glass on the chiffonier
in one corner. He had heard the bustle of the arrival, and had at
once gone into the saloon prepared for the reception of the great
man. "I am so sorry to give you this trouble," said Cousin George,
coming forward to greet his cousin. Sir Harry could not refuse his
cousin's hand, though he would willingly have done so, had it been
possible. "I should not mind the trouble," he said, "if it were of
any use. I fear it can be of none."

"I hope you will not be prejudiced against me, Sir Harry."

"I trust that I am not prejudiced against any one. What is it that
you wish me to do?"

"I want permission to go to Humblethwaite, as a suitor for your
daughter's hand." So far Cousin George had prepared his speech
beforehand.

"And what have you to recommend you to a father for such permission?
Do you not know, sir, that when a gentleman proposes to a lady it is
his duty to show that he is in a condition fit for the position which
he seeks; that in character, in means, in rank, in conduct, he is at
least her equal."

"As for our rank, Sir Harry, it is the same."

"And for your means? You know that my daughter is my heiress?"

"I do; but it is not that that has brought me to her. Of course,
I have nothing. But then, you know, though she will inherit the
estates, I must inherit--"

"If you please, sir, we will not go into all that again," said Sir
Harry, interrupting him. "I explained to you before, sir, that
I would have admitted your future rank as a counterpoise to her
fortune, if I could have trusted your character. I cannot trust it. I
do not know why you should thrust upon me the necessity of saying all
this again. As I believe that you are in pecuniary distress, I made
you an offer which I thought to be liberal."

"It was liberal, but it did not suit me to accept it." George had
an inkling of what would pass within Sir Harry's bosom as to the
acceptance or rejection of that offer. "I wrote to you, declining it,
and as I have received no answer, I thought that I would just run
down. What was I to do?"

"Do? How can I tell? Pay your debts. The money was offered you."

"I cannot give up my cousin. Has she been allowed to receive the
letter which I left for her yesterday?"

Now Sir Harry had doubted much in his own mind as to the letter.
During that morning's interview it had still been in his own
possession. As he was preparing to leave the house he had made
up his mind that she should have it; and Lady Elizabeth had been
commissioned to give it her, not without instruction and explanation.
Her father would not keep it from her, because he trusted her
implicitly; but she was to understand that it could mean nothing to
her, and that the letter must not of course be answered.

"It does not matter whether she did or did not," said Sir Harry.
"I ask you again, whether you will accept the offer made you by Mr.
Boltby, and give me your written promise not to renew this suit."

"I cannot do that, Sir Harry."

Sir Harry did not know how to proceed with the interview. As he had
come there, some proposition must be made by himself. Had he intended
to be altogether obstinate he should have remained at Humblethwaite,
and kept his cousin altogether out of the house. And now his
daughter's prayers were ringing in his ears: "Dear Papa, let us see
if we cannot try." And then again that assurance which she had made
him so solemnly: "Papa, there never can be anybody else!" If the
black sheep could be washed white, the good of such washing would on
every side be so great! He would have to blush,--let the washing be
ever so perfect,--he must always blush in having such a son-in-law;
but he had been forced to acknowledge to himself of late, that there
was infinitely more of trouble and shame in this world than of joy or
honour. Was it not in itself a disgrace that a Hotspur should do such
things as this cousin had done; and a disgrace also that his daughter
should have loved a man so unfit to be her lover? And then from day
to day, and from hour to hour, he remembered that these ills were
added to the death of that son, who, had he lived, would have been
such a glory to him. More of trouble and disgrace! Was it not all
trouble and disgrace? He would have wished that the day might come
for him to go away and leave it all, were it not that for one
placed as he was placed his own life would not see the end of these
troubles. He must endeavour to provide that everything should not go
to utter ruin as soon as he should have taken his departure.

He walked about the room, again trying to think. Or, perhaps, all
thinking was over with him now, and he was resolving in his own mind
how best he might begin to yield. He must obey his daughter. He could
not break the heart of the only child that was left to him. He had no
delight in the world other than what came to him reflected back from
her. He felt now as though he was simply a steward endeavouring on
her behalf to manage things to the best advantage; but still only a
steward, and as such only a servant who could not at last decide on
the mode of management to be adopted. He could endeavour to persuade,
but she must decide. Now his daughter had decided, and he must begin
this task, so utterly distasteful to him, of endeavouring to wash the
blackamoor white.

"What are you willing to do?" he asked.

"How to do, Sir Harry?"

"You have led a bad life."

"I suppose I have, Sir Harry."

"How will you show yourself willing to reform it?"

"Only pay my debts and set me up with ready money, and I'll go along
as slick as grease!" Thus would Cousin George have answered the
question had he spoken his mind freely. But he knew that he might not
be so explicit. He must promise much; but, of course, in making his
promise he must arrange about his debts. "I'll do almost anything
you like. Only try me. Of course it would be so much easier if those
debts were paid off. I'll give up races altogether, if you mean that,
Sir Harry. Indeed, I'm ready to give up anything."

"Will you give up London?"

"London!" In simple truth, George did not quite understand the
proposition.

"Yes; will you leave London? Will you go and live at Scarrowby, and
learn to look after the farm and the place?"

George's face fell,--his face being less used to lying than his
tongue; but his tongue lied at once: "Oh yes, certainly, if you wish
it. I should rather like a life of that sort. For how long would it
be?"

"For two years," said Sir Harry, grimly.

Cousin George, in truth, did not understand. He thought that he was
to take his bride with him when he went to Scarrowby. "Perhaps Emily
would not like it," he said.

"It is what she desires. You do not suppose that she knows so little
of your past life as to be willing to trust herself into your hands
at once. She is attached to you."

"And so am I to her; on my honour I am. I'm sure you don't doubt
that."

Sir Harry doubted every word that fell from his cousin's mouth, but
still he persevered. He could perceive though he could not analyse,
and there was hardly a tone which poor Cousin George used which did
not discourage the Baronet. Still he persevered. He must persevere
now, even if it were only to prove to Emily how much of basest clay
and how little of gold there was in this image.

"She is attached to you," he continued, "and you bear our name, and
will be the head of our family. If you will submit yourself to a
reformed life, and will prove that you are fit for her, it may be
possible that after years she should be your wife."

"After years, Sir Harry?"

"Yes, sir,--after years. Do you suppose that the happiness of such an
one as she can be trusted to such keeping as yours without a trial of
you? You will find that she has no such hope herself."

"Oh, of course; what she likes--"

"I will pay your debts; on condition that Mr. Boltby is satisfied
that he has the entire list of them."

George, as he heard this, at once determined that he must persuade
Mr. Hart to include Mr. Walker's little account in that due to
himself. It was only a matter of a few hundreds, and might surely be
arranged when so much real money would be passing from hand to hand.

"I will pay everything; you shall then go down to Scarrowby, and the
house shall be prepared for you."

It wasn't supposed, George thought, that he was absolutely to live in
solitary confinement at Scarrowby. He might have a friend or two, and
then the station was very near.

"You are fond of shooting, and you will have plenty of it there.
We will get you made a magistrate for the county, and there is
much to do in looking after the property." Sir Harry became almost
good-humoured in his tone as he described the kind of life which he
intended that the blackamoor should live. "We will come to you for a
month each year, and then you can come to us for a while."

"When shall it begin?" asked Cousin George, as soon as the Baronet
paused. This was a question difficult to be answered. In fact, the
arrangement must be commenced at once. Sir Harry knew very well that,
having so far yielded, he must take his cousin back with him to
Humblethwaite. He must keep his cousin now in his possession till all
those debts should be paid, and till the house at Scarrowby should be
prepared; and he must trust to his daughter's prudence and high sense
of right not to treat her lover with too tender an acknowledgment of
her love till he should have been made to pass through the fire of
reform.

"You had better get ready and come back to Humblethwaite with me
now," said Sir Harry.

Within five minutes after that there was bustling about the passages
and hall of the Crown Hotel. Everybody in the house, from the august
landlord down to the humble stableboy, knew that there had been a
reconciliation between Sir Harry and his cousin, and that the cousin
was to be made welcome to all the good the gods could give. While
Cousin George was packing his things, Sir Harry called for the bill
and paid it,--without looking at it, because he would not examine how
the blackamoor had lived while he was still a blackamoor.

"I wonder whether he observed the brandy," thought Cousin George to
himself.



CHAPTER XXI.

EMILY HOTSPUR'S SERMON.


The greater portion of the journey back to Humblethwaite was passed
in silence. Sir Harry had undertaken an experiment in which he had no
faith himself, and was sad at heart. Cousin George was cowed, half
afraid, and yet half triumphant. Could it be possible that he should
"pull through" after all? Some things had gone so well with him. His
lady friends had been so true to him! Lady Altringham, and then Mrs.
Morton,--how good they had been! Dear Lucy! He would never forget
her. And Emily was such a brick! He was going to see his Emily, and
that would be "so jolly." Nevertheless, he did acknowledge to himself
that an Emily prepared to assist her father in sending her lover
through the fire of reform, would not be altogether "so jolly" as the
Emily who had leaned against him on the bridge at Airey Force, while
his arm had been tightly clasped round her waist. He was alive to the
fact that romance must give place to business.

When they had entered the park-gates, Sir Harry spoke. "You must
understand, George"--he had not called him George before since the
engagement had been made known to him--"that you cannot yet be
admitted here as my daughter's accepted suitor, as might have been
the case had your past life been different."

"I see all that," said Cousin George.

"It is right that I should tell you so; but I trust implicitly to
Emily's high sense of duty and propriety. And now that you are here,
George, I trust that it may be for your advantage and for ours."

Then he pressed his cousin's hand, if not with affection, at least
with sincerity.

"I'm sure it is to be all right now," said George, calculating
whether he would be able to escape to London for a few days, so that
he might be able to arrange that little matter with Mr. Hart. They
couldn't suppose that he would be able to leave London for two years
without a day's notice!

Sir Harry got out of the carriage at the front door, and desired
Cousin George to follow him into the house. He turned at once into
the small room where George had drunk the sherry, and desired that
Lady Elizabeth might be sent to him.

"My dear," said he, "I have brought George back with me. We will do
the best that we can. Mrs. Quick will have a room for him. You had
better tell Emily, and let her come to me for a moment before she
sees her cousin." This was all said in George's hearing. And then Sir
Harry went, leaving his cousin in the hands of Lady Elizabeth.

"I am glad to see you back again, George," she said, with a
melancholy voice.

Cousin George smiled, and said, that "it would be all right."

"I am sure I hope so, for my girl's sake. But there must be a great
change, George."

"No end of a change," said Cousin George, who was not in the least
afraid of Lady Elizabeth.

Many things of moment had to be done in the house that day before
dinner. In the first place there was a long interview between the
father and daughter. For a few minutes, perhaps, he was really happy
when she was kneeling with her arms upon his knees, thanking him for
what he had done, while tears of joy were streaming down her cheeks.
He would not bring himself to say a word of caution to her. Would it
not be to paint the snow white to caution her as to her conduct?

"I have done as you bade me in everything," he said. "I have proposed
to him that he should go to Scarrowby. It may be that it will be your
home for a while, dear."

She thanked him and kissed him again and again. She would be so
good. She would do all she could to deserve his kindness. And as for
George,--"Pray, Papa, don't think that I suppose that it can be all
done quite at once." Nevertheless it was in that direction that her
thoughts erred. It did seem to her that the hard part of the work was
already done, and that now the pleasant paths of virtue were to be
trod with happy and persistent feet.

"You had better see him in your mother's presence, dearest, before
dinner; and then the awkwardness will be less afterwards."

She kissed him again, and ran from his room up to her mother's
apartment, taking some back stairs well known to herself, lest she
should by chance meet her lover after some undue and unprepared
fashion. And there she could sit down and think of it all! She
would be very discreet. He should be made to understand at once
that the purgation must be thorough, the reform complete. She would
acknowledge her love to him,--her great and abiding love; but of
lover's tenderness there could be but little,--almost none,--till the
fire had done its work, and the gold should have been separated from
the dross. She had had her way so far, and they should find that she
had deserved it.

Before dinner Sir Harry wrote a letter to his lawyer. The mail-cart
passed through the village on its way to Penrith late in the evening,
and there was time for him to save the post. He thought it incumbent
on him to let Mr. Boltby know that he had changed his mind; and,
though the writing of the letter was not an agreeable task, he did it
at once. He said nothing to Mr. Boltby directly about his daughter,
but he made it known to that gentleman that Cousin George was at
present a guest at Humblethwaite, and that he intended to pay all the
debts without entering into any other specific engagements. Would Mr.
Boltby have the goodness to make out a schedule of the debts? Captain
Hotspur should be instructed to give Mr. Boltby at once all the
necessary information by letter. Then Sir Harry went on to say that
perhaps the opinions formed in reference to Captain Hotspur had been
too severe. He was ashamed of himself as he wrote these words, but
still they were written. If the blackamoor was to be washed white,
the washing must be carried out at all times, at all seasons, and in
every possible manner, till the world should begin to see that the
blackness was going out of the skin.

Cousin George was summoned to meet the girl who loved him in her
mother's morning-room, before they dressed for dinner. He did not
know at all in what way to conduct himself. He had not given a
moment's thought to it till the difficulty flashed upon him as she
entered the apartment. But she had considered it all. She came up to
him quickly, and gave him her lips to kiss, standing there in her
mother's presence.

"George," she said, "dear George! I am so glad that you are here."

It was the first; and it should be the last,--till the fire had done
its work; till the fire should at least have done so much of its work
as to make the remainder easy and fairly sure. He had little to say
for himself, but muttered something about his being the happiest
fellow in the world. It was a position in which a man could hardly
behave well, and neither the mother nor the daughter expected much
from him. A man cannot bear himself gracefully under the weight of a
pardon as a woman may do. A man chooses generally that it shall be
assumed by those with whom he is closely connected that he has done
and is doing no wrong; and, when wronged, he professes to forgive
and to forget in silence. To a woman the act of forgiveness, either
accepted or bestowed, is itself a pleasure. A few words were then
spoken, mostly by Lady Elizabeth, and the three separated to prepare
for dinner.

The next day passed over them at Humblethwaite Hall very quietly, but
with some mild satisfaction. Sir Harry told his cousin of the letter
to his lawyer, and desired George to make out and send by that day's
post such a schedule as might be possible on the spur of the moment.

"Hadn't I better run up and see Mr. Boltby?" said Cousin George.

But to this Sir Harry was opposed. Let any calls for money reach them
there. Whatever the calls might be, he at any rate could pay them.
Cousin George repeated his suggestion; but acquiesced when Sir Harry
frowned and showed his displeasure. He did make out a schedule, and
did write a letter to Mr. Boltby.

"I think my debt to Mr. Hart was put down as £3,250," he wrote, "but
I believe I should have added another £350 for a transaction as to
which I fancy he does not hold my note of hand. But the money is
due."

He was fool enough to think that Mr. Walker's claim might be
liquidated after this fashion. In the afternoon they rode
together,--the father, the daughter, and the blackamoor, and much was
told to Cousin George as to the nature of the property. The names
of the tenants were mentioned, and the boundaries of the farms were
pointed out to him. He was thinking all the time whether Mr. Hart
would spare him.

But Emily Hotspur, though she had been thus reticent and quiet in her
joy, though she was resolved to be discreet, and knew that there were
circumstances in her engagement which would for a while deter her
from being with her accepted lover as other girls are with theirs,
did not mean to estrange herself from her cousin George. If she were
to do so, how was she to assist, and take, as she hoped to do, the
first part in that task of refining the gold on which they were all
now intent? She was to correspond with him when he was at Scarrowby.
Such was her present programme, and Sir Harry had made no objection
when she declared her purpose. Of course they must understand each
other, and have communion together. On the third day, therefore, it
was arranged they two should walk, without other company, about the
place. She must show him her own gardens, which were at some distance
from the house. If the truth be told, it must be owned that George
somewhat dreaded the afternoon's amusement; but had she demanded of
him to sit down to listen to her while she read to him a sermon, he
would not have refused.

To be didactic and at the same time demonstrative of affection is
difficult, even with mothers towards their children, though with
them the assumption of authority creates no sense of injury. Emily
specially desired to point out to the erring one the paths of virtue,
and yet to do so without being oppressive.

"It is so nice to have you here, George," she said.

"Yes, indeed; isn't it?" He was walking beside her, and as yet they
were within view of the house.

"Papa has been so good; isn't he good?"

"Indeed he is. The best man I know out," said George, thinking that
his gratitude would have been stronger had the Baronet given him the
money and allowed him to go up to London to settle his own debts.

"And Mamma has been so kind! Mamma is very fond of you. I am sure she
would do anything for you."

"And you?" said George, looking into her face.

"I!--As for me, George, it is a matter of course now. You do not want
to be told again what is and ever must be my first interest in the
world."

"I do not care how often you tell me."

"But you know it; don't you?"

"I know what you said at the waterfall, Emily."

"What I said then I said for always. You may be sure of that. I told
Mamma so, and Papa. If they had not wanted me to love you, they
should not have asked you to come here. I do love you, and I hope
that some day I may be your wife."

She was not leaning on his arm, but as she spoke she stopped, and
looked stedfastly into his face. He put out his hand as though to
take hers; but she shook her head, refusing it. "No, George; come on.
I want to talk to you a great deal. I want to say ever so much,--now,
to-day. I hope that some day I may be your wife. If I am not, I shall
never be any man's wife."

"What does some day mean, Emily?"

"Ever so long;--years, perhaps."

"But why? A fellow has to be consulted, you know, as well as
yourself. What is the use of waiting? I know Sir Harry thinks I have
been very fond of pleasure. How can I better show him how willing I
am to give it up than by marrying and settling down at once? I don't
see what's to be got by waiting?"

Of course she must tell him the truth. She had no idea of keeping
back the truth. She loved him with all her heart, and was resolved
to marry him; but the dross must first be purged from the gold. "Of
course you know, George, that Papa has made objections."

"I know he did, but that is over now. I am to go and live at
Scarrowby at once, and have the shooting. He can't want me to remain
there all by myself."

"But he does; and so do I."

"Why?"

In order that he might be made clean by the fire of solitude and the
hammer of hard work. She could not quite say this to him. "You know,
George, your life has been one of pleasure."

"I was in the army,--for some years."

"But you left it, and you took to going to races, and they say that
you gambled and are in debt, and you have been reckless. Is not that
true, George?"

"It is true."

"And should you wonder that Papa should be afraid to trust his only
child and all his property to one who,--who knows that he has been
reckless? But if you can show, for a year or two, that you can give
up all that--"

"Wouldn't it be all given up if we were married?"

"Indeed, I hope so. I should break my heart otherwise. But can you
wonder that Papa should wish for some delay and some proof?"

"Two years!"

"Is that much? If I find you doing what he wishes, these two years
will be so happy to me! We shall come and see you, and you will come
here. I have never liked Scarrowby, because it is not pretty, as this
place is; but, oh, how I shall like to go there now! And when you are
here, Papa will get to be so fond of you. You will be like a real son
to him. Only you must be steady."

"Steady! by Jove, yes. A fellow will have to be steady at Scarrowby."
The perfume of the cleanliness of the life proposed to him was not
sweet to his nostrils.

She did not like this, but she knew that she could not have
everything at once. "You must know," she said, "that there is a
bargain between me and Papa. I told him that I should tell you
everything."

"Yes; I ought to be told everything."

"It is he that shall fix the day. He is to do so much, that he has a
right to that. I shall never press him, and you must not."

"Oh, but I shall."

"It will be of no use; and, George, I won't let you. I shall scold
you if you do. When he thinks that you have learned how to manage the
property, and that your mind is set upon that kind of work, and that
there are no more races,--mind, and no betting, then,--then he will
consent. And I will tell you something more if you would like to hear
it."

"Something pleasant, is it?"

"When he does, and tells me that he is not afraid to give me to you,
I shall be the happiest girl in all England. Is that pleasant?--No,
George, no; I will not have it."

"Not give me one kiss?"

"I gave you one when you came, to show you that in truth I loved you.
I will give you another when Papa says that everything is right."

"Not till then?"

"No, George, not till then. But I shall love you just the same. I
cannot love you better than I do."

He had nothing for it but to submit, and was obliged to be content
during the remainder of their long walk with talking of his future
life at Scarrowby. It was clearly her idea that he should be
head-farmer, head-steward, head-accountant, and general workman for
the whole place. When he talked about the game, she brought him back
to the plough;--so at least he declared to himself. And he could
elicit no sympathy from her when he reminded her that the nearest
meet of hounds was twenty miles and more from Scarrowby. "You can
think of other things for a while," she said. He was obliged to say
that he would, but it did seem to him that Scarrowby was a sort
of penal servitude to which he was about to be sent with his own
concurrence. The scent of the cleanliness was odious to him.

"I don't know what I shall do there of an evening," he said.

"Read," she answered; "there are lots of books, and you can always
have the magazines. I will send them to you." It was a very dreary
prospect of life for him, but he could not tell her that it would be
absolutely unendurable.

When their walk was over,--a walk which she never could forget,
however long might be her life, so earnest had been her purpose,--he
was left alone, and took another stroll by himself. How would it suit
him? Was it possible? Could the event "come off"? Might it not have
been better for him had he allowed his other loving friend to prepare
for him the letter to the Baronet, in which Sir Harry's munificent
offer would have been accepted? Let us do him the justice to remember
that he was quite incapable of understanding the misery, the utter
ruin which that letter would have entailed upon her who loved him so
well. He knew nothing of such sufferings as would have been hers--as
must be hers, for had she not already fallen haplessly into the pit
when she had once allowed herself to fix her heart upon a thing so
base as this? It might have been better, he thought, if that letter
had been written. A dim dull idea came upon him that he was not fit
to be this girl's husband. He could not find his joys where she would
find hers. No doubt it would be a grand thing to own Humblethwaite
and Scarrowby at some future time; but Sir Harry might live for these
twenty years, and while Sir Harry lived he must be a slave. And then
he thought that upon the whole he liked Lucy Morton better than
Emily Hotspur. He could say what he chose to Lucy, and smoke in her
presence, own that he was fond of drink, and obtain some sympathy for
his "book" on the Derby. He began to feel already that he did not
like sermons from the girl of his heart.

But he had chosen this side now, and he must go on with the game.
It seemed certain to him that his debts would at any rate be paid.
He was not at all certain how matters might go in reference to
Mr. Walker, but if matters came to the worst the Baronet would
probably be willing to buy him off again with the promised income.
Nevertheless, he was not comfortable, and certainly did not shine at
Sir Harry's table. "Why she has loved him, what she has seen in him,
I cannot tell," said Sir Harry to his wife that night.

We must presume Sir Harry did not know how it is that the birds pair.



CHAPTER XXII.

GEORGE HOTSPUR YIELDS.


On the morning of Cousin George's fourth day at Humblethwaite, there
came a letter for Sir Harry. The post reached the Hall about an hour
before the time at which the family met for prayers, and the letters
were taken into Sir Harry's room. The special letter of which mention
is here made shall be given to the reader entire:--


   ----, Lincoln's Inn Fields,
   24th Nov. 186--.

   MY DEAR SIR HARRY HOTSPUR,--I have received your letter
   in reference to Captain Hotspur's debts, and have also
   received a letter from him, and a list of what he says he
   owes. Of course there can be no difficulty in paying all
   debts which he acknowledges, if you think proper to do so.
   As far as I am able to judge at present, the amount would
   be between twenty-five and thirty thousand pounds. I
   should say nearer the former than the latter sum, did
   I not know that the amount in such matters always goes
   on increasing. You must also understand that I cannot
   guarantee the correctness of this statement.

   But I feel myself bound in my duty to go further
   than this, even though it may be at the risk of your
   displeasure. I presume from what you tell me that you are
   contemplating a marriage between George Hotspur and your
   daughter; and I now repeat to you, in the most solemn
   words that I can use, my assurance that the marriage is
   one which you should not countenance. Captain Hotspur is
   not fit to marry your daughter.


When Sir Harry had read so far he had become very angry, but his
anger was now directed against his lawyer. Had he not told Mr. Boltby
that he had changed his mind; and what business had the lawyer to
interfere with him further? But he read the letter on to its bitter
end:--


   Since you were in London the following facts have become
   known to me. On the second of last month Mr. George
   Hotspur met two men, named Walker and Bullbean, in the
   lodgings of the former, at about nine in the evening,
   and remained there during the greater part of the night,
   playing cards. Bullbean is a man well known to the police
   as a card-sharper. He once moved in the world as a
   gentleman. His trade is now to tout and find prey for
   gamblers. Walker is a young man in a low rank of life, who
   had some money. George Hotspur on that night won between
   three and four hundred pounds of Walker's money; and
   Bullbean, over and above this, got for himself some
   considerable amount of plunder. Walker is now prepared,
   and very urgent, to bring the circumstances of this case
   before a magistrate, having found out, or been informed,
   that some practice of cheating was used against him; and
   Bullbean is ready to give evidence as to George Hotspur's
   foul play. They have hitherto been restrained by Hart, the
   Jew whom you met. Hart fears that were the whole thing
   made public, his bills would not be taken up by you.

   I think that I know all this to be true. If you conceive
   that I am acting in a manner inimical to your family, you
   had better come up to London and put yourself into the
   hands of some other lawyer. If you can still trust me, I
   will do the best I can for you. I should recommend you to
   bring Captain Hotspur with you,--if he will come.

   I grieve to write as I have done, but it seems to me that
   no sacrifice is too great to make with the object of
   averting the fate to which, as I fear, Miss Hotspur is
   bringing herself.--My dear Sir Harry Hotspur, I am, very
   faithfully yours,

   JOHN BOLTBY.


It was a terrible letter! Gradually, as he read it and re-read it,
there came upon Sir Harry the feeling that he might owe, that he did
owe, that he certainly would owe to Mr. Boltby a very heavy debt
of gratitude. Gradually the thin glazing of hope with which he had
managed to daub over and partly to hide his own settled convictions
as to his cousin's character fell away, and he saw the man as he had
seen him during his interview with Captain Stubber and Mr. Hart. It
must be so. Let the consequences be what they might, his daughter
must be told. Were she to be killed by the telling, it would be
better than that she should be handed over to such a man as this. The
misfortune which had come upon them might be the death of him and of
her;--but better that than the other. He sat in his chair till the
gong sounded through the house for prayers; then he rang his bell
and sent in word to Lady Elizabeth that she should read them in
his absence. When they were over, word was brought that he would
breakfast alone, in his own room. On receiving that message, both his
wife and daughter went to him; but as yet he could tell them nothing.
Tidings had come which would make it necessary that he should go at
once to London. As soon as breakfast should be over he would see
George Hotspur. They both knew from the tone in which the name was
pronounced that the "tidings" were of their nature bad, and that they
had reference to the sins of their guest.

"You had better read that letter," he said as soon as George was in
the room. As he spoke his face was towards the fire, and in that
position he remained. The letter had been in his hand, and he only
half turned round to give it. George read the letter slowly, and when
he had got through it, only half understanding the words, but still
knowing well the charge which it contained, stood silent, utterly
conquered. "I suppose it is true?" said Sir Harry, in a low voice,
facing his enemy.

"I did win some money," said Cousin George.

"And you cheated?"

"Oh dear no;--nothing of the sort."

But his confession was written in his face, and was heard in his
voice, and peeped out through every motion of his limbs. He was a
cur, and denied the accusation in a currish manner, hardly intended
to create belief.

"He must be paid back his money," said Sir Harry.

"I had promised that," said Cousin George.

"Has it been your practice, sir, when gambling, to pay back money
that you have won? You are a scoundrel,--a heartless scoundrel,--to
try and make your way into my house when I had made such liberal
offers to buy your absence." To this Cousin George made no sort of
answer. The game was up. And had he not already told himself that
it was a game that he should never have attempted to play? "We will
leave this house if you please, both of us, at eleven. We will go to
town together. The carriage will be ready at eleven. You had better
see to the packing of your things, with the servant."

"Shall I not say a word of adieu to Lady Elizabeth?"

"No, sir! You shall never speak to a female in my house again."

The two were driven over to Penrith together, and went up to London
in the same carriage, Sir Harry paying for all expenses without a
word. Sir Harry before he left his house saw his wife for a moment,
but he did not see his daughter. "Tell her," said he, "that it must
be,--must be all over." The decision was told to Emily, but she
simply refused to accept it. "It shall not be so," said she, flashing
out. Lady Elizabeth endeavoured to show her that her father had done
all he could to further her views--had been ready to sacrifice to her
all his own wishes and convictions.

"Why is he so changed? He has heard of some new debt. Of course there
are debts. We did not suppose that it could be done all at once, and
so easily." She refused to be comforted, and refused to believe.
She sat alone weeping in her own room, and swore, when her mother
came to her, that no consideration, no tidings as to George's past
misconduct, should induce her to break her faith to the man to whom
her word had been given;--"my word, and Papa's, and yours," said
Emily, pleading her cause with majesty through her tears.

On the day but one following there came a letter from Sir Harry to
Lady Elizabeth, very short, but telling her the whole truth. "He has
cheated like a common low swindler as he is, with studied tricks at
cards, robbing a poor man, altogether beneath him in station, of
hundreds of pounds. There is no doubt about it. It is uncertain even
yet whether he will not be tried before a jury. He hardly even denies
it. A creature viler, more cowardly, worse, the mind of man cannot
conceive. My broken-hearted, dearest, best darling must be told
all this. Tell her that I know what she will suffer. Tell her that
I shall be as crushed by it as she. But anything is better than
degradation such as this. Tell her specially that I have not decided
without absolute knowledge." Emily was told. The letter was read to
her and by her till she knew it almost by heart. There came upon
her a wan look of abject agony, that seemed to rob her at once of
her youth and beauty; but even now she would not yield. She did
not longer affect to disbelieve the tidings, but said that no man,
let him do what he might, could be too far gone for repentance and
forgiveness. She would wait. She had talked of waiting two years. She
would be content to wait ten. What though he had cheated at cards!
Had she not once told her mother that should it turn out that he had
been a murderer, then she would become a murderer's wife? She did not
know that cheating at cards was worse than betting at horse-races. It
was all bad,--very bad. It was the kind of life into which men were
led by the fault of those who should have taught them better. No;
she would not marry him without her father's leave: but she would
never own that her engagement was broken, let them affix what most
opprobrious name to him they might choose. To her card-sharpers
seemed to be no worse than gamblers. She was quite sure that Christ
had come to save men who cheat at cards as well as others.

As Sir Harry and his cousin entered the London station late at
night,--it was past midnight,--Sir Harry bade his companion meet him
the next morning at Mr. Boltby's chambers at eleven. Cousin George
had had ample time for meditation, and had considered that it might
be best for him to "cut up a little rough."

"Mr. Boltby is my enemy," he said, "and I don't know what I am to get
by going there."

"If you don't, sir, I'll not pay one shilling for you."

"I have your promise, Sir Harry."

"If you are not there at the time I fix, I will pay nothing, and the
name may go to the dogs."

Then they both went to the station hotel,--not together, but the
younger following the elder's feet,--and slept for the last time in
their lives under one roof.

Cousin George did not show himself at Mr. Boltby's, being still in
his bed at the station hotel at the time named; but at three o'clock
he was with Mrs. Morton.

For the present we will go back to Sir Harry. He was at the lawyer's
chambers at the time named, and Mr. Boltby smiled when told of the
summons which had been given to Cousin George. By this time Sir Harry
had acknowledged his gratitude to Mr. Boltby over and over again, and
Mr. Boltby perhaps, having no daughter, thought that the evil had
been cured. He was almost inclined to be jocular, and did laugh at
Sir Harry in a mild way when told of the threat.

"We must pay his debts, Sir Harry, I think."

"I don't see it at all. I would rather face everything. And I told
him that I would pay nothing."

"Ah, but you had told him that you would. And then those cormorants
have been told so also. We had better build a bridge of gold for
a falling enemy. Stick to your former proposition, without any
reference to a legacy, and make him write the letter. My clerk shall
find him to-morrow."

Sir Harry at last gave way; the lucky Walker received back his full
money, Bullbean's wages of iniquity and all; and Sir Harry returned
to Humblethwaite.

Cousin George was sitting in Mrs. Morton's room with a very bad
headache five days after his arrival in London, and she was reading
over a manuscript which she had just written. "That will do, I
think," she said.

"Just the thing," said he, without raising his head.

"Will you copy it now, George?"

"Not just now, I am so seedy. I'll take it and do it at the club."

"No; I will not have that. The draft would certainly be left out on
the club table; and you would go to billiards, and the letter never
would be written."

"I'll come back and do it after dinner."

"I shall be at the theatre then, and I won't have you here in my
absence. Rouse yourself and do it now. Don't be such a poor thing."

"That's all very well, Lucy; but if you had a sick headache, you
wouldn't like to have to write a d----d letter like that."

Then she rose up to scold him, being determined that the letter
should be written then and there. "Why, what a coward you are; what a
feckless, useless creature! Do you think that I have never to go for
hours on the stage, with the gas in a blaze around me, and my head
ready to split? And what is this? A paper to write that will take you
ten minutes. The truth is, you don't like to give up the girl!" Could
she believe it of him after knowing him so well; could she think that
there was so much of good in him?

"You say that to annoy me. You know that I never cared for her."

"You would marry her now if they would let you."

"No, by George. I've had enough of that. You're wide awake enough to
understand, Lucy, that a fellow situated as I am, over head and ears
in debt, and heir to an old title, should struggle to keep the things
together. Families and names don't matter much, I suppose; but, after
all, one does care for them. But I've had enough of that. As for
Cousin Emily, you know, Lucy, I never loved any woman but you in my
life."

He was a brute, unredeemed by any one manly gift; idle,
self-indulgent, false, and without a principle. She was a woman
greatly gifted, with many virtues, capable of self-sacrifice,
industrious, affectionate, and loving truth if not always true
herself. And yet such a word as that from this brute sufficed to
please her for the moment. She got up and kissed his forehead and
dropped for him some strong spirit in a glass, which she mixed with
water, and cooled his brow with eau-de-cologne. "Try to write it,
dearest. It should be written at once if it is to be written." Then
he turned himself wearily to her writing-desk, and copied the words
which she had prepared for him.

The letter was addressed to Mr. Boltby, and purported to be
a renunciation of all claim to Miss Hotspur's hand, on the
understanding that his debts were paid for him to the extent of
£25,000, and that an allowance were made to him of £500 a year,
settled on him as an annuity for life, as long as he should live out
of England. Mr. Boltby had given him to understand that this clause
would not be exacted, unless circumstances should arise which should
make Sir Harry think it imperative upon him to demand its execution.
The discretion must be left absolute with Sir Harry; but, as Mr.
Boltby said, Captain Hotspur could trust Sir Harry's word and his
honour.

"If I'm to be made to go abroad, what the devil are you to do?" he
had said to Mrs. Morton.

"There need be no circumstances," said Mrs. Morton, "to make it
necessary."

Of course Captain Hotspur accepted the terms on her advice. He had
obeyed Lady Altringham, and had tried to obey Emily, and would now
obey Mrs. Morton, because Mrs. Morton was the nearest to him.

The letter which he copied was a well-written letter, put together
with much taste, so that the ignoble compact to which it gave assent
should seem to be as little ignoble as might be possible. "I entered
into the arrangement," the letter said in its last paragraph,
"because I thought it right to endeavour to keep the property and the
title together; but I am aware now that my position in regard to my
debts was of a nature that should have deterred me from the attempt.
As I have failed, I sincerely hope that my cousin may be made happy
by some such splendid alliance as she is fully entitled to expect."
He did not understand all that the words conveyed; but yet he
questioned them. He did not perceive that they were intended to imply
that the writer had never for a moment loved the girl whom he had
proposed to marry. Nevertheless they did convey to him dimly some
idea that they might give,--not pain, for as to that he would have
been indifferent,--but offence. "Will there be any good in all that?"
he asked.

"Certainly," said she. "You don't mean to whine and talk of your
broken heart."

"Oh dear, no; nothing of that sort."

"This is the manly way to put it, regarding the matter simply as an
affair of business."

"I believe it is," said he; and then, having picked himself up
somewhat by the aid of a glass of sherry, he continued to copy the
letter, and to direct it.

"I will keep the rough draft," said Mrs. Morton.

"And I must go now, I suppose," he said.

"You can stay here and see me eat my dinner if you like. I shall not
ask you to share it, because it consists of two small mutton chops,
and one wouldn't keep me up through Lady Teazle."

"I've a good mind to come and see you," said he.

"Then you'd better go and eat your own dinner at once."

"I don't care about my dinner. I should have a bit of supper
afterwards."

Then she preached to him a sermon; not quite such a one as Emily
Hotspur had preached, but much more practical, and with less
reticence. If he went on living as he was living now, he would "come
to grief." He was drinking every day, and would some day find that he
could not do so with impunity. Did he know what delirium tremens was?
Did he want to go to the devil altogether? Had he any hope as to his
future life?

"Yes," said he, "I hope to make you my wife." She tossed her head,
and told him that with all the will in the world to sacrifice
herself, such sacrifice could do him no good if he persisted in
making himself a drunkard. "But I have been so tried these last two
months. If you only knew what Mr. Boltby and Captain Stubber and Sir
Harry and Mr. Hart were altogether. Oh, my G----!" But he did not
say a word about Messrs. Walker and Bullbean. The poor woman who was
helping him knew nothing of Walker and Bullbean. Let us hope that she
may remain in that ignorance.

Cousin George, before he left her, swore that he would amend his mode
of life, but he did not go to see Lady Teazle that night. There were
plenty of men now back in town ready to play pool at the club.



CHAPTER XXIII.

"I SHALL NEVER BE MARRIED."


Sir Harry Hotspur returned to Humblethwaite before Cousin George's
letter was written, though when he did return all the terms had been
arranged, and a portion of the money paid. Perhaps it would have been
better that he should have waited and taken the letter with him in
his pocket; but in truth he was so wretched that he could not wait.
The thing was fixed and done, and he could but hurry home to hide his
face among his own people. He felt that the glory of his house was
gone from him. He would sit by the hour together thinking of the boy
who had died. He had almost, on occasions, allowed himself to forget
his boy, while hoping that his name and wide domains might be kept
together by the girl that was left to him. He was beginning to
understand now that she was already but little better than a wreck.
Indeed, was not everything shipwreck around him? Was he not going to
pieces on the rocks? Did not the lesson of every hour seem to tell
him that, throughout his long life, he had thought too much of his
house and his name?

It would have been better that he should have waited till the letter
was in his pocket before he returned home, because, when he reached
Humblethwaite, the last argument was wanting to him to prove to Emily
that her hope was vain. Even after his arrival, when the full story
was told to her, she held out in her resolve. She accepted the truth
of that scene at Walker's rooms. She acknowledged that her lover had
cheated the wretched man at cards. After that all other iniquities
were of course as nothing. There was a completeness in that of which
she did not fail to accept, and to use the benefit. When she had once
taken it as true that her lover had robbed his inferior by foul play
at cards, there could be no good in alluding to this or that lie, in
counting up this or that disreputable debt, in alluding to habits of
brandy-drinking, or even in soiling her pure mind with any word as
to Mrs. Morton. It was granted that he was as vile as sin could make
him. Had not her Saviour come exactly for such as this one, because
of His great love for those who were vile; and should not her human
love for one enable her to do that which His great heavenly love did
always for all men? Every reader will know how easily answerable
was the argument. Most readers will also know how hard it is to win
by attacking the reason when the heart is the fortress that is in
question. She had accepted his guilt, and why tell her of it any
further? Did she not pine over his guilt, and weep for it day and
night, and pray that he might yet be made white as snow? But guilty
as he was, a poor piece of broken vilest clay, without the properties
even which are useful to the potter, he was as dear to her as when
she had leaned against him believing him to be a pillar of gold set
about with onyx stones, jaspers, and rubies. There was but one sin on
his part which could divide them. If, indeed, he should cease to love
her, then there would be an end to it! It would have been better that
Sir Harry should have remained in London till he could have returned
with George's autograph letter in his pocket.

"You must have the letter in his own handwriting," Mr. Boltby had
said, cunningly, "only you must return it to me."

Sir Harry had understood, and had promised, that the letter should
be returned when it had been used for the cruel purpose for which it
was to be sent to Humblethwaite. For all Sir Harry's own purposes Mr.
Boltby's statements would have quite sufficed.

She was told that her lover would renounce her, but she would not
believe what she was told. Of course he would accept the payment
of his debts. Of course he would take an income when offered to
him. What else was he to do? How was he to live decently without
an income? All these evils had happened to him because he had been
expected to live as a gentleman without proper means. In fact, he was
the person who had been most injured. Her father, in his complete, in
his almost abject tenderness towards her, could not say rough words
in answer to all these arguments. He could only repeat his assertion
over and over again that the man was utterly unworthy of her, and
must be discarded. It was all as nothing. The man must discard
himself.

"He is false as hell," said Sir Harry.

"And am I to be as false as hell also? Will you love me better when I
have consented to be untrue? And even that would be a lie. I do love
him. I must love him. I may be more wicked than he is, because I do
so. But I do."

Poor Lady Elizabeth in these days was worse than useless. Her
daughter was so strong that her weakness was as the weakness of
water. She was driven hither and thither in a way that she herself
felt to be disgraceful. When her husband told her that the cousin, as
matter of course, could never be seen again, she assented. When Emily
implored her to act as mediator with her father on behalf of the
wicked cousin, she again assented. And then, when she was alone with
Sir Harry, she did not dare to do as she had promised.

"I do think it will kill her," she said to Sir Harry.

"We must all die, but we need not die disgraced," he said.

It was a most solemn answer, and told the thoughts which had been
dwelling in his mind. His son had gone from him; and now it might
be that his daughter must go too, because she could not survive
the disappointment of her young love. He had learned to think that
it might be so as he looked at her great grave eyes, and her pale
cheeks, and her sorrow-laden mouth. It might be so; but better that
for them all than that she should be contaminated by the touch of
a thing so vile as this cousin. She was pure as snow, clear as a
star, lovely as the opening rosebud. As she was, let her go to her
grave,--if it need be so. For himself, he could die too,--or even
live if it were required of him! Other fathers, since Jephtha and
Agamemnon, have recognised it as true that heaven has demanded from
them their daughters.

The letter came, and was read and re-read by Sir Harry before he
showed it to his child. He took it also to his wife, and explained it
to her in all its points. "It has more craft," said he, "than I gave
him credit for."

"I don't suppose he ever cared for her," said Lady Elizabeth.

"Nor for any human being that ever lived,--save himself. I wonder
whether he got Boltby to write it for him."

"Surely Mr. Boltby wouldn't have done that."

"I don't know. I think he would do anything to rid us from what he
believed to have been our danger. I don't think it was in George
Hotspur to write such a letter out of his own head."

"But does it signify?"

"Not in the least. It is his own handwriting and his signature.
Whoever formed the words, it is the same thing. It was needed only to
prove to her that he had not even the merit of being true to her."

For a while Sir Harry thought that he would entrust to his wife the
duty of showing the letter to Emily. He would so willingly have
escaped the task himself! But as he considered the matter he feared
that Lady Elizabeth might lack the firmness to explain the matter
fully to the poor girl. The daughter would be so much stronger
than the mother, and thus the thing that must be done would not be
effected! At last, on the evening of the day on which the letter
had reached him, he sent for her, and read it to her. She heard it
without a word. Then he put it into her hands, and she read the
sentences herself, slowly, one after another, endeavouring as she did
so to find arguments by which she might stave off the conclusion to
which she knew that her father would attempt to bring her.

"It must be all over now," said he at last.

She did not answer him, but gazed into his face with such a look of
woe that his heart was melted. She had found no argument. There had
not been in the whole letter one word of love for her.

"My darling, will it not be better that we should meet the blow?"

"I have met it, all along. Some day, perhaps, he might be different."

"In what way, dearest? He does not even profess to hope so himself."

"That gentleman in London, Papa, would have paid nothing for him
unless he wrote like this. He had to do it. Papa, you had better just
leave me to myself. I will not trouble you by mentioning his name."

"But Emily--"

"Well, Papa?"

"Mamma and I cannot bear that you should suffer alone."

"I must suffer, and silence is the easiest. I will go now and think
about it. Dear Papa, I know that you have always done everything for
the best."

He did not see her again that evening. Her mother was with her in
her own room, and of course they were talking about Cousin George
for hours together. It could not be avoided, in spite of what Emily
had herself said of the expediency of silence. But she did not once
allude to the possibility of a future marriage. As the man was so
dear to her, and as he bore their name, and as he must inherit her
father's title, could not some almost superhuman exertion be made for
his salvation? Surely so much as that might be done, if they all made
it the work of their lives.

"It must be the work of my life, Mamma," she said.

Lady Elizabeth forbore from telling her that there was no side on
which she could approach him. The poor girl herself, however, must
have felt that it was so. As she thought of it all she reminded
herself that, though they were separated miles asunder, still she
could pray for him. We need not doubt this at least,--that to him who
utters them prayers of intercession are of avail.

On the following morning she was at breakfast, and both her father
and mother remarked that something had been changed in her dress. The
father only knew that it was so, but the mother could have told of
every ribbon that had been dropped, and every ornament that had been
laid aside. Emily Hotspur had lived a while, if not among the gayest
of the gay, at least among the brightest of the bright in outside
garniture, and having been asked to consult no questions of expense,
had taught herself to dress as do the gay and bright and rich. Even
when George had come on his last wretched visit to Humblethwaite,
when she had known that he had been brought there as a blackamoor
perhaps just capable of being washed white, she had not thought it
necessary to lessen the gauds of her attire. Though she was saddened
in her joy by the knowledge of the man's faults, she was still the
rich daughter of a very wealthy man, and engaged to marry the future
inheritor of all that wealth and riches. There was then no reason why
she should lower her flag one inch before the world. But now all was
changed with her! During the night she had thought of her apparel,
and of what use it might be during her future life. She would never
more go bright again, unless some miracle might prevail, and he still
might be to her that which she had painted him. Neither father nor
mother, as she kissed them both, said a word as to her appearance.
They must take her away from Humblethwaite, change the scene, try to
interest her in new pursuits; that was what they had determined to
attempt. For the present, they would let her put on what clothes she
pleased, and make no remark.

Early in the day she went out by herself. It was now December, but
the weather was fine and dry, and she was for two hours alone,
rambling through the park. She had made her attempt in life, and had
failed. She owned her failure to herself absolutely. The image had no
gold in it;--none as yet. But it was not as other images, which, as
they are made, so must they remain to the end. The Divine Spirit,
which might from the first have breathed into this clay some particle
of its own worth, was still efficacious to bestow the gift. Prayer
should not be wanting; but the thing as it now was she saw in all its
impurity. He had never loved her. Had he loved her he would not have
written words such as those she had read. He had pretended to love
her in order that he might have money, that his debts might be paid,
that he might not be ruined. "He hoped," he said in his letter, "he
hoped that his cousin might be made happy by a splendid alliance!"
She remembered well the abominable, heartless words. And this was
the man who had pledged her to truth and firmness, and whose own
truth and firmness she had never doubted for a moment, even when
acknowledging to herself the necessity of her pledge to him. He had
never loved her; and, though she did not say so, did not think so,
she felt that of all his sins that sin was the one which could not be
forgiven.

What should she now do with herself,--how bear herself at this
present moment of her life? She did not tell herself now that she
would die, though as she looked forward into life all was so dreary
to her, that she would fain have known that death would give an
escape. But there were duties for her still to do. During that winter
ramble, she owned to herself for the first time that her father had
been right in his judgment respecting their cousin, and that she, by
her pertinacity, had driven her father on till on her account he had
been forced into conduct which was distasteful to him. She must own
to her father that he had been right; that the man, though she dearly
loved him still, was of such nature that it would be quite unfit that
she should marry him. There might still be the miracle; her prayers
were still her own to give; of them she would say nothing to her
father. She would simply confess to him that he had been right, and
then beg of him to pardon her the trouble she had caused him.

"Papa," she said to him the following morning, "may I come to you?"
She came in, and on this occasion sat down at his right hand. "Of
course, you have been right, Papa," she said.

"We have both been right, dearest, I hope."

"No, Papa; I have been wrong! I thought I knew him, and I did not. I
thought when you told me that he was so bad, that you were believing
false people; and, Papa, I know now that I should not have loved him
as I did;--so quickly, like that."

"Nobody has blamed you for a moment. Nobody has thought of blaming
you."

"I blame myself enough; I can tell you that. I feel as though I had
in a way destroyed myself."

"Do not say that, my darling."

"You will let me speak now; will you not, Papa? I wish to tell you
everything, that you may understand all that I feel. I shall never
get over it."

"You will, dearest; you will, indeed."

"Never! Perhaps I shall live on; but I feel that it has killed me for
this world. I don't know how a girl is to get over it when she has
said that she has loved any one. If they are married, then she does
not want to get over it; but if they are not,--if he deserts her, or
is unworthy, or both,--what can she do then, but just go on thinking
of it till--she dies?"

Sir Harry used with her all the old accustomed arguments to drive
such thoughts out of her head. He told her how good was God to His
creatures, and, specially, how good in curing by the soft hand of
time such wounds as those from which she was suffering. She should
"retrick her beams," and once more "flame in the forehead of the
morning sky," if only she would help the work of time by her own
endeavours. "Fight against the feeling, Emily, and try to conquer it,
and it will be conquered."

"But, Papa, I do not wish to conquer it. I should not tell you of all
this, only for one thing."

"What thing, dearest?"

"I am not like other girls, who can just leave themselves alone and
be of no trouble. You told me that if I outlived you--"

"The property will be yours; certainly. Of course, it was my
hope,--and is,--that all that shall be settled by your marriage
before my death. The trouble and labour is more than a woman should
be called on to support alone."

"Just so. And it is because you are thinking of all this, that I feel
it right to tell you. Papa, I shall never be married."

"We will leave that for the present, Emily."

"Very well; only if it would make a change in your will, you should
make it. You will have to be here, Papa, after I am gone,--probably."

"No, no, no."

"But, if it were not so, I should not know what to do. That is all,
Papa; only this,--that I beg your pardon for all the trouble I have
caused you." Then she knelt before him, and he kissed her head, and
blessed her, and wept over her.

There was nothing more heard from Cousin George at Humblethwaite, and
nothing more heard of him for a long time. Mr. Boltby did pay his
debts, having some terribly hard struggles with Mr. Hart and Captain
Stubber before the liquidations were satisfactorily effected. It was
very hard to make Mr. Hart and Captain Stubber understand that the
Baronet was paying these debts simply because he had said that he
would pay them once before, under other circumstances, and that no
other cause for their actual payment now existed. But the debts
were paid, down to the last farthing of which Mr. Boltby could have
credible tidings. "Pay everything," Sir Harry had said; "I have
promised it." Whereby he was alluding to the promise which he had
made to his daughter. Everything was paid, and Cousin George was able
to walk in and out of his club, a free man,--and at times almost
happy,--with an annuity of five hundred pounds a year! Nothing more
was said to him as to the necessity of expatriation.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE END.


Among playgoing folk, in the following April there was a great deal
of talk about the marriage of that very favourite actress, Mrs.
Morton. She appeared in the playbills as Mrs. George Hotspur, late
Mrs. Morton. Very many spoke of her familiarly, who knew her only on
the stage,--as is the custom of men in speaking of actresses,--and
perhaps some few of these who spoke of her did know her personally.
"Poor Lucy!" said one middle-aged gentleman over fifty, who spent
four nights of every week at one theatre or another. "When she was
little more than a child they married her to that reprobate Morton.
Since that she has managed to keep her head above water by hard work;
and now she has gone and married another worse than the first!"

"She is older now, and will be able to manage George," said another.

"Manage him! If anybody can manage to keep him out of debt, or from
drink either, I'll eat him."

"But he must be Sir George when old Sir Harry dies," said he who was
defending the prudence of the marriage.

"Yes, and won't have a penny. Will it help her to be able to put Lady
Hotspur on the bills? Not in the least. And the women can't forgive
her and visit her. She has not been good enough for that. A grand old
family has been disgraced, and a good actress destroyed. That's my
idea of this marriage."

"I thought Georgy was going to marry his cousin--that awfully proud
minx," said one young fellow.

"When it came to the scratch, she would not have him," said another.
"But there had been promises, and so, to make it all square, Sir
Harry paid his debts."

"I don't believe a bit about his debts being paid," said the
middle-aged gentleman who was fond of going to the theatre.

Yes, George Hotspur was married: and, as far as any love went
with him, had married the woman he liked best. Though the actress
was worlds too good for him, there was not about her that air of
cleanliness and almost severe purity which had so distressed him
while he had been forced to move in the atmosphere of his cousin.
After the copying of the letter and the settlement of the bills, Mrs.
Morton had found no difficulty in arranging matters as she pleased.
She had known the man perhaps better than any one else had known him;
and yet she thought it best to marry him. We must not inquire into
her motives, though we may pity her fate.

She did not intend, however, to yield herself as an easy prey to
his selfishness. She had also her ideas of reforming him, and
ideas which, as they were much less grand, might possibly be more
serviceable than those which for a while had filled the mind and
heart of Emily Hotspur. "George," she said, one day to him, "what
do you mean to do?" This was before the marriage was fixed;--when
nothing more was fixed than that idea of marriage which had long
existed between them.

"Of course we shall be spliced now," said he.

"And if so, what then? I shall keep to the stage, of course."

"We couldn't do with the £500 a year, I suppose, any how?"

"Not very well, I'm afraid, seeing that as a habit you eat and drink
more than that yourself. But, with all that I can do, there must be a
change. I tell you for your own sake as well as for mine, unless you
can drop drinking, we had better give it up even yet." After that,
for a month or two under her auspices, he did "drop it,"--or at least
so far dropped it as to induce her to run the risk. In April they
were married, and she must be added to the list of women who have
sacrificed themselves on behalf of men whom they have known to be
worthless. We need not pursue his career further; but we may be sure,
that though she watched him very closely, and used a power over him
of which he was afraid, still he went gradually from bad to worse,
and was found at last to be utterly past redemption. He was one
who in early life had never known what it was to take delight in
postponing himself to another; and now there was no spark in him of
love or gratitude by which fire could be kindled or warmth created.
It had come to that with him,--that to eat and to drink was all that
was left to him; and it was coming to that too, that the latter of
these two pleasant recreations would soon be all that he had within
his power of enjoyment. There are such men; and of all human beings
they are the most to be pitied. They have intellects; they do think;
the hours with them are terribly long;--and they have no hope!

The Hotspurs of Humblethwaite remained at home till Christmas was
passed, and then at once started for Rome. Sir Harry and Lady
Elizabeth both felt that it must be infinitely better for their girl
to be away; and then there came the doctor's slow advice. There was
nothing radically amiss with Miss Hotspur, the doctor said; but it
would be better for her to be taken elsewhere. She, knowing how her
father loved his home and the people around him, begged that she
might be allowed to stay. Nothing ailed her, she said, save only that
ache at the heart which no journey to Rome could cure. "What's the
use of it, Papa?" she said. "You are unhappy because I'm altered.
Would you wish me not to be altered after what has passed? Of course
I am altered. Let us take it as it is, and not think about it." She
had adopted certain practices in life, however, which Sir Harry was
determined to check, at any rate for the time. She spent her days
among the poor, and when not with them she was at church. And there
was always some dreary book in her hands when they were together in
the drawing-room after dinner. Of church-going and visiting the poor,
and of good books, Sir Harry approved thoroughly; but even of good
things such as these there may be too much. So Sir Harry and Lady
Elizabeth got a courier who spoke all languages, and a footman who
spoke German, and two maids, of whom one pretended to speak French,
and had trunks packed without number, and started for Rome. All that
wealth could do was done; but let the horseman be ever so rich, or
the horseman's daughter, and the stud be ever so good, it is seldom
they can ride fast enough to shake off their cares.

In Rome they remained till April, and while they were there the name
of Cousin George was never once mentioned in the hearing of Sir
Harry. Between the mother and daughter no doubt there was speech
concerning him. But to Emily's mind he was always present. He was to
her as a thing abominable, and yet necessarily tied to her by bonds
which she could never burst asunder. She felt like some poor princess
in a tale, married to an ogre from whom there was no escape. She had
given herself up to one utterly worthless, and she knew it. But yet
she had given herself, and could not revoke the gift. There was,
indeed, still left to her that possibility of a miracle, but of
that she whispered nothing even to her mother. If there were to
be a miracle, it must be of God; and at God's throne she made her
whispers. In these days she was taken about from sight to sight with
apparent willingness. She saw churches, pictures, statues, and ruins,
and seemed to take an interest in them. She was introduced to the
Pope, and allowed herself to be apparelled in her very best for that
august occasion. But, nevertheless, the tenor of her way and the
fashions of her life, as was her daily dress, were grey and sad and
solemn. She lived as one who knew that the backbone of her life was
broken. Early in April they left Rome and went north, to the Italian
lakes, and settled themselves for a while at Lugano. And here the
news reached them of the marriage of George Hotspur.

Lady Elizabeth read the marriage among the advertisements in the
_Times_, and at once took it to Sir Harry, withdrawing the paper from
the room in a manner which made Emily sure that there was something
in it which she was not intended to see. But Sir Harry thought that
the news should be told to her, and he himself told it.

"Already married!" she said. "And who is the lady?"

"You had better not ask, my dear."

"Why not ask? I may, at any rate, know her name."

"Mrs. Morton. She was a widow,--and an actress."

"Oh yes, I know," said Emily, blushing; for in those days in which
it had been sought to wean her from George Hotspur, a word or two
about this lady had been said to her by Lady Elizabeth under the
instructions of Sir Harry. And there was no more said on that
occasion. On that day, and on the following, her father observed no
change in her; and the mother spoke nothing of her fears. But on
the next morning Lady Elizabeth said that she was not as she had
been. "She is thinking of him still--always," she whispered to her
husband. He made no reply, but sat alone, out in the garden, with his
newspaper before him, reading nothing, but cursing that cousin of his
in his heart.

There could be no miracle now for her! Even the thought of that was
gone. The man who had made her believe that he loved her, only in the
last autumn,--though indeed it seemed to her that years had rolled
over since, and made her old, worn-out, and weary;--who had asked for
and obtained the one gift she had to give, the bestowal of her very
self; who had made her in her baby folly believe that he was almost
divine, whereas he was hardly human in his lowness,--this man, whom
she still loved in a way which she could not herself understand,
loving and despising him utterly at the same time,--was now the
husband of another woman. Even he, she had felt, would have thought
something of her. But she had been nothing to him but the means of
escape from disreputable difficulties. She could not sustain her
contempt for herself as she remembered this, and yet she showed but
little of it in her outward manner.

"I'll go when you like, Papa," she said when the days of May had
come, "but I'd sooner stay here a little longer if you wouldn't
mind." There was no talk of going home. It was only a question
whether they should go further north, to Lucerne, before the warm
weather came.

"Of course we will remain; why not?" said Sir Harry. "Mamma and I
like Lugano amazingly." Poor Sir Harry. As though he could have liked
any place except Humblethwaite!

Our story is over now. They did remain till the scorching July sun
had passed over their heads, and August was upon them; and then--they
had buried her in the small Protestant cemetery at Lugano, and Sir
Harry Hotspur was without a child and without an heir.

He returned home in the early autumn, a grey, worn-out, tottering old
man, with large eyes full of sorrow, and a thin mouth that was seldom
opened to utter a word. In these days, I think, he recurred to
his early sorrow, and thought almost more of his son than of his
daughter. But he had instant, pressing energy left to him for one
deed. Were he to die now without a further will, Humblethwaite and
Scarrowby would go to the wretch who had destroyed him. What was the
title to him now, or even the name? His wife's nephew was an Earl
with an enormous rent-roll, something so large that Humblethwaite and
Scarrowby to him would be little more than additional labour. But to
this young man Humblethwaite and Scarrowby were left, and the glories
of the House of Hotspur were at an end.

And so the story of the House of Humblethwaite has been told.



London: R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor Printers Bread Street Hill.



      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

   Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

   Specific changes in wording of the text are listed below.

      Chapter V, paragraph 1. The word "of" was deleted
      from the sentence which in the original read:
      It was of this taste OF which Pope was conscious
      when he declared that every woman was at heart a rake.

      Chapter VII, paragraph 17. The word "like" was added
      to the sentence: A girl LIKE that learns everything.

      Chapter VIII, paragraph 33. The spelling of the word
      "commencment" was changed in the sentence beginning:
      George had determined from the COMMENCEMENT of his
      visit . . .

      Chapter XX, paragraph 4. The word "uncle" was changed
      to "cousin" in the sentence: "I am so sorry to give you
      this trouble," said Cousin George, coming forward to
      greet his COUSIN.





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